Our distributors around the world asked us to provide some case-studies of professionals using Krika, so they can argue with Home Technologists with real stories from the field. Believe it or not, we found out that the best case-study is the genesis of Krika itself.
Bruno Napoli, one of the co-founders of Krika, has also been running a Blu-Ray & DVD server company for the past seven years. To make it short, it's a Kaleidescape-like solution. BNM Video is ranked third best manufacturer in the world using My Movies & Dune HD solution. Servers are available in Europe through a dedicated channel of certified and trained Home Technologists.
As the servers are built with computer parts and softwares anyone can easily find anywhere, the real added value of BNM Video is the service: 25 years of experience in the residential AV business instilled 24/7 through a dedicated concierge service offered for both Home Technologists and end users. Concierge will remotely monitor server health as well as update the server, all the while taking care of any missing covers of the movies. Home Technologists just have to connect server and players on the local network, concierge take care of everything else. 24/7 service was an obvious option because Home Technologists are on the field night and day, even during weekend and national holiday. Regarding end users, they enjoy their system exclusively during evenings, weekends and national holiday. Why should we be closed at the precise moment they are all likely to need us? Even if BNM Video's solutions are less expensive than Kaleidescape, it is more expensive than any other DIY or geek solution. FYI, Concierge is charged $500 per year.
The reputation of BNM Video concierge is so highly-recommended that both Home Technologists and end users contact them with issues unrelated to the server itself simply because concierge is known for their accurate and helpful advice. It turns out to be a good way to stay in contact with clients and create a friendly trust based relationship.
Four years and a few hundreds servers on the field later, it was discovered that time spent fixing networking problems unrelated to the servers had increased to 50%. Playback a full Blu-ray over Ethernet will magnify all the little hidden problem. It's not like streaming YouTube with a Chromecast over Wi-Fi, it's more like unleash an F5 storm in cables, connections and switches.
At the end of the day, if networks didn't work properly, servers wouldn't either. “Fend for yourself and come back when you know how to fix your network” was absolutely not an option here. It's not a mercantile way to make business and in the end, Home Technologists were forced to stop buying servers because it was too problematic and time-consuming to attempt to resolve. Obviously, we had to find a way to support Home Technologists efficiently in order to save their time and, of course, our business.
In September 2014, Julien Napoli aka “One-man-team full-stack developer” spent 5 months creating the first version of Krika. The program was only a tool dedicated to the BMN Video team and runs on a virtual machine inside all BNM video servers. The investment of time and money was a winning bet and from that day on, we were super heroes with super powers! Time spent with Home Technologists on the phone was cut by 80%! We were able to trace the behavior of anything on the network to alert and identify specific machines with issues as they arose. Even when end users call concierge to ask for guidance about a feature of the server, at the end of the conversation we could tell them when an issue arises like: “By the way, your Internet connection has been dropping for 4 days now. You might want to call your ISP as it's not the Wi-Fi installed by your Home Technologist that's not working.”
In the end, Krika helped BNM Video to provide better service and strengthen its reputation. For the past 3 years, every BNM Video server comes with a free Krika virtual machine inside that enables the same features as a Krika Mini. Krika is an insurance policy installed where 80% of servers will not use its features until the day it will save your butt and your weekend!
After this proof of concept was successfully implemented in hundreds of BNM Video servers, Julien and Bruno decided to create a company to sell the Krika program embedded in a Raspberry Pi.
In conclusion, what have we learned from that story?
- Did you realize that BNM Video faces the same challenges with Home Technologists that Home Technologists faces with end users? Both must provide a high level of service to stay credible in the eyes of clients and both must sell products that everyone can find cheaper elsewhere.
- The only reason our clients buy from us is the expertise and the knowledge we impart together with the service we provide. Otherwise they'll buy all online and install everything by themselves.
- This expertise we have cost us sweat, blood, tears and weekends we didn't spent with our family & friends. There is no way we do not charge it at its factual price or give it for free. In fact, the more our service is expensive, the more we are credible.
- We can't cut corners when we are dealing with today's technology. An astronaut in space once said, "There is no problem so bad that you can't make it worse." Remember that every house now has more connected devices than a small business. Sooner or later it will be as much as a data center.
- The more information you gather before you roll a truck out, the more efficient you will be when you endeavor to resolve a client's issue.
- Don't be afraid to invest in training your team or invest in good tools like cable testers. It will pay back 10 times the price you spent to acquire it. Remote supervision is one of the smartest investments you'll ever make and eventually it will pay off for you as it was for BNM Video.
- Like Goethe said once: “Even the stones placed in one's path can be made into something beautiful.” At BNM Video we took the bull by the horns. A real problem that almost killed us was turned into a business opportunity for Krika!