Invent? Adopt? Adapt?

Simon Black, Managing Director, SB Software

“Invent? Adopt? Adapt? Whatever is Best for our Clients.”

Invent? Adopt? Adapt?

Introduction: Not Your Typical SBS Case Study!

Normally, our SBS case studies are built around an in-depth review with one of our key clients – interviewing both management and crew on-site wherever they are based, to best appreciate how things are playing out on their own turf, the location that matters most. Thank you to all who have participated so far.

We enjoy putting such case studies together. And most important of all, the interaction and feedback are useful – informing us about both things to improve and also things to sustain/ increase or spread further afield.

Today, here, we are instead turning the camera around 180 degrees. To focus on Sheffield (our home town, although nowadays we operate across all of the UK and Ireland). We are looking a bit more deeply at how we do things ourselves. Here at SB Software. And particularly at how we make a key decision:

  • invent
  • adapt
  • or adopt.

Or rather, at how we keep on making it – specifically here in regard to hardware. It’s important for everyone we work with.

Why this Focus Now?

It is no accident that the context for this shift of focus is the launch of the Nayax Nova Market kiosk – SB Software is the exclusive distributor in the UK and Ireland, as announced in February 2022, under the banner:

Take a moment to read that headline message again.

We at SBS are so wholehearted in “adopting” this Nayax hardware solution that we are promoting the actual adoption itself front and centre. Why are we adopting? Because of the benefits for our customers and their own users – merchants and consumers in micromarkets.

As a high performing piece of hardware, Nayax Nova Market has already proven its mettle. It is tested in markets elsewhere in the world, and was developed with the full backing of a successful global player. Worldwide production underpins quality assurance. And high volumes reduce unit costs, increasing value.

The more that we assessed the product ourselves (both technically and commercially), the keener we were to add it to our roster. Just as it was. So we did, as you’ll find on our website:

In other words, we adopted. Because the Nayax Nova Market kiosk does the job in hand so well. At exceptional value. You can read more here:

Now add to that recipe strong nationwide support from SBS (we do have a reputation to preserve), and we feel that adopting Nova Market is a case of “1 + 1 = 3” because the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

We hope that you will agree that it “makes sense” to the market – it is a strong message. Perhaps it makes sense specifically to you and your business – if so just get in touch.

But adopting this “perfect answer” doesn’t mean that we hadn’t considered other options beforehand.

We have our own software/hardware/integration experts in-house. Even if we tried, we couldn’t stop them forever thinking about inventing things or adapting others. And we wouldn’t want to. When they gather for a drink after work, they don’t gossip about football, they discuss cabling options (or similar) …

So, adopting Nova Market was not just one decision. It was three. It was also:

  • a decision (after consideration) NOT to invent something completely new ourselves
  • and a decision (likewise after consideration) NOT to adapt other things already available elsewhere.

But now we are getting ahead of ourselves …

When Inventing is the Right Option (for Us – and You Too)

Sometimes, the right hardware solution for a challenge that we are addressing simply does not exist. Yet.

We have a habit of exploring our sector rigorously to learn from others, especially at international trade shows. Often we make useful contacts or find initiatives with potential that we can develop further. For some challenges, there simply is nothing suitable (against specified criteria) for us to either adopt or adapt.

In this situation we have a difficult but clear decision to make. Invent. Or turn away.

There are so many factors at play here that it is useful to focus on a concrete example. Datakey.

Datakey was invented. By us.

We first went public with Datakey at Avex in 2017. All of our crew staffing the stand were wearing Datakeys on lanyards around their necks – on hand to demonstrate to visitors.

And this was the first time that Datakey featured on the cover of Vending International:

The Proof of the Datakey Pudding

Has Datakey bees successful? Yes, against any criteria we/you can think of. But you don’t need to take our word alone for that. As they say: “The proof of the pudding ….”

Fast forward to today, and check out these images, selected from case studies (in the style we “normally” do with clients – listening and doing our best not just to hear, but to understand what they say).

