Software, particularly as it relates to security, represents a significant opportunity that most dealers can relate to.
As we inch closer toward the third decade of the 21st century, the present paints a bleak picture for the future of print. We are specifically referring to print within the SMB space or selling into the office.
Yes, the market is a challenging one and there is ample evidence that dealers are less optimistic about succeeding in the next decade. What gives us that opinion is the rising numbers of dealers who are selling their businesses.
This is a hard number to track because not all acquisitions are publicized, but it’s nothing new. We asked our friends in the leasing business and they tell us that on average, at least one of these transactions crosses their desks each week. These are dealers who are either unwilling or unable to make the necessary investments into the growth areas of print, such as wide- and large-format printing, as well as production print. Fair enough and we understand why they are choosing not to do so.
However, an area many dealers are overlooking is on the software side of the business. Although document management, and storage and retrieval are issues that have been thoroughly addressed, we believe there is a rapidly emerging opportunity on the software side of the equation that dealers should seriously consider—security and tools to protect businesses from being hacked or breached.
This opportunity does not require dealers who serve the SMB market to make huge capital investments to learn about the market and/or obtain software that addresses their customer’s security needs. This opportunity could provide a stimulus to a dealer who feels he is caught between a rock and a hard place with no easy answer.
We suggest dealers talk to the vendors that are currently providing them with software. Our Annual Dealer Survey identifies PaperCut, Square 9, Kofax and a host of other document management solutions as the leading providers of software used by dealers.
Dealers should ask their vendors about their recommendations around security. And those vendors should be able to suggest reliable providers of these solutions. Dealers also need to attend software conferences and hardware manufacturers dealer meetings where there are software vendors demonstrating security solutions during the product showcases.
Once you have done your homework, make the investment and begin to build a business around security. If you are a dealer with a MIF of less than 2,500 machines it should be a simple exercise to educate your customers on the need for security.
Addressing a need to a customer that is well accepted by the consumer at large broadens your posture within that same customer base. You are offering an answer to what may be of major concern to them. Once you provide that service, your position as a key supplier for that customer rises two notches.
In addition, the renewal of the hardware you are currently providing for that customer becomes remarkably easier. Customers are looking for suppliers who provide answers. Think about it. When you have your doubts about continuing in the business look to the soft side to provide you with a window of hope for the future. We will believe you will find an answer there that makes sense.
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