The Top Tech Takeaways from a TEConnect's Podcast with Code Product Management
"It's time to plug in and get connected!"
This is how affable hosts John Martin and Dean Reverman begin each episode of their popular TEConnect Podcast. Backed by Blue Star Inc., a global technology supplier, the podcast caters to value-added resellers (known as VARs) and other tech sales professionals within the IT reseller channel. If you're in tech sales, product management, or sales management, the duo's podcast should be required viewing (subscribe to their YouTube channel).
This podcast recap focuses on the duo's April 8th, 2021 episode, "Understanding (and Selling) Digital Transformation w/ Code's Brian Lampright." Getting right to it: what is digital transformation, and why does it matter?
At its core, the trend of digital transformation is the replacement of old-school manual processes with computer-based ones (read more here). And because of the 2020-21 pandemic, digital transformation has taken on even greater relevance because decentralized workforces became reliant on cloud-based services and Voice over IP to keep taking care of business.
According to TEConnect hosts Martin and Reverman (both of whom are steeped in all things tech and sales), working from home has made consumers more open to tech than ever. This openness is why the TEConnect hosts tapped Code Corporation's Sr. Software Product Manager, Brian Lampright, to break down what's driving "digital transformation." More importantly, from a tech sales standpoint, the tech trio talked about the opportunities digital transformation holds for tech sales pros like VARs, systems integrators (SIs), and tech deployment consultants.
Breaking the Code to Digital Transformation
With such a broad topic, why did TEConnect tap a barcode manufacturer to talk about tackling digital transformation?
It's simple: Data capture and decoding are integral to digital transformation. This is why Code's Lampright jumped at the chance to talk tech. Code, the Salt Lake City-based maker of barcode readers and scanning software, is among the technology partners helping future-proof VARs and other channel professionals with segment-leading technology. Lampright, echoing the TEConnect hosts, said the pandemic eroded many of the barriers to tech adoption, making digital transformation a ripe opportunity for VARs.
"It's changed human habits, from how we get food to the telehealth we use to interact with our doctors," Lampright told the podcasters. "For technology people like myself, it's an opportunity."
And given his tech experience, he knows an opportunity when he sees one - Lampright recalled "not having the Internet in high school," and now has a successful career of "building stuff on the Internet." At Code, he's part of the software team that manages Software Development Kits (SDKs); the group also helps Code's customers (and their tech partners) embed SDKs and other scanning software products into virtually any project or product for data capture.
Artificially More Intelligent
Lampright explained how virtual assistants like Apple Inc.'s Siri and Amazon's Alexa made Artificial Intelligence (AI) mainstream over the last decade. And now, the computing power is there to make AI easily applicable across a host of industries, such as material handling and logistics.
"Code's in the barcoding industry; a practical use of AI would be automating the settings of a piece of hardware or device based on the types of imagery coming through. So, it's running imagery through to train an AI model and then optimizing those settings [so you] have the fastest scans you possibly can."
A practical example of AI models and barcode scanning would be a fulfillment center where items zip by on conveyors and must be rapidly scanned. Essentially, a machine is being trained with millions of images so it can "make" smarter decisions for better workflows.
Given technology's breakneck speed of evolution and the coronavirus pandemic forcing companies of all types to seek digital replacements for on-site processes, talk turned to the cloud.
You've Got to Put Your Head in the Clouds
According to TEConnect host Reverman, the concept of "the cloud" has been kicking around for more than a decade. The hosts asked Lampright if tech resellers should finally start going all-in on the cloud and what best practices are shaping up to be.
"If you're not using it [the cloud] today, you probably should be," cautioned Lampright. "There are just so many advantages in cost and scalability, and even the choices between providers and being able to move among them. It's also being able to do things in minutes that used to take months [to do] by setting up a data center. If you aren't there, you should probably at least have a plan to get there."
TEConnect hosts Martin and Reverman then highlighted the wealth of resources from developers and providers focused on cloud solutions and had a warning for tech sales pros.
"You've gotta put your head in the clouds," urged TEConnect host Reverman. "It's important for resellers to understand the value proposition that comes out of the cloud. All of these resources are being developed around the cloud, and you're going to be on the wrong side of the digital gap if you're not involved."
"There's going to be a point where this is a necessity," Martin added. "Do you want to be playing catch up when that time comes, or do you want to be there and have your customers ready to go?"
Shop, Scan & Go
Lampright used brick-and-mortar retail operations as a prime example of a sector playing catch up.
"It was so disrupted by this [pandemic] last year, and now it's just starting to come back. And they're doing things differently," Lampright explained about the advent of Scan & Go shopping technology. "We're seeing a lot of interest, post-COVID, to move in that direction where you bring your own device into a store. No more touching the credit card keypad that a hundred other people have just touched."
So, working from home has turned millions on to the tremendous opportunities of tech. And this has both Lampright and the podcast hosts asking: How do we approach our retailers (VARs) and help get them in on cloud computing?
Lampright urged VARs to '[be] keeping an open mind. COVID has changed our world, and we will see different ways of doing things; we will see different patterns and new technologies that have advanced by years in such a short time."
To drive the point home, Reverman shared the following statistics:
- 87% of companies think digital will disrupt their industry.
- But only 44% are prepared for the potential of what it will do to their industry.
- And only 21% of companies believe they've completed their digital transformation.
- Essentially, 80% of companies out there need some digital transformation.
"It's incumbent upon you, the solution reseller, to walk in to [a customer] with some solutions mapped out," Reverman stated. What's more, he added, most customers are not only struggling to gather data, they're unable to leverage it.
"That's going to be something that our VAR partners, our vendor partners like Code, and our software partners can all work together on to go into a customer and say 'we're not just telling you because it's a buzzword,' we're telling you it's going to be important to you, your customers, and your business," Martin stated.
Need help breaking through?
The trio then discussed what tools can be used to further break down the barriers to customers adopting digital transformation.
"You need to tap into an ecosystem that can help along the way; tap into folks like Brian, who is in software for Code but can also connect the dots with other solutions so that you can go to the table" Martin suggested. "That's so critical moving forward. You have to be a solution reseller moving forward. You've got to have the answers when you walk in the door because if you don't, someone will walk in the door right behind you with the answers."
Because knowledge is power, the TEConnect hosts asked Lampright what practical applications have been improved through digital transformation. What came to mind for Lampright was a creative warehousing and distribution app that merged drones, IoT, and cloud computing with barcode scanning to manage thousands of barcodes.
"How do you figure out what's in there?" Lampright asked. "Flight plans are built around a warehouse, and the video live streams to a server and that server is using machine vision to analyze all the video coming in. [It's being used] to do things like barcode scanning and recognition of what may be on a pallet based on sizes. This is one of those IoT/cloud plays that is quickly developing a lot of steam behind it."
Drones cataloging a warehouse. This application is just one of many that VARs and other tech resellers made infinitely better by working with suppliers and proactively approaching customers. Tech-savvy customers will begin expecting this approach, and it seems like future public health challenges may demand it.
Need more insight on the IT reseller channel, software companies, and working with hardware manufacturers? Make TEConnect's Podbean page part of your professional development. Want to learn from these tech experts? Watch the full podcast https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cx3bDhSExds.