Now we see end users (not “just” SBS employees) proudly displaying their own Datakeys.

Victor, Team Leader – London, Connect

Kim, Operator – NVCS

Jason, Operator – NVCS

Will, Service Partner – SuperCups

Darryl, Team Leader – SuperCups

Wherever it is deployed, Datakey just keeps on delivering. Every day. Clients tell us so.

And for us, that’s the key definition of success. Helping customers.

Everyone “should” love their own children.

So we pay more attention to what others think of our baby!

Invent or Turn Away?

Remember that fundamental decision, referenced at the outset of the Datakey section above?

In this example, we committed wholeheartedly to the “invent” option. And it has played out well – validating the design choices we made (including the premium aircraft standard aluminium casings – who could have foreseen back then that maximum protection against over-zealous application of hand gel to ward off a virus would be such a benefit?)

But commitment to invent cannot be grounded 100% in scientific/commercial analysis alone. You cannot rely solely/fully on “informed” market/technical research to assess the potential of a product that has never existed before, and won’t until we invent it.

As well as spotting a gap in the market, you’ll need to have confidence that there is a market in that gap. So, belief also has a part to play: faith that your own assessments and insights are right.

Because you are venturing into the unknown. It’s not for the faint hearted!

The Middle Way? Adapting.

Adapting something that already exists – making it “better” in some way – is a route that lies between inventing and adopting.

Often it is the best road to take (compared to full blown inventing) for reasons including:

  • greater certainty of outcomes
  • lower risk
  • shorter lead time
  • streamlined testing and QA.

Adapting can provide the ideal solution when you can get your hands on a ready made solution that is good already, and can be made “perfect” at a level of cost (money/time/resources) that pays dividends.

An Example: Adapting Databridge

Some time ago, we invented another product – the telemetry box known as Databridge. It performs well, transmitting information via a SIM to deliver data remotely, reliably and securely, and bring machines online, unleashing the power of management visibility.

It attracts less limelight than Datakey – perhaps because it lives inside a vending machine, hidden away, working tirelessly 24/7. But Databridge is already proven successful. Both technically and commercially. It is key to the results that clients are enjoying every day via efficiency (and merchandising) initiatives including:

  • pre-packing
  • single walk
  • visit on demand.

In fact, Databridge works so well that …

… we initiated a programme to adapt it into a new product (we’ll call it “Databridge 2” for now).

“If it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it” is a well known saying. And Databridge is far from “broken”. But advances in technology combined with changes in the market (especially OCS) mean that we can now do even more, better, across a greater range of the machine park.

So we will. Because our clients (both current and soon to come) deserve it. And they would expect nothing less.

“Databridge 2” – as shown at the recent Vendex (Leeds). It’s adapted from Databridge 1 (the clue was in the name!)

This is not the place for a full technical specification of Databridge 2 – please get in touch if you would like to know more. But you can pick up some clues just from this image showing comparative dimensions next to a Datakey. Databridge 2 is a perfect size for fitting inside, say, a tabletop OCS machine. And it’s displaying a Coffeemanager logo as well as Vendmanager …

Which is Best? Invent, Adapt or Adopt?

The answer is of course “all of them”.

Each is right – in the appropriate context, although adopting is only ever an option for us when an ideal solution already exists.

That’s the case with our latest adoption, and the Nayax Nova Market kiosk is right now setting out on her own journey into the market here, as illustrated by the most recent edition of Vending International.

vending international

It’s exactly 4 years since Datakey made her own debut on the cover of the same publication (see above – the blue cover).

Here at SBS we are expecting a similar level (or more) of benefits for our clients from Nova Market – we have been putting the kiosk to the test for quite some time now. And it integrates fully with Vendmanager and Coffeemanager, for good measure.

“Nayax hardware. SB Software support. Micromarkets sorted!” as they say.

Please get in touch when you are ready to know more.

Nova Market Enquiries:  Robin Turver  |  t: 0114 266 6030  |  m: 07983 742 771