European channel expansion: a target for Cognitive Solutions

Cognitive Solutions claims a history of introducing innovative products to the industry and in the April 2006 issue of IT Reseller we took a brief look at the company's C series compact industrial thermal printers. The company is keen to build a Europe-wide presence (it is represented strongly in the
UK through Maxatec). Janet Barraclough, European channel manager, Cognitive, (pictured right) tells the story.


Q: What is Cognitive's route to market?

A: Up to this year Cognitive was represented in Europe mainly through Maxatec in the UK; and, with our expansion into other countries we want to be able to work through regional companies who can offer local support. Maxatec plays an important role because it will continue to support us in the UK and in other countries where it has existing customers and projects.


We mainly operate a two-tier model; but, where necessary outside of the UK we can work through value-add partners who have specific vertical market skills and knowledge. What we're looking for is good representation and not over distribution, so that we can develop and maintain a clean route to market as we expand.


Q: How do you view the current state of the European market for your technology?


A: Germany, France and the UK are all of a similar size and offer similar opportunities. Going further, in particular Hungary and the Czech Republic, we're seeing expansion. Manufacturing is growing and these countries offer excellent capabilities. This in turn means the economies are growing, there's more available money for people to spend and that of course has the knock on effect of retail expansion, growth in logistics and so on. So, we're seeing printer sales opportunities within mature applications that we also see in Germany, France and the UK, but also new applications are emerging. For example, we have a partner in Hungary who has received an EU grant to develop RFID applications and has recently installed an RFID lab.


As you know, we are active in manufacturing where our products fit well with item ID, work in progress and asset tracking applications. We are also strong in warehousing and logistics, retailshelf edge labelling and inventory, and healthcarepatient ID and asset tracking.


Our new product rangethe C seriesputs us in an interesting position where we can provide technology that bridges the gap between mid and high range printers. The C series is important for this market, because we're offering metal-mechanism printers that can work at high speed and high volumes, whereas other companies in the desktop market are providing plastic-mechanism products that cannot compete technically.


Moreover, the price-performance benefit of the C series products is a good proposition for emerging markets. Where traditionally you had to buy big box printers to get high performance, customers can now purchase C series printers to benefit from equal or better performance at the price of a desktop device.


Q: Do you need to expand your current channels? If so, what kinds of partners are you looking for?


A: Yes, we are looking for more partners to support our growth expectations. We need value-add and distribution partners, particularly those with specific market knowledge and expertise. We've also added new staff within the organisation to help support our partners and drive growth.


Q: How will you support them?


A: We have comprehensive partner programmes that include demo printers, literature, loyalty rebates, marketing support and all the typical tools you'd expect to find from a dedicated manufacturer.


Q: What are your ambitions for Cognitive in Europe?


A: We have some excellent applications and excellent business in the US, Asia Pacific and the UK.  We want to replicate that in new markets. We encourage people to look at our new printer line, the C Series, and consider its unique positioning and value proposition as it will build business for them.


Our ambition is to make significant inroads in terms of product and company awareness in the major European regions as well as grow organically in the emerging European market economies.

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