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View from the channel

Michael Field, Managing Director, Work-Flo Solutions

Q: How’s business; better or worse than 12 months ago? And how confident are you about the future?

A: Our business has performed strongly over the past 12 months. Year-end accounts to 30 April show a 30% increase in T/O with pre-tax profits in line with the uplift.

I think it would be naïve to show over confidence. The UK economy finds itself in an unprecedented position amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but I do see positives and opportunity on the other side.

The lockdown delivered an overnight change in customer behaviour; the closure of offices across the UK saw print production on our managed devices almost flatlining, which has affected our revenue, cashflow and operating profit. Like our clients, we have had to change our working practices and as a solutions provider, we can bring what we’ve learned to them to complement our MPS services. The experience will also help us drive new efficiencies when we return to office working.

As a business community, when we reach the other side of this, we must not allow anxiety to halt commercial activity. Quite the opposite, we should engage in active trade quickly, passionately, and we must be wholly committed to turning the tide of recession. Should we keep the recent mantra of ‘we’re all in this together’, then without doubt, the future is bright and positive.

Q: In what areas are you experiencing strongest demand?

A: MPS remains the foundation of our success, we are steadfast in our mission to provide an unrivalled level of support and value to our clients. Our IT Services team have been phenomenal in driving forth the division and I foresee revenue from HaaS & SaaS matching that of our MPS income by 2023.

Q: How have you changed/are you changing business operations to exploit new opportunities?

A: Our recent acquisition of TRM Records & Document Management, provides a foundation for us to provide end-to-end document management. We can now digitise entire legacy records, implement an EDM which delivers access to all of a company’s data, utilise AI technology to manage workflows and automate invoicing and HR procedures. We can manage their ongoing print and scan demands and support their network infrastructure whether on-premise, virtual or cloud based. We have removed the need for fragmentation in operations and support services.

Technology is exciting, and it’s evolving faster than ever. We must embrace it and use it to deliver ground-breaking advancements in office operation.

Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing channel businesses today?

A: Had I been asked this question in late 2018, I would have cited the business community’s desire to move towards a paper-light model. Of course, COVID-19 changed everything. Challenges are no longer channel specific, the UK economy has a very difficult recovery ahead of it. Our intention is to face this challenge with our clients, together, and to innovate, giving new ways in which we can deliver on cost savings and boost efficiency. We’re hopeful that such advances will allow businesses to bounce back quickly and to save the livelihoods of many.

Q: Could vendors and distributors do more to help you overcome them? And if so, what?

A:Our vendor partners have always delivered exceptional support to our business. It is important we understand the complexity of their recovery too and stand alongside them. Innovation will be key. Konica Minolta’s Workplace Hub has the potential of disrupting the existing reseller model. It aligns itself perfectly with the IT services we provide and centralises the management of key software. The general market, more than ever, demands value and we must stay ahead of the curve, our vendor partners drive the innovation needed to do so.

Q: If you could change one aspect of your job what would it be and why?

A:: I’d be Elon Musk. No, seriously, my world is exciting now. I have built a team around me who force me to be better every day, both as a leader and colleague. They are passionate, forward thinking, commercially minded and experts in their fields. I learn from them constantly. Would I change my job, no! But I’d love to find more people like those we have already.

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