Success in a Down Economy

I’m going to deviate from my normal practice of writing about some aspect of our technology and talk about S4’s business and partner building strategies in this issue. The last year has brought significant growth in sales volumes, relationships, and product capabilities and I’d like to reflect a bit on how that has happened.

A year ago we were still selling mostly single copies of our S4 Open Appliances to integration partners who wanted to try it out on a small job where there would be minimal risk. That took lots of our resources to support each unit sold. But, we were determined to make sure that every project our integration partners took on was successful. That picture has changed as our integration partners gained confidence in our technology and our ability to support the products. We are now seeing a significant number of projects of larger size and complexity nearing completion. A large number of projects are utilizing 3 or more S4 Open Appliances. The largest installation to date, with 19 BACnet-N2 Routers, is scheduled to start installation next week. As these projects complete we will be working with our integration partners to publish their case studies.

Our products were designed for the retrofit and upgrade marketplace. What we have observed is that contractors and integrators who made the shift from new construction to focusing on upgrading existing buildings to be greener, more energy efficient, and more sensitive to occupant comfort have more work than they can handle. Those who didn’t see the handwriting on the wall are struggling to survive. The first group was listening to their customers’ needs, the second group was not. Our products were designed by utilizing the lessons learned from our consulting practice as the functional requirements for the initial release. But, we didn’t stop there. We continue to listen carefully to the experiences and recommendations of our integration partners. Brian will be talking about one of our major projects released last week that provides an Alerton Envision Template Generation Wizard. However, in almost every revision to the products you’ll find us adding small enhancements to improve the functionality or usability of the products.

We’ve added technical resources and staff to keep up with the increased demand. Where needed, we utilized consultants to augment our own capabilities and capacity where required. However, the most important resource we have added is our partners. Our distributors in Canada have been developing their network of partners, our direct integration partners are all diligently working on improving their skills and building a portion of their business portfolio around our technology. We have established strategic purchasing agreements with several of the major BAS manufacturers. And, we are exploring distributor relationships in Europe and Asia. These relationships all help to guarantee high quality solutions to end users while freeing up our own resources to focus on enhancing and evolving the products. One of the things you will see us introducing is a capability on our web site to help potential clients locate integration partners and distributors who can deliver solutions based on our S4 Open Appliances. Listening and partnering have proven to be some of the core tenants of success.

In the coming months you’ll see is building on all of these things that have worked for us over the last year. We are looking forward to more success for S4, our partners, and the end users who are benefiting from our technology.