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Company News
  • 19
  • Jan
  • 2010
  • Unitech – a decade of success in Europe

    ‧EN - Europe & Africa

    ‧Company News

    On the 10 year anniversary of the launch of Unitech’s move into Europe and following its recent listing on the Taiwan stock exchange (OTC), Raymond Wolfert, sales & marketing manager at Unitech Europe, comments on the past 10 years and offers his predictions for the future.

    Unitech was founded in Taiwan in 1979 and entered into the Auto ID market some 6 years later having won a government tender to develop a barcode solution. Unitech saw the opportunity that Europe offered but also realised the importance of having local people on the ground in the countries to help build this key market. As a result, Unitech opened its first office in Europe in Tilburg in The Netherlands in 1999 and quickly developed a channel to support its Auto ID product range. As technology developed, Unitech launched its first Windows-based mobile computer in 2002 and followed this up fairly quickly with the introduction of its first PDA, the PA960 series.

    Since then it hasn’t looked back. Hardware sales in Europe have grown as awareness of Unitech’s brand and its reputation for product quality grew and this has resulted in continued investment in terms of an expanded local presence across many countries in Europe to support this growing demand. But that’s history as they say, so now let’s look forward. More and more organisations are realising the significant business benefits that enterprise mobility solutions deliver through the provision of increased visibility of their mobile workforce. This increased visibility enables businesses to monitor, measure and then, more effectively than ever before, manage their mobile workers, driving up levels of productivity and efficiency and increasing the all important bottom line. As enterprise mobility technology reaches maturity it is inevitable that hardware and software will increasingly become a commodity sell.

    From a hardware perspective, rugged devices will follow their less rugged consumer grade cousins. The gap in technology development and adoption between traditional rugged devices and consumer PDAs will narrow as end users demand consumer grade features and technology from their rugged hardware. As a result AIDC hardware development times will decrease and we will see new products being introduced more frequently and more rapidly as vendors compete to be the first to bring out devices with the latest technology. With this undoubtedly will come a decrease in cost. However the flipside to this is that decreased cost should enable more frequent product upgrades as end users will be more able to take advantage of the latest technologies as the budget requirement will be less.

    AIDC manufacturers will follow this trend of commoditisation and lower cost devices but will extend their product portfolio to develop products to meet specific vertical needs. The development of specialist devices built on extremely high levels of knowledge and expertise within a certain vertical will help the AIDC manufacturer to differentiate its products and put up barriers to entry against the commodity manufacturer. The commodisation surrounding AIDC hardware will also see a large increase in the number of VARs with web shops as the purchasing route moves increasingly online as confidence in Internet transactions grows. Users will become fully familiar with AIDC technology, as it will be very similar to that of consumer technology, and will be far more comfortable selecting and purchasing hardware. This will result in the Internet becoming a major component of the supply chain. The future picture with regard to the AIDC channel is fascinating. Verticalisation, i.e.focusing on specific verticals, and consolidation are the key words.

    As hardware commoditises end users will have less need to work with a VAR to advise them on the best hardware for their requirements. VARs will need to change their offering, focusing more on solutions and services than hardware alone. We will see a rise is hosted SAAS (software as a service) offerings whereby the end user can pay a fix price per user per month for a solution that is fully maintained, backed up and supported by the SAAS provider. VARs will offer a range of professional services around the SAAS model to get the end user up and running, such as development of a functional specification, installation, training and creation of custom reports. VARs will also need to firmly set out their market stall to position themselves as experts in a specific field i.e. verticalisation. This is likely to be one or a number of key vertical markets in which the VAR has extensive experience and differentiation from the more generalist VAR. Resellers will need to focus on delivering solutions for these chosen verticals. It will not be enough to simply offer standard AIDC products to fit within a vertical marketplace. Solutions must be designed for the specific demands of each marketplace.

    Unitech is already looking to extend its vertical offering with the launch earlier this year of its relationship with Precision Dynamics Corporation Europe (PDC-Europe), a pioneer in wristband technology. Through the combination of the barcode and RFID capability of Unitech’s PA600 MCA Mobile Clinical Assistant and PDC’s wristband technology, the two companies will bring solutions to market that meet the growing demands for patient identification in healthcare. As the AIDC marketplace matures and with it the AIDC channel, the role of the distributor will also change and consolidation will be a key factor. It will be difficult for locally focused distributors to maintain their business models by focusing on the AIDC market per se and on one geographical region. In my view local distributors need to act quickly in order to survive in the AIDC channel of the future. As I see it they have three options: they become acquired, or merge, with a larger Pan European distributor, they become specialists within target vertical markets, or they expand their business to reach outside of their traditional geographic region or build relationships with distributors who cover different European regions that enable them to achieve this. 

    Unitech has its finger on the pulse and will shortly be announcing a number of exciting new products and programmes to help its partners to get themselves ready for the future. Our plan it to ensure that each time the market develops our partners are ready and able to take advantage of the opportunity as opposed to wasting time trying to work out how best to adapt. Whilst none of my predictions are guaranteed to come true one thing that is certain is that the AIDC market of the future will be a very different one to the one we all operate within today, and I for one am personally very excited by the new challenges this will bring. It’s now 10 years on since Unitech opened its first office in Europe and one thing is for certain; Unitech is here to stay.



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