I’ve been the VP of Marketing here at D-Tools for 3 and a half years now. I came from the Internet/eCommerce/Multimedia industries, where as VP of Marketing and Business Development I had cultivated partnerships with many companies who were complimentary to our specific solution. We developed a unique partner eco-system that provided our customers with the products, complementary products and services to help them run their businesses more efficiently. This concept was a cornerstone that helped established software applications and transformed them into platforms for growth. Where it fell short, however is in attempting to bridge the communication gap between the manufacturer and the dealer.Software applications exist to solve specific problems for their users. Some are more widely applied than others, obviously, and some are so industry or trade-specific that they don’t show up on major media or consumer-based market radar. In today’s economic climate those applications that enable users to work more efficiently, reduce time and costs, and help increase profitability will ultimately survive and thrive. But along with the application come the support and endorsement of other industry leaders, and with that support comes the stability and assurance that the platform will be there for the long term.
When I came to D-Tools, I discovered a great internal team that was passionate and focused on delivering an outstanding platform for the estimation, design, and integration of low voltage systems. I also discovered that D-Tools had established partnerships with many major consumer products manufacturers. Industry support and partnerships are among the most significant areas and critical success factors to any platform being widely adopted – no matter what the specific industry may be, and I was impressed with the number of significant brands that had embraced the D-Tools software concept.
D-Tools provides a robust software platform for AV, networking, and security system integrators to streamline the processes of job proposals, detailed system design, and project management. The platform is driven by a database of over 50, 000 manufacturer product SKUs – with over 120 manufactures providing this data as part of the D-Tools Manufacturer Vantage Point (MVP) program. Participation in this program ensures that all D-Tools customers are able to access these manufacturer’s detailed product specifications to include in their client engagements.
The type of product information that is tracked consists of dimensions, descriptions, MSRP, and most importantly for system design – detailed inputs and outputs. This information can be used by the integrator to generate detailed schematic drawings – which can then be used to generate detailed installation reports – including wire checklists and reports, all the way down to detailed wire labels to finish the installation.
By providing this detailed level of information to our users, manufacturers can help ensure that the appropriate piece of equipment is specified, designed, and installed for the customer, giving the integrator the correct information to ensure that the job is done correctly the first time, giving the customer the confidence that the job will be done right and the equipment will operate as advertised, and provides detailed documentation on the installed system so that the integrator can make adjustments, service the equipment, or add to the system at a later date.
The relationship between D-Tools and the manufacturer partner community is synergistic because by making it easier for dealers to specify, design, and ultimately deliver manufacturer products as part of their client installations through the use of D-Tools software, dealers and custom installers can begin to build a deeper business relationship with those manufacturers that provide the data needed for them to deliver their projects. If this is the tool of choice that helps these dealers sell the job, design the job, and deliver the job, then those manufacturers who do not have up-to-date product data may miss out on sales opportunities.
By working closer with D-Tools, manufacturers can get a better understanding of how often their products are used by the dealer community. We are working hard to develop additional tools to help get better analytics when it comes to the project life cycle – such as the lag time between specification and actual installation of equipment as one data point – mining this information to eventually help manufacturers better predict inventory needs and enable improved communication and pricing stability between the manufacturer and dealer community.
The D-Tools MVP program helps to ensure that higher design and installation standards are employed throughout the residential and commercial integration industries, helps to keep the manufacturers better connected to the dealers, and ultimately helps to improve the quality of custom installs, commercial AV applications, and other low voltage applications through improved communication, a shared interest in moving the industry forward, and ensuring that quality is delivered from all aspects of system design and integration.
Expect to see more information and articles from our MVP members as we continue to roll out our new communication platform. As we have expanded our blog, refined our newsletter and other communication channels, we hope to be able to consistently deliver a cohesive message to our core community of users and help ensure that they continue to improve the way they work, and ultimately grow their business – which we believe benefits everyone in the industry.