Craig Green, national channel manager SA, Xerox at Bytes Document Solutions, looks at the top priorities that SMBs should have in 2013.
What are the biggest opportunities for channel partners this year?
I think it’s no secret that the greatest opportunities lie in expanding your business in other directions – making it easier for your customers to tap into new, disruptive technologies while keeping it simple and efficient for their entire IT infrastructure.
For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), security, BYOD, cloud and big data are topping the IT wish lists this year. Social media is another area they need to ramp up and could use help from their solution providers.
To help prioritise, where should VARs focus to get to what’s hot for SMBs?
* Managed services – small businesses are still avoiding major capital investments, but they’re all trying to use IT to work faster and more efficiently.
This is a tremendous opportunity to offer services, solutions that provide cost predictability and the flexibility to adapt to the ever-changing needs of their workforce. It’s not a surprise that one key area of focus for Xerox and our partners is to continue to capture managed print services (MPS) opportunities as the SMB market learns more about the advantages.
* Security – keeping IT secure always tops the list but as new technologies – and even old ones like networked printers – change the way people work, more and more needs to be locked down. Solution providers can help keep it simple by recommending embedded and remote management solutions tailored to the SMB community.
* Simplified work through new technologies, BYOD – to really use cloud and mobile technologies the way the workforce expects to today, most SMBs need to tap a partner for help. By helping clients provision services without middleware or formal set up – there’s a great opportunity to customise web services, apps and access to cloud services, like Dropbox, for ease of use.
What is Xerox doing to specifically meet the needs of SMBs?
We’ve been hard at work creating ConnectKey, a software system and set of solutions that supports mobile access, BYOD and cloud apps – basically making it easier to use Xerox MFPs for more than just print.
Our VAR partners can manage ConnectKey MFPs as a central part of the IT network, providing technical support as they do for desktops – via remote management – and assuring protection with embedded security from McAfee. They can also work with SMBs to design customised apps for staff to send work directly into the company business processes they use daily.
Also, now more than ever, SMBs are seeking help with MPS – they welcome the idea that controlling print spend is a swift way to maximise cost savings, without a major investment. To help partners continue to capture this opportunity, we recently rolled out Xerox Partner Print Services (XPPS) – offering the same tools Xerox uses to save millions for large corporations, to SMBs.
You mentioned MPS is a key area of focus for Xerox, what do you say to partners who are hesitant about making the move?
All businesses are looking for new ways to cut costs and boost efficiency but very few customers wake up and say, “I need a managed print solution.” And yet, they all have printers so they are already spending money on print. The opportunity for VARs is to get them to reduce their costs by buying print in a different way.
If you can show that the unmanaged print environment has a negative impact on their bottom line, you’ve secured yourself a new source of recurring revenue and an investment in sustainable, profitable growth.
And if you need more convincing, think about the crowded MPS market. If you don’t do it, someone else will. But you need to do it right to ensure you’re adding value as a trusted advisor – opening the door to deliver more services, such as workflow optimisation, document management, and cloud and compliance solutions.
I mentioned big data as an area of focus before: new MPS analytics and the user interface for Xerox’s new ConnectKey products offer simplified tools for accessing data and insights once only available to large companies.
How do you plan to offer business process outsourcing services to SMBs through the channel?
We are actively working with Xerox Services (formerly ACS) to develop ITO and BPO services opportunities for partners. We have engaged a limited set of partners to hone the offerings and engagement strategy.
In the meantