As another New Year approaches, PrintIT Reseller asked a panel of the UK’s leading channel companies to share their thoughts on the future of print and IT in 2019
Mark Bamford, General Manager, Hollis Technology
“As the costs of print and service continue to be driven down, we expect the move towards e-documents and other technologies to gather pace. Whilst manufacturers such as HP claim that they will ‘disrupt’ the industry after their acquisition of Samsung’s print division, it is likely that they will have a hard time making any significant inroads as the big players have already honed their offerings to a very high standard. I also anticipate that all the recent acquisitions have left a gap that can be filled by independents such as Hollis Technology.
“Regarding IT, I predict that there will be a continued stampede towards cloud solutions which presents many opportunities for organisations embracing this way of providing IT services. Local consultancy with national cloud providers is the way forward.”
Damien Evans, MPS Key Account Director, ZenOffice
“Print is not dead. Although we work in an electronic world, some documents should now become electronic and businesses should look at their processes to make efficiency gains, print is not a dirty word it’s still the right thing to do at the right time.
“It is my belief that in certain areas print will grow. For instance in marketing I believe bespoke printing will increase as technology and emails are blocked or not even looked at and there will be an increase in specific printed marketing.
“The managed print industry will continue to consolidate: manufacturers merging together, manufacturers purchasing channel suppliers and channel partners purchasing organisations or services that will complement and expand what they currently do into their clients i.e. a traditional managed print company acquiring an IT Services company, enabling them to offer a full section of IT services.
“If an organisation stands still next year and doesn’t look to expand their service offering or diversify into new sectors, they will struggle to exist in 2020.”
Julian Stafford, Managing Director, Midshire
“I don’t see the consolidation of our industry slowing down. Copy costs being driven ever lower make it almost impossible for a small independent to compete with a manufacturer.
“The case for diversification was once compelling now it’s a necessity, if you aim to survive. There are massive opportunities in IT and telecoms with Audio Visual and Document Management also gaining significant traction.
“I don’t expect any significant developments around MFP hardware. But they will connect to more solutions making them even more important in the new office.
“All in all I don’t expect a radical year, just more of what we’ve seen in the last couple.”
Nigel Allen, Marketing Director, Automated Systems Group
“I think as we enter into 2019, we enter a year where the statement around the economy is easy. It is more unpredictable than at any time in most of our lifetimes! At the time of writing with all the uncertainty Brexit is causing business, decisions are taking longer as there is caution in the market. Suppliers however have to follow their business principles and continue to do what they do well. The more progressive suppliers will continue to diversify their offering to capture more from each customer whilst minimising their risk by creating multiple revenue streams.
“Within the print reseller market the last few years have seen tremendous change – first with the change in ownership of some of the major OEMs and latterly the acquisition of the majority of the large independent resellers. This has led to mid-market resellers taking the opportunity to capitalise and a handful, such as ASL, accelerate their growth through acquisition, organic and diversification, to take a larger share of the market.
“I think when you look at the list of the top resellers at the end of 2019 and compare it to two years ago, the difference will be striking. With more activity from OEMs in the direct market, it will be interesting to see the stance that a few who previously focussed more on the channel, support the resellers who still are very important to their ongoing success. It is a difficult balancing act to pull off.
“In terms of the end-user, despite the uncertainty, the trend to look to simplify the supplier interaction will increase with customers wanting more control of their monitoring of their IT solution whilst looking to further rationalise their range of suppliers. I also believe that the big hype of the last 18 months, GDPR, has gone into hibernation somewhat on the agenda, but it will only take a few significant cases in the SMB market for those companies who have lapsed into old ways and just thinking it was the ‘big boys’ who will get caught, to change their attitude and approach, thereby creating demand to reawaken the market opportunities.
“So in summary, Brexit, exchange rate ﬂuctuations causing price issues/opportunities, market consolidation, rise of new ‘mega’ dealers, continued diversification in product and service offering, OEMs dealing with new approaches to markets internally and from their competition, will all create a 2019 which will keep everyone on their toes. Can’t wait! “
David Tulip, MPS Programme Director, Network Group
“What a year 2018 was for the print market! I recall twelve months ago posing the question: ‘will we see more of the Manufacturer/Resellers created’? Well that came to bear – just a year or so after the swallowing of Danwood by Apogee, they in turn are swallowed by HP.
“I’ve always coined the phrase ‘there are no print manufacturers’, it has and will always be about ‘dots on a page’ of course, manufacturers looking to secure their lifeblood – ink and toner sales. For the many of us who sit in between – the cogs in the wheel it is business as usual, although it will be interesting to see what ripple effect this (and previous) acquisitions have. What must Ricoh be thinking and how will they react? What is the channel thinking about what had been to date a ‘channel focussed’ HP model? HP has certainly achieved what they set out to do – disrupt.
“How this affects the end-user customer is another matter altogether, all they require is a good service wrap which allows them to focus on running their business. Office print is still not sexy, but credible managed services businesses who enjoy partnerships with their customers are well placed to add value, for example, isn’t it really time that the discussion was around the value of documents being output as opposed to cost? Are fractions of a penny really that important if the document the customer is printing is part of bid for a contract worth tens, hundreds of thousands or millions of pounds?
“It has never been cheaper to print in colour, can people afford to not print in colour? Proactive partners will be helping their clients to reduce print but not at the exclusion of wider business aims. In the SMB market this means both an understanding of and an investment of time into the customer and their business and I think we will see end users looking closer to home for their business partners. Where end-users are now looking more to value than pure price, the market is ripe for smaller, local service providers.
“Resellers that have come from the traditional IT side of the tracks and have a credible MPS offering should fare well in this space with their technical aptitude and by virtue of their ‘Trusted Advisor’ position with end-user clients; these advisors enjoy a relationship with their customer that is business and solution focussed, opposed to contract and £££ led.
“With affordable colour being at the forefront, I am sure there will be proliferation of ink technology (instead of laser) with considerable growth for Epson’s RIPS and HP’s PageWide technologies, which will lead to decentralisation of print during 2019.
“These trends will disrupt the traditional copier/print resellers who are not adopting and actively promoting these solutions, which coupled with print volumes continuing downward may worry some, however there is plenty of opportunity still for the savvy solutions provider. The ‘cost per seat’ model is gaining traction with one cost for IT, print (and telecoms?) in an ‘as a service’ model, allowing not only growth for the reseller but economies of scale that will benefit the customer, whilst also keeping things simple from an end-user cost and management perspective.
“With the enterprise market being mature and somewhat commoditised, the battle for customers will continue predominantly in the mid-market and SMB sectors with my belief being it will be a year for the smaller LOCAL players as customers look for those they trust in times of uncertainty (let’s not mention Brexit).”
Alastair Adams, Director of Commercial Group and Divisional Director of its MPS business
“The office services arena is saturated and extremely competitive. We’re seeing increasing commoditisation and price reductions, which will continue as the way customers buy products continues to change.
“This means reducing cost of sale, hence the need to sell some products transactionally, which means having some kind of online offer. More complex managed print services must evolve and become more valuable to customers if contracts are to be renewed and margins protected. This means adding new solutions and investing in the skills necessary to design and implement them. It also means really understanding our clients’ needs well and developing vertical market expertise to improve competitive advantage.
“It is a great opportunity and one which can potentially unlock savings far greater than delivered by standard managed print services. However we need to be agile, invest in the right areas for the long-term and change our business to offer a suite of services ‘beyond print’.”
Mark Smyth, Chief Operating Officer, Vision
“You’re probably tired of the word ‘consolidation’, however I believe this trend is set to continue well into 2019 and beyond. There may well be further acquisitions of both large and small resellers and, I also suspect further vendor consolidation. There is a consensus in the market that there are too many vendors and the number is unnecessary and unjustified. It must also be difficult for vendors to go to market with a viable strategy if they don’t have a credible market that enables the output for product manufacturing.
“The second word you’re probably tired of is ‘Brexit’ and what this will mean to purchasing decisions and UK supply chains. I predict there will be a ﬂurry of activity at some point with some last minute Brexit plans for businesses aimed at contingencies to reduce the impact of supply chain availability and movement, people, contracts and pricing, in particular. That said, if we see a Brexit deal, it could mean a wave of purchasing activity and spending as confidence quickly returns.
