The technology industry is betting on innovation in software to progress, and hardware steadily has taken a back seat.
By Vishal Agrawal
Can you imagine a hotel room without a desktop phone? I guess not. It would most likely give you the feeling of a body without hands. How do you talk to the customer service agent and order food, or call for a check out or any other service? But today’s hardware allows you to be your own master, accessing all these services with minimal human intervention. A hardware which is capable of being that one-stop solution for all your needs, be it pre-arrival services such as booking a room, requesting pre-stay preferences, during stay services such as lights, ambience, AC, TV controls and post check-out services such as providing feedback – all through this one device.
The technology industry is betting on innovation in software to progress, and hardware steadily has taken a back seat. Look at most smartphone OEMs! Innovation is the only way forward to sustain in the technology industry, and often, innovation is synonymous to software , technologies such as AI, ML, deep learning, blockchain, etc., have taken centre stage. But for these technologies to come to life, what you need is an innovative and capable hardware solution.
Any customer service representative will tell you a good headphone and a smart desktop solution is critical for business and to drive a superior positive customer experience. For example, Avaya’s Vantage brings the app-driven world of personal smart devices to the workplace, delivered via a touchscreen interface. With such devices in your enterprise, IT departments can easily whitelist and blacklist websites that can be accessed via Vantage – a feature that most IT managers would love on the average BYOD smartphone.
Now, let’s move to the hospitality sector. Hotel operators can use smart devices’ interface to customise their brand positioning, and then offer various add-on services such as recommendations of nearby attractions with directions, an online property map that helps guests navigate the grounds, or offers for F&B outlets. These devices can also enable hotel operators to integrate IoT technologies such as air conditioning, lights or entertainment, consolidating the guest experience into a single platform.
Clearly, hardware still has an integral role to play in the technology industry. Another example is a leading cloud provider. At a time, when they are increasingly focusing on emerging technologies and cloud, they are still bringing in innovations in their hardware business – mainframes.
A question that I have been asked while talking about hardware innovation is – will it even make your business profitable? My answer: it might not make us prosperous in an year, but it will be our volume base five years down the road.
The smartphone industry is in fact another great example of the importance of hardware. While most manufacturers talk about seamless functioning, effective RAM management, etc, what makes it efficient is the chip inside. Apple’s A12 bionic chip, and Snapdragon 845 for most Android smartphones is what really powers the devices.
With good software, you can sell good hardware; with good hardware, you can sell good software; with both, you can sell good services. These are essential interlinkages that technology vendors have to understand now! And as the world surely and steadily marches into the cloud, good hardware becomes even more important. After all, cloud software still needs to interface with a human being and having some control over that interface, through a hardware device, adds value to that interaction. There exists a huge space for dedicated hardware solutions where you bring that human interface to the next level and add more value to the way people use your cloud software—that’s what’s happening with the coolest and most exciting cloud software!
The writer is the managing director, Avaya India & SAARC