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This month’s panel of hardware and software vendors share their thoughts on popular products and the key challenges facing the print and IT channel at the moment

PrintIT Reseller: What are some of the most exciting products/solutions in your offer currently?

Michael Burke
Michael Burke

Michael Burke, Managing Director, Purpose Software: “As one of the leading innovators in the market, Purpose Software has an ongoing new product development roadmap of software solutions, all of which are designed by the industry for the industry. One of the most exciting new products is FORZA, a SAP Business One-based system that includes all sales, service and accounting functionality on a single integrated platform. This enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution encompasses all sales, service and accounting requirements and provides a single source of data to help resellers to unify, manage and control their entire business operations. FORZA also delivers a lower cost of ownership and a better ROI by eliminating the multiple license fees and ongoing IT and data integration and management issues required when using separate systems.

“The other key product is a new dashboard option for CBS, 2serv and FORZA. Unlike traditional dashboards, they are intuitive, easy-to-use, highly configurable and can be implemented in hours rather than months. The dashboards provide browser-based access to a consolidated view of organisational performance, based upon metrics and KPIs that matter the most, from a wide range of existing, disparate data sources. Dashboards can be customised to meet the functional requirements of individual users who can ‘drill down’ for more detailed analysis all the way to individual customer records, documents or devices.”

Nirav Patel
Nirav Patel

Nirav Patel, Director, Worldwide Field Marketing, Nuance Document Imaging: “We’ve had a great response from the channel and end-users to the recently introduced Nuance Power PDF 3. Building on previous versions’ strengths, it continues to offer what enterprises want – increased security, enhanced productivity, and the flexibility needed to bring accurate document conversion across the business.

“To that end, we’re seeing much interest in it from legal, education, as well as financial and professional service organisations, who recognised the productivity-boost that comes from having a powerful and accurate PDF solution on every desktop, rather than on just a few. Power PDF 3 offers them the performance and easy-to-scale licence flexibility that businesses of all sizes need at a third of the price of a competitor solution, along with the PDF editing, creation and security capabilities that freeware solutions cannot deliver.”

Phil Madders, Managing Director, Print Audit Europe: “I am very excited by the Business Intelligence Suite we have developed to allow our customers to identify key performance indicators quickly and easily.

It started as a project to enhance our core products on device and user management, but has expanded into Dashboards for Accounts, Service Management and Reporting SLAs for our customers’ key customers, and the best bit for me – Predictive Analytics for device volumes – for more accurate account and contract management. We are now looking at applying this to consumables consumption.”

Nick Parkes, Regional Sales Manager, YSoft: “Our YSoft SafeQ Workflow Suite is a fantastic solution. We are transforming our customers’ businesses, moving their paper-based processes to digital. Today’s organisations are looking to change paper-based processes to digital workflows for increased productivity and efficiency. Digital workflows also provide greater accuracy, consistency and security (involving end-to-end encryption). Employees are provided with an easy-to-use workflow that removes the complexities of scanning and storing documents.”

Carlo Longhi, Director & General Manager, Indirect Channels UK & Ireland, Xerox: “At Xerox, we’re most excited about our current range of 29 A3 and A4 ConnectKey products which launched in April last year.

“These products work together with our ConnectKey Apps to transform the experience of how people work. We’ve received fantastic feedback from our customers who are able to use the ConnectKey range to turn their printer into a smart workplace assistant. We’ve also just launched the Iridesse production press which can print speciality dry inks including silver, gold and clear alongside the standard CMYK options in a single pass. Iridesse gives print providers an immediate competitive edge in the growing print market so is a product we are very excited about.

“Additionally, our managed document services continue to help businesses across the UK run more efficiently – we’re seeing this with our DocuShare Flex content management solution, print awareness tool and our user analytics service.”

Shaun Wilkinson
Shaun Wilkinson

Shaun Wilkinson, Managing Director, UTAX (UK): “UTAX Fleet Services (U.FS). U.FS is a powerful, web-based service designed to perform remote maintenance on customers’ fleets, receive direct device notifications and quickly identify issues that need attention. U.FS will also ensure that UTAX partners have the ability to perform key maintenance tasks and remotely troubleshoot issues on UTAX devices as well as perform firmware upgrades and setting adjustments.

