By Jim Morrissey, VP US Channels Document Technology Partners, Xerox Corporation
Cloud computing has been great news for customers, offering higher service levels at lower cost. Initially, many IT channel partners saw it as bad news for themselves, eliminating many hardware purchases and the service engagements attached to them, including installation, integration, maintenance, repair, support, training, and more.
Over time, partners have adjusted their businesses, adapting to the new realities created by cloud computing. Customers still require many of the services they have always engaged partners to provide, including data migration, user support, server and storage management, integration between various cloud services from multiple providers, security, regulatory compliance, data analytics, and more. If anything, cloud computing has encouraged some partners to vary their skills and provide new services.
Input and Output Require Endpoints
One issue which cannot be overlooked is the continuing need for hardware in the age of the cloud. Users still require endpoints through which to enter and retrieve information. While processing of that information may take place on servers resident in a cloud data center, the user still needs a computer, a tablet, a smartphone or some other device to interact with and process the information, and output devices to produce results from that processed information.
Print is the most robust category of output devices. If your customers need to print something, they have to have a printer. Along with those printers they’ll need supplies, and they will no longer have staff designated to keeping track of and replenishing those supplies. Being mechanical devices, printers require maintenance and repair.
The Evolution of Print Solutions
Printing is now evolving, using automation to streamline workflows and producing a more complete product with less human intervention. Today’s printing solution delivers a robust finished product in full color, often bound and ready for delivery. It is no longer bound so much by the proximity of the user to the printer.
Even supplies have been redefined by the services used to track their consumption and provide timely replenishment. Users don’t think about supplies until they run out. An enterprising channel partner literally saves them from themselves in many instances.
Print automation has also progressed bringing a host of new possibilities through programming. Many channel partners now develop software solutions specifically for print environments. As with so many other segments of the IT environment, channel partners can choose to partner with these new providers to sell these solutions to their customers. They can also leverage this partnering while they themselves develop new capabilities.
Think and Sell Value
As print management has evolved, so has the channel. Where we once sold speeds and feeds, how fast the printer could produce results and how many different media and data sources could be integrated, we soon evolved to selling solutions to specific business challenges.
Today we recognize the underlying issue that customers have always been most concerned about. When they invest in any technology solution to any information management challenge, what they seek most is value. How much more value can they bring to the outcomes they obtain from each IT investment? How much can they reduce initial and ongoing operating costs?
Cloud has taught them that they can obtain higher service levels at lower cost. That’s what they expect now from everything they consume. Your challenge is to cloud-proof your endpoint business by adding the products, supplies, and services customers require to satisfy their ongoing need to print.