At CEDIA Expo 2018, SnapAV dealers will be in for a big treat from D-Tools, a leader in system design and operations software. The new D-Tools Cloud platform will be preloaded with SnapAV products and dealer-specific pricing, allowing integrators to better manage projects through the entire workflow – sales, proposals, communications, project design, and all the rest of it.
“Historically, one of the heavy lifts in getting D-Tools up and running is getting their [product] catalogs set up,” says D-Tools CEO Randy Stearns, in an interview with CE Pro. “Essentially, we are pre-loading SnapAV into the program.”
Today, dealers access SnapAV products through data dumped into the D-Tools System Integrator (SI) product database. Retail pricing is exposed there because it's universal, but dealer pricing is not, because it's unique to each company. To create proposals and execute other business-related functions within D-Tools, users must input and maintain their own unique dealer pricing.
Thanks to its new cloud architecture, however, D-Tools can extract dealer-specific pricing from the SnapAV servers and expose it to authorized users.
“We’re shortcutting the entire process,” says D-Tools CMO Tim Bigoness. “They just sign into ‘Cloud’ as a SnapAV dealer and they access to a prepopulated catalog of products with their own pricing.”
The system won’t go so far as to dynamically change pricing in D-Tools to match changes by SnapAV, but dealers at least get alerted when prices do change.
The Cloud is So Dang Useful, So is 90-Day Trial
Stearns stops short of saying the integration happens by way of an API but hints that D-Tools could get there at some point. He says D-Tools will work with other vendors to enable similar functionality within the platform, but “the partnership with SnapAV is unique and will continue to be in a wide variety of ways.”
One of those ways is a free 90-day trial period available exclusively to SnapAV. D-Tools usually offers a 30-day trial, which isn’t always enough for busy integrators to evaluate a complex, robust software platform.
Don’t read too much into this partnership on the data side. While SnapAV may be the most data-driven company in the industry, currently it doesn’t have plans to use the D-Tools relationship for data mining.
“The win for SnapAV is not visibility into what dealers are specifying or a sales opportunity for us,” Levy says. “We’re excited today just helping dealers to be more effective and efficient.”
He doesn’t rule out the possibility of exploring data-centric opportunities in the future, however.
Addressing the Labor Shortage Problem
Integrators can’t hire enough people. It’s a truth – a real truth.
“We’re not going to solve the labor shortage,” says Levy, but the efficiency provided through the new collaboration will at least reduce the need for so much labor, allowing integrators to exploit all those opportunities they simply can’t tackle today.
“It’s like the most standard discussion in our business,” Levy says. “You can solve it with brute force or technology. I know we can’t solve the problem with brute force anymore. We have to use technology to be more efficient with the resources we have today.”
To that end, he adds, SnapAV is doing everything it can to “make it easier for dealers to get their hands on D-Tools and kick the tires.”
Besides the 90-day trial, there will be training and other resources to get dealers on board the efficiency train.