The print industry is changing. Against a backdrop of hardware commoditisation, low growth, squeezed margins and a buyer landscape that will be less dependent on printing, print vendors are having to seek new ways to increase sales and profitability
Diversification in this rapidly evolving landscape presents the most opportunities for boosting sales and profits. Introducing new products, services and developing new business models is a strategy that will help sustain and drive growth, enabling vendors to capture a greater share of spend from existing customers, as well as win new business.
Quocirca Analyst and PRINT 2025 author, Louella Fernandes, says there is no question the print industry must reinvent and reimagine its product and service offerings. She said: “The successful players of 2025 will be those that are software-centric and innovative, and which embrace open partnerships. The workplace of 2025 will be drastically different and the industry faces tough strategic choices ahead,”
With this in mind, PrintIT Reseller invited leading channel vendors, software providers and OEMs to provide comment on how important they rate the need to diversify, to provide ‘services beyond MPS’ as central to future growth.
Mark Smyth, Chief Operating Officer, Vision: “We have been promoting IT and cloud-based services for some time now alongside our core offerings of managed print and managed document services and we find this is far easier with existing clients and where we have a well-established and trusted partnership and relationship. IT Services complements our current services and there are some distinct synergies with our core business, when we provide contractual products and services in IT. That said, you must recognise in business, what areas you know and understand and stick to what you’re good at!”
Zana Gradus, Managing Director, Systems Technology: “While MPS is our core business, diversification is essential The declining price and volume of print means that we have to do around 20 per cent more business every year just to stand still, increasing the necessity to diversify our portfolio of services.
“This decline, coupled with the industry’s appetite for acquisition, has presented some of our competitors with the opportunity to sell while encouraging clients to move towards dealers with more customer-centric environments, from which we’ve benefited. In our diversification efforts, we purchased a software house, employ our own inhouse developers writing code and are working on truly innovative projects for coveted clients like the NHS. As a result, we have a very promising technology services division that is set to match the income of our print annuity – and we’re not stopping there. We’re in the market for further technology and ITMS solutions. Watch this space!”
Alastair Adams, Director of Commercial Group and Divisional Director of its MPS business: “We always try to evolve, and to reinforce our own credentials with customers, helping them to move beyond MPS and deploying technology to make them more efficient.
“It’s essential that we extend our offer into information management, and broaden our service to enable us to work with our customers at the heart of their operations. We want to work around our customers’ key processes, and unlock savings for them far in excess of MPS.
“Customers increasingly want a consolidated supply chain and the services we provide enable them to focus on what they do best, while we concentrate on being reliable, ‘always on’ and evolving, moving our customers forward. The move beyond MPS is, for us, about reinforcing our credentials as a trusted provider.
“Our work with ITV is a terrific example of their finding a trusted partner then buying more services. We began working with them selling office supplies, we then delivered some minor MPS projects and when they put their fully managed print service out to tender, we won it.
“Growth is about cross-selling more services to existing customers: unless we evolve, we die.”
Damien Evans, MPS Key Account Director, ZenOffice: “In my opinion, in the future, you will only be successful in MPS if you can offer a broad spectrum of products and solutions. If you just offer the traditional photocopier / printer sales with a break fix service, you won’t be around in the future.
“ZenOffice’s growth and success has been about understanding a customer’s issues, goals, current and future strategy of the business. We then look at how we can tailor make a solution that meets their needs and provide a suitable, fair, flexible contract that allows them to add or remove services as and when required. A customer’s simple MPS requirement can move to include cloud hosting or other IT services that can be provided by one supplier on one contract; this is a big area of growth for ZenOffice in the future.”
Julian Stafford, Managing Director, Midshire Business Systems Northern: “Diversification is vital. We all need to replace recurring revenue streams that are in decline, due to ever lowering copy costs and technology changing habits, reducing the amount of print produced. IT services is an obvious ideal partner to MPS as is EDM. I still say the future for those willing to invest is really exciting. Technology has never moved faster and opens up opportunities just as quickly.”
Steve Hawkins, Chief Executive, Xeretec: “We see print as our core and our commitment to delivering on our promises sets us apart. We have invested considerable time and resource into ensuring our MPS delivers on its promise, and sets a new bar when it comes to MPS performance and value. We’ve applied the same level of thoroughness to our recent DaaS and SaaS offerings, to ensure they meet customer expectations, and we’re already seeing demand for them from our customer base.”
Elia Giovanni, Head of Marketing, Sharp Business Systems UK: “Recurring revenues are seriously under pressure and with the consumerisation of IT continuing to impact our industry, there is a stronger adoption of consuming information digitally. There are lots of components that can be added to a proposition to diversify -whether it be IT Services, stronger focus on professional services, visual solutions, etc. however, unless one recognises the absolute need to align sales and marketing competencies with these new services, you will never optimise that growth potential. Sales transformation must be on that list too!”
