Does Your Company Need a Technology Refresh?

Sheryne Glicksman
 Oct 17, 2017

After missing Print17 and BTA in Philadelphia because of Hurricane Irma, I was more than thrilled to travel out of my home state of Florida to attend Loffler’s Tech Fest 2017 in St Paul, Minnesota this past month!  Tech Fest is a one-day annual event that Loffler hosts bringing partners and companies together to learn about the latest technology trends and tools. Their focus on educating the audience about a technology refresh, message of helping customers and giving back to the community was clear throughout the entire day. If you haven’t heard of Loffler, you might want to check them out at https://www.loffler.com/. They started their business in a garage in 1986 and have grown to become one of the mega-dealers in the United States.

As quoted by James Loffler, Vice President – IT Solutions Group, “At Loffler Companies, helping our customers succeed is the “Why” behind what we do.  Tech Fest is an example of that commitment.  The day is spent sharing best practices, educating on the latest technology and leadership trends and strengthening customer relationships.”

Here are three best practices I would recommend for anyone considering their own Tech Fest:

Start with Having a Panel Discussion

Loffler’s Tech Fest started with a panel of four local business leaders representing the retail, legal, healthcare and hospitality markets. Discussion around top IT Security and Business Continuity concerns was kicked off by James Loffler and hosted by Jeff King. Security, industry regulation, more educated customers and IT governance came up during the panel discussions. It was noted that augmented reality will drive future sales in retail with the new iPhone coming out allowing shoppers to scan store aisles for specials.  It was also stated that small incremental changes based on needs are the best approach with technology. Most of the panel experts said we should pay attention to artificial intelligence and look at data around value based outcomes. Of course, security was top of mind for everyone who stated that companies like Loffler are key to helping businesses with specific strategies related to security needs. It’s ok to outsource some of your IT work to free up your own internal IT staff. What are you doing to leverage IT strategies and protect your business?

Highlight your Vendor Support and Do Breakout Sessions

Loffler partners with key vendors in the digital imaging channel and they have their own business units of expertise.  Scattered between the vendors, they set up their own specialty booths highlighting their experience in Managed IT, Managed Print Services and Loffler Consulting and Management Services. This company walks the talk of being more than just a copier company! I was pleased to see some familiar vendor partners such as Square 9, Xerox, Perceptive Solutions, Quest and networked with vendors I haven’t met such as Biscom, FR Secure, Artic Wolf, Communication Systems Specialists, Zerto and many more. I would suggest continuing to leverage your partnerships with key vendors and industry analysts, we can help drive business leads your way!

I found that Loffler’s Tech Fest breakout sessions were extremely educational. They prompted additional dialogues throughout the day around leadership, careers in technology, the importance of continued learning and the fact that we all need to be comfortable being uncomfortable with the pace of change in technology happening so quickly. Attendees were interested in how they can get more information on industry trends and blogs and they were also interested in learning more about how technology tools will help them solve their business problems. (I may have helped Loffler sell Square 9, not that they need my help).

They talked about the importance of IT. That it can no longer be considered a tactical part of business. That applications dictate our business processes and good data is important so we can mine it and make intelligent business decisions with it. Today, companies still lack the data they need or they must pull it from many places. What are you doing to streamline your applications and data to be more efficient?

It was noted that Shadow IT in an emerging challenge to pay attention to. Shadow IT is a term often used to describe information-technology systems and solutions built and used inside organization without explicit organizational approval. It is happening when departments choose to deploy their own solutions without involving IT.  The IT department must be at the table with the business units so everyone is on the same page aligning the business with the technology. I believe it’s one of the first steps in crafting a technology refresh for your company.

Commit to Partnerships, Culture and Diversity

Everyone has a mission statement and culture description on their website however how many of you really believe in this mission and support the culture you represent online? It was exciting to see that Loffler’s online persona and in person presence matched with their core values.

At Loffler, they believe in blending together voices from all types of people to move forward with one shared purpose of exceeding the expectations of their clients, employees, partners and community. Diversity in IT matters. This was even more apparent when key note speaker took the stage.

