The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” has the ability to take root, in its philosophy, with the everything-as-a-service movement as it applies to the office technology universe. After all, it requires more than just one or two of the industry’s largest dealership players to announce “we are fully XaaS.” Because it will also require most of the leading manufacturers and leasing companies to chime in with programs that will enable the movement to take hold.
West McDonald, vice president of business development for Print Audit, previously alluded to the fact that dealers do not perform well when it comes to elected change, and that when conditions deteriorate to the point when change is thrust upon them, they assume a reactive change approach. Thus, it begs the question, why are we so loathe to embrace change?
“I’ve worked with some incredible, large dealerships, and it’s not that they’re not successful, smart and good at what they do,” he said. “It’s just that the model they’ve invested in, because it is so service heavy, there’s an inflexibility because of the sheer size of their infrastructure.
“Also, the OEMs have made it difficult for dealers as well because of the way they incent (dealers) on hardware sales. They’ve got a quota, and if dealers don’t hit that quota for the number of new units sold, then they don’t get the discounts. Those discounts are pretty significant, so how are they supposed to move to an as-a-service model on the hardware if the OEMs aren’t helping them? Currently, they are not.”
McDonald points out that infrastructure-as-a-service is really taking hold in other sectors, with managed service providers offering to install PCs, servers, etc. into offices and managing them on a monthly subscription basis per user, refreshing the equipment every three years. But in the MFP world, the idea hasn’t taken root with manufacturers, nor is there a financing model to make it a reality. Yet.
Print Audit has been working with GreatAmerica Leasing to construct a financing vehicle for seat-based billing, but “I don’t think the other finance providers have really started it, because most dealers haven’t asked for it.”
Mark of Consistency
One aspect of Marco’s as-a-service platform that clients find most appealing is that it is dealer-branded. Trevor Akervik, senior director of managed services for the St. Cloud-based dealership, notes that with IT, the shelf life of any given solution generally runs 6-18 months. Thus, to deliver a quality as-a-service offering, it requires Marco to start with a certain set of vendor support options, which can be expanded as the offering evolves.
“It feels and is intended to feel consistent for the customer,” he said. “They actually want to focus on generating revenue for their business, not shifting solutions or products within their organization. They’re really looking for a solution, not products. We work with financial decision makers who are really responsible for the revenue generation of their organization, and yet are accountable for security threats and regulatory compliance items. So I think they seek out an organization like Marco because more than half of our employee base is technical.
“We’re investing in the people who have the knowledge about shifting trends and solutions in the industry, and then we’re applying that end solution that allows them to consume it on a month-to-month basis without a capital expenditure, allowing them to free up that capital for revenue-generating activities within their organizations,” he added. “It’s really not about products or vendors anymore, it’s really about the end-user satisfaction.”
The Deep Dive
Denver-based Verticomm provides a turnkey solution that it derives through a rigorous questions-based approach. Sales Manager Calvin Wanner considers his sales team more consultative-driven, as it burrows deep into a client’s makeup to enhance its understanding and better craft a tailored solution.
“We identify the major key points: how much revenue they bring in, number of employees and their functions,” he said. “How many sites do they have? And if they go down, how much does it cost that organization? We want to know how much they invest in these employees, from hardware to software, in order to get them running. It’s all about diving into the critical needs of each client.”