As technologies converge, there is more talk than ever about partnering to fill skill-set gaps while giving customers a single point of contact.
IT integrator Fujitsu and screens specialist PSCo have teamedup to bundle their expertise and broaden revenue opportunities for each partner. Down the track, they also hope to package their offerings for resellers looking for a piece of an expanding audiovisual pie.
Stuart Holmes, managing director of VAD and rentals firm PSCo, said the idea was to offer the expertise of a specialist team to other channel players for the increasing numbers of business IT deployments that involve screen technologies.
More businesses are seeking to add variations on videoconferencing or digital signage, for example, to communicate with their own staff, customers or business partners.
“It is a work in progress, but for the last nine months we have been working quite closely with the Fujitsu retail team,” he said. “We are now formalising the relationship.”
Fujitsu and PSCo initially worked together to deploy a giant 4m x 2.5m interactive videowall for the new Orange store in Milton Keynes late last year, which also involved an interactive Mexican wave feature created by yet another partner, London digital content provider Poke.
Fujitsu did the IT integration part of the installation, involving video-wall, Epos system, training area, gaming area, and a 70in store-front display. Although Fujitsu had previously worked for Orange, this project had been more challenging in terms of lead times, kit delivery, on-site installation, number of screens and complexity of the acoustics involved.
So PSCo’s specialist skills were needed and the relationship has grown from there, according to Paul Harper, business development manager at Fujitsu Services.
“We have been working with them on a number of other projects, mostly at the specification and design phase at the moment. It has already given us a lot of value,” Harper said.
“I think it complements what we already have within Fujitsu. We have an offering called Digital Media Network (DMN), a signage offering, and we are an IT infrastructure company. We have clients with datacentres around the world for which we manage networks. PSCo adds value.”
When Fujitsu is specifying and installing its DMN, depending on individual customer requirements, it can then simply ask PSCo to offer assistance in its displays-focused niche. This helps create an even more compelling proposition to take to the customer, Harper said.
“For Fujitsu, it has never been about trying to create a solution 100 per cent in-house. When it is required, we tend to take on some kind of partnership,” Harper said.
“And when it came to our DMN, I identified areas where we would require partnerships to add value to the proposition and differentiate ourselves from the rest of the IT crowd.”
While the partnership’s profits may not be able to be evaluated in concrete financial terms – at least not yet – the Fujitsu-PSCo initiative is getting a decent amount of support from within Fujitsu because of its status as a valuable differentiator, something that sharpens the integrator’s competitive edge, Harper added.
“When we are talking to customers, we can show that we have the depth and the capability,” he said.
Fujitsu found PSCo via the latter’s special projects manager Paul Childerhouse, who Harper has worked with before. That helped kick-start the level of trust that may be needed when working as partners on the same projects, Harper suggested.
The teamwork may develop further in future in line with trends. As Harper said, while there are plenty of companies out there offering digital signage software, even as signage-as-a-service, Fujitsu may offer an entire end-to-end managed solution as a service, Harper said.
“I think there is a real opportunity in the UK mid-market for propositions like that,” Harper said. “And it is the mid-market that we [Fujitsu] are actively pursuing in the UK and Ireland.”
PSCo’s Holmes said the VAD has the skills to delivery high-end visual technologies including HD and emerging 3D, and would consider teaming up with other IT companies.
“We do large-format displays, for a network of screens, and we have the value-added services. We can do the pricing, as a distributor, but also the technological support,” he said.
“Fujitsu software enables us to wrap up a very nice solution that complements what IT partners offer.”
Fujitsu has the software as well as the IT reseller base, while PSCo has the rest of the products and the technical expertise. Customers do not want to deal with a hodge-podge of different providers, Holmes noted, but prefer to have just one company to deal with for the whole solution, which simplifies trouble-shooting and accounts administration.
“We will be looking for similar partnerships with other IT-focused companies,” Holmes said.
According to an IDC report in June, visualisation technologies are growing in importance.
“Visual information adds huge value by connecting workers and disciplines that once lacked a common platform for interaction, a means to convert, unify, and extract information,” the firm said.
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