For some system builders, the pressures of diminishing returns on the supply of hardware have forced them to rethink thebusiness they are in. For Impact Systems Technology (IST), a commitment to quality product and service has meant that it has had to identify and deliver those elements that its customers want and are prepared to pay for. And it has also meant diversification in its product range and target markets.
According to IST managing director Peter Agamalis, a key to the company has been its flexibility in the way it presents itself to its channel customers. "We will source products that many vendors and distributors won't or can't," Agamalis said. "What this means for our dealers, is that we can supply all of their requirements for a customer wanting a small-to-medium network, including the supply of brand systems such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Compaq."
While IST builds around 300 systems per month, Agamalis stressed that, unlike other assembler/distributors, IST is not simply focused on its own products. Agamalis estimates that around 40 per cent of its system business is done through the channel, mostly with value-added resellers. He claimed that, as an assembler, the company is committed to using what he describes as tier-one components, having earned the government endorsement ITS2000 for its systems. Brands used in Impact-built systems include Intel, Gigabyte, Philips, Creative, Diamond, Teac and Panasonic.
Referring to IST's Web site, Agamalis said: "Pricing is scaled according to the volume of business, and although the Web site is not a full e-commerce operation, this is an example of our value-added distribution."
The bulk of its direct sales are with the corporate, government and education markets, but an increasing amount of business is being generated by a growing niche in the video editing market. IST general manager John Zoupantis described the company's involvement in this niche market as being the result of its solution-building philosophy.
"There are a lot of complexities in the process of capturing, editing and reproducing video," Zoupantis said, himself a fanatic about customer service. He revealed that he has come to the IT business from a restaurant background, and as he put it, "You don't get any more concerned with customer service than in the business of feeding people in a silver service environment."
According to Zoupantis, whether it is in system building, network integration or even in the niche business of commercial and private video editing systems, it really just comes down to service. And he made an especially interesting observation: "Until you handle a problem, the customer may never be aware of the service you provide. We see problems as an opportunity to prove our customer service." While it is still a relatively new market for the mainstream IT channel, the challenges of combining video sources, capture cards and editing software have meant IST has already dealt with many of the problems.
Zoupantis said there are opportunities for resellers to take advantage of the ITS experience and develop the video editing business. "In a specialist market like video, it just takes a commitment to finding the right solution."
Perhaps the most telling analogy of the IST approach has come from Zoupantis' restaurant influence: "We want our customers to know that, if their meat is not right, we want to make sure we fix it so they come back."