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Accelerate for growth

PrintIT Reseller caught up with Vision CEO Phil Bond and COO Mark Smyth, to find out more about the managed printing and managed document specialists’ vision for growth

Philip Bond,Managing Director, Vision PLC
Philip Bond,Managing Director, Vision PLC

Vision is currently three years into a five-year plan to double in size by 2020. It hopes to achieve this goal by continuing to develop its core business of managed print and document services, whilst also focusing on production printing, IT services, client retention and service excellence.

Bond said: “We have a comprehensive business plan to potentially double in size by 2020.” As part of the overarching business strategy, Vision kicks off each new financial year (the company’s FY runs October 1 to September 30) with a theme, designed to focus the team company-wide on achieving its goals.

“This year’s theme is Accelerate,” Smyth said. “It’s in three parts: Learn to Earn, Compete and Win and Retain and Gain,” he added.

Mark Smyth, COO
Mark Smyth, COO

Accelerate was unveiled to around 150 staff working across its sales and support functions at a series of kick-off meetings. These events were sponsored by Vision’s key business partners including HP, Samsung and Ricoh.

Vision has been awarded the highest level of HP Partner Accreditation as a Managed Printing Reseller and was delighted to welcome George Brasher, HP’s UK Managing Director as a keynote speaker at the kick-off meetings.

Clear objectives
“We are very clear on our growth objectives and in order to ensure all of the team are on board an d focused on our objectives, we launched this financial year with Accelerate,” Bond explained.

“Accelerate is a simple but effective three-pronged strategy,” Smyth continued. “Learn to Earn is about accelerating our knowledge base so we’re equipped for the changing market.” All employees undergo an appraisal process following which development plans are agreed and put in place.

“We are focussed on setting goals and supporting our employees in achieving these,” he said, adding that the firm has gone back to basics with sales training on the features, advantages and benefits of its offer, as well as market focus. Key business partner HP has a suite of online training tools and all customer-facing employees are encouraged to make use of this. “It’s about making sure they understand the FABs across the entire range from the new range of A4 and A3 MFPs to the PageWide devices, as well as all of the solutions that wrap around the hardware proposition. We have a HP learning kiosk in the office so it’s easy for our team to access and utilise,” Smyth explained.

Vision offices
Vision offices

Compete and Win, according to Bond is designed to develop and drive a winning mentality and culture. “From a top-level perspective it’s about making sure the business is well run and efficient, ensuring our customer service delivery is outstanding and our sales professionals are confident to successfully compete and win in a continuously changing marketplace.”

Smyth argues that as Brexit negotiations and the process of exiting the EU continues, there will be financial challenges for some vendors and resellers. “It will be more essential than ever to have a well-run, efficient business that can stand up to market conditions through consolidation, that will inevitably expose any inefficient businesses and make it far more difficult for them to compete,” he said.

Bond added: “The third element of Accelerate – Retain and Gain – is a focus on both winning new business as well as retaining and growing our existing client base.

Smyth continued: “Client retention is a high priority for us and we’re very proud of our performance in this area. Our mindset is very much to add value and deliver excellence in customer service and by driving this focus on the customer, we are both retaining and gaining more of our existing clients’ business.”

Winning new business
Bond and Smyth concur that winning new business is a key component of the growth strategy and said Vision is targeting growth across all of the three areas it operates in – commercial (medium enterprise and above), strategic corporate and public sector.

According to Smyth, Vision continues to aggressively compete in the corporate market and is also successfully winning bids and tenders within the public sector. It has just recorded a significant major NHS Trust win. This success can be attributed in part to the strength that comes from its position on some of the major purchasing frameworks – Crown Commercial Service (CCS), incorporating Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation (YPO) and Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation (ESPO); the Crescent Purchasing Consortium (CPC); and the National Education Printer Agreement (NEPA). Vision is also working with the Charities Buying Group framework, which provides a service to charities, social enterprises, schools, universities, councils, NGOs and all not-for-profit organisations.

Bond confirmed that acquisitions are on the cards in FY18. “We are also targeting acquisitions this year, and are in negotiations with several organisation currently,” he said, adding: “These will be in specific sectors and locations where we have identified the right fit for our business.”

Acquisitions are, says Smyth, pivotal. “There is so much consolidation in our market, resellers buying resellers, OEMs buying OEMs and OEMs buying resellers, that if our growth strategy doesn’t include all of our three key components – retaining existing clients, winning new business and growth through acquisition, then we will find it more difficult to compete against some of the larger organisations.”

He added: “We have to take full advantage of the opportunities that consolidation in the marketplace has opened up to Vision as a reseller. We are in talks with specifc targets and our approach is sensible, we’re looking for sustainable growth and we see a part of our growth coming through the right fit acquisitions.”

Consistent year on year growth
Vision has enjoyed consistent year on year growth over the last four years. It was recently included in a list of Europe’s 1,000 fastest growing companies compiled from 2012-2015 data by the Financial Times and Statista. “We have averaged double digit growth each year and we’re targeting that same increase this year,” Bond stated, adding: “The first quarter of this financial year has been very strong, we’re on plan and are quietly confident we will achieve a ten per cent increase on revenue from
last year.”

As a long-standing Samsung Global Partner, one of just a handful worldwide, Vision is very enthusiastic about its relationship with HP, especially now the integration of Samsung’s print business is complete.

Vision is a HP Partner First Specialist reseller, supporting HP’s new range of A4 and A3 MFPs, in addition to its existing offering, and recognises in HP a partner with the drive and product range to support its own appetite for growth. “We see the HP brand and technology proposition as key and it will open up new opportunities for Vision,” Smyth said.

He continued: “HP is an established and recognised brand that’s highly respected in the business-to-business and corporate space and we are already familiar with the strengths of the Samsung print engine on which HP’s range is built and for which HP now has the IP, R&D and manufacturing facilities.”

HP’s range includes 13 A3 Laserjet toner devices and three A3 PageWide MFPs with print speeds of up to 80 pages per minute in general office mode. The game-changing inkjet technology, which combines a pagewide printhead, fast-drying inks and a flat paper path, offers a high speed, economical alternative to laser MFPs for organisations that value low running costs more highly than print quality.

“PageWide is a cost-efficient, high performance technology. It is not necessarily the highest quality output device – it’s not aimed at the high quality print market, but at organisations that need entry-level colour print quality at high speed. It is very cost-effective and that gives us the potential to reach new customers,” Smyth explained.

Security and GDPR
Another aspect of Vision’s capability as a HP partner that Smyth expects to resonate with the public sector in particular is the embedded security features on HP’s devices.

HP’s world class security features include: HP Sure Start BIOS, which validates the integrity of the BIOS at every boot cycle and, if a compromised version is discovered, restarts the device using a safe ‘golden copy’ of the BIOS; whitelisting to ensure that only authentic, good HP code is loaded into memory; and run-time intrusion detection, which helps protect devices while they are operational and connected to the network by checking for anomalies during firmware and memory operations and by rebooting in the event of an intrusion. Other security features include built-in encryption to protect data stored on the hard drive, secure erase to remove sensitive information from the device and the ability to disable ports and protocols to prevent unauthorised access.

“With GDPR regulations coming into force very shortly, this should be a major consideration for organisations and we expect a great deal of interest from clients in all sectors,” Smyth said in conclusion.

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