The Imaging Channel of Tomorrow: Services = Survival
The key challenge Imaging dealers will face over the next 5 years is that by the time they feel the pain of a failing business it will be too late to start implementing changes. As always, there will be innovative dealers in the channel who make the investments, evolve their business model, and do the activities required to create a competitive advantage.
Meanwhile, a majority of the channel will, at best, evolve slowly and expect to continue to benefit from the market using a business model that is 20 or more years old. Unfortunately, many of these dealers will not survive long enough to be able to gracefully exit the business.
As the Imaging channel changes the following are key trends to watch:
- Blurring of the lines between Copier/Printer Dealers and IT Dealers
- Partnerships with MSPs and “Turnkey” Program Providers
- Reseller Expansion Through Mergers and Acquisitions
- Technological Shifts that Impact the Channel
Imaging Reseller Evolution – Transactions to Services
All 4 trends play into the inevitable, the Imaging industry has become commoditized and if you are not able to play the price/efficiency game, services will be the way to go. Several years ago, Photizo recognized a looming convergence of the traditional office technology dealer and the IT systems integrators. This blending of best practices and approaches to the market would create a superior organization with a focus on services-led delivery and fulfillment known as Hybrid and Services Providers.
Hybrid and Services Providers can come in any shape and size. However, it is clear that executive leadership is sharply focused on a services-led approach to the market. A key indicator of the level of executive commitment to the services model is a willingness to invest in dedicated services staff. When speaking of services, we are addressing advanced services, which extend beyond basic “break/fix” hardware service. All Hybrid and Services Providers have fully dedicated staff focused on MPS.
While industry leaders in the channel have evolved at lightning speed – a majority of the channel has, at best, migrated to offering some form of MPS as an ‘offering’ on their website, but they have not really changed their business model to embrace services as a core driver of growth and profitability. We call these dealers ‘Fence Sitters’ or ‘Testers’ in our Hybrid Provider Development Model (see figure above).
While these fence sitters and testers are ultimately going to be displaced by dealers who have service-driven models (committed, hybrid, and service providers), this won’t happen in the short term. And in many cases, these dealers may have five years of profitable operations under the old model.
It is inevitable that many will face a slow death unless there is an awakening to the possibilities available from a services led model. If an awakening takes place the rate of adoption and commitment to lead with services will determine the survival outcome.