Tips for partnering with vendors

In a field as cutting edge as pattern-recognition technology, where satisfactory shrink-wrapped solutions are few and far between, choosing which vendors and which promising products to work with can be challenging. To make this easier, experts recommend evaluating products as if they were more traditional business applications and letting vendors worry about the nuts and bolts. To do this:

1. Don't focus so much on whether pattern recognition can help you. Instead, concentrate on where the choke points of information are in your organization, said Sameer Samat, chief technology officer at Kofax Image Products Inc. "Federal agencies typically don't have expertise in pattern recognition, but they do know where their bottlenecks are," he said. "Figure out what the processes should look like to get the right information to the right people if you eliminated the bottlenecks. This will help you identify which vendors can help you alleviate the bottlenecks."

2.Resist vendor presentations that give a blow-by-blow account of a program's bells and whistles. "Say to vendors, 'I have this problem — detecting terrorism. How are you going to solve it?' " said Ernst Volgenau, chief executive officer of SRA International Inc. "If a vendor then begins to describe the arcane characteristics of their technology, say, 'Next!' "

About the Author

Alan Joch is a freelance writer based in New Hampshire.

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