Dealers discuss whether or not security and cybersecurity are legitimate revenue opportunities.
Each year we ask a different group of dealers to weigh in on a host of topics relevant to dealers. The intent is to provide different and diverse perspectives from across the country and from dealerships of different sizes. In our print edition, our panel responded to questions about their biggest challenges, diversification, acquisitions, and the viability of production and industrial print. Here, we ask them a question tied into the theme of our February issue—security.
The panel includes Chelsey Bode, president of Pearson-Kelly Technology (PKT) in Springfield, Missouri and the youngest woman leading a dealership in the country; Tom Callinan, president of FlexPrint LLC in Phoenix, Arizona, one of the largest dealerships in the country; Robert Ferland, CEO of Axion Business Technologies in Cranston, Rhode Island, whose dealership was acquired by Visual Edge Technologies in 2016; Darren Metz, president of Novatech, Inc. in Nashville, Tenn., another large dealer with a strong IT services offering; Richard Van Dyke, president of Advanced Office, a dealership with offices across Southern, California; and Preston Woolfolk, co-president of DOCUmation in San Antonio, Texas, who along with his brother Hunter, are two more of the youngest dealers in the industry.
There’s a lot of talk about security and cybersecurity across the industry, is this something your customers are asking about and if or when they do, what are you telling them about how your dealership approaches security?
Bode: Our customers and potential customers almost always say that security is important to them and they want to know how to mitigate risk in their business environment. PKT takes cybersecurity very seriously. We work together with the customer to ensure their environment is secure and protected with a disaster and recovery solution. We start with a non-intrusive network scan to get an overview and look for any network vulnerabilities. We then address any hardware (firewall) and software (A/V and spyware protection) issues. A lot of vulnerabilities can be fixed through proper firewall configurations and proper employee education.
We get asked less about security when only placing printing devices, although the size of the account usually dictates how in-depth the conversation goes. We encourage our sales team to lead the security conversations on hardware. Not all dealerships handle their processes the same. In regards to the security of information embedded on the copier, we have a process in place that sanitizes the machines before they leave the customer’s office to ensure the customer’s data is completely removed from their old devices. Additionally, we offer onsite Hard Drive removal or Hard Drive destruction with serialized certification, if requested. On the cybersecurity side, we keep the firmware up to date in order to address any vulnerabilities that the manufacturer finds. We turn off protocols on the copiers that are not being used across the network to prevent holes from being open. Additionally, we only send data out of the building using current encryption standards (email).
Callinan: We are constantly talking to our customers about security. It is less often a separate discussion and is usually woven into other topics, whether that is a new MFP or our Managed Print offering. Like most of our customers, security is simply a part of how we operate every day. Our approach is a pragmatic one that emphasizes getting the fundamentals right to minimize risks and exposure. On top of that base we are starting to layer some security focused services that are mostly customized at this stage.
Ferland: My base customers are interested in security in a big way. As we grow our MNS/IT Services group in New England this will be one of our cornerstone offerings. This is still new to us. Twenty some months ago I sold my company to Visual Edge. They are doing it the right way and have bought several IT/MNS companies. With that comes the expertise. As many years [of expertise] we have with copiers, those companies have with MNS/IT services. Each of our core companies in New England will have at a minimum a Tier 3 engineer and a dedicated sales rep joined at the hip as they approach over 15,000 customers in New England alone. We would generate about $8 million in revenues just by calling on 5% of our base. Within that base, the leading opportunity is that whole cybersecurity issue that customers used to have to be talked into. Now that everyone, personally, professionally, businesses have been hacked, business owners are very much aware of this. Once we get up to speed and have a team approach—and we’re just calling on our existing base who love what we do with copiers and Managed Print Services—we’re going to introduce them to security, which is a tremendous opportunity.
Metz: IT security has been and will continue to be a hotspot for MFP’s and the entire IT ecosystem. From an MFP perspective, customers are concerned about both access control and remnant data on hard drives. Oftentimes, the customer does not bring up the topic of security, but we successfully lead with security solutions to change the dialogue away from the typical lease and click costs to true value we can add. All of our sales team, which we call Business Technology Advisors, are well versed in solutions we offer such as Konica Minolta bizhub secure and Papercut. When offering security solutions, our approach is to help customers understand they need not only hardware and software, but professional services from a trusted technology partner to maintain their defenses against hackers, viruses, and other security threats.
Van Dyke: We typically get into security discussions as how this pertains to output devices or our solutions offerings. Most of the security questions we run into is an opportunity to partner with a capable MNS company with specialists in the security space.
Woolfolk: We’ve seen this conversation pop up more and more lately. It has been a great value add primarily when dealing with larger customers that like to purchase their equipment and run it to the ground. As security and firmware becomes obsolete, they open themselves up to more and more risk. The ability to hack and with cybersecurity threats on the rise, this is pushing these larger customers to continue to update their technology infrastructure, including the MFP. Tying this into our Managed IT conversations as well, we are seeing deeper value as consultants to our customer base.
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