The Smart List: Zebra Technologies and IBM take multi-vendor support to the next level

By: Rebecca Hardy

The Smart List features the innovative stories of leading IBM Services clients and partners. View more client stories here.

Zebra Technologies is a hardware company that builds enterprise-level data capture and automatic identification solutions to help its customers’ businesses achieve operational visibility. As Zebra gets more and more into service offerings, Gary Lardiere, Global Alliance Executive at Zebra Technologies, discusses Zebra’s relationship with IBM and the role of multi-vendor services in delivering exceptional quality and service to customers.

How has the multi-vendor support partnership between Zebra and IBM evolved?

Gary: It’s been a long-term relationship, over 20 years. We started with IBM Services as a main point with our products where Zebra would provide the depot support on mail-in for its handheld products; IBM would put a wrapper around it and provide the level 1 and level 2 triage services, manage returns and identify that it is, in fact, a hardware problem.

What is the key challenge facing Zebra today?

One challenge is providing the level of service that our clients need, for the most part for onsite services. IBM’s strength is managing and servicing multiple vendors, which simplifies the service process and provides maximized service with flexibility in a client’s environment.

What are the benefits of this joint relationship?

Gary: Zebra is into the rugged handheld business, the RFID business — essentially getting data and providing information from the edge. Whether it’s field service or retail, Zebra has best-of-breed hardware, and the relationship that we have with IBM takes advantage of that by mixing the capabilities of both companies to provide the best solution for our mutual customers.

It provides more flexibility for both IBM and Zebra; flexibility for Zebra because now we’ve got a service arm we can tap. From an IBM perspective, it provides more flexibility as it relates to providing the ability to sell a hardware device and support that device.

We’ve just tipped the iceberg right now, but I see this relationship going much, much further in a very creative way. We design in where we can maximize the capabilities of both companies.

What does “innovation that works” mean to Zebra?

Gary: Both IBM and Zebra are complex organizations. Keeping it simple sometimes requires the best solutions. We’re mindful of that fact — it’s got to remain simple, yet at the same time, we see some very creative things that can happen as a result of that.

What does “building smarter business through technology” mean?

Gary: For Zebra, it means extending and enhancing our capabilities at the edge.

What trends are you tracking on the horizon?

Gary: One of the trends we’re tracking is augmented reality. We think that’s essentially going to make our end customers more efficient. It’s going to save them time. It’s going to give them the ability to do problem determination and some fixes on the hardware themselves. On the Zebra side, we’ll be saving ourselves service calls that are going to be handled up front by end users.

Watch Zebra’s full story here.

About The Author

Rebecca Hardy

Senior Writer, IBM Global Technology Services

Rebecca Hardy is a storyteller, creative content consultant and writer with IBM Global Technology Services, where she is constantly exploring new ways to communicate across a variety of mediums. She delights in the puzzle of writing and is passionate about applying conversational voice and quirky insights to make even the densest messaging accessible, engaging and... Read more