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View from the channel

John McPhillips, Managing Director, Digital Office Systems

Q: What are your customers most interested in?

A: Customers using MFDs for printing and scanning secure data are looking for greater security along with the ability to control BYOD users. This has opened up a new dialogue with SMBs with over 10 users and brought new revenue streams to our business.

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

A: Yes in the main and certainly amongst our larger clients. Mobile print has become a standard request from customers and this then becomes a conversation regarding security which drives us into other areas of sale. Most customers want equipment that provides up time, engineers when asked for, consumables on hand and machines fixed quickly when broken. In most instances this hasn’t changed since I started selling equipment in the 80s.

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

A: At present we are seeing real energy in areas such as development and engineering, we have seen growth in both numbers of installations and revenues, up, by 40 per cent in the past 12 months. This along with the additional hardware/software packages that are now available to our sales teams has increased our overall group business by some 22 per cent YOY.

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

A: We sell a Xerox web-based document management system which can be integrated into nearly all customers’ back-end systems giving total security and accessibility at all levels. This and a number of print management systems have increased revenue and profitability. We also have a great young sales team that are very IT literate and can convey solutions easily and plainly, whether that’s to an IT Director who is very switched on, or a small business starting out and providing a solution that fits their needs and cash flow.

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: I can only comment on what we as a group receive from our OEMs, Xerox and HP who do a tremendous job and provide us with vast amounts of data and product knowledge to assist us in a very competitive market space. From a solutions standpoint, we have had a number of these solutions available for a while and although apps has become the new buzzword, it is still in its infancy and the jury is out on whether it will really make the difference in the future that a number of OEMs are hoping for. It is in discussions with end-users and coming up with either an app or software solution that fts those requirements to improve workflow or integration onto an existing system, that we get real traction in some deals.

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

A: As a group, we can cover the whole of the UK from a service perspective, we face competition on all sides. I cannot think of one OEM that has not driven their costs down over the years to compete in the market space and this has driven revenues down but not on sales or gross margin. It is a level playing field in many areas and because of that, you just have to go that extra mile in terms of added value, to win over customers. I also believe that the internet has not done resellers any favours. I do understand the need for it to be positioned where it is, but this has caused pricing infrequencies in the channel. So as to the question of is it competitive, yes.

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

A: Most of the week is taken up with meeting customers and suppliers. I am fortunate to have a great management team around me who take ownership for the day to day running of sales, service and operations.

Q: What would make your job easier?

A: I could think of a hundred and one things to put down on this, but will go with, more hours in the day and more people of the calibre that we have already working here, whom we are working on finding.