John Gifford, Founder & Managing Director, Fiducia Strategic Consultancy speaks to PrintIT Resellerabout independent strategic and operational consultancy services available to the channel
After a 15-year-long career working in the print industry among OEMs, distribution and channel vendors, in April last year, Gifford set upFiducia Strategic Consultancy with the goal to provide independent strategic and operational consultancy services to both the channel and end-users.
“I’ve been involved in MPS for some time, when it wasn’t a mainstream offering,” he said. Gifford recalls the HP Advantage programme, the days when pull printing wasn’t a commodity and software solutions were not de-facto. “One of the pivotal points for me was being asked to set up an entirely new managed print division within an IT VAR, who didn’t play in the print arena, their core business was within the storage/server sector. They saw the potential in adding a good chunk of additional revenue and margin to existing business by building a multi-brand MPS offer into their portfolio. That opportunity is still as relevant today for IT channel vendors as it was then,” he said.
Speaking to the reasons he decided to leave full-time employment and set-up a new business, Gifford said that one of the frustrations he had was a lack of unbiased approach. “I very much enjoyed my time working for different organisations, but there was always something in the back of my mind. When talking to clients you want to offer advice and guidance and provide the solutions that fit their organisation, but ultimately you’re always looking at trying to sell the technology that’s in your portfolio. I firmly believe there’s a gap in the market for that independent approach.”
Fiducia works with both the channel and end-user clients. “We don’t sell any hardware, and that is very deliberate because otherwise we remove that independence aspect. We’re not looking to compete with the channel, more to complement it,” he explained adding: “A software vendor tentatively approached me to ask if I’d be interested in reselling their software, and I had to say no, because the second we resell anything we remove that independent value point and all of a sudden any reseller probably wouldn’t trust us.”
The idea behind Fiducia is to in some way, play the part of the reseller, but equally try not to encroach on their ground. “The idea is that the end-client will utilise our services to essentially build a blueprint for change and innovation and anything else that they need within their organisation,” Gifford explained.
“So if for example they go out to tender, then the information we supply them with means that their tender will be much stronger and will focus on their business objectives, that then arms them with the information they need to engage with resellers,” he added.
Fiducia also provides a proposal contract verification service for end-users. “Typically they have got to a point where they have a number of components or contracts, but they’re not necessarily entirely sure what they need to look at. They can draft us in to help verify any potential pitfalls or issues, is there something missing, and so on,” Gifford explained.
He continued: “I think the most interesting thing about that is that I’ve had an increasing number of resellers contacting me, asking me if they can promote our services to their end-user clients where they have a proposal in. I think that’s actually born out of some of these resellers’ frustrations at losing deals off the back things that weren’t quite right. It’s interesting that that’s gained some traction.”
Gifford acknowledges that the first year has not been without challenges. “The biggest challenge comes from trying to create a different approach. End-user clients typically are not used to bringing in an independent resource prior to going to market. Changing that mind-set will take time. But it’s slowly getting there.”
Project management as an outsourced service, where end-user clients already have a solution set up, but want a trusted project management resource is among the most popular services Fiduca provides. “That’s where we’re seeing the most demand at the moment. We’re also seeing, one or two enquiries from resellers who don’t necessarily have in-house project management resource especially when dealing with a slightly larger deal than they would normally manage,” he added.
The long-term plan is to effectively become the trusted source within the industry. “Aside from revenue growth, our aim is to expand some of the expertise areas and move into the IT area, in order to then encourage adoption from IT VARs. I don’t think there’s been enough effort put into migrating to that. Hopefully we can help fill that gap,” Gifford said in conclusion.