Andy Johnson, Head of Product Management at Brother UK, discusses how customers are demanding faster returns on investment and the opportunities this creates for resellers
With higher import charges inflating prices and a lingering economic uncertainty, reducing costs has become a key priority for many customers. Businesses’ approach to buying has become more sophisticated as buyers look to maximise value – to do more with less and see a return on investment within twelve months, not in a few years. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity for the channel.
Earlier this year Brother commissioned a report into office productivity which revealed that UK SMBs could be losing almost five million working hours every week to everyday IT related issues, like a printer having run out of toner or a PC crashing.
The research, carried out in association with YouGov, found that one in five senior leaders in SMB businesses believes that printer problems (21%) and computer crashes (20%) are some of the biggest time-zapping distractions in the working day.
At a time when poor productivity is such an issue for UK business, ensuring that firms are operating as efficiently as possible should be a top priority and the channel is perfectly positioned to help. By working with customers to fix these issues, resellers can help to deliver a more efficient working environment as well as benefiting the balance sheet.
One way to help customers streamline office processes, improve productivity and cut costs is through a managed print service. Simple features like auto-replenishment of ink can cut down time wasted on the ordering process and reduce spend, as customers only buy what they need rather than overstocking.
The controlled print element of a managed print service also allows customers to minimise wastage through monitoring paper usage, which delivers environmental benefits too.
Security and protection
In recent months, a string of high-profile cyberattacks have placed security higher on the agenda for IT managers and CEOs. While businesses take necessary precautions to protect computers, networks and mobile devices, print is often forgotten. This provides an interesting conversation starter for resellers looking to secure new deals, as secure print should be an equally high priority.
While the ROI here may not be as obvious, it is important to explain that it is an investment in safeguarding the customer’s brand reputation. A security breach where sensitive data is compromised could result in huge commercial and reputational damage and, under new government proposals, a significant fine.
At Brother, standard security features cover authentication, network encryption, scanning and workflow, but this isn’t the case for all vendors. By carrying out security assessments, dealers can highlight potential risks, advise on where customers may be susceptible to attack and recommend preventative measures.
This is an ideal opportunity to showcase the benefits of managed print solutions beyond cost efficiency and productivity. Managed print services that offer push and pull print give businesses control over their print, ensuring printed documents don’t end up in the wrong hands.
Moving to mobile
According to IDC, 75% of Europe’s workforce will be mobile by the end of next year. Solutions such as mobile scanners and printers are ideal for resellers wanting to capitalise on this trend and demonstrate a tangible ROI to customers.
Mobile technology can be critical in helping businesses to close deals in the field, rather than having to wait for paperwork and contracts to be coordinated centrally, and there are also obvious efficiency benefits as employees need to spend less time on the road travelling back to HQ. Resellers that can quantify the time saved and the deals delivered as a result of better equipped field staff will be in a strong position to demonstrate a strong return on investment.
Training and support
As new technology is introduced, businesses need to train staff in how to use it correctly. Resellers that offer a service to manage this process and streamline the crossover period will win favour with IT managers by showcasing added value and ensuring the long-term success of the solution. After all, if it isn’t used properly, demonstrating ROI will be out of reach.
Going forward, the opportunity is for the channel to work in partnership with customers to deliver ongoing solutions.
While standalone sales may provide a quick hit on the sales ledger, resellers should seek the opportunity for more. Choppy waters are ahead and working with customers to provide service solutions alongside hardware will help dealerships to better demonstrate ROI, which in turn can help secure longer term revenue and repeat business.