Their long-term partnership with the Minnesota Vikings and key note speaker Kevin Warren hit home for me. Mr. Warren spoke from the heart, showed passion for what he represents and does for a living. He spoke highly of the true partnership that Loffler has with the Vikings. He spoke about how important it is to evolve as a company, support diversity and streamline efforts on the business side to grow. I was blown away by the new interactive campus they are building in Egan. He showed us the new U.S. Bank Stadium where Super Bowl 2018 will be hosted. (I’m currently available to attend)!

Technology Refresh

In closing, it’s been noted that 3% – 7% of a company’s revenue will be spent on IT. Have you thought about your own Tech Fest? How are you leveraging your vendor partners? Have you looked at your own website lately to make sure it represents who you are today?  Are you having dialogue with your customers to understand their business challenges and prepare for growth while aligning the technology tools to help them? Do your sales reps know what challenges technology can solve? If so, you are on your way to building a technology refresh for yourself and your customers.

Do You ChannelCon?

Sheryne Glicksman
 Aug 15, 2017

CompTIA ChannelCon event was held in Austin,Texas in August. It was an amazing event filled with tons of educational seminars, interactive events, several vendors, great dialogues along with fun things to do like participating in a 5K walk/run and going to an event where we were fitted for cowboy hats. Everything is big in Texas!

ChannelCon’s message of Be the Change was apparent throughout the event. Cool posters were on the wall all over the venue such as the one highlighted that I captured while walking to another session. Discussions around diversity drove home the need for everyone to focus on unconscious bias and prioritize inclusion to help change a rigid culture. I believe one of the most important elements to a successful digital transformation is a collaborative culture with diversity at top of mind. Diversity IT Matters.

ChannelCon3 (3)

Community forums such as Advancing Women in Technology, Advancing Diversity in Technology and the Technology Lifecycle Services held various meetings throughout the week. Women in Technology had a great discussion on the importance of mentorship including insights on reverse and pacing partner mentoring. Advancing Diversity had a launch party to kick off this new community and we were informed that the old ITSS Community now includes the MPS group and has a new name.

In one of the sessions, it was stated that disruptive trends such as Cloud, Mobility, Big Data, Automation and IOT will result in $2 trillion of IT spend in the future. These trends are creating different expectations from our customers as we change our conversations from product focus to the experience of impact focus. A large corporation we all know stated they are flooding the market with technical resources to help partners craft solutions. Many experts stated that subscription or pay as you go licensing programs will continue to emerge and new companies will be born in the cloud.

Customers will continue to look for partners who understand their business goals and drivers and can help them solve their problems. Sales reps & IT professionals need to move beyond conversations around speeds, feeds, solutions and have dialogues around business outcomes to eliminate the analog mindset. Sales and marketing departments will need to work closer together breaking down silos to drive brand awareness and a better customer experience for everyone.

Did you know that 90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years? This led to discussions on data silos inside companies, the importance of data driven decisions and the continued growth we will see with data along with future career opportunities in technical roles associated with data security.

It was noted that three breakthrough accelerators in 2016 were processing power, storage and bandwidth. Did you know processing power is doubling every 2 years and storage is doubling every 12 months? 5G bandwidth is next on the horizon which will provide us 100X faster connectivity, 50X faster data access and 90% less energy used. By 2030, over 100 billion devices will be connected. The number and nature of the devices that are connected to the internet are concerning to businesses with BYOD and Security at top of mind all related to the Internet of Things (IOT).

In closing with the future of technology, it was stated again that customers said they are using technology to drive business outcomes however many of these small to mid-size customers also stated they aren’t as confident yet in their internal IT staff. This gives opportunity for our future leaders in the IT world to help impact change. I would suggest taking the time to review all different types of candidates coming into the IT world today that can help make a difference in your business tomorrow and into the future.

Overall fabulous event. Look for details on next year’s ChannelCon and join me to Do ChannelCon in 2018.

 

 

How effective is your MPS program?

