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IT hardware and software have a symbiotic relationship. One doesn’t provide value to users without the other, especially if the software is designed to run on specialized hardware such as point of sale (POS) terminals or industrial mobile computers. However, not every hardware-software partnership is the best match. It may work on paper, but there’s more to a partnership than whether the software will run on the hardware. A successful TSC partnership with a hardware OEM depends on more.
6 Things Hardware Vendors Want from TSC Partners
Before investing in a software partnership, hardware vendors will want assurances that it will produce calculable and soft ROI. Here are some factors your potential hardware OEM partner will consider:
Hardware vendors need to know your business goals align with theirs. So be prepared to show market research that confirms your target market is the same or intersects with theirs, and your solution addresses the needs and challenges of those users. Also, ensure you have a similar vision as the OEM for taking a hardware-software solution to market and can operate at the same scale.
An IT hardware OEM will provide software partners with resources and services, such as SDKs, APIs, integration assistance, testing platforms, and technical support. Hardware companies considering a partnership want to know what you bring to the table. Demonstrate your commitment to a successful integration by dedicating experienced resources to the relationship and proving that your solution complies with regulations and industry standards such as PCI-DSS.
An IT hardware vendor won’t be interested in a software partner that merely rides on its coattails to higher revenues. However, if you capture VCs and investors’ attention, build an active user base, and elevate your brand, hardware companies will be more interested in meeting. Additionally, if your business is established, has market share, and channel partners, you will be a more attractive partner who can help a hardware OEM break into new markets or expand its reach.
B2B software solutions often require onboarding and support for clients and their employees to use them successfully. Potential IT hardware OEM partners will want to know you have an effective plan for training users, encouraging software adoption and providing support so your mutual customers will receive the most value from your solution. Users won’t necessarily differentiate between the hardware solution and software solution if the system is complex and hard to use—or if they can’t get the help they need. Hardware companies want partners with the same high level of commitment to their customers.
For a hardware vendor to enter into a software partnership, the company will consider its impact on its brand. Therefore, your brand reputation, including your track record with customer service, UX, and security, will be critical to whether a hardware company invests in a partnership. Additionally, a potential partner will also want information on your brand strategy and how your teams can work together to amplify each other’s efforts.
Of course, hardware companies are interested in software partnerships that provide clients with a solution that works. Ensure the hardware can be certified for use with your software. Also, develop a strategy for long-term compatibility through updates, bug fixes, and patches—and prove your organization is agile enough to address issues quickly. Furthermore, consider whether you could adapt your solution to take advantage of particular hardware features, resulting in enhanced user experiences.
Partnerships Need a Strong Foundation
As with any business partnership, communication is essential. Define your expectations for the collaboration and make sure you understand your hardware vendor’s partners. Insist on transparency with the terms of your agreement related to costs, dedicated resources, and margin if your solutions are sold together.
Furthermore, partnership means that you need to factor in the hardware vendor’s perspective when you consider changes to your software, so develop relationships that allow you to work together to address any issues that arise. Consider setting up a schedule of business reviews to help stay on track to meet the hardware-software partnership’s business goals and generate new ideas to contribute to your mutual success. Ongoing commitment to the partnership will lead to the best outcomes.
Interested in connecting with specialized hardware vendors to certify your software? Follow the link to register for BlueStar’s TEConnect program—a channel-only accelerator meant to help you partner, bundle, and grow!