From Customer to Technology Partner Customers’ demands on their IT partners have increased significantly in the last few years. Utmost flexibility, local presence and tailor made solutions are the primary requirements. That is the background challenging manufacturers, systems integrators and dealers to cooperate creatively and efficiently with each other. The example of InoTec’s competence pool clearly shows how modern partnership concepts deliver benefits for all participants.
The times when distribution partners were easily exchangeable links in a logistics chain are gone. In the face of economic and statutory changes over the last few years IT vendors were challenged to critically examine their distribution strategies. One core requirement of this challenge is the partner environment, which has to be examined, its structure optimised and amended as necessary.
Less is more
According to research conducted by the Experton Group it is not enough to simply announce a new partner program and then forge partnerships with hundreds of enterprises with little or no detailed research. Such an approach often results in really valuable partnerships being largely neglected and a close partnership is never achieved.
Ideally, specific core competencies of the potential partners, such as specific industry or technology focus, should complement each other. This is more important than the number or size of partners, a realisation on which InoTec’s partner strategy is built.
Additionally, the manufacturer of high performance scanners places great value on continuity and close personal contacts to build a lasting relationship based on trust – a fact that has been largely lost in the fast paced IT environment. "Fairness and loyalty are paramount requirements for co-operating with integrators and distribution partners ", emphasis InoTec CEO Peter Schnautz.
The company places emphasis on building "competence pools", where InoTec’s know-how and that of it’s premium partners is bundled around the subject ‚Input-Management’. A knowledge pool that is continuously enlarged and added to. Regular training courses provide premium partners with up-too-date product and technical knowledge. Additionally, the partner program incorporates extensive certification, which authorises participants to deliver maintenance and support services.
To promote intensive information exchange between InoTec and its partners, a communication platform has been established via the internet. It offers contains marketing material, diagnostic and support software, firmware and driver updates, as well as technical product details.
All participants profit from the competence pools, according to Peter Schnautz. "The customer retains his independence. He can employ the knowledge offered according to his needs ", says Peter Schnautz. It affords InoTec premium partners the opportunity to enhance projects with their own software solutions or integration services, which opens the door to realise additional lucrative business.
Value adding for customers and enhancing own turnover
A stellar example of this is Berliner Satz-Rechen-Zentrum (SRZ), which has developed from being an InoTec customer to InoTec technology partner.
Founded in 1969 as a computer service centre with its own software development capability, it became a very successful scanning service provider later on. Today, SRZ is one of the leading German systems houses for digitisation and data preparation. This development was significantly aided by its membership of the InoTec partner network, which will be rigorously supported in the future.
In 1998 SRZ, in the context of being a service provider, had its first experience with InoTec scanners. The positive experiences and the starting project business fostered the dsire to not only use the machines themselves but also distribute them. The following year SRZ was successful, through the close co-operation with InoTec developers and its own software development know-how, in implementing InoTec scanners in a wide variety of projects.
This led to a technology partnership ‚at eye level‘ which, according to Hans-Joachim Hübner, responsible for systems integration and marketing at SRZ, is difficult to establish with scanner manufacturers whose R&D departments are located in the USA or Japan. „An immediate, direct line to the manufacturer is vital to ensure success for our projects“.
The co-operation extends even further. "Whereas InoTec’s systems specialists support us in our projects on the one hand, we on the other support InoTec through software development ", explains Hans-Joachim Hübner. All InoTec scanners are now supplied with the SCAMAXscan Software, which is a SRZ product.
Actively supporting Partner Development
Genuine partnership is not only possible between manufacturer and partner, but also amongst InoTec’s partners themselves. A real life example is the fact that service and maintenance delivery is performed by premium partners under their own direction.
"Our project customers are distributed throughout the entire country. Cost aspects make it more efficient to distribute the maintenance to a local premium partner close to the customer. Costs are either reimbursed or cleared against each other’s account ", says Hans-Joachim Hübner. Co-operation is based on continuing and truthful communication, which is practised during regular meetings.
According to InoTec CEO Peter Schnautz, members of the competence pool do not only meet during regularly staged national and international partner meetings. Industry-sector-specific fair, exhibitions and seminars provide additional opportunities to further business relations. "We as a manufacturer see ourselves less and less in the role of product provider. It is rather a matter of actively supporting the enterprise growth of our co-operation partners“, says Peter Schnautz.
About Satz-Rechen-Zentrum (SRZ)
Satz-Rechnen-Zentrum is a service provider for cross media publishing, digital printing projects and everything in the area of electronic archiving and digital document capture. It offers comprehensive scanning services – large volume document capture, book and large format scanning and microfilm digitisation – retro conversion of library catalogues, digital printing in black&white and colour, pre-press production and production of CD and internet publications. Second enterprise focus is in-house development of software solutions for automated document capture and document management. SRZ, founded in 1969, has many years of solid experience gained from many successful projects. SRZ has more than 95 employees in two service facilities in Berlin as well as sales offices in Frankfurt and Stuttgart. www.srz.de