OEM (original equipment manufacturing) is one of the most commonly used acronyms in the tech industry and can be found applied across a huge range of business and consumer solutions. Why is that the case? Software vendors depend on hardware vendors to develop products that support their operating environments, applications and tools. Hardware vendors often utilize large-scale manufacturers to build end products.
Product builders, in turn, use the commodity parts and components produced by thousands of manufacturers large and small.
In other words, the vast majority of OEM and other solutions created by the tech industry are dependent on strategic relationships that make the most out of each partner’s particular skills and expertise. But since these relationships seldomly occur spontaneously, how do companies recognize their potential value to one another and get together in the first place? An interesting example of this is the strategic partnership between Dell Technologies OEM|Embedded and Edge Solutions group and Hark Systems, a U.K.-based energy management solutions provider. Let’s take a look at what the pair are achieving together.
Hark Systems: IoT Solutions for Real-World Problems
So, what is Hark Systems and what does it do? Founded in 2016, Hark focuses on a variety of energy management solutions designed to monitor and extract insights from energy-related data in commercial and industrial environments, including retail, life sciences, smart buildings, smart cities and manufacturing. That includes affordably linking analog and proprietary legacy systems with new digital platforms, thus enabling customers to avoid costly rip-and-replace investments.
The Hark Platform is a cloud-based service and software solution deployed at the edge to provide real-time insights into business operations and to control assets such as lighting, HVAC and energy storage. The company has enjoyed notable successes, including:
- Deployments with a top-four U.K. retailer to provide visibility into and reduce the costs of energy consumption in stores and offices.
- A microgrid solution that monitors the energy draw and operation of a Tesla battery deployed in the 70,000-square-foot Bright Building in Manchester, U.K. The Hark Platform controls the battery’s charge, discharge and other functions, enabling the Bright Building’s owners to manage their use of conventional energy sources and reduce costs.
The Road to Dell Technologies
Great stuff, but how did Hark come to engage with Dell? The company’s CEO, Jordan Appleson, has said: “I assumed back in 2016 that designing and shipping hardware was good for us. That assumption was dumb.” How did he come to that conclusion? Following an unsuccessful hardware development effort requiring considerable time, effort and investment. Appleson’s candor is refreshing, but it also reflects his and his company’s ability to learn and progress from their mistakes.
In a blog by Mike Fay, a business development manager in Dell Technologies OEM|Embedded and Edge Solutions group, Appleson is quoted as saying, “We built hardware because we needed to. 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 Technologies to scale-up … to take the complexity away, reduce lead times, manage the certification process and allow us to focus on our own IP. We needed a partner like Dell for supply chain and logistics.”
What was it about Dell that impressed Hark and led to the partnership? Appleson noted the versatility, quality and durability of Dell Technologies solutions, including its Edge Gateways for IoT. The lack of moving parts, including cooling fans, means that systems are quieter and less likely to fail than other vendors’ products. Plus, by leveraging broader investments in developing ruggedized notebooks and other products, Dell’s Edge Solutions portfolio is IP rated for dust protection and moisture intrusion.
Finally, Hark appreciated the value of Dell Technologies’ three-year warranty and the ability to leverage the company’s global support network for its own and its customers’ benefit. By working with Dell Technologies, Hark Systems has been able to scale up and meet the requirements of demanding enterprises.
A Dynamic Partnership
Since every successful strategic relationship depends on providing value for all the involved partners, what does Dell get out of the deal? The fact is that Hark Systems provides real insights that enhance the value of Dell Technologies’ embedded|edge strategies. While the company has a notable portfolio of end-to-end IT infrastructure solutions, Dell Technologies depends on partners to provide expertise for and insights into industrial use cases and specialized markets.
Relationships with disruptive companies, like Hark Systems, obviously create discrete new commercial opportunities for Dell Technologies. But these strategic partnerships also help the company better understand the changes powering evolutionary shifts in wider markets. As a result, Dell Technologies can more effectively develop products that can be applied to new applications and use cases and position itself to gain advantage from these developments.
Like other disruptive vendors, Hark Systems is succeeding by encouraging companies to rethink how they do business and refine the way they manage processes, including facilities operations. By powering edge-to-cloud insights into energy consumption, Hark is helping its customers better understand and more efficiently leverage conventional and emerging energy resources.
The considerable benefits of disruptive technologies can also extend to OEMs and other strategic partners. That is, working with Hark Systems does more than simply open new commercial opportunities for Dell Technologies’ OEM|Embedded and Edge Solutions group. It also enables Dell Technologies to be more effectively disruptive to its own and its customers’ benefit.
Charles King is a principal analyst at PUND-IT and a regular contributor to eWEEK. © 2019 Pund-IT, Inc. All rights reserved.