Three Questions a Potential Technology Partner Should Be Asking (and Answering!)
Enterprise customers will often approach us at Panasonic after a negative experience with their current device manufacturer — too often selected based on up front costs rather than total cost of ownership (TCO). We hear about battery problems and high device failure rates, along with a lack of support both during deployment and after the sale.
What’s the takeaway that I wish more customers knew up front? While mobile technology might seem like a commodity purchase, the field knowledge and technical expertise behind the hardware can be as important as the hardware itself. Meeting with the right experts before making a decision not only allows decision-makers to explain their unique needs and requirements, but gives experts the chance to delve a little deeper.
This happened recently with a U.S. state department of transportation agency looking to replace a cadre of aging laptops. The agency’s IT managers knew that, in addition to getting solid rugged devices, the vendor they chose this time around also needed to have industry expertise, quick turnaround time on technical issues, and ongoing service and support to supplement their thin internal resources.
During a Panasonic pre-sales meeting, we will ask in-depth questions and even conduct ride-alongs or “day in the job” discovery sessions to understand the organization’s mission, unique requirements, “must-haves,” and “nice-to-haves.” Based on this information, the team will recommend a combination of hardware, software, and productivity enhancements.
It’s critical to make sure a vendor truly understands your requirements before signing on the dotted line. Before choosing a vendor or the technology itself, make sure to discuss:
- What’s your current IT set-up? Your technology partner should understand your imaging processes, networks, security, mobile device management (MDM) and legacy applications. Based on your current and future needs, the team can recommend infrastructure improvements such as mobile VPN infrastructure or device data and security programs that will protect devices from data loss. MDM is a particularly important part of today’s mobile infrastructure, and not all MDM applications work seamlessly with all mobile devices. With this understanding, the vendor can help customers guard against a mismatch of MDM and the hardware or operating system.
- What are your (and your end users’) pain points? If current units are taking a long time to reboot or software is freezing up, it could indicate issues with the existing infrastructure that requires external antennae or specific third-party software. If employees have been stranded without working devices during critical times, the team will know to recommend a swap program that provides replacement devices with the agency’s imaging within a specified time frame. Panasonic even conducts field team ride-alongs to better understand end user pain points and needs.
- Does the business have any unique or unusual requirements? Do the new devices need to work seamlessly with specific third-party or legacy apps or devices? Are there specific mobile vehicle mounting needs? Panasonic’s mobility experts will work to understand how the devices are used in vehicles, along with applications, wireless connectivity needs, and vehicle mounting.
Don’t settle for a vendor that isn’t willing to listen, learn your business, and problem-solve with you. If the business has unusual requirements that seem impossible, it’s the vendor’s job to find a solution. If the vendor can’t find a way to make it happen, don’t just accept it. Find a mobility solutions partner that will be on your side, even if your requirements or business needs change over time.
And what happened with the agency I mentioned earlier? Their decision-makers consulted with a team of Panasonic technical service and software engineers, ultimately finding the Panasonic TOUGHBOOK devices offered better TCO than other vendors. They settled on an initial order of 245 TOUGHBOOK 20 mobile 2-in-1 convertible devices, followed by another order of about 200 a year later.
Learn more about selecting and customizing your TOUGHBOOK mobile device solution.