“This remote solution will optimise dealers’ service processes and present savings on service costs while providing proactive support for end users. During a pilot scheme of the service UTAX managed to resolve 30 per cent of user issues over the phone, minimising both downtime and technician visits.

“Compared to regular fleet management solutions U.FS goes far beyond the normal device monitoring and is the best ft for UTAX devices with the technology embedded in all devices as they leave the factory.”

Glenn Kershaw
Glenn Kershaw

Glenn Kershaw, Marketing Manager, DSales (UK): “With increased demand for data security driven in part by the new GDPR regulations, the Develop ineo SECURE UK security service has been in great demand from our channel partners and their customers.

“Authorised Develop dealer partners have highly trained service technicians who can configure the security features of Develop devices – either prior to onsite installation or at the users’ premises. Customised to the individual user’s requirements, ineo SECURE UK provides peace of mind that the information on their Develop ineo MFP is secure.

“Another very popular solution is a new enhanced version of our exclusive convert+share solution. It does away with many manual document processes allowing original documents to be scanned on a Develop MFP and automatically converted to many different file types that can then be sent straight from the devices to a number of destinations.”

James Pittick, Director of B2B Indirect Sales, Canon UK: “At Canon we have positioned our products according to how customers really use and interact with our technology; whether that’s using print and imaging internally; whether they print for profit; where they use print as a critical part of their business process; or whether they need to add value through digital solutions and business process outsourcing.

“A Canon solution is designed to support business in the way that best fits. Highlighting one product is difficult as our approach is very much informed by what is best for the customer – rather than prescribing one inflexible solution. In the office space, for example, we have a varied suite of solutions available to resellers, helping them offer MPS – from discovering the opportunity, helping the customer optimise their print and managing the ongoing maintenance.

“At the moment, however, some of the most exciting customer applications we offer are: interior décor, photo and fine art printing, and digital mailroom. These products can really help partners deliver value for customers.

“Image is at the core of Canon’s business and informs everything we do. We support the life of the image from input, through processing to output. Our solutions currently cover: customer communications – helping customers stand out from their competitors; internal communications – improving the flow of information through the business; business enablement – enabling employees to work more efficiently; professional print – unlocking the power of print within a business; and plug & play – taking away headaches of the back office, so customers can focus on what they do best.”

Greig Millar
Greig Millar

Greig Millar, General Manager in Sales, Brother UK: “Our managed print service (MPS) solution is gaining traction with both large corporates and SMBs across a variety of sectors. More firms are beginning to recognise the efficiency, productivity and cost benefits these solutions can bring them, and we’ve been working with channel partners and end-customers to reap some excellent returns from systems too. For example, we’ve worked with the Day Lewis Pharmacy group to implement MPS across their network, resulting in a 20 per cent reduction in printing costs, saving more than £100,000 per year on maintenance, and achieving 99 per cent device uptime.

“Businesses that implement MPS typically find a reduction in expenses as there is better transparency on printer usage and costs. As well as this, MPS helps to boost efficiency in the workplace with greater device uptime, meaning that staff aren’t spending time up keeping the devices.

“By offering high-quality services with impressive results, MPS proves key to resellers and distributors who want to stay ahead in a competitive marketplace.”

PrintIT Reseller: Which of the products/services you offer are gaining most traction with your channel partners and why?

Michael Burke: “Our consultancy services are currently in great demand. They are delivered by our experienced consultants, who are recognised for their ability to help organisations undertaking acquisitions and mergers to integrate and consolidate multiple service and business management systems. These services are also used to optimise existing installations to take best advantage of new market challenges and business streams. This is achieved by taking advantage of the extensive configurability offered by our industry leading software platforms and the introduction of best practice processes.

“Our new dashboards are also proving to be a hit with channel partners wanting to improve individual, team and organisational performance whilst enhancing decision-making across the business. They also eliminate the time consuming, labour intensive processes traditionally required to provide end-user customers with higher levels of insight regarding the performance of all installed print devices.”

Nirav Patel: “Demand for our solutions and the problems they solve often runs in parallel with the challenges enterprises face. So while the ghost of GDPR hasn’t left us yet, we’re seeing ongoing interest from the channel in intelligent print solutions that reduce costs, dramatically increase security and deliver the type of granular detail that can really help organisations to get their print back under control.