Sheryne Glicksman
 Aug 4, 2017

On a recent webinar, it was stated that 65% of total cost for an MPS program is associated with consumables and supplies. This can be as high as 75% when we consider the A4 conversion going on. Business firms that offer MPS to their customers must continue to focus on this area to improve their MPS programs.

There are many variables that stack up to make an effective MPS program for your customers. One of the variables is associated with shipping consumables. Customers don’t want to stock extra supplies and you don’t want to ship too many supplies, so how we do find the happy medium? First, it’s important for customers to know that they don’t need to replace the toner cartridge the minute it says running low. Are your reps and specialists speaking to customers about your process for shipping toner and why they don’t need to duplicate efforts? Have you invested in dedicated staff to track toner usage and help proactively manage the program? Do you have any kind of system alerts, such as email notifications to customers, before the toner ships? One of the things you can do is make sure your sales reps can easily explain your MPS program to your customers including the importance of managing the supplies.

Another trend we are seeing is the potential growth of inkjet. According to a recent KeyPoint Intelligence study, 2017 was the year that inkjet in the office is expanding. Epson, Canon, HP and Brother continued making investments in business class inkjet and Riso launched the first high speed (120 ppm) inkjet for the office market. How does your MPS program handle inkjet? What are your plans to proactively consider the growth here to incorporate it into your program? How will you track it? As you can see in the chart below, Inkjet serialized segment 3 forecast the highest growth in the next several years.

Business Inkjet vs Laser: 2016 – 2021  North America Placements Forecast

Pic 3

 

We’ve heard the term “Everything as a Service” associated with the future of Managed Print Services. Let’s also consider “Print as a Service”. In a recent study, we found that vendors will intensify efforts to increase user loyalty by offering various plans to add service components to supplies. MPS is well-penetrated in large organizations, but it has not had the same success in SMB. OEM’s are looking for the right formula to convert SMB’s from transitional to a contract sale or a subscription type program. Other plans, such as fleet supplies, auto-order or individual device re-order will continue to be analyzed and developed.

Fleet optimization is another variable to look at. Talk to your customers about how you can help them design solutions around their workflow during your quarterly business reviews. Most dealers successful in the MPS world are adjusting or making tweaks along the way that help customer’s control their costs in printing. A simple thing like swapping one device for another one based on volume, removing the costliest devices and shifting pages to workgroup printers are all good examples of fleet optimization and right-sizing of the fleet conversations you should be having on a regular basis.

Are you using tools that can help track page yields per cartridge, volume per machines and end-user printing? By adding advanced behavior modification software, you can help drive down costs of printing by 20% or more. Simply by having tools to indicate where to send print job based on the specific job is one way this type of software can help. It can also eliminate printing and with the savings from not printing, you can help your customers use these dollars in process automation tools for their business workflow.

Currently digital tools like email are most likely replacing print though many other options exist with document collaboration tools and business process automation. Does your firm have a paper reduction policy? If so, what resources and tools are being used? How are you marketing this to help your customers? Are you considering factors such as security in printing?

Paper Reduction Policies in SMB’s and Enterprises

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The dealers who intensify efforts to increase user loyalty by offering various plans to add service components to their supplies, move into subscription programs such as “everything as a service” and offer security services will continue to be on the leading edge of MPS.

The future of MPS is today and beyond.

Are You Ready To Get Your SBB On?

Sheryne Glicksman
 Jun 19, 2017

Our industry has officially adopted a new acronym called SBB and it’s here to stay! I believe SBB has the potential to be disruptive, in a positive way, in our market today. So, what exactly is SBB?

Managed Print

Before we define SBB, let’s go back to another acronym called MPS. Managed Print Services has evolved, changed, slowed down and started up again in the past five years. It has been defined, redefined, renamed, rebranded and relaunched. Regardless of how you define MPS or what you do with your program, you’ve probably had some challenges here. One of the challenges that many customers and dealers have with MPS is the ability to capture true output volume and track that volume on a regular basis. Read more »

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