The week between Christmas and New Year’s is always a dead zone from a business perspective. Come Jan. 2, it’s all hands on deck, buoyed by a feeling of renewed purpose and the desire to jump out of the chute running. Pour out the leftover eggnog and toss those goofy 2018 glasses into the trash, because it’s time to bulldoze head-first into the business plan and get a jump on the competition.
Our January issue state of the industry report focuses on the trends and predictions that will impact the office technology space in 2018, and we have a scattering of perspectives to share with you that encompasses a common theme: the ongoing trend (and overarching need) to diversify into services beyond mere hardware sales. The holidays may have conjured up a few ill-advised brain blasts, such as sourcing sangria stations in lieu of water coolers, but our panel of industry experts prefer to suggest a more conservative and viable approach.
John Henze, vice president for the Fiery business at EFI, sees dealers adding higher value through a broader set of services, either professional or consulting, particularly those that can automate and provide efficiencies for the customer base.
“It’s a movement away from the pure box mentality to value and services that create a greater stickiness with the customer base,” he said. “This makes them more of a trusted advisor to their customers as opposed to selling the box and collecting on consumables. Adding value around that equipment is a big focus to them and for companies like ours.”
Control the Network
For those dealers who haven’t evaluated or considered entering the managed services space, the time and opportunity are nigh to do so, states Patrick Flesch, vice president of sales for the western region at Gordon Flesch Co.
“By handling your client’s network, you will naturally be helping them become more secure and build up your own business,” he said. “By the same token, ECM appears to be the other business opportunity that is adjacently possible for traditional office equipment dealers.”
Managed print services will be a fantastic opportunity in 2018 for dealers who put a strategic focus on targeting the underpenetrated SMB market, according to Darren Cassidy, president of Xerox’s U.S. Channels Unit. MPS enables dealers to capitalize on a growth opportunity they know, print, while establishing a point of differentiation within their markets. It also provides more touch points within their clients’ businesses to strengthen relationships and customer value by better managing print assets.
“Partners not only grow. Many report their year-over-year growth is largely driven by providing MPS solutions to SMBs,” Cassidy said. “They protect their customer base.”
While the “paper is vanishing” doomsayers of 10 and 15 years ago were not exactly on the mark, the way that content is created, stored and shared has witnessed an evolution and created opportunity, notes Brian Sampietro, CIO of TGI Office Automation. Organizations are realizing a tremendous increase in productivity and reducing risk by converting paper processes and automating the capture of information, which creates a competitive advantage.
“TGI has been at the forefront of this shift for the last decade and we have seen an even broader acceptance of document management technology in the last few years,” Sampietro said. “Even small businesses are seeing the benefit of workflow automation and can now take advantage of technology which used to only be within reach of larger organizations.”