AIDC vendors today face intense competition in the barcode printer and scanner hardware markets. This has them adopting non-traditional approaches to maintain and grow their market share, and generate higher shareholder value. In recent months, incumbents and emerging participants alike have launched initiatives on the channel development front with an aim to address client and prospect engagement opportunities. These initiatives include extensive Independent Software Vendor (ISV) partner programs as well as venture funds such as Zebra’s extension of Zebra Ventures with its Enterprise Asset Intelligence (EAI) Accelerator program and Honeywell’s recently launched $100 million fund, Honeywell Ventures.
Zebra’s PartnerConnect program focuses on expanding its already extensive ISV partner network to promote its products to wider audiences and provide clients with innovative software solutions that are supported by its portfolio of AIDC sensing, printing and mobility solutions. Partners can receive financial benefits and technical insights during the application development process and connect with the company’s sales teams and resellers to reach new clientele, as well as assistance in sales engagements. Expanding upon this, Zebra Ventures is the strategic investment arm of Zebra Technologies focusing on early stage companies that are in line with the company’s Enterprise Asset Intelligence (EAI) initiative to improve client productivity by leveraging data made available by its extensive AIDC and mobility solutions portfolio, and thereby provide vital analytics and actionable insights to clients. The fund focuses on companies addressing a number of capabilities including analytics, artificial Intelligence, asset visibility, augmented reality, automation and robotics, cloud-based device management, data capture, location and motion sensing, and mobile computing. Its current investment portfolio includes AIDC centered companies such as RF Controls, Proficient, IntelliVision, and ScanBuy,
The company recently launched its EAI accelerator program in July 2017. This incubator will give select developers and innovators the opportunity to fast track their solutions to market with access to Zebra resources including sample datasets from Zebra devices, access to APIs, developer and technical resources as well as the chance to participate in speaking engagements and promotion opportunities. The accelerator program will announce inducted members for the program in September 2017.
The Honeywell Performance Partner Program for its Sensing and Productivity Solutions provide ISV members with pricing discounts, growth incentive rebates, demonstration models, access to potential leads and collaborative planning, as well as marketing and service support. Members accepted into the program will also receive a specialization certification as printer and scanning specialists. Depending on the specialization awarded, members can receive uniquely catered materials, support and rewards to grow their business. In March 2017, the company also launched Honeywell Ventures, which focuses on investing in early stage companies that can add catalytic value to its extensive ecosystem of software and connected devices, and promote long-term growth for the company. The fund will focus on companies that can align with target markets and expand upon its existing partner program initiatives in place. Honeywell will assist companies in which it invests through accelerated development and access to its installed base, research and development, customers, channels, and markets.
VDC believes these initiatives are very much in line with the growth strategies of these AIDC market leaders and can help retain their leadership positions in the industry. For Zebra, the company has introduced a number of next-gen data-driven analytics platforms and hardware to help clients enhance their operations including the MotionWorks solution for sports, the SmartLens solution for retail and the SmartPack solution for Logistics. Honeywell, on the other hand, launched this fund along with focusing more on its ISV channel development, following the acquisition of Intelligrated in 2016 that will broaden its clientele and extend its ability to provide the latest material handling solutions and integration services leveraging its extensive AIDC solutions portfolio. Not limited to these incumbents, participants across the AIDC industry including Code, Datalogic, Epson, Infinite Peripherals, KOAMTAC, SATO, Seiko Instruments, Socket Mobile, and Star Micronics have all deployed similar programs to develop closer relationships with the software developer community.
VDC’s primary research indicates that while ISVs typically only focus on developing software leveraging the SDKs and APIs provided to them, they can recommend hardware solutions to clients or even bring on distribution partners directly to fulfill clients’ hardware requirements. These partnerships are reshaping the distribution strategies of vendors and delivering critical value to end users from the data captured from the myriad of data capture and printing solutions from mobile devices, barcode scanners, machine vision systems and other sensing technologies.
VDC’s upcoming report on the AIDC ISV landscape focuses on how vendors are engaging the software developer community to grow and engage new opportunities together with key recommendations for creating a successful partner program.
View the 2017 AutoID & Data Capture Research Outline to learn more.