When it comes to choosing a technology partner for your business, it really pays to know who you are working with – particularly as your relationship may involve a contract commitment of anything from three to five years.
The Covid-19 Pandemic has shifted the supply chain from its usual axis and has uncovered positive examples of businesses supporting other businesses in a time of crisis. Unfortunately, it has also had a negative impact, exposing the precarious trading position of many organisations. In the telematics and fleet technology space, we’ve heard from UK-based operators of at least one provider, who have fallen short in their commitments, leaving customers adrift with no access to local technical or account management support.
This scenario highlights two things: one being the critical nature of any due diligence process when choosing a technology provider, and the other being the importance of the service and support that is included with a new solution.
So, if you’re in the market for a new provider, especially for telematics which benefits from an excellent service-wrap, it might pay you to look under the hood to identify a reliable corporate partner who will be with you for the long haul.
Here are a few key areas to consider…
The track-record and longevity of the provider
New telematics providers join the market all the time with many leaving just as quickly. It is easy to design a simple solution, it is far harder to build leading-edge solutions that are scalable, robust and have stood the test of time. When evaluating any organisation, it is important to know how long they have been in business, how committed they are to the country they operate in, what their underlying balance sheet looks like, and how consistently they have grown over time.
Product refinements & hardware updates
Some suppliers provide an all-in model of what they believe you require while others provide a modularised solution where you buy part of the solution and then add additional items as they are needed. No approach is wrong but an innovative supplier will not stand still and will be offering rolling upgrades and product updates as technology and user requirements shift. A clear product roadmap is also key, as it underscores a clear strategy of planning and product investment over time.
Another key consideration is that the system should be configurable to suit your specific requirements to add continued value in the longer term. Account management, business transformation and data science support should now be considered as key must-haves for any service wrap.
While it is easy to be attracted to what is new and shiny, it is important to align yourself with a partner that is working with similar organisations to yours. You can evaluate this through customer lists, testimonials, or through direct site visits or conversations with existing customers.. A technology company that is excelling in a particular market segment will usually be designing solutions that address the pain points you are experiencing. Forward thinking vendors will also invite you to participate in product update forums and development workshops to ensure that what they are doing is aligned with your priorities.
It is important that the solution provider shares similar values to your organisation. If there is a misalignment of values, it can lead to a poor outcome as both companies will expect to work with each other in different ways. The values don’t need to be exactly the same – for example the provider might value delivering on their commitments while your focus is on maximising customer value. There is a clear opportunity for synergy when you work with this supplier as they will give you honest and informed advice to help you to support your customers more efficiently.
Checking all the functional requirements of your intended solution is important but there are less obvious checks and balances to review that may well assume equal or even greater importance over the duration of your partnership.
When choosing a telematics partner, you will be committing to a long-term partnership – the partner you choose needs to grow and adapt along with your business and needs to be committed to making sure that you – and your business – get the most out of the relationship.