The Service Industry Association’s annual Summit of Industry Leaders, held last month in Las Vegas, was remarkable on a number of levels.
SIA, the organization itself, under the leadership of an excellent Executive Director and Board, is experiencing a remarkable growth spurt, including an increase globally. The whole conference was, in fact, infused with enthusiasm and a positive outlook.
Also remarkable is that anti-competitive actions by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs)—in both IT and Medical Equipment services markets—are increasing. Policies that tie hardware service to software service, or to equipment purchase, are intended to benefit only one party—the OEM.
The effect of OEMs tying services is to eliminate choices and options for enduser customers. For decades Independent Service Organizations (ISOs) have provided a balance and an option for endusers.
ISOs maintain a wide range of manufacturers’ products. For some enduser customers, this is the best-performing and most cost-effective solution to managing the full spectrum of technology services needed. OEM actions and policies that eliminate that option harm those customers.
ISOs are typically profit center organizations. They are not tied to the success or failure of a manufacturing or a product sales/marketing organization. ISOs are positioned to provide a unique set of services to meet customer needs, and have historically stood closest to the customer. In past decades when OEMs have attempted to monopolize the service market for their products, remedies have been found—both in the courts and in the offices of customers.
OEMs need to adhere to long-standing industry standards, as exemplified by IBM. When policies are designed to meet the full range of customer needs, the customer, OEM, and ISO all benefit.
If I were a betting person, and having recently been to Vegas who isn’t, I’d bet on the customers, once again, versus the OEMs.