by Patricia Ames
It is no understatement to say that office technology is evolving more quickly than ever before. But more than the technology, the strategies and tactics behind its use are evolving as well. Organizations are looking for ways to improve processes and boost the performance of the organization — and save money doing so. It is no small task. As a result, the office technology industry is experiencing a transformation as well, away from a box-oriented approach to a more consultative and solution-based mindset.
Evolve With the Times
How should suppliers and providers react? To plan your approach, first consider the undeniable fact that the market is moving away from a hardware-centric mindset toward a more process-oriented approach. Let’s face it, hardware manufacturers are working in an environment where hardware has become increasingly commoditized. As a result, if you want to maintain any kind of margin while maintaining your client base you need to offer more. This might include some sort of customization or specialization that adds value and expertise, or simply the increased ability to solve more problems with your offerings. It’s not bad news for hardware suppliers. In fact, part of that “more” can be found in the incredibly advanced capabilities that we are now seeing with hardware. But ultimately, your success is contingent upon your ability to differentiate yourself with your ability to improve organizational performance and show increased value.
Have a Different Conversation
For most hardware suppliers, this is a very different conversation to have with prospects and customers. The conversation is changing because of the growing need to streamline disparate systems and processes. Information is exploding from every portal and the need to capture, manage and archive that information is an ever-growing challenge. Any solutions that help streamline and automate that effort are in high demand as a result. And if hardware manufacturers are the ones that can integrate a solution to improve the process then they will get the client.
Change Your Focus
Suppliers therefore must adopt a mindset: process first, then the hardware. While this may seem like a challenge to the familiar status quo, remember that there is a great deal of opportunity in this shift in mindset. Dealers and resellers have a unique opportunity to start developing vertical strategies that take advantage of these new developments in the market by focusing on the process first. Building specialized know-how in specific industry segments also does a great deal to differentiate you from the competition and bring real value to your clients.
How should you move forward? It is important to know the full capabilities of the equipment you sell and to work to become an expert in the processes they support. This will give you maximum flexibility in selling solutions to your clients. But most of all, you’ll have better success because you’ll be tapped into the process and the real needs of your clients. It’s clear that newer scalable solutions utilizing cloud-based platforms offer a great deal of flexibility and can grow with your clients. So make sure to understand those benefits and incorporate them into your offerings to broaden out your portfolio and appeal.
Patricia Ames is senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG, and has more than 10 years’ experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community. Follow her on Twitter at @OTGPublisher or contact her by email at email@example.com.