Remember a few years back when all it took to say you had an industry solution was a little vertical slant to the technology offering? In some cases, it’s just what is known in the industry as Marchitecture — the portmanteau of the words marketing and architecture applied to any form of electronic architecture perceived to have been produced only for marketing reasons — that had people claiming vertical solutions expertise.
In the early days of industry solutions, trust me, there was a lot of marchitecture and client dissatisfaction with less than stellar industry solutions going around. Well, those days are over; clients demand more and partner ecosystems are now striving to deliver more than ever before to ensure their clients’ needs are met.
However, it is a steep hill to climb for all of us. Think of the realities of our ever-growing solutions landscape for just a second to understand why every single month this task becomes harder and harder. According to a variety of sources, there are currently over 200k ISV (Independent Software Vendors) moving to 1 million ISVs by 2030. Now, couple that with 100-plus industries and thousands of hardware, connectivity, security, and cloud alternatives, and the sheer number of solution options becomes staggering for the average company.
Why Are Experienced Partners So Important?
No firm has the time to sort through all those solutions and figure out what is best for their firm. After all, they must worry about their business, not just about sorting through millions of potential solution combinations. No single partner can sort through everything, either.
This is where the partner ecosystem working together with vertical sub-segment experience needs to enter the picture. It’s not enough anymore to have a single partner who has done some deals in transportation and logistics if you are a regional airport facility management firm, for example. You have unique needs so you need unique technology and business skills from the ecosystem that serves you.
Let’s use an example. Just this past week, it was announced that an ecosystem firm was going to build the first first-ever remote air traffic control center in the United States. Located on the site of an old Air Force base in Alabama, it could handle traffic for multiple airports. This technology, which uses cameras, real-time artificial intelligence, video, and other features, allows air traffic controllers to remotely accomplish the duties they would previously have carried out in a traditional control tower — a first in the U.S. and something that is in the early days of use in Europe.
Now, there is a lot of technology that must work seamlessly to ensure this new technology works for the job it’s intended to do — which is a high-stakes job. A partner who has experience, for example, with video, AI, and camera technology for a shipping firm using the technology to recognize 18-wheelers and coordinate dispatch in a transport center could seem like they would be a good partner for the airport deployment, but would they really be?
This industry solution reaches far past the bits and pieces of technology that need to come together to functionally make technology work. This solution requires a deep understanding of air traffic rules, safety protocols, connectivity, allowable transmissions, and of course, has a very low level of error tolerance. These factors make it radically different from the shipping yard solution using the same basic hardware components. This air traffic solution needs cloud-based software and analytics capabilities that far surpass those used in many other less regulated and less critical industries.
Why Is the Term Industry Solutions So Critical?
This is why the term industry solutions is so critical. The solutions that are building our future are truly industry-specific. They take into account all of the requirements and variations needed in the particular industry. This means that clients in these industries must seek to have partners who not only understand the technology but also their industry requirements.
This is something that, in the past, didn’t occur quite frequently enough and that may have been okay. When solutions were premise-based, controlled by the enterprise, and human or physical assets were not replaced, it was easier to accept a generic or vertical light solution. However, when you move critical workflows into the cloud, replace human decision-making with AI, use data to make decisions, and deliver solutions that are always on and always running the business function, the stakes are much higher.
The New Reality of Industry Solutions
As a result, this new reality is driving a revolution in the technology ecosystem space where partners team up with other partners, many of them not technology partners, to bring deep-level expertise across multiple technologies and business disciplines to the table. In fact, in many advanced solution design and deployment projects, there may be as many as 10 partners in a single digitization or remote technology project. Long gone are the days when a single technology vendor or a single partner could do everything for technology across all industries.
This ecosystem of partners also functions as an ROI and deployment improvement arm for enterprises. If the partners have done a similar solution for a dozen firms, they have learned quite a lot along the way. They have learned which technology is not only easiest to deploy but most highly functional day to day. They have lived through upskilling internal teams to use the technology and likely survived a few system issues as well.
They can bring this learning to your firm’s project to shorten your deployment timelines, avoid implementation issues, lessen the burden on your enterprise, and ensure the right business outcomes with good ROI for your technology projects. After all, isn’t that what you want from a partner ecosystem?
In this world of endless options and endless partnering scenarios, the best thing you can do for your enterprise is to redefine what you are looking for in your ecosystem and be open to a multi-tenant partnering strategy that allows you to bring multiple firms to the table to solve your most vexing and promising business technology issues.
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