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Building an Ecosystem: The Importance of Partnerships in Market Penetration | A Discussion with Nick Harmer, Vice President, EMEA

Q&A

Below is an interview with Nick Harmer, Vantiq Vice President of EMEA, about the market opportunity in the region, his work building Vantiq’s partner ecosystem, and the value Vantiq’s partners bring to customer IoT and edge deployments.

Before we dig into the topic of the importance of building a partner ecosystem, tell us briefly, what is Vantiq?

Vantiq is a software company founded by industry veterans from the database and distributed apps space. Vantiq makes it possible to build, deploy and manage real-time applications at unprecedented speed. In fact SoftBank, after two unsuccessful attempts in two years, was able to deliver the world’s smartest building for their headquarters in just six months by using Vantiq. Apps built using Vantiq minimize risk and time-to-value, thus unlocking ROI for our customers much sooner. We’re unique, and different from cloud and hyperscale vendors, because we take a holistic approach that solves all of the hidden challenges that come with massively distributed, real-time apps.

Why did you join Vantiq and what is your role?

I have known Marty Sprinzen, CEO, and Paul Butterworth, CTO, for over 28 years from our days at Forté Software. At Forté, I was a founding member of its UK subsidiary. Back then, I was responsible for market entry, strategy, and developing a customer base from scratch. The work Marty, Paul and I did nearly three decades ago is one of the primary reasons for my joining Vantiq. In fact, in many ways, what we are building with Vantiq is similar to our work at Forté.

As Vice President, EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, Africa), my first priority is to build our ecosystem of partners, which is essential to bringing IoT and edge solutions to the market in this region. Edge computing is still young, and, as of yet, there is not one single player that has all the answers so that means we have to work together. Additionally, some customers may need a systems integrator or someone to write the application, or a technology partner that specializes in solutions like AI and geographic information system software.

As we grow our ecosystem of partners and scale revenue, I will work closely with the rest of Vantiq’s leadership team in executing on strategy as we introduce the Vantiq platform to new markets. In the near future, I will also be growing the EMEA sales team.

Why is building a partner ecosystem so important as you grow Vantiq’s presence in Europe?

There are a couple of reasons our partner ecosystem is important to helping customers capture the business value they seek from the Vantiq platform. For one, Vantiq only offers one part of the whole solution our customers need. So we need to work with systems integrators, as well as with infrastructure companies to create the edge computing platforms and to provide connectivity solutions, such as WiFi or private 5G networks, to connect together all the IoT sensors. Edge computing systems from partners such as Dell or HPE are essential to effectively filter the valuable information from the noise from all the IoT sensors as close to the source of information as possible. 

AI comes into play to further analyze data from IoT sensors, such as streaming video, which forms the basis of the whole class of “computer vision” applications. The system then requires specialized hardware to run the AI in the form of GPU hardware from our partner Nvidia. Customers may also require geographic information mapping systems from partners like Esri and Google. Vantiq then provides the event-driven, real-time application development and deployment platform that layers business logic over the information provided by the IoT sensors to further automate system behavior and provide the human computer interface. When a customer is considering how to prioritize use cases and the applications they can build with the Vantiq platform, then a business technologist like PwC can help by providing business and technology consulting. In summary, a customer solution has many moving parts, none of which are supplied by a single vendor.

Another reason partnerships are important is that for a young company like Vantiq, entering a new market is challenging. You’re essentially starting with a blank sheet of paper and a handful of resources. The key for any company in this position is to understand how our technology can drive the core business of our partners. For example, if Vantiq applications drive the deployment of edge computing, this benefits hardware vendors that supply those devices. And because they understand how Vantiq drives their core business, our partners will be happy to extend our market reach through their own sales teams.

How are companies’ general go-to-market strategies with partners changing? How about for Vantiq specifically?

When bringing a new product to market, you need to approach the market with a consultative sales approach via a direct sales team that has the required depth of understanding. Later on in the market evolution, at the point where the market understands the benefits and there is market pull, we can then rely more on the channel sales that respond to demand, rather than depending wholly on our own sales resources. Companies change their strategies as they go through this lifecycle. That said, today, there is far more recognition of the value in working in a partner ecosystem, and it’s as important to help partners understand the value of your system as it is for end user customers.

What opportunities are you excited about in EMEA?

At Vantiq, the Far East market is our biggest early adopter. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, one of our biggest customers is SoftBank, and through our partnership, the company’s headquarters located in Tokyo Portcity Takeshiba is now the world’s smartest building. With the Vantiq platform, they are able to improve operations and services by visualizing and sharing in real-time building functions such as safety and security, weather forecast, and public transportation status.

Overall, smart environments are more in demand in areas with new construction, making Dubai an important city for Vantiq, and when looking at the possibilities for Vantiq in EMEA, the opportunities are boundless. From innovative companies like Volkswagen in Germany to LG Electronics in Korea, Vantiq is applicable to all markets. I’m excited about the opportunities as we scale the Vantiq platform.

What opportunities are you seeing in retail?

Retailers are looking for technology investments to differentiate themselves in today’s hyper competitive market, but for many organizations, smart retail is not so simple to implement and operate. For starters, they need real-time analytics, a complex technology ecosystem, and integration of new and existing technologies.

With our platform, we’re helping to remove the barriers and make smart retail a more seamless process. We’re able to do this though our end-to-end partner ecosystem that consists of ISVs, systems integrators, and technology vendors. That means speed of deployment, flexibility and scalability, access to data across platforms, support of systems, acceleration of customer implementations, and interoperability with existing environments. Retailers are able to ingest streaming data, process and contextualize data for real-time awareness, and receive prompts and insights needed for smart operations.

From personalizing the customer experience to smart pricing to facilities management in places like department stores, supermarkets and shopping malls, the opportunities to transform retail as we know it are limitless.

Want to know more about Vantiq’s platform designed for real-time analytics and response? Contact us for a demo.

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