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Technology in itself is useless

Michael Spatny

Managing Director

Technology changes must improve customer workflows and business outcome

Working in high-tech businesses, I have witnessed many technology advancements over the past 25 years. Advancements in wireless transmission, digital signal processing, display technology highspeed serial or computer processing power have been the foundation for many innovations, which have changed our life.

In KVM, we have seen two tracks running in parallel. One repetitive theme is going from point to point extension of a computer interface to switching multiple operators to many different PCs or servers in real time introducing flexible and efficient use of scarce computer know-how on different processing units. The other track is related to transmission improvements. Initially, analog graphic ports and commands were extended over a longer-range connection. The move to digital transmission allowed great improvements in distance covered and signal quality retained. The embedding of KVM signals into the IP protocol combined with significant advancement in video coding and processing power today allows KVM users to connect to almost any place on the globe provided enough bandwidth is supplied and latency acceptable.

However, technology in itself is useless. Do you remember the Mini-Disc to replace the Sony Walkman (or any other disc-offspring of the CD, which, compared to the durable success of vinyl records, was a rather short-lived success)? The Iridium satellite telephony system or Vonage, the grandfather of modern VoIP systems? Even Apple and its Newton (or who remembers Palm?) was a difficult to use nerd product, which disappeared quietly before the iPhone and iPad got it right. All these new technologies failed to deliver value. If your solution does not deliver significant benefits in cost, safety/security, experience or image, a new technology is bound to fail.

At IHSE, we stay close to our customers and understand that KVM transmitted over IP networks is a must have connectivity option. However, it is in many cases not the primary reason for selection. Intrinsically secure systems, predictable expansion cost, modular design, real-time behavior and reliable controls often outweigh the perceived benefits of a broadly used transmission standard. Integrating these customer requirements into the workflow is key.

The first thing to understand is connectivity. Our customers manage a multitude of systems, much like an eco-system. For eco-systems to work, the interfaces connecting different building blocks of the system must work seamlessly. A KVM vendor must master graphics standards, control protocols, must understand device controllers and respect application-based heartbeats to ensure continuous operation of all connected systems.

For the IT integration, it is key to know how different operating systems handle device drivers and what their needs are in terms of timings or time-outs. This is also key when looking at application integration. Propagation delays and switching times must operate in harmony with any process control that customers are using, independent of industry or production challenges.

For example, although many of our IHSE KVM systems are used in control room environments, we are facing special requests every day. Even two control rooms in two different public transport companies serving an identical business model may have different rules how to handle alarms, control actions or escalations. A flexible and strong support team starting with our design engineers next to the IHSE´s Technical Support all the way to our trained partners around the world help adapt, program and configure systems to enable a seamless workflow integration, so our customers derive value from our products and solutions.

Technology is in our DNA, don´t get me wrong. But all technology serves a purpose. After half a year at IHSE, I am still impressed by the dedication and devotion we express in all our customer interactions. Service is front and center to enable a better customer workflow, reduce friction and improve operational speed. This is paired with exceptional technical and customer application knowledge. We value trust, loyalty and commitment to achieve superior results. If this is capturing your imagination, reach out to me or anyone at IHSE – we would love to hear from you.

Michael Spatny

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