So as we draw Rugged PDA Support week to a close I thought it would be nice to create a thought piece article about where Rugged PDA Service has been and where it’s going in the future. I’ll splash it with a little bit of opinion in true Friday fashion!
Rugged PDA Support History
It’s actually very interesting to draw parallels with the Desktop and Server industry when you talk about Smartphones and Rugged PDA’s because they look very similar in many ways. In the early days of Rugged PDA’s there were only a few, they were hefty, expensive and they were repaired. In fact they were tinkered with, tweaked, repaired and because they tended to be quite special in the business there tended to be longer times to do anything.
As the Rugged PDA became more popular we saw repair centre’s springing up everywhere but in my opinion the whole attitude was far from Mission Critical. I used to work at another Reseller who where and remain very unethical about how they do things and they saw their repair centre as a necessary evil rather than a way to provide better service to their customers. They were also purposely slow with devices that they had not sold personally and the end result was that their were devices left on shelves for weeks with little process or professionalism about the whole thing.
It was Motorola who then really forced a change. They weren’t actually the first but their range of “Service from the Start” products were the ones that started to realise Rugged PDA’s were becoming the heart of line of business solutions and they needed a product that could be relied. They couldn’t trust the repair centre model, I think at the time they were right and they brought it all back in to their own fold. Everyone followed suit and that’s why today you’ll be hard pressed to find any real differences in the main manufacturers when it comes to Rugged PDA Service, Support and Warranty.
The trouble with Manufacturer Service Products
You know what, the manufacturer lead products were something that had to happen. It was a mess out there and something needed to be done and they stepped in, but the trouble is that nothing has changed since when a whole bunch stuff has been happening in our world. Manufacturer lead service products are clean and neat to sell, but they are not guarantees of TCO and they do not stick to their SLA’s all the time. Despite this we’re seeing a pressure to “Attach” service on all PDA sales with phrases like “It’s the only way you can Guarantee Parts” being used to frighten you into buying them rather than letting the value of them stand on their own two feet. if you’ve recently tried to get out of warranty support with them then you’ll know what I mean!
The products have become stale, inflexible, you are treated as a number and if anything slightly out of process happens then it all goes wrong and the Reseller has to step in, despite not having been paid a thing to do so as we’re selling someone elses product, not our own any more. It’s not a recipe for success in the world we live in today.
The Future, The Answer
There are a lot of excellent service centres out there, not just in the Rugged PDA world, out there who would surprise you with the number of engineers they have in their service centres. I mean big brands with 1 or 2 engineers covering the whole of Europe. You know what, their service is far better than any of the larger manufacturer offerings and it does beg the question if they have gone a bit “Supermarket” on the service element and I can tell you where our thinking is here. The facts remain it’s about people not process and its about listening to the customers and reacting not telling them what they need and I mean reacting in a few days, not having 6 months of discussion groups and process re-engineering, I mean being truly bespoke. Can a manufacturer do that? not on your nelly, they simply do not have the relationship with the end users or the ability to change. Can the resellers do that, yes definitely. We have the conversation every day on a range of products and we live in a world where we can build quickly and do better, faster, less expensive quite easily now.
What I do know is that service products need to be far more flexible. they need to be far more innovative, they need to be far more personable and they need to serve a world that wants to fix, repair, be adhoc and be treated special at the same time. The world has changed and we need to change with it!
The Rugged and Mobile blog.