“With pull print, redaction, authentication, document audit capabilities and more, Nuance has considerable heritage in successfully delivering against these market requirements. Furthermore, our close relationships with all of the major MFP manufacturers ensures that we deliver not just a tangible business benefit to our customers, but a seamless user experience, too.”

Phil Madders
Phil Madders

Phil Madders: “The PAE Business Intelligence (PAEBi) toolset. Firstly, it is easy to get on the first rung of the data analytics ladder with our out of the box offering. Then once on the ladder, the scope of the opportunity becomes clear – not only for improving your business processes but for expanding the service to your customers.

“We have officially received our first enquiry to sell the expertise and solution to an end-user who was impressed by the dealers’ demonstration of information relating to their account. This for me completes the circle – a solution designed to improve a dealers’ business process – generating recurring revenue and profit for the dealer.”

Nick Parkes: “Our automated scan workflows are gaining a lot of traction because they help customers with their digital transformation initiatives and because of their ability to improve productivity and streamline efficiencies.

Nick Parkes
Nick Parkes

“Our mobile print capabilities are also receiving a lot of traction. This has become particularly prevalent over the past few years as more companies adopt bring your own device policies and therefore require the capability to support a mobile workforce. Additionally, our overall architecture enables customers to decrease the number of servers which reduces costs and increases the reliability of their print services.

“We’re also seeing more interest in subscription-based pricing models which we offer for both our software and support services.”

Carlo Longhi: “The Iridesse has sparked lots of interest in the market across our customers and partners so we expect this to continue to gain traction throughout 2018 and beyond. We’re also seeing good traction with our ConnectKey products and apps which, together with our managed document services, are supporting customers in the transition from paper processes to digital workflows.

Carlo Longhi
Carlo Longhi

“This can have a huge impact on the business by reducing processing costs by up to 90 per cent, speed up turnaround times and enable offices to reclaim their space by eliminating legacy file storage costs. Thirdly, we are very of our hugely successful managed print services programme which is consistently recognised as market leading by industry analysts such as Quocirca. We know that companies are increasingly turning to partners to improve their document publishing services, and Xerox will ensure they can produce their documents quickly whilst maintaining high quality, consistency and driving cost efficiencies.”

Shaun Wilkinson: “We are seeing strong purchasing trends within our solutions portfolio; an indication that UTAX partners are continuing to find success with the delivery of real world solutions. UTAX Data Security Kits, print release solutions and our document management software solutions such as Filestream’s offering are particularly popular.

“We feel these trends have steadily been increasing, not only due to the increase in demand for products and services to aid GDPR compliancy but also in large due to the continuing change in mindsets and the need for value-added propositions.

“We’re also seeing traction with the sales of our A4 Colour MFPs, which is a result of our great pricing, low running costs and broad range of machine features. All of these benefits allow our partners to advance in the A4 colour market.”

Glenn Kershaw: “ineo SECURE UK has been an enormous success, driven by customer requests for maximum data security for their Develop devices. With the need for compliance with the new General Data Protection Regulations from May 2018, attention is focused on the need for data security, including print as part of the IT infrastructure.

“We had an original target of 20 partners to offer the service but this figure has been well exceeded and the vast majority of our headline dealers are now offering ineo SECURE UK, with many service renewals.

“Sales of production print systems are also growing following a refresh of our colour and mono ranges and our production dealer partners are also benefiting from new and advanced capabilities for media handling, calibration and finishing.”

James Pittick
James Pittick

James Pittick: “The imageRUNNER ADVANCE series is a range of intelligent office devices which are continuously evolving to provide the latest secure and sustainable business platform that seamlessly connects your office technology to the cloud. It complements every stage of the document lifecycle from creation to sharing, output to archival. Its cloud management capabilities help partners to serve a cost effective solution to customers.

“This range has won numerous awards including the coveted BLI ‘A3 line of the year’ for 2018. This range was recently refreshed with our imageRUNNER ADVANCE Generation 3 2nd edition, which provides more security features, cloud connectivity, web access and improvements to the platform all as standard and it is already proving to be a hit with our channel partners.

