The MPS category is adapting to demand shifts created by the COVID-19 crisis, Mike Mulholland, Head of Services and Solutions at othe, discusses how the vendor is working alongside its partners to support customer needs
The shift to services has helped to transform the print sector in recent years by boosting productivity. As business models pivot towards providing managed print services, channel partners have developed a vital position of being an extension of their customers’ IT departments.
Within this role, vendor-reseller partnerships are working behind the scenes to spot and resolve problems in print systems before they arise, alongside ensuring customers don’t run out of toner and supplies, helping them avoid what could be a big hit to productivity.
The value this creates is being magnified in the current crisis; with some organisations unable to afford any downtime. Conversely, print volumes have dropped sharply for many office based businesses as employees work from home.
Both scenarios are creating challenges for MPS providers but vendors, including Brother, are adapting quickly to help keep all their customers moving.
Adapting for customers
Smooth logistics is vital to ensure spikes in demand can be met. We have adapted our processes and capacity to ensure reseller partners can supply devices quickly. Alongside this, we are consulting closely with customers to shorten ink and toner replenishment cycles sufficiently to prevent any downtime.
For both Brother and our customers, there has also been the challenge of swiftly enabling people to work remotely, to help deliver effective monitoring, diagnostics and device repairs. Now more than ever, swift and effective customer support is essential. We’re using remote diagnostics programmes and consulting with customers over the phone more frequently, while continuing engineer visits within safety guidelines. Outside of typical MPS solutions, we’ve also released our Remote Panel software to reseller partners for free to help them monitor customer devices without the need to make a physical visit.
The demand for remote solutions is also resulting in more vendors offering cloud connected MPS to make working from home more efficient for both businesses and employees. Decentralised solutions, where devices are connected to the cloud rather than an office-based server, are delivering all the benefits of a standard print-as-a-service in the home.
This will play an increasing role in how organisations manage their print estate in the months to come. People are expecting more from their printers and with homeworking expected to remain commonplace despite restrictions slowly easing, customers will need to kit out staff with more sophisticated devices, particularly within the legal and finance sectors, where physical documents remain critical for operations.
Meanwhile, decentralised MPS is presenting a new opportunity for resellers whose balance sheets have been hit by falling printing volumes from pay-per-page contracts in offices that are now empty. This will help to safeguard revenue by allowing partners to place devices wherever the user is, which will now be a much broader network.
Like many vendors, we understand that our partners need to focus on the critical issues right in front of them and as such, we’re offering customers coming to the end of their contracts a 12-month extension on the same SLAs, if they’re short of time to renegotiate contracts.
Transition to the ‘new normal’
As the economy recovers, print vendors and resellers alike will need to continue to adapt their businesses as working behaviours will undoubtedly change. Analyst Quocirca found that two-thirds (66 per cent) of those in the print sector need to change their operating model going forward, following the crisis – according to a COVID-19 impact survey of 90 print IT OEM and channel professionals.
Providers that wrap their arms around customers will no doubt foster stronger relationships that will be valuable in these choppy waters. And we can take the reassurance that the sector is well equipped to help customers adapt to changing circumstances.
It’s a long road ahead, but our business is focused at being by the side of our partners along the way.