We talked to Miguel Soares, CEO of PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS, a company that manufactures and sells multimedia kiosks, digital billboards, and interactive tables for different market sectors. This is what he said:
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Miguel Soares: Like everyone, all over the world, I personally have had to adapt to this reality that we all live in a COVID period, with many confinements, with many restrictions, and, above all, with a lot of patience. I try to comply with what has been decreed by our government or the Directorate-General of Health. I think we all have a very important role in not spreading this virus and I try to do my part.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS.
Miguel Soares: There are personality traits in each of us that direct us to certain paths. I feel that my path would always have to be that of being a businessman, entrepreneur, or employer since I have always felt the need to lead. Even as a child, I could get older people to follow me and/or accept my decisions very easily. Then, already in my youth, I was always connected to projects that somehow needed an entrepreneurial vein.
After graduating in Industrial Electronics Engineering, I did an internship in a telecommunications company, having as my internship project the redesign of an electronic board, to establish communication between doctors and patients in a waiting room, through a switchboard. I think that already at that time, because I demonstrated an ability to not only do what had been assigned to me but to eagerly seek knowledge of other areas of that company, I was granted the opportunity to lead the research process of a new product that could leverage the company’s business, namely in sectors where it was not present.
This is how I identified a product that many private and public companies were needing and found a company that manufactured attendance systems. At that time, I carried out the whole process of applying to become a reseller, formalizing the reseller contract, starting the sales process, and establishing technical and commercial objectives, which included the configuration of the systems and training. The results were so positive, in terms of sales, that led the company from whom we bought the products to make me an offer to join it, as a technician/commercial.
In this company, I sought to deepen my knowledge of all sectors and departments of the company, providing support to the entire commercial, technical, and also marketing structure (fruit of my interest and self-taught knowledge learned). The company in question decided to open a delegation in Lisbon and I was then chosen to lead this opening, working, as I usually say, in “one man show”, as I did all the technical work (installation and training), commercial (customer management, proposal writing, and customer support), collections, etc.
During the opening period of the Lisbon branch of this company, and only 18 months after leaving the university, I realized that I already had under my responsibility all the functions that would eventually be necessary to have a company, and it was in this sense that I idealized the company PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS. The logical thought at the time was the following: “I already know the product well, I already know the clients who may need this product; so I will start a company to sell attendance systems, where I already have a lot of know-how and experience”.
How does PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS innovate?
Miguel Soares: Innovation, whether technical, creative or in the scope of development and processes, added to the knowledge accumulated over the years, is today a differentiating factor of PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS and a prerequisite in everything we do and develop.
It is with great enthusiasm that PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS has increased its production capacity and chosen innovation as a pillar of its development. Present in markets such as the UK, Spain, Saudi Arabia, France, Israel, Turkey, Czech Republic, and others, PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS is internationally recognized as a manufacturer of interactive kiosks and digital billboards, and the results of this international investment have made the company what it is today: a growing and expanding company.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Miguel Soares: This pandemic has brought a new reality to all companies, and never before has digitalization been so critical for local businesses and trades. Fortunately, since PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS is a technological company, it has always adopted a digital reality internally, so this adaptation was done naturally.
PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS is always at the vanguard of technology, searching for and developing new products and innovations, with the focus on the consumer (customer-centric). Currently, we are developing solutions that combine technology with the environment, health, and well-being, so we have even created a new brand -Hambire. This line includes, for example, digital city purifiers, gel dispensing kiosks with body temperature sensors, disinfection equipment using UV-C, and disinfection tunnels.
We developed what we think is the first digital billboard with automatic disinfection technology of the touch surface – in this case, the touch glass – that equips the AVENUXYS model and can be adapted to any other touch kiosk.
Besides the Hambire line and the digital billboards with ultraviolet light disinfection systems, we have been developing other solutions adapted to this reality. First of all, we have a system called “Zero Contact”, whose main objective is to help all companies, especially micro-enterprises and local businesses to reopen their businesses more safely. This system comes in the form of social distancing and low touch measures so that people avoid touching objects. It, thus, includes safer solutions for attendance and queue management, allowing customers to pick up their tickets without the need for physical contact, whether by SCAN, QR CODE, SMS, Voice, Sensor System, Gestures, Portier, or Web Queue. Therefore, we can say that the pandemic forced us to innovate and adapt our projects to the new reality.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Miguel Soares: I believe that, in the first moment, we all effectively had to stop or, at least, “slow down”. This health situation that appeared forced the confinement of people and the activation of contingency plans and containment of companies.
PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS, for example, was very quick to act. I myself have a very particular view of this issue. The phrase “the economy can’t stop” is too blocking in my way of seeing things. I see it differently. The economy has to stop if it has to in order for us all to survive. What is the point of the economy not stopping and millions of people dying all over the world? Obviously, the opposite is also true, but I think that all over the world it is possible to maintain some state of “suspension” to lessen the risk. And that is what happened. Of course, companies suffered and are suffering a lot with this “forced stop”, but I am sure that in a global economy, we will all need everyone and soon we will have companies, especially the necessary ones, operating in a normal way and probably even with other ways of “working” that have been discovered in the meantime – such as remote work. It will only be a matter of adapting to the new times that are coming. As has always happened in business and in the economy, only the strongest will survive.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Miguel Soares: Although a concept of Touch Less or even Zero Contact is currently in force, the company believes that the future is very much about touch, self-checking, self-buy, that is, everything that allows people to carry out operations as comfortably and quickly as possible and, in most cases, with minimal interaction and intervention from people.
And, in this chapter, PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS continues (and will continue) to develop new concepts, ideas, and products, precisely to meet these needs. We continue to develop interactive digital kiosks, as well as digital billboards. We also have self-service kiosks (QSS) for ticketing (ticket vending machines), which allow a faster service, with fewer costs, and anywhere. Besides providing more convenience, they reduce queues, allow self-service payments for different sectors, and improve the customer experience.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Miguel Soares: We have a lot of international competition, but we are differentiating ourselves by the quality of our products, by our innovations, and also by the high technical capacity that we have achieved in 21 years of activity. At the same time, our competitors are the drive that makes us continue to improve, to innovate, to encourage our teams. We manage to stand out because we develop products and solutions customized for each customer, company, partner, or distributor. At this moment we have about 115 different models of equipment to present to our customers. The truth is that more than 90% of our production is not original equipment, that is, there are always adaptations and customizations because customers always want adaptations. We make a “customized suit” and we are extraordinarily fast at doing so. Besides, we develop software and interactive applications that best equip our digital kiosks and billboards, especially made to the client.
Your final thoughts?
Miguel Soares: In the last few months, PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS’ mission has been to find new solutions adapted to the new reality. We are aware that we can have a huge impact on our clients and partners.
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