After spending nearly two decades in the Print Industry, I have seen the market mature over the years. There have been technology advances – speed and print quality have increased significantly. The cost of print has come down dramatically. The type of printing is ever changing – many things that were printed are now electronic; however, the access to more information via the internet, has created new applications. Credit should be given to the OEMs for providing these product improvements to Enterprise companies and their end-users.
Recently, I have seen a change in the OEMs mindset regarding Service and Support of their devices. The days of customized service programs, 24/7 Helpdesk support at no cost, and application support have gone away. They are no longer interested in creating a better experience and savings for the End-user community. Manufacturers are driving costs out of their business by providing less and less of these services that were once required to maintain that Enterprise customer. The customers are now left to try and go back to managing these devices on their own.
There has always been a question to what the Dealer could bring to the table for Enterprise customers. Most OEMs took business direct and Enterprise was very accepting of that and appreciated the savings they thought they were being given. Now, Enterprise accounts are not seeing the savings, or the service. They are having longer hold times for support, negotiating changes in service agreements, all while dealing with internal reduction of resources. Where is a CIO to turn?
As the OEMs have pulled back, the independent Dealer channel has stepped in to fill the gap. Even the OEMs are beginning to see the value in leveraging their most trusted dealer partners to offer the client the best experience. Customers are demanding expertise and efficiency, as well as a solution that is brand agnostic.
Dealers are providing more value in the way of financing, product life-cycle management and customized service offerings – including web portals, exchange programs, and on-site staffing. The Dealer becomes an integral part of the Enterprise customer’s business. Many times they are even measured on cost savings and creating opportunities for print volumes to decrease – a perspective that the OEM’s will never be able to adopt.
Keep a watchful eye on the continued consolidation in the OEMs, and how the offerings beyond the device and toner diminish. Hardware and toner prices may be getting lower, but what does Enterprise have to give up for those reductions? Working directly with an experienced Managed Print Services provider can help large clients who were once focused on negotiating the best price for a machine, to shift focus on total cost reduction. In the words of a recent client CIO, “This is where this project always should have belonged. We now have a partner whose goals are in alignment with ours.”