“As margin pressures continue, I believe we will see more resellers driving digital transformation as a different talk track to managed print services and a means to add value and margin back into the sale. It will be the sales professionals that invest the time to learn and embrace this change that will make the real difference in our sector and of course profits.”
Derek Jones, Managing Director, Synaxon UK
“In 2019, we will undoubtedly see the movement towards managed services and the cloud continue. We launched a new SynMSP membership in the middle of 2018 and that has been extremely well-received – 35 companies have already joined as MSP members and we expect that figure to have more than doubled by the end of March.
“As part of that, the growth of managed print will also continue and this could be the year when it really breaks through into the SMB market. Synaxon is already forging close links with key print vendors, such as Epson and we are going to be working with them to bring new managed print opportunities to our MSP members.
“We also expect to see strong growth in cloud business – and in particular the Microsoft CSP programme, which we can now make available through our EGIS system at a margin that simply can’t be matched by other suppliers. We’ll be happy to introduce any reseller to that opportunity and to the many others we offer to our members.
“It’s also worth mentioning security, because that’s an opportunity that spans all areas of technology and is becoming more important to MSPs, cloud providers and anyone offering print services or devices. Every connection, every device is a potential entry point to the network now and they all need to be safeguarded. We can help members provide great all-round protection to their customers and make exceptionally good margins through our partnership with F-Secure.
“Of course, 2019 will also have its challenges – it’s a competitive market and every advantage a reseller can get will help them, and there has never been a better time to be a Synaxon member. If there is one thing you can do to give your business a really great start to 2019, it’s becoming a member of the Synaxon UK community.”
Jonathan Whitworth, Managing Director, DSales UK
“Document management workﬂow continues to be a major development area for print and reprographics. Consequently Develop has produced a range of document management solutions to meet the needs of customers. An updated version of Develop’s awardwinning store+find document capture and archival system will be launched in 2019, providing even more functionality for the target market of SMEs.
“Data security is now and will continue to be a key concern for customers. To deal with the threat to device-based company data, Develop offers the industry-leading security service ineo SECURE UK, exclusively from authorised Develop resellers.
“The huge growth in mobile working practices is another driver for innovation. Workers want to take advantage of their new mobility to be free from the need to return to a desktop PC for printing or scanning jobs. Instead they want web pages, PDFs or photos to be printed straight from their mobile device to save time and inconvenience. As a result there is a growing need to support mobile and cloud printing via AirPrint (iOS), Mopria (Android), Google Cloud Print, Wi-Fi direct and popular cloud services such as Google Apps, Evernote and Microsoft SharePoint. Develop is including Near Field Communications (NFC) functionality into most of the new Develop ineo MFPs for the office, to allow direct pairing, authentication, touch to print, and touch to scan with a mobile device.”
Jamie Brothwell, Print General Manager, Exertis
“Contractual print agreements are becoming more commonplace within the IT channel. Home users and SMBs are being increasingly targeted to sign up for automatic ink replenishment programs where software measures ink levels and automatically ships a replenishment based on a pre-arranged agreement.
“Colour laser and especially multifunction devices with higher print speeds will continue to be more popular at the demise of mono. Shift from single to multifunction will also continue. ASPs likely to fall for colour MFPs which will boost sales. Business Inkjet will continue to grow. We are also seeing good growth in the OA space from Epson with their RIPS proposition.
“Companies will look at sustainability factors in their decision-making regarding the choice of laser or inkjet.
”Print management software will continue to be a focus for enterprises looking to reduce their print costs and track usage. Ensuring print security will also continue to be a focus particularly for those organisations that hold sensitive information or to prevent malicious copying of documents by unauthorised personnel.
”Document management will also become crucial as more people focus on cloud storage.
“Services beyond MPS will become more important for resellers with pre-configuration and PDIs becoming more popular. Consolidation in the channel is likely to continue for resellers. Category is over populated with vendor brands which may precipitate consolidation. Connectivity of products will become more important for end-users – Wi-Fi /Cloud printing, storage and scanning.