We just completed a global study of enterprise end users of Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) and it revealed some interesting insights about what companies that are using or adopting RTLS are/will be looking for from their vendors. Although there is a wide array of requirements enterprises are placing on their RTLS solution providers, the following three are critical for RTLS vendors to address:
- Be a one-stop shop: Nearly ¾ of all respondents indicated a preference to deal with one company for their solution –not only because they want someone to assume responsibility for the entire implementation, but because they want their vendor to be a long-term partner with whom they can grow. This will become more critical as RTLS solutions become more pervasive in indoor and outdoor environments and need to leverage a host of technologies. Piece-meal is not the right go-to-market strategy (remember TimeDomain?).
- Be Prepared to Start Your Customers With Small, Focused Deployments: The vast majority of respondents’ initial deployments were relatively small and focused on one or two very specific business issues in which the vendor was intimately involved with the design, integration and deployment of the solution. Within 12 months of attaining their required ROI, however, most of these “start-small” customers were already looking to expand their RTLS solutions within the enterprise and, in some instances, the value chain … with the same vendor. The early success of their less complex deployments became instrumental to their ability to justify further investment. Early successes are critical – they not only offer proof of concept and facilitate solution expansion and scale, but they also provide a level of knowledge based on real world experience that becomes a critical foundation for future solution innovation and evolution. End users that had more complex initial deployments often struggled to achieve a successful implementation and had lower ROI. As a result, they were notably slower to expand/scale their systems, more reluctant to increase their RTLS budgets, and indicated a lower level of commitment to the technology. We encourage vendors to focus on helping their clients achieve successful pilot projects before pursuing enterprise-scale initiatives.
- Enhance your Software and Service offerings: Increased commoditization, competition and price sensitivity for RTLS hardware, along with a more diverse product mix (i.e.: EPC Gen2 Passive RFID) are expected to not only decrease hardware margins, but they will also make it more difficult for RTLS vendors to differentiate. Software and services are critical to a solution’s success, and are expected to become even more so as RTLS systems become increasingly complex, more deeply integrated and more broadly deployed. The end user is becoming increasingly aware of this. In fact, more than half of the respondent population stated that they would be allocating more of their RTLS budget to software and services, particularly as they continue to integrate, expand and scale their solutions throughout their enterprise and value chain. Based on the responses to this survey and how RTLS solutions continue to evolve, we see increasing demand for the following software and service offerings:
- Solution performance (i.e.: accuracy, precision)
- Data management (i.e.: monitoring, analytics, distribution/porting)
- Device management (i.e.: device health, maintenance)
- Application development (i.e.: expanding RTLS platform within enterprise/value chain)
- Integration and Scale (i.e.: seamless, facilitated, convergence with other systems)
All indicators are pointing to increasing year-over-year growth and significant opportunity for RTLS vendors who are prepared to be total solution providers, willing to invest in their accounts, and develop competency and expertise related to software and sevcies.