Shaun Wilkinson, Managing Director, UTAX: “It is vitally important to diversify and we have been pushing a key message to our partners that the time has passed where they can simply rely on the sale of hardware. A consultative approach and proposition of an all encompassing solution that includes both hardware and software that work hand in hand, towards digital transformation, is something that we continue to encourage.
“Many years ago we successfully diversified into managed print solutions and this continues to give our partners an advantage in the marketplace, with customers seeing cost savings and less wastage. We will continue to diversify our hardware, software and solutions and are looking forward to what we have to come!”
Joe Doyle, Group Marketing Director, KYOCERA: “The need to diversify is a key element to remain innovative and sustainable within the market. Adapting to the demand of businesses, staying inﬂuential and present within the market is a major factor to provide ‘services beyond MPS’. For instance, our acquisition of Annodata last year provided us with a platform beyond managed print and into IT services – helping us to expand and diversify.
“It’s a trend in the marketplace currently for companies, particularly in the enterprise and large public sector space, to adopt a ‘many to few vendor’ strategy. Companies want to rationalise their suppliers creating economies of scale and build deeper, more strategic relationships.”
Jamie Brothwell, General Manager Print, Exertis: “This is an interesting topic. Distribution has clearly evolved its offering beyond pick, pack and ship. We have increased our services proposition as a business and are experiencing a huge uptake in core areas including enterprise.
“It’s important that we enhance and continue to add to our service proposition if we are to remain relevant in an ever competitive landscape. We have worked hard to develop our print service offering which includes a number of basic chargeable services including: asset tagging, basic network set-up, re-shipment PDI, legacy equipment collection and disposal. Our strategy is to offer complementary services to our customers and to enable dealers to upscale their operation, as and when they require, with the added benefit of a non-compete perspective. We would love to discuss this more with our partners as opportunities arise.”
Jonathan Whitworth, Managing Director, DSales: “As a vendor, Develop provides the hardware and software solutions necessary for our channel partners to offer customers a diverse portfolio of products for their business needs, for example many of our most successful partners are already offering network services, software development and other IT services.”
John Gifford, Founder & Managing Director, Fiducia Strategic Consultancy: “Because we are not a traditional reseller and instead are a 100 per cent services-orientated business by way of strategic and operational consultancy to the channel and end-user clients, we are constantly advocating the need and benefits of ‘services beyond MPS’, be it in consultation with channel partners or end-users.
“MPS in its traditional format of hardware supply and consumable supply, even if automated and pro-active, is not enough for future survival. Offering things like implementation services and the hugely commoditised ‘pull print’ solutions are not going to be enough in the longer term either. Understanding and building a strategy that gears a channel business into offering more advanced services is critical from our point of view. Many people talk about integrating MPS with IT Managed Services in IT VAR environments, and this is definitely a positive option and should be explored thoroughly, but it’s not the only option. There are many other ways to diversify and provide alternative, value-added services to clients depending on the make-up of the channel partner, but it takes some creative thinking and a thorough mapping of clients, markets, and many other factors, to then build a roadmap for change that can achieve the ROI that partners need for future growth.”
Matt Hill, Sales Director – UK, Ireland & Nordics, Nuance Document Imaging: “We see diversification beyond MPS as critical to any future growth strategy, whether that be for Nuance Document Imaging, or, our valued channel partners. We have been in this diversification period for some time now, and the number of opportunities that we see where customers are looking for value add beyond a simple cost saving measure as part of an MPS contract, are part of the norm and not the exception.
“We’ve worked collaboratively with all our partners to help them along this journey. One of the main areas is, of course, automation of business process through using a combination of hardware, output software, document capture software and professional services. Customers simply want more from their investments in any piece of software, and print/capture software typically associated with the printing industry and an MPS contract is no exception.”
Phil Madders, Managing Director, Print Audit Europe: “This is very important to us. Our North American colleagues have christened our approach as ‘Saving the Office Equipment Dealer’.
“Our approach has been twofold – we have focussed on increasing the profitability of our dealers by reducing back office costs and adding new revenue opportunities through our Premier Programme & Seat Based Billing. In fairness these are not beyond MPS – they focus more on improving dealers’ MPS offering. Where we are moving beyond it is the introduction of Business Intelligence as a service to improve internal decision-making, and offer to their customers. It definitely reduces print, but replaces it with a new revenue opportunity. Who needs to sell a printed spreadsheet, when you can implement a dashboard instead?”
James Turner, Regional Sales Manager, Y Soft Corporation: “We find it incredibly important to diversify. For example, Y Soft has expanded to 3D print management, and therefore, our partner channel has a differentiator in what they are able to offer.
“We also have an innovation growth engine which includes YSoft Labs, Y Soft Ventures and our work with universities. This allows us to focus on the development of new technology and initiatives for further product or market diversification. Customers are constantly showing interest in new tools and technology such as AI and analytics, so diversifying in order to meet these needs is something that we are always trying to do.”