In a particularly challenging economic year, the entire AIDC channel has been forced to think more carefully about mobile computer solutions that are offered to the end user. Paula Robinson, internal sales manager at Blackroc Distribution, gives her take on how distributors can help resellers to select hardware that is fit for purpose and explains how resellers can add value for end users throughout the life of their investment.
Over the past 12 months the leading enterprise mobile manufacturers have made significant developments in mobile technology to improve mobile worker productivity. These technologies include 3G telecommunications that allow simultaneous use of speech and data at increased exchange rates, enabling mobile workers to download job information to a PDA in seconds and share information seamlessly with back office operations. Devices have also become more compact making them easier to use in the field and higher IP ratings have been developed to protect components in the great outdoors and, finally, away from the ergonomics manufacturers are integrating improved imaging technology for barcode scanning and mobile document scanning.
There is no doubt that these technological improvements offer the end user new potential to improve their business processes, inside and outside the four walls. But surely for the reseller the choice of devices available from multiple manufacturers only adds complexity to the decision making process. So in a market where the manufacturers are competing for share, what steps can the reseller take to ensure that end users select the right device for their application?
Experience tells us that end users will always measure the success of a mobile deployment on the return that they receive for their investment and therefore something that should always be in the back of the resellers mind when recommending hardware to an end user. Resellers need to have a thorough understanding of what the end user is trying to achieve and should work with the end user to establish exactly what functionality is really needed to carry out daily tasks and what features are irrelevant? Establishing these core requirements should help the reseller to see the wood from the trees and narrow down the hardware options available.
Resellers should take full advantage of their distribution partners during this process. If required distributors can offer a second opinion on potential hardware options, shed light on device reliability and can share application success stories to help you select a device that is fit for purpose. In addition, many distributors will advise on pricing at an early stage to help resellers achieve a good balance between functionality and affordability for the end user, especially in a climate where cost is unavoidably a major factor.
Unfortunately hardware is only the tip of the iceberg and there are a number of other factors that will affect the return on investment gained by the end user. Software applications play a major role in the final solution and these too need to be chosen carefully to ensure that they are fit for purpose. Resellers should also realise that the job is not over when the roll out is complete, in fact there is a plethora of additional services that can be provided to the end user to add value, increase return on investment throughout the life of the device.
Peace of mind
Talk to your end users early about repair and maintenance programmes to support their chosen solution. The peace of mind that comes from knowing that whatever happens to your mobile computers someone will be there to help resolve it is priceless. Many resellers are equipped to handle maintenance and repairs; however resellers that are not equipped to provide repair programmes should not shy away from offering this as part of a solution. Instead, repair and maintenance support is yet another service that is now available from distributors and indeed the manufacturers themselves.
Whats in it for the reseller? Although the effort required to provide end users with this level of service during the life of their devices requires a significant investment from the reseller in terms of time and resource, the relationship that is built with the end user has the potential to pay dividends. If resellers can build that trust and give customer complete piece of mind their company will be the first name that comes to mind when they look to buy new hardware, extend their service contract or buy consumables and this could have a very positive impact for the future.