“uniFLOW is our Canon integrated print and scan management solution which helps organisations to manage print related costs, increase staff productivity, reduce environmental impact and achieve new levels of document security. The introduction of uniFLOW online, now means users can access this platform both on site and from the cloud. This powerful solution is ever popular with partners and their customers.”

Dave Weston
Dave Weston

Dave Weston, Head of Channel, UK & Ireland, OKI EUROPE (UK & IRELAND): “We are seeing great traction for our managed print and document solution, Smart Managed Page Services, which allows organisations to take control of their costs and provide savings across their printing function through managed resources and transparent financial visibility. We are now opening this up to our SMB range of devices and, in turn allowing even more resellers to access and make use of the solution.”

Greig Millar: “Our MPS business has grown by an annual rate of 90 per cent in the UK, as end-customers have shifted more towards procuring print systems via contractual, value added services. Brother UK’s flexibility with MPS solutions means that we’re equipped to support resellers of a variety of sizes and sector specialisms when required.

“By working in collaboration with resellers and partners, MPS delivers quick and noticeable returns for SMBs which helps to refocus on the core aspects of running their business. By offering the low-cost solutions that SMBs are looking for, the channel is then able to create repeat revenue opportunities.”

Michael Burke: “In the current market environment, the channel is facing shrinking print volumes and reduced margins. Also, as many print devices are becoming so reliable, for how long will customers continue to want service contracts? This is forcing the channel to look at diversification as a way to retain or increase revenues. However, resellers wanting to compete in this new environment will need to deploy integrated, multi-capable and agile systems that support diversification into new business channels and accommodate the added complexity that this will bring.

“Deploying an ERP such as FORZA from Purpose Software will provide a single source of data that supports the entire organisation’s activities and delivers incremental growth, drives operational excellence and maximises financial returns.”

Nirav Patel: “I think it’s important to stress that while the GDPR deadline has passed, that was actually the start of the process and not the end. Hence the importance of working with the channel to remind their customers that device, document and workflow security needs should exist in a state of permanent assessment. Added to that, the print ‘evergreens’ – the need to control print volumes and costs, to have access to detailed analytics about who is printing what, where and when – are also issues that form the bedrock of a secure and cost effective print environment. The challenge lies in bringing print to a C-level discussion, but this is made easier when it’s framed in the context of the cost and potential vulnerabilities of unmanaged print and unmanaged devices.”

Phil Madders: “Key challenges – the word ‘decline’ seems to play large in this type of question – declining page volumes, margins, hardware prices, cost per page. The list seems to go on and on. However, I have every confidence in the creativity and business acumen of the office equipment channel to transform itself again to face these challenges, and we can help in real practical terms.

“Our business model is designed for creating a recurring revenue stream as the world moves from owning to subscribing, which in turn creates the opportunity to offer different pricing models like Seat Based Billing which aligns the dealers’ objectives with the end-users objectives and creates a more profitable proposition.

“We are introducing a completely new range of user management software and embedded solutions to our Premier Partners later this year, which will significantly reduce the cost of implementing a secure print environment, in turn boosting profitability on every sale. Our Business Intelligence offering creates the capability to follow the page as becomes digital. An obvious example –- one of our customers no longer produces an excel spreadsheet with nine different worksheets, which would be printed out in full a couple of times a month for analysis. The same data is presented in a dashboard so no need to print, no click charge generated. However if the dealer is providing the dashboard capability then the revenue lost is replaced many times over by the recurring revenue generated. That’s how we help, by offering replacement revenue opportunities, ideas and suggestions, and working on the basis that our partners are providing communication tools, of which MFPs and pages are just part of the mix.”

Nick Parkes: “Security is a big challenge. Specifically, the channel is challenged to educate business leaders that, with the Internet of Things, all connected devices are vulnerable and that includes networked printers and multifunction devices. Additionally, with GDPR in effect, organisations need to be able to respond to requests regarding data that is processed as part of print and document capture systems. Without the ability to manage and audit print/copy/scan and fax activity an organisation cannot adequately secure their print infrastructure or be compliant with GDPR.

“Additionally, partners of all sizes are finding it a challenge to reinvent themselves as IT solution and IT service providers, rather than traditional MFD and copier resellers.”

