Look Out Office Equipment Industry: You Have New Competition

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For those in the office equipment channel there is never a dull day.  We are a vibrant and thriving channel that has been pretty isolated for the last 15 or 20 years with almost no interaction with those offering managed I.T. services or other network related channels.  They do their thing, we do our thing, and both channels are busy enough not to worry about the other.

That is changing.  If you take a moment to research it, you’d be surprised at some of the evidence that we are no longer alone in offering managed print to our customers.  The managed I.T. services and VAR channels are starting to get interested in what we do.  Here are a few examples:

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GCN:   In an article written just in June of 2018, GCN, a resource for Public Sector IT Professionals, it was stated that I.T. professionals need to start looking at Managed Print as part of their offering to ensure that they are doing the most to secure and manage government and public sector accounts.  

IT Pro: In another IT Industry resource, IT Pro, they write about the core tenants of good managed print programs and why I.T. professionals need to think about it as part of what they do.  

ERP/PSA: Those offering ERP/PSA and business management platforms for I.T. services organizations  like Tigerpaw have also added managed print capabilities to their systems. It seems the Managed I.T. providers are starting to eyeball our channel and starting to take steps to get a piece of it.

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CDW: This I.T.  solutions partner is global and has a 30 year pedigree in the I.T. services channel and they now offer a comprehensive managed print program.  It looks like they are no longer content with  being known only as a VAR.


None of this should really surprise us too much.  We, after all, as office equipment providers, are also starting to offer managed I.T. services.  Many dealers I speak to have goals of making their revenue mix over 60% non-print related by 2021 and beyond.

There is good news, however. The office equipment channel has a few things going for it that I.T. services providers don’t:

Experience: Managing printers isn’t just about remotely monitoring the technology.  Good MPS is hard to do and involves complex care and feeding to ensure a great customer experience.  We’ve spent decades honing our skills and refining our offerings and put simply, we’re way better at it!

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OEM support: Selling and supporting office equipment without strong OEM relationships is difficult.  We get discounts and other incentives that I.T. services providers simply don’t have access to.

We know how to sell: Office equipment dealers have the best sales organizations of any channel.  Managed I.T. providers tend to be smaller and less focused on complex sales cycles.  Managed print is a complex sales offering as we all know from experience.

Is the Managed I.T. channel a threat to the Office Equipment world? Not today.  But we need to be aware of changing market dynamics and new entrants into our space that could become a threat down the road.  There was a time when copier dealers and managed print providers operated in two different channels and today that is not the case.  By being aware of new threats we can continue to be the strongest and most vibrant channel in the technology world.

What are you seeing out there yourself? Have you run into competitors that surprised you?  Or is our space too specialized for any of them to become a real threat? We want to here from you as your expertise and experience matter!
 

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