What does your IOT look like?
Everyone is talking about the Internet of things (IOT) and the business benefits it brings across all sectors, but sometimes the channel needs a little help demonstrating to their end-customer just how IOT-enabled devices will fit into their workflow.
"When the channel is selling a physical product that integrates into an IOT workflow, it can be difficult to explain exactly how that product is going to fit in and the value that it is going to bring to the business," says Mark Broude, Head of Kemtek Imaging System's Commercial Division.
Broude is sitting in the group's purpose-built innovation centre that is able to do just that: it permits the creation of a virtual environment, such as a warehouse, shipping or retail operation, so the solution can be demonstrated within an IOT workflow scenario.
"Not only does this allow us to demonstrate possible applications and integrations for new and existing solutions, it also allows us to show the channel what might be possible one day, so that they can tell their clients what's in the offing in their sector. Showcasing thought-provoking and futuristic 'pie-in-the-sky' technology gives all players an opportunity to think outside the box."
He says being able to demonstrate a specific solution within a virtualised environment presents the channel with a new way of engaging with customers. "Not only can they experience current technologies and new ways of using them, they can also expose their customers to new technologies and experience how these technologies will integrate into a greater IOT solution."
He cites the example of a clothing retailer. "If a nationwide retailer implements the right IOT processes and devices, it's possible to locate a certain garment in a certain size and/or colour at any other outlet, quickly and easily. By showing our channel partners how such a process would work, what the workflow would look like and the technology required to enable it, we empower them to be proactive in their approach to their customers.
"Implementing the right combination of solutions that fit seamlessly into the end-user's IOT workflow allows the collection of data to add to the business's big data, which ultimately enables the company to be more productive and cost-effective, while better servicing its customers. That's where all businesses aspire to be in today's competitive market, and we're empowering our channel to offer that capability to their customers."
Broude continues: "We're able to provide a live virtual demonstration of the solution or solutions installed within various vertical markets, showing the integration with other solutions and processes from other vendors. In fact, we can demonstrate technology that isn't even available yet, so that the channel partner can start preparing their customers for its release."
He cites the example of a pharmacy that gets customers' prescriptions ready for collection ahead of time. "Instead of the pharmacist having to search for the right package when the customer comes in to collect their medication, they can use RFID tags to quickly link the customer with their made-up prescription, saving time and improving customer service."
It's all about connecting technology to bring intelligence to businesses in order to make them more efficient and effective, but also enabling them to better service their customers. The aim is to expose the channel and its customers to the possibilities powered by the IOT, AI and the fourth industrial revolution.
"The channel is able to help its customers to plan and project how they're going to integrate the technology going forward. There's increasing demand for personalised solutions; customers want a bespoke solution that's perfect for their business environment. Businesses realise that they need to be unique and deliver a service that elevates them above competing on a cent-for-cent basis."
In order to survive, businesses are going to have to develop solutions around how people want to be reached and serviced, and this is where artificial intelligence will come into its own, helping the business to plan for different types of customer so it can meet individual unique needs. It's all about selling up by reaching the person in the way they want to be reached. But you can only sell something that you understand yourself, hence the importance of being able to see it in action and to experiment with different applications, and even experiment with changing the workflow to achieve better results for the customer.
Broude concludes: "Demonstrating what's possible to resellers allows them to streamline their customers' workflows and simply do things better. We want to pique their interest and invite their minds to think about how to do more business and what more they can offer their customers to make them stand out from the competition. This requires a perfect confluence of technology and intelligence to create a unique selling proposition."
Kemtek's Demonstration and Innovation Centre, at its head office in Johannesburg, can be used to showcase its product range across different vertical markets, including shipping, logistics, warehousing and retail.