Even pre-COVID when the majority of people were still working in the office, printing and copying was seeing a modest but steady decline. In fact, figures from the U.S. indicated that the industry there was set to see a reduction in traditional hardware and supplies of -1.7% and -1.6% respectively between 2018 and 2021, says Gregg Lalle, SVP, international sales and strategy at ConnectWise.
Clearly, workplace digitisation has played a key role in changing the use of office technologies (OT). But pandemic lockdown has radically accelerated the process and organisations worldwide are still re-assessing whether they will use offices at all, let alone how much they will need to rely on print and other existing workplace infrastructure.
For OT dealers, this represents a challenge to their established markets and business models. On the flipside, it also opens up an opportunity for the sector to evolve. For instance, without abandoning opportunities within traditional equipment sales, OT dealers can transition to a services model or rethink their business model as a whole. Indeed, many of the skills and resources already available to the industry allows for a natural path to more sustainable and relevant services.
Another trend that’s having an impact on the OT market is the tendency for organisations to use a single point of contact for all of their IT and technical needs. In this context, niche players are being squeezed by a model where multiple technology services can be consolidated and managed under a single contract.
Yet, this approach also relies heavily on the ability of the supplier to build effective partnerships and customer relationships – an area where OT businesses have traditionally excelled. Paired with the financial stability and pure scale of the typical OT dealer, customers are more likely to gravitate toward their OT dealers for IT services when the opportunity exists. Ultimately, if a customer trusts a dealer for their copy and print requirements, there’s a bigger chance they’ll also purchase IT services from them.
As a result, the provision of managed services is a logical next step for dealers in this time of large-scale digital transformation. For instance, the OT dealer’s existing core competencies can help them build service-based revenue in a very natural way. Not only do they have a track record of educating clients and prospects on business improvement, but they are also highly experienced in delivering the relevant technology at the right time.
Many have extremely effective sales and marketing capabilities, arguably more so than MSPs, and in contrast with the OT market, IT offers virtually endless opportunities for upselling, optimisation and adding on services for customers. Think of it this way, instead of a once or twice a year check-in with a client, OT dealers can turn to the ongoing opportunities the service model presents for increasing monthly recurring revenue.
Despite these opportunities, why haven’t more dealerships looked to take advantage of the major digital transformation trends? For many, it can come down to not knowing where to begin, when in reality, partnering with a technology services provider offers an ideal point of entry into the managed services market.
For example, Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) solutions offer an ideal way to initiate upsell conversations around critical technology spend, ranging from integrated backup and disaster recovery and help desk to cloud services and other technology solutions.
In practical terms RMM allows providers to install small software agents on client devices that feed information about machine health and status back to the provider. This offers a highly effective way for dealers to build insight into their client networks, so they can help keep infrastructure running smoothly, stay ahead of service and reliability issues, and all while addressing many problems remotely. Delivering these various technologies and services via an established partner can open up a wide range of sales opportunities, while ensuring they are delivered to a high standard.
Among the areas offering the greatest opportunities for OT dealers to widen their technology portfolio, however, is cybersecurity. For example, research has revealed that 91% of SMBs would consider using or moving to a new IT service provider if they offered the “right” cybersecurity solution.
Taken together, the trends driving the growth of the digital economy offer OT dealers the very real prospect of applying their considerable skills to a range of new and exciting growth opportunities. The win-win is that it’s achievable without the need to walk away from existing revenue streams, market share or customer relationships.
The author is Gregg Lalle, SVP, international sales and strategy at ConnectWise.
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