It only seems like yesterday that we decided to start TouchIT, but here we are 9 years on. As a company we've certainly changed and evolved; as too has the marketplace and the products we're manufacturing and selling today.
Back in 2008 we'd designed what was possibly the world's first (personally i'm sure it was, but you never can be too careful in the litigious world we live in!) enamelled steel surface, touch-based interactive whiteboard; something that quickly caught on and the idea itself whilst not patentable according to our legal team, was certainly good enough for others to copy :). I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
It hasn't all been rosy in terms of product releases. Our first attempt at a room scheduling system never made it past prototype stage from the developer we were working with and we've had some software disasters along the way too. All part of the course of business I guess.
All About the Hardware
Looking back at 2008 it was more about the hardware side of things than software. We were selling an "indestructible interactive whiteboard" and we were competing directly with more established brands in the market on that basis; hardware. As the market moved on and more players entered, we began to use software to differentiate against some of the lesser-known brands that were infiltrating the markets with very weak software offerings. If you had asked me the same question only 3 years ago, I would have said that was back to all being about the hardware sale and the more established players were not fully embracing the Interactive LED game.
Today, as I see it, things are very different in our marketplace. Software seems to have come back in to the equation as the acceptance that "LED hardware is LED hardware" and all the same, or so the market thinks. Whilst I beg to differ and there are certainly some hardware that is more advanced than others, especially in the Interactive LED game, today as a company we have to differentiate ourselves from our competitors in a number of different ways.
Software - Software has become once again a differentiator. Certain moves in the market with some manufacturers looking for annual fees which can quickly add up in School District has convinced us that having a free unlimited collaboration platform is the way forward. That is exactly what we have done with Contribute Cloud - our brand new cloud-based content creation, delivery and collaboration platform.
With the addition this year of on board Android (yes, even more software) on our TouchIT Y Series, having our own App Store meant that we were able to offer 1000s of Apps from many different developers to our customers, all for Free.
"Free" certainly isn't something that sits well for us all on the bottom line, but it certainly resonates well with our end users!
Service and Support
Being a Brit, I guess we are used to "bad service" in general, as an industry it doesn't really exist in the UK. This is something that the USA just does not understand. Their service industry is second to none and it became clear to us as a company very early on that we would have to offer exceptional service and support in order to be an American company. This is what we do and we go above and beyond in most circumstances to make sure that our customers, their customers and any that uses our products are totally happy.
Training has become more and more important for our customers as time has gone on. It wasn't really something that was popular for us back in 2008 when we started, I guess customers just got on with it. As investment in this kind of technology has got greater, and more heads are on the perverbial chopping block if the technology they have purchased isn't getting used, training is being requested much more frequent. This is another area where as a company we feel we do particularly well. The saying "the sale is just the start" is something that we like to embrace at TouchIT and do work hard with our customers on the post-sale and training side of things. From email courses, to webinars, to on site sessions, we feel we've got it covered.
Here's to double figures next year!