Think creatively. That was the message Tuesday from Anna McDermott, CEO of GE Access, in her keynote speech at GE Access' annual New Frontiers Conference for Sun Microsystems solution providers in Keystone, Colo.
"We stand at a crossroads of emerging technology and vertical-market expertise," said McDermott in her speech. "You will likely spend less time winning one-time commission deals and more time selling software, maintenance and services. You will work with a more diverse range of partners. What won't change is the value you bring to customers by bringing your imagination to work."
As an example, McDermott said solution providers should look at RFID, VoIP and utility computing--technologies where spending is expected to increase dramatically in coming years.
"If you can identify a pain point and show how the solution pays for itself, that's how to sell successfully," she said. "If you want to close big deals, you have to stop competing on price. If you can offer superior ROI by increasing a customer's revenue or lopping off expenses, I guarantee you'll get their attention."
For example, Delta Airlines plans to spend $25 million a year to deploy disposable RFID tags on checked baggage in order to ensure it arrives at its proper destination. The airline currently spends about $100 million a year in shipping and other charges to return lost baggage, she said.
"There are many ways your customers can deploy RFID to cut costs, or increase revenue. If you can talk about ROI, your customers will listen," McDermott said.
Retail will be a large RFID opportunity for solution providers, she said, citing IDC estimates that RFID spending among retail customers will increase from $300 million to $3 billion by 2009. Wal-Mart has mandated that vendors place RFID tags on all products it sells by 2006, McDermott said.
"And retail is just one example. The healthcare industry will be big. The FDA supports RFID on pharmaceuticals to prevent counterfeit drugs and to speed up recalls," she said.