Organizations are looking to simplify and consolidate their IT partnerships. Integrators and managed service providers (MSPs) embracing specialty tech are winning the race as trusted advisors, all while adding new revenue streams to their businesses. Those that aren’t are at risk of losing customers that want a single vendor point of contact.
We sat down with Mark Wereski, director of sales for Specialty Technology Solutions at Ingram Micro, to explore this shift and answer our specialty tech questions. Mark brings an expertise in Pro AV, digital signage, data capture, point of sale (POS) and other technologies.
Q: Everyone has their definition of specialty tech. What’s yours?
Wereski: Any IP device off a network. That’s how I boil it down to its simplest form. Whether that network is on-prem, off-prem, cloud or hybrid—specialty tech starts with an IP address attached to that. For example, solution providers that have been core data center integrators are now being asked by their customers to deploy front-office solutions, such as videoconferencing or digital signage. We help our customers bridge that gap from network to IP, and vice versa.
Q: Describe the market shift around specialty tech.
Wereski: Organizations founded on networking—mainly integrators and MSPs—can now attach IP-based specialty technologies to their products. This may include a media player to run digital signage, automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) or POS devices attached to the network.
Q: What’s the advantage of network-based integrators and MSPs entering the IP arena?
Wereski: Their end users have been asking to consolidate IT. They want a single vendor point of contact. Many end users prefer to get under a managed service contract that brings simplicity and accountability. It’s a realistic way to remove cost from the IT budget. On the flipside, integrators and MSPs benefit from that monthly, recurring revenue stream.
Q: Is this only a one-way street in terms of network companies expanding to IP?
Wereski: No. It goes both ways. We’ve helped digital signage organizations become trusted advisors to their end users and bring in data center offerings. This can be very fruitful in the SMB space where IT consolidation is preferred.
Q: How is this space different?
Wereski: If traditional businesses focus on return on investment, specialty tech focuses on return on outcome. What do you want consumers to do? What action do you want them to take? If you shop in New York City or Tokyo, the top stores are investing more in experience than anything else. This ultimately creates a buying environment. If consumers expect to touch screens at home, they expect the same in public. In today’s connected world, the best experience wins.
Q: How does specialty tech impact mobile analytics and social platforms?
Wereski: It’s all about meeting customers and prospects where they are, as individuals not in broad terms. Mobile is going to continue to grow in the POS, data capture and digital signage world. In retail, for example, we all have different buying habits, and this data is coveted by these retailers. If a woman purchases a black dress, technology can recognize both her purchase and her smartphone—and automatically market matching accessories to her via digital signage along with offering discounts.
In another scenario, if you’re shopping and a retailer doesn’t have your desired product in stock, the retailer traditionally loses that sale. With specialty tech, you can pay for the transaction and the exact product is on your doorstep within 24 hours. Loyalty programs and overall customer experience are essential.
Social platforms, of course, act as major influencers in terms of buying decisions, positive reviews and negative reviews. And the news spreads fast.
Q: How does Ingram Micro add value around specialty tech?
Wereski: Ingram Micro has already invested in the intellectual property, certification and subject matter experts. We make it easy for our core network partners to add IP-based specialty technology to their portfolio—without the major investment. They can now say yes to more end users. This also works the other way for our pro AV, signage and data capture partners who want to offer network-based solutions to their customers.
Ingram Micro’s support includes sales, technical, marketing, vertical market, professional services and more resources. We make our customers look robust while we’re supporting them behind the scenes. Our differentiator is that we provide this expertise with limited risk, exposure and investment for our customers.
Q: What’s an example of game-changing specialty tech in the future?
Wereski: I believe we’ll pay for everything through facial recognition or retina scan. You’ll be identified immediately and payments will be automated. In terms of security, they can steal your cash, credit card and phone—it’s hard to steal your iris.
For more information about our specialty tech offerings, visit us here.