BlueStar’s VARTECH 2016 kicked off today in Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas. I had the opportunity to speak with Rick Bird, healthcare vertical manager for BlueStar, who shared details on what the company sees as the biggest opportunity (and threat) to the VAR/integrator channel — unified communications.
Bird’s story begins years ago when healthcare organizations bought traditional bar code scanners separate from PCs, laptops, and mobile computers. A refresh of many of those devices has been under way since last year and Bird says many practitioners started asking, “why can’t I carry just one device?”
Luckily, Bird says device manufacturers like Code, Datalogic, Honeywell, and Zebra have been hard at work creating new all-in-one communication devices that act as a phone, can do push-to-talk, texting, 2D scanning, and data entry. Additionally, as opposed to consumer-grade devices, these devices are purpose built and healthcare enterprise-ready (think data security and constructed of anti-microbial materials).
These new devices take what was before “just” a scanner or mobile computer, and made them powerful communications devices. However, because of the communications functionality, to get them functioning means getting into the hospital’s communications closet. That closet door isn’t one that most VARs and integrators have opened before, let alone even have access to. In fact, there’s a whole different type of VAR who works in that closet.
The convergence of communications and barcoding is where the opportunity lies, but it’s also going to create potential conflicts. Bird says those communications VARs now have an opportunity to get into the mobile computer and barcoding game, just as traditional barcoding VARs can get into the communications portion of business.
BlueStar has relationships with both sets of VARs and has the ability to educate to fill whatever gaps exist in the VAR they’re working with. If you’re a barcoding integrator and need help learning the nuances of communications, BlueStar has resources to help you win that business. On the flipside, if you’re a communications VAR and need help learning barcoding, BlueStar can help you as well.
Having sold hundreds of thousands of traditional barcoding and mobile computing devices years ago, BlueStar sees this as a huge opportunity. However, it’s also a threat depending on how you choose to act.
In other news of note, Bird says there’s still some interest in traditional 2D scanning and refreshes are taking place now, so don’t overlook those opportunities. Finally, Bird says one of the biggest opportunities being missed today has to do with the burgeoning home healthcare market. There are many new solutions coming to market which are fundamentally shifting the way healthcare is delivered to the home. There are great opportunities for savvy VARs looking into this area of need.