Peer Review: Key Indicators to Watch30 Nov, 2015 By: Sand Sinclair, Editor
Each year, imageSource seeks input from leading experts in office technology to result in a mindshare on emerging trends, evolving markets, and good opportunities for dealers and solution providers to take advantage of. Helping to clarify key indicators in managed services, cloud, document management, and enhancing business marketing tactics, we turn to experts: Bill Melo, Chief Marketing Executive, Toshiba America Business Solutions, Ed McLaughlin, CEO, Valderus, Thomas Schneck, President, DocuWare, Dominic Pontrelli, Founder, Pontrelli Marketing / Executive Director, BPCA, and Mitch Morgan & Chris Ryne, Partners, Growth Achievement Partners. Here’s how they weigh in:
imageSource (iS): Dealers are increasingly looking to enhance their product portfolios. What Trends or Value-add’s should be considered to increase revenue?
Bill Melo, Chief Marketing Executive, Toshiba America Business Solutions: Dealers looking to expand their portfolio of service offerings should consider focusing on common trends of today such as mobility and cloud. As a manufacturer, Toshiba is committed to addressing these trends by developing industry-leading products and solutions such as our e-BRIDGE™ CloudConnect – a cloud-based application to enhance tech support for dealers and end users.
We also encourage dealers to embrace the concept ‘Beyond Print’ – an approach to manage all of a client’s content – be it print, electronic or displayed on a screen. To do so, dealers need to become a collaborative business partner to their clients. They must invest in sales personnel that can manage the complex sell of meaningful services. It is important to nurture clients and learn their business challenges so that you can deliver custom solutions to address their needs.
Toshiba’s success with such prominent entities as STAPLES Center, the San Diego Chargers, and Brookstone affirms that clients value a provider with long-term vision coupled with a diverse product and service portfolio to solve specific needs.
iS: In order to provide a Unified Managed Services platform that enables service providers to monitor, troubleshoot and maintain IT for their customers, what are some key steps to undertake to provide intelligent monitoring?
Ed McLaughlin, President, Valderus: Outsourcing, or partnering with an IT services provider, allows dealers to provide these services – monitoring, troubleshooting and maintaining IT for their clients – without investing a lot of time in finding and hiring as well as laying out cash for in-house IT techs and infrastructure. Outsourcing delivers the IT knowledge and expertise customers need around the clock, while allowing dealers to grow in revenue and profitability at a much faster pace. But it’s critical to pick the partner wisely.
When selecting an IT services partner, think about the customers they serve, and if their customer base is representative of yours. Do they offer competitive pricing that’s scalable? Is there room to make money? Do they offer a wide range of services as your needs and the needs of your customers change and grow? Is their sales culture compatible?
An IT services partner should also be used as a source for learning in order to be successful. Partners’ help to augment a business by adding this additional service that will help provide long term growth.
iS: Is there a particular trend in Document Management now that you see evolving more in 2016? If so, how can dealers take advantage of it?
Thomas Schneck, President, DocuWare: We are observing a dramatic uptick in Cloud adoption. In 2016, we foresee that about 30% of our new implementations will be cloud-based. This represents continued, significant growth which we have been seeing since the beginning of 2015.
Cloud-based ECM represents tremendous opportunities for Office Automation dealers, as it addresses many hurdles which have held back general ECM adoption in the past. Consider that:
* ECM as a Service does not have to be installed locally but can be launched instantly by a user.
* Cloud ECM can deliver pre-configured feature sets tailored to specific departmental or vertical needs.
* Cloud-based ECM is available for a low, monthly fee which even small companies can afford.
By embracing cloud based ECM, MFP dealers can provide a widely under-penetrated market with a high-value, easy-to-use solution in 2016.
iS: The office channel is competitive and continually evolving. Is there a needed shift away from standard self-promotion in Business Marketing to tailored content that specifically targets the client or market? How is this effective?
Dominic Pontrelli, Founder/Advisor, Pontrelli Marketing: The average dealer / reseller has a tendency to self-promote themself in traditional areas such as 'x' years in business, 'x' generations of family-run business, community engagement, is local / dependable, outstanding customer service, environmentally sound, is a good technology / services provider. These are all positive and well-deserved accomplishments within a business. However, a dealer’s competitors are making similar claims. If you look at several BTA / ITEX channel websites in a given market, do you see significant differentiation from one site to the other? If not, neither will Buyer 2.0 who is looking for specific solutions for his / her business issues.
The office channel IS very competitive AND continually evolving, however, most marketing efforts are not taking advantage of the current "me too' channel brand positioning in local markets. It is much more effective to target market specific customer segments where your services / solutions offering address a specific business need. The trick is to determine which markets the dealer / reseller wants to address (i.e., where they offer unique value). The vertical / horizontal application-specific solution topic is discussed at trade shows, seminars and local training lunch n’ learns, however, rarely do you see it marketed with content to support (whitepapers) and proof points (customer testimonials). This level of marketing will clearly differentiate a dealer / reseller as a value-added provider.
iS: In order to take advantage of managed services, what does the Complete Portfolio look like? What are the core platforms needed to succeed today?
Mitch Morgan & Chris Ryne, Partners, Growth Achievement Partners: Five years ago, our clients asked us this same question so we helped assemble an industry-first Managed and Cloud Services program that includes recommended partnerships and profitable Cloud Services Brokerage opportunities to help them take to market. It was developed around the categories of Operations, Stability, Communications, and Platforms to align a dealership’s necessary core offerings within each category. These cover the core services that are most commonly sought out by clients within the target market.
Operations is the entry point and refers to the management, maintenance, and performance of the network and the users that rely on it. The core services provided include remote monitoring and remediation, proactive management and updates, anti-virus, and end-user help desk. Today, very few companies build their own capabilities here because of the investment, ramp-up, and scale requirements. Instead, they outsource to a company like Continuum which has already built it.
Stability includes the core items of backup (both file-level and full Disaster Recovery), firewall, and security. Communications begins with a hosted email suite, Office 365, and a file-sync-and-share offering. Platforms is initially focused to the primary IT Hardware offerings and is positioned as HaaS (Hardware-as-a-Service), but could include other dealer-provided technology like document management to take advantage of cross-selling opportunities, as technology and business process improvement collide. Two additional critical services to have in your portfolio include the technical capability to deliver projects for Managed Services accounts, as well as the vCIO service of Strategic Technology Planning via a Technology Roadmap. While these services and products take care of the requirements of the small business user, additional opportunities do exist and are emerging. Expanded offerings include things like Virtual Desktop, Hosting, Carrier Services, and Telephony.
All of the above are products and services and are ones the dealer will either sell or re-sell. But the core platform requirement also includes internal technology to enable the MS team to maintain a proper knowledge-base, handle tickets, assess productivity and profitability, analyze environments, and deliver services. The two primary technologies here are a PSA Tool (Professional Services Automation) and a network assessment tool.
imageSource thanks our industry experts who have shared ‘take to the bank’ opportunities to consider for 2016. Start planning your next move now.