I love talking to customers. I find that I always gain the most amazing insights and hear some great stories. Here’s a classic example. “Hello, my name is Jordan. I’m the CEO of Hark. I assumed back in 2016 that designing and shipping hardware was good for us. That assumption was dumb.”
Hardware time anyone?
I don’t know about you, but I admired Jordan’s honesty and wanted to learn more! For those of you who are unfamiliar, Hark Systems has a mission to build innovative energy management solutions to remedy real-world challenges.
Jordan explained that Hark’s decision to enter the hardware area was driven purely by practical reasons. Quite simply, the company wanted to build hardware infrastructure to run alongside its cloud-based software. And so, Hark’s decision went something like this, if you want something done well, the only way is to do it yourself. As Jordan said, “We’re technical people and being accomplished software developers, we assumed hardware design would be relatively straightforward.”
A horse of a different colour
As Jordan admitted a couple of months later, while it had been an interesting journey, hardware design was way more complicated and costly than originally envisaged. ” Everyone thinks they can buy a CPU board or Raspberry Pi and off you go but there’s a lot involved. Selecting the right prototype platform, waiting for samples, the cost of moulding, resolving hardware bugs all take time, expertise and money.”
Even when issues are resolved, it’s not easy to scale up to volume manufacturing. And as Jordan says, “There’s the whole regulatory side, where you need to gain certification to ship to different countries. That requires time and expertise.”
Stick to what you’re good at
This is where yours truly gets to feature. When I heard the story, I interjected, “Hey, Dell Technologies OEM | Embedded & Edge Solutions has something you could use.” And the rest, as they say, is history – a partnership was born. Hark and Dell Technologies have now partnered on a number of successful retail projects including a major IoT win with a top four UK supermarket. More on that in a follow-on blog!
Despite the challenges encountered, Jordan doesn’t regret the journey. “Designing hardware has made us even better at designing cloud software that talks to hardware. However, we quickly realized that we needed a partner like Dell to scale up. We needed a partner like Dell for supply chain, logistics and to manage regulatory certification. We needed Dell to take the complexity away, reduce lead-times, manage the certification process and allow us to focus on our own IP.”
As Jordan says, “We built hardware because we needed to, we didn’t necessarily want to be a hardware company.”
A two-way partnership
Of course, it’s not a one-way street. While Dell Technologies offers an amazing set of building blocks, we don’t make energy management solutions like Hark does. We might be one of the biggest IT infrastructure companies in the world, but we need partners like Hark with specialist expertise across a whole range of industries.
Like our other partners, Hark is successfully disrupting the market, making solutions affordable and linking legacy, proprietary-based analogue systems with new platforms, which means customers don’t have to rip and replace existing, expensive infrastructure. This specialist expertise is hugely beneficial, allowing us to credibly enter key vertical markets and enabling our sales team to close projects quicker and more efficiently.
Here to help
Hark’s experience shows why a partnership with Dell Technologies OEM | Embedded & Edge Solutions pays dividends. The moral of the story is clear – stick to your core competencies and pick the right partners for the rest.
On that note, allow us to take away the headache of handling the hardware and integration-related complexities that can drain your resources, wreck your head and cause delays in bringing your IP to market. We can help you select the right compute power for your solution, the appropriate system to optimally run your IP, certify it to industry standards or regulatory requirements, customise it, build it and ship it. And, of course, we can share some great stories together along the way!