How existing specialist technologies are converging and new technologies are coming to the fore right now – and how Ingram Micro is changing to support that convergence
It is of no surprise to any of us that the world we live in is changing at an ever increasing rate. It has been this way since Charles Babbage first formulated the idea of a programmable computing device back in the 19th century. Since then, we’ve seen an accelerating progression from the first valve-based counting machines, the work of great minds such as the code breakers at Bletchley Park, onto the invention of the silicon chip and in the future, the development of quantum computing. I’m sure that when Babbage had his light bulb moment, he had his own vision of how his idea would shape the future and I’m sure that it looked very different to what actually came about. The inability to predict the future path of our technologies is true throughout our technological development. This autumn, the sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner will hit our cinema screens. The dystopian vision of the future that was painted in the original was based in the year 2019 and it is no great surprise to us that it has not quite yet come to pass (although with Brexit on the horizon anything is possible by then!). Sometimes perhaps, we need to be less focused on trying to predict “future trends” and more on the trends we are seeing now. As a case in point, I shall take a phrase that I have heard from a Vendor at least once every year for the last 10 years, next year is the year of RFID. In actual fact, I do believe that time is finally coming and that this year, that statement may well be true however a lot of time and energy has been spent on a technology that for some time has been not quite ready yet.
This year, we’ve started to see some key developments in a number of areas that are leading to significant change in our market. The lines between Data Capture and Physical Security are blurring. In the world of transport and logistics, products such as Honeywell’s AutoCube begin to allow us to understand a lot more about that parcel they are shipping than the weight. Retailers are gaining benefits from being able to use data to predict the future, both in terms of managing their operations with tools such as Zebra’s Operational Visibility Service and SmartLens in the Auto-ID space or Axis Communications’ array of analytical tools in the world of Physical Security, which include features such as queue monitoring and facial recognition. Understanding the data these solutions automatically generate in a way which enables it to be acted upon in a proactive manner is becoming a key differentiator for many organisations as it both enables them to reduce costs and increase revenues. Omni-Channel retail is maturing in part on the back of this data, and we see significant growth in dynamic digital signage applications which are designed to deliver customised messaging in the right time and at the right place. Mobile point of sale continues to develop and we are now starting to see cohesive solutions hit the market from the major manufacturers such as Elo Touch Solutions’ PayPoint, Epson’s TMi range , HP’s MX-10 and Star’s rejuvenated mPOP series.
One of the other trends we see in the channel is that large companies seem to have a need to constantly reorganise. As an outsider looking in at some of the stranger reorganisations we have seen in the Auto-ID channel over the last year, sometimes it is easy to feel that some reorganisations are done for no other reason than to shake things up a little. Sometimes it leaves you wondering if whoever came up with it was under the influence of the same thing that Vangelis was as he wrote the score for the aforementioned vision of our future. However, with these trends in mind, our latest changes make a lot of sense. Our new Speciality Solutions division brings together our existing Data Capture/POS & ProAV business with the addition of our new Physical Security category. These businesses have a lot in common:
- A commitment to specialist, value-added distribution
- A solution-led and project orientated mind-set where we know it’s not about the product, but what it delivers
- A specialist channel with the skills and knowledge to create opportunities rather than just chasing them
Each of the businesses retains its own specialist resources and dedicated teams but they will work together to help our customers navigate these market trends and, where they choose to, expand across those three tightly connected niches of the market. We have the focus, skills and expertise under one roof to bring together all of these trends and put them together in such a way that it brings benefits to all of us.
So, if you are a specialist barcoding company who wants to understand how IP cameras and analytics can help to deliver better warehouse management solutions, an AV customer who wants to get deeper into their customer’s retail estate or you just want to keep on with what you’re doing then we’ve got the right people to help you do that. Even if you just want to find out what’s out there – let us know, we’ll be happy to come and tell you what we know and see if we can find some new opportunities together.