Customer unfocused

January 2009 News

A recent trip to HYT in China with Spectrum Communications (mentioned in the news section) was a real revelation for me. On the one hand, there was the cultural and historical education being taken on a tour of Beijing in China made possible, which in itself was amazing; on the other hand there was the company and product education obtained from HYT’s personnel at the company’s HQ in Shenzhen.

Then there is the third hand, the education one obtains listening to conversations around the dinner table or while the group was waiting for something or other. Of course, many of those conversations cannot be printed for obvious reasons – it costs more to go out for a decent dinner than to hire a hitman in South Africa.

One of the issues that was raised in more than one forum, officially and unofficially, was cost. It seems the idea of paying for quality is still foreign to most South Africa companies, even when it comes to security products. One would think the fact that lives can hang in the balance when purchasing security products would force buyers to consider quality first, but that does not seem to happen.

One comment from a reseller stated as a fact that he would not offer a particular client a range of options, but find the supplier offering the lowest price and go in with one bid. And it was sure that whoever offered the lowest price wins, every time. Then, of course, when the cheap stuff breaks the client has a hernia and complains loud and long, oblivious to the idea that support costs money.

The idea of getting what you pay for does not seem to resonate among some people.

Of course, it could be said that when considering 2-way radios the cheapest does the job as well as the most expensive. True enough, until one considers the average number of times said radio is going to be sat on, dropped, kicked, knocked about and have coffee spilled on it in a month of shifts. Not to mention the R&D – and associated cost – that goes into making radios as foolproof and easy to use as possible.

Perhaps the security industry needs to start calculating the total cost of ownership of the products and services on offer instead of blackmailing suppliers into offering the lowest possible price. The IT industry woke up to this fact a decade or so ago, not that every IT buyer pays attention to the TCO instead of the initial purchase cost, unfortunately. Nobody wants to pay a premium, but nobody wants to see property or life lost or damaged for the sake of a few rand.

Another very impressive aspect of the trip to HYT’s HQ in Shenzhen was the fact that the company has over 400 engineers working in its R&D divisions. Are there 400 engineers left in South Africa?

Andrew Seldon



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