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View from the channel

This month, Print IT Reseller is talking to John Gifford, Founder & Managing Director of Fiducia Strategic Consultancy, and he shares his View from the channel:

Q: What are your customers most interested in?

A: Our customers are currently most interested in both expanding portfolios to include proper workflow solutions and project management outsourcing.

Those resellers who have established a good MPS business are trying to understand how they can expand their solutions portfolio over and above ‘pull printing’ and really get their teeth into solutions including true workflow. This can be a challenge for many, and simply following an OEM suggested approach does not necessarily fit with their client base or target markets, so we provide them with advice and guidance from the marketplace, building a blueprint that also matches up with their business objectives.

In addition, many smaller resellers with limited resources are gaining traction in bigger wins and require independent support for anything from project management to implementation management on an ad-hoc basis and we provide those services to the channel too.

Q: Do clients have the same understanding of industry terms such as BYOD, MPS or MDS, as we do?

A: End-user clients are certainly more clued up these days, a trend which has been increasing for some time, however they do still get confused in more industry specifics such as the difference between MPS and MDS.

Q: Where are you seeing most traction at the moment, are there any verticals that are particularly strong?

A: Retail continues to be a strong sector, retail businesses are consistently looking for efficiency gains and cost reduction, especially ones which operate with physical elements (i.e. not so much online businesses) are in a hugely competitive space where internal cost is critical.

Government however is another strong area, with the demand for high quality consultancy and guidance, especially from an independent perspective, increasing in recent times.

Q: When selling MFPs, what are the most popular software solutions you provide and why?

A: We are somewhat unique in the channel in that we do not sell any hardware or software. Our services, which are designed for both the channel and end-users, are based specifically on strategic and operational design, training and outsourcing of project-based resources. We deliberately do not have any ties or affiliations to OEMs or software vendors in order to retain that independency, meaning channel partners or end-users can utilise our services without fear of bias or conflicts of interest.

Q: Where do you get information on the latest products and solutions, and do you feel that the OEMs are doing enough to educate their channel partners?

A: Our wealth of contacts and information sources allow us to maintain a sharp eye on the industry as a whole. In fact, it is one of the key aspects of the business that we are up to speed on all elements of the industry covering everything from products and software to market analysis. In the event we are asked by any client to provide guidance in relation to specific products or solutions, we need to be able to demonstrate a wide knowledge and ensure we are matching them up with the clients’ business objectives.

I do think OEMs do a good job in general regarding updating channel partners, however it is clear that some are better than others. In addition there is a responsibility on the part of the channel partner to ensure they stay on top of changes and more importantly absorb and understand any information provided from OEMs.

Q: Is your patch particularly competitive – is it national or local competition that you face?

A: We operate across the whole of the UK. The challenges we face are less about competition, primarily due to our uniqueness in what we do and offer, but more from an educational perspective. Our biggest challenge currently is generating awareness in the channel that they now have a completely independent resource to utilise for a variety of services. Channel partners are understandably cautious about using companies outside of their own structures for any requirements, which is why we are careful and clear about our vendor-neutral standing.

Q: How do you spend your week – time on phone, face to face meetings with customers etc?

A: A week can vary dramatically, but typically will involve a fair amount of time on the phone, both to prospects as well as industry colleagues ensuring we are up to date on industry changes. Customer meetings also take place far and wide and typically are slightly longer than most as we like to delve as deep as we can in to client objectives. On top of that, client commitments during projects we are involved in take up remaining time.

Q: What would make your job easier?

A: Speeding up the internal software project we have started, which if successful, we feel could benefit the channel greatly!

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