Carlo Longhi: “We’re currently in the middle of summer – and that can be a very daunting period for channel partners who may worry that a slow sales period and weak performance will put pressure on the business for the rest of the year. But in reality, business doesn’t come to a grinding halt in the summer. This time of year provides a good opportunity to review your pipeline and planned activities for the rest of year and refine these as appropriate.

“By taking advantage of the summer period to focus on your pipeline, you can actually set yourself up for success for the rest of the year. Xerox certainly doesn’t slow down for the summer – we’re focused on driving further growth in the channel through channel expansion and working closely with our partners to help them achieve their goals.”

Shaun Wilkinson: “Quocirca’s survey ‘Channels to Managed Print Services, 2018’ reveals that a skills gap is clearly evident in the sector, with 50 per cent of channel organisations reporting that sales and technical resource skills are a key barrier to delivering MPS.

“I still believe that with our assistance there is a huge opportunity for dealers who can shift their mindset and take on a consultative approach to selling, rather than relying on out-of-the box solutions. As a team we are on hand to ensure that sales and technical specialists are informed enough to be able to start / continue offering collaborative solutions and really get to know the solutions and options available to them. This in turn means that there also needs to be recognition that with solutions come skills and knowledge and these all form part of a chargeable service.

“Quocirca also reported that overall, 34 per cent of channel organisations already selling MPS have increased their revenue by five per cent or more in the last year. At UTAX we see time and time again how the combination of our devices and software provides partners with the ideal opportunity to maintain, upgrade and sell to their client base the solutions that really make a difference to businesses. Those solutions also need to be practical and cost-effective, fully integrated with existing IT set-ups and delivered with minimum disruption.”

Glenn Kershaw: “Service is the main differentiator for the channel. But to provide high levels of customer service and support, channel partners and ultimately manufacturers, rely on their customers purchasing genuine consumables such as toner from them. The erosion of consumable revenues by competition from inferior grey and counterfeit substitutes is a serious threat to the service levels channel partners can afford to provide.

“Another significant threat is diminishing click counts. Whilst the long-heralded ‘paperless office’ may never really be accomplished, the model of lease or purchase with ongoing click revenue for devices may have to be reviewed. We are already providing enhanced services and solutions that will become more and more prevalent as the industry evolves.”

James Pittick: “Our increasingly complex digital world has led to a dramatic increase in both the scale and the importance of imaging and information. Managing, safely and securely, this mountain of information is going to be one of the key challenges for the channel. With the introduction of the GDPR, strict procedures around data processing must be implemented to ensure businesses don’t suffer financial and reputational damage. The channel should lead the way in this field, and as print is often at the heart of a company’s information flow, this is imperative.

“The scale of the information growth is completely unprecedented, and within only a few years we’ll be having to store the equivalent of 5.2 terabytes of information for every human on earth (IDC and EMC). By 2020 digital commerce will account for a quarter of the global economy, changing the way every business works (Digital Economic Value Index, Accenture, 2016). This mass of information should not only be seen as a burden or a risk; canny and successful partners should learn to utilise all of this information to help optimise their businesses and better support their customers.”

Dave Weston: “The main challenges relate to average selling prices (ASPs) and profit erosion. Print hardware ASPs continue to erode – and that is significantly impacting resellers’ ‘pound note profit’. As a result, they are having to sell more units to maintain bottom line profit. OKI can and is helping its reseller community to increase margin by offering services (Smart Managed Page Services) and solutions such as the OKI SENDYS Explorer and OKI SENDYS Output Manager to grow the average basket spend, profit and also reduce churn across its customer base. Solutions like SENDYS benefit the end customer by enabling them to maximise their document workflow efficiencies and control print costs.”

Greig Millar: “Currency fluctuations have pinched resellers’ margins on imported technology, a challenge exacerbated by increased competitiveness in the print and scan market. The traditional channel structure is also being disrupted by Amazon’s growing business offering, with many SMBs gravitating towards this given their familiarity with the platform. This makes MPS agreements more important to our partners than ever before.

“Instead of a faceless purchase, our MPS solutions provide a long-term service with additional support and maintenance. This is the channel’s biggest advantage, as by providing an excellent service to end-users, they’re also entering an ongoing valuable relationship.”

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