New Business Models Require Informed Mission-Critical Buyers
Tuesday, June 25, 2019 | Comments
The mission-critical communications industry is changing. New technology is emerging, and with new technology comes new suppliers, sales strategies and business plans. Shareholders reward companies with monthly subscription fees — often called “software as a service” — because of the stable recurring revenue. The goals of suppliers don’t always align with what’s in the best interest of your communications network.

I’ve heard several recent anecdotes where mission-critical communications users got caught in situations where suppliers had the upper hand. To be fair, vendors must focus on their bottom lines to stay in business, but as buyers, public-safety and critical infrastructure industries (CII) firms must be educated and spend money wisely.

In one example, a public-safety agency bought new hardware for its vehicles to take advantage of commercial Long Term Evolution (LTE) services. However, the service wasn’t ideal, with unsatisfactory coverage and throughput levels for the particular agency. When the public-safety communications manager spoke to the carrier about the problem, he was told it was an issue with the hardware. The hardware was a large investment, and it was difficult to know if the hardware provider was to blame or if the mobile carrier was actually at fault. Regardless, a lot of money was spent on ineffective hardware and wireless service that then had to be troubleshooted.

The second example was a public-safety agency trialing two different body camera solutions. Body camera company A required the agency to sign a contract for back-end video storage as well. When the agency decided to deploy technology from body camera company B instead, company A didn’t let the agency out of its 12-month “contract” for the back-end services of the trial system, and the agency had to continue paying for company A’s service for nine months when it wasn’t even in use.

As a buyer, familiarize yourself with the products and services before you sign anything. Some companies offering LTE and related technology have business models and strategies that are different than our industry norm. Know what you’re buying, so you don’t get stuck with equipment or service that doesn’t meet your needs or a monthly bill you never intended to have.

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