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Capturing new opportunities: Our panel of industry experts discuss lockdown

Enforced home working in lockdown has seen increased demand for cloud technologies and accelerated digital transformation. With a hybrid working model predicted to be the new normal, accelerated cloud migration looks set to continue. PrintIT Reseller invited a number of industry leaders to share how they have or plan to adapt/evolve their business model to exploit new opportunities

David Warrington,Client Services Director,Office Fox: “Office Fox has always kept one foot in the future, we are constantly adapting to the needs of our customers. The ability to be agile in these uncertain times will be key to our continued success, rather than trying to make the customer fit our mould, we always focus on the client first and build our strategy to align with that.

“I believe this has been one of the lessons to take from the current situation, we all need to be open to change in the many forms it takes. Our goal is always to be indispensable to our clients, to provide them with the technologies and services that enable them to focus on key business drivers. Having our goal intrinsically linked to our clients in this way, means we are used to and embrace change.”

Ben Gaston
Ben Gaston

Ben Gaston, Sales Director,Toshiba Tec:“Our business model has been changed to remove dependency on print for some time now, with specialist sales teams and routes to market across a variety of technologies. Our customers come to us for help with process optimisation, IT services and visual communications as well as managed print services. By focussing on a customer’s entire digital strategy and assessing the IT infrastructure and applications holistically, we are able to add real value while protecting our own business growth in this changing world.”

Michael Field, Managing Director,Workflo Solutions: “Our recent acquisition of TRM Records & Document Management, provides a foundation for us to provide end to end document management. We can now digitise entire legacy records, implement an EDM which delivers access to all a company’s data, utilise AI technology to manage workflows and automate invoicing and HR procedures.

Michael Field
Michael Field
Instagram: chriswattphotography

“We can manage their ongoing print and scan demands, support their network infrastructure; whether on-premise, virtual, or cloud-based. We have removed the need for fragmentation in operations and support services. Whilst no-one could foresee a global pandemic with a flatline effect on the economy, we are fortunate that collectively, as a business unit, we’ve seen the benefit of digital technology for some time now.”

Joe Doyle, Marketing Director,Kyocera: “With the pace of digital transformation accelerating, Kyocera has introduced advanced technology and solutions to our customers to enhance their end to end information management, data, network and cloud security. This is not new to Kyocera, as we have been heavily investing in this area for some time now. In fact, we offer one of the broadest portfolios in the marketplace.

“Kyocera acquired two of the top 20 worldwide leading Content Services (or Enterprise Content Management) providers in 2019 and will introduce its own Content Services solution in 2020 aimed at managing Enterprise Content Management, Document Management Systems, Intelligence Information Management and Process Automation. This is in addition to our existing Content Services offering.

 Joe Doyle
Joe Doyle

“We’re also keen to help our customers overcome issues that have arisen as a result of rapidly moving to a remote working model. For example, in addition to Unified Comms solutions as part of our IT portfolio, we’ve recently launched ‘Kyocera Protect’, which is a fully managed, cost-effective and secure way to back up SaaS data. As organisations increasingly move data into cloud-based applications (such as MS Teams and the G-Suite), business success is built upon powerful data that can drive winning business decisions. According to recent IDC research an astonishing one in three businesses report losing data stored in cloud-based applications. Kyocera Protect is a simple, cost-effective yet secure, automatic back-up service offering secure and robust storage and data retention.

“Our service value proposition ranges from initial consultation, proposal by senior solutions architects, seamless deployment and integration, 24/7/365 helpdesk and a customer excellence team constantly monitoring how the technology is used by our customers, leading to ongoing communications on how to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Alpesh Unalkat
Alpesh Unalkat

Alpesh Unalkat, CEO, Aura: “Aura was launched on March 18 2020 through the simultaneous acquisition of Karlson and Intevi in a deal led by an ex-FTSE team. Our business strapline is about ‘reimagining workspace futures’ through cloud technologies and accelerated digital transformation in a vision that was defined during 2019, long before COVID-19.

“We believe that the integration of workspace experiences, bringing together managed print, workflow automation, collaboration and digital media, is a must for leading organisations looking to drive further improvements in productivity and efficiency whilst maintaining competitive advantage. All Aura solutions are cloud-based and where this pandemic has led to 10 years of change in 10 weeks, this has accelerated the adoption of our proposition, which mainly focuses on medium to large global clients.”

Phillip John, Product Marketing Manager – Solutions,Konica Minolta:“We recognise that some parts of the print market are declining, but we have a long-term strategy of diversifying our offering in the marketplace. Cloud infrastructure and managed IT services are two key areas, along with our range of document management solutions. Document management solutions are key in a world of decreasing reliance on printed materials. We have a portfolio of solutions which help our customers access documents from a remote environment whilst maintaining secure control of their dissemination.

“During the COVID-19 restrictions we have inevitably seen business printing reduce and it is likely that the long-term numbers will drop (perhaps by 10-20 per cent). Undoubtedly though, printed documents are still important and practical for a considerable percentage of business users who are likely to continue using this. Vitally, a document management solution ensures that a lot of more mundane printing is no longer necessary, as documentation is available wherever the person is.

“Printing will continue to be vital for many applications where there is no suitable alternative, such as label printing for example. We have conducted our own research that has shown that in terms of linear meters printed on the Konica Minolta AccurioLabel presses across Europe, page volumes jumped by 150 per cent in March 2020 – at the peak of the lockdown – compared to the previous month and then went back on the stable level.

“We expect to see further market polarisation, with high end and specialised printing numbers likely to grow in place of more general and lower quality printing. Konica Minolta still ardently supports print as an excellent medium, we also have a firm focus on cloud infrastructure and cloud services to enable the digitisation of customers. Since the COVID-19 restrictions we have seen an increased interest in the wider services we offer as businesses adapt to the new normal. Easy and simple document management and sharing has come to the fore in an age of social distancing.”

Clive Hamilton
Clive Hamilton

Clive Hamilton, Managing Director,Pinnacle Group: We have been very lucky that in the past four to five years, we have been trying to lead the DX (digital transformation) part of the business, by working with customers and vendors in communicating the various solutions both on-premise and in the cloud that can support business transformation and digital transformation. We believe that we can offer all our customers a high level of cloud services from print management, desk management, contactless visitor book, staff clock in/out management and various workflow solutions that would benefit most businesses.”

Simon Warnes, Head of Corporate,Sharp UK: “Firstly, we understand the challenges that our customers are facing as we have faced many of them ourselves over the past few months. For one, the sales process can be challenging when working solely online, rather than face-to-face, so we are learning how to become more agile in the digital and virtual sales space. We realise the need to be relevant, different and more memorable when using Skype and Teams – as it’s harder to read people and gauge their interest through a computer screen, so it’s really important to get the persona of the presentation right.

 Simon Warnes
Simon Warnes

“Secondly and despite its challenges, we believe that COVID-19 has provided a catalyst for businesses to look to migrate to cloud-based solutions as part of their own digital transformation journey. We are also finding that more organisations want to become serverless and to do this they need to migrate to specialist software technologies that will enable follow-me print solutions to operate without the need for on-prem servers. Sharp have a number of serverless cloud-based software solutions to manage devices and users as more and more organisations move towards internet café style infrastructures to underpin mobile, agile and home workers

“Thirdly, we are helping and supporting our customers with the use of visual solutions and document collaboration (yes not printing at all). We are encouraging and advocating customers to collaborate and share more and more digital information and content utilising Sharp’s BigPad technology and Windows Collaboration Display offering. The increase in demand for visual and infographic based content also provides us with the opportunity to create more interesting presentations including videos and to move away from bullet-pointed PowerPoint – making sessions more engaging. Sharing more and more content online also removes the need to travel and find oneself in busy often overcrowded meeting rooms – thus adhering to government guidelines around COVID and workplace safety.

“Finally we believe that COVID-19 has provided the catalyst for businesses to plan, fund and further commit to their own digital transformations. At Sharp, our consultancy capability extends beyond print and screen sales – and we utilise our own digital transformation experts to liaise with our customers to ensure that our products are used to their full potential and continually support their future strategy around digital transformation.”

 James Pittick
James Pittick

James Pittick, Partner Channel Director, Canon UK: “With uniFLOW Online and Therefore Online we have cloud technologies that can support digital transformation and the digitising of workflows. The recent pandemic has highlighted and accelerated trends that were already present such as the need for print providers to diversify. And diversification is a key pillar of our partner programme. We have been talking to partners about these issues for several years and working together with them to evolve their business models and adapt to new revenue streams.

“One key recent innovation that partners can look to leverage is the Canon Developer Programme. This allows partners to create their own, bespoke, end-to-end solutions on top of Canon’s technology. This allows them to really add value, differentiate themselves in the marketplace and open up new revenue streams.”

Andy Johnson, Head of Product and Solutions Management,Brother UK:“Integrating cloud MPS into print infrastructure was already a top priority for IT leads before the lockdown and it will only become more pressing in the coming months as businesses introduce more flexible, permanent working arrangements. Having delivered decentralised MPS for more than five years, we’re looking forward to supporting our partners as they help transform the footprint of their customers’ print estates.

 Andy Johnson
Andy Johnson

“We’ve recently added new small office and home office devices that are designed for remote working to our cloud-connected offering to provide resellers with a wider range of remote working solutions. The suite includes mono and colour lasers suited to high-volume use, and all-in-one-inkjets for a full document management solution.

“We’re also providing free remote installation for partners’ customers, and as ever with our MPS solution, a support line for end-users throughout their contract. We’ve also rolled out licences for our remote diagnostics tool, Remote Panel, out to partners for free – helping them to fix customers’ printer issues without the need for an engineer visit.”

www.toshibatec.co.uk
www.officefox.co.uk
www.workflo-solutions.co.uk
kyoceradocumentsolutions.co.uk
www.aurafutures.com
www.konicaminolta.co.uk
www.pinnaclegroup.co.uk
www.sharp.co.uk
www.canon.co.uk
www.brother.co.uk

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