This is the final piece of a three-part series by Stephen Madaffari, Principal of Data Centers Delivered, on how various sectors of the business serving the data center industry can effectively partner with modular data center construction companies to achieve success. His previous column was Considerations for Data Center Owners Partnering with Modular Builders.
As a modular data center builder, we often field questions from different manufacturers about whether we can base a design on their product or enter into a strategic partnership with them. The types of manufacturers we typically hear from cover the gamut of data center solution providers including switchgear, UPS, DCIM, mechanical cooling, controls, etc. There is always room to partner on projects where there is a mutual benefit in doing so; however, there are four considerations manufacturers should make note of in order to better gauge what leads to a successful partnership with a modular data center builder.
1. What is your goal?
It is vital for a manufacturer to communicate their end-goal with the modular data center builder before entering into a partnership. If a UPS manufacturer wants to partner and develop a product for their UPS systems that they can sell into the marketplace, then the modular builder is certainly capable of accomplishing that goal. However, the manufacturer is also looking for a way to sell more of their equipment and use modular deployment as a means to an end.
The theory is not flawed and there is certainly some value in having a more complete system to offer clients as a way to provide more value than competitors. However, creating a standardized product will always end up limiting the full potential. Partnering with a custom modular builder gives the manufacturer endless opportunities to create value for their client, while at the same time letting the modular builder become more familiar with the equipment.
2. How will you sell it?
Manufacturers often have ambitions of equipping their current sales force with modularized systems that come as a “SKU” or part, and rely on the ability of their team to create revenue opportunities. In reality, the consultative approach of selling modular data center systems is a strategic, well thought out process with many moving parts.
The final product very rarely looks like the conceptual design as intended from early conversations. This being the case, manufacturers should identify key personnel in their corporate structure and appoint them as modular sale liaisons or product experts. Further, manufacturers should partner with a company that understands what it will take to develop, engineer, and sell modular systems in a collaborative manner.
3. Manage the Supply Chain.
Manufacturers are constantly looking for better ways to manage inventory, deplete inventory or build on demand. These dynamics are very important to understand when fostering a relationship with a modular builder.
While the notion that building in a factory is quicker, it will always be susceptible to the on-time delivery of all the critical equipment and parts needed to support the modular build. Knowing when equipment is ordered, what the lead times are, and accuracy of the expected delivery timeline are all supply chain metrics that modular builders need to be aware of. They are detrimental to the success of the manufacturer that sold the system to their client and to the modular builder as a trustworthy and capable partner for the long term.
4. Be Realistic!
The modular business is growing every year and becoming more preferable as a viable alternative to the traditional construction market. However, if you are a manufacturer selling 100 widgets a year, it is not realistic to think you will successfully sell another 100 modular systems with your widgets preassembled, tested and shipped the next year.
Success comes from working with key clients to develop your own model for success. Every time you deploy a modular system, a new lesson is learned. The beauty of the program is all the intellectual property and those lessons learned reside under one roof at the factory level. There are no lost in translation moments from job site to job site or client-to-client based on different teams doing different work. So, be realistic about what your goals are to sell modular systems that support your product and watch your business grow steadily.
The Right Partner Leads to Success
Every company is looking for a way to sell more of their own product or solution. In our industry, partnering with a modular builder is a good avenue for manufacturers to increase revenue and market share by creating more value than the competition. However, there are right and wrong ways to go about it. Finding the right partner who understands the complexities of the product, sale, delivery and deployment ensures a higher level of success for all parties involved and results in more fruitful growth and revenue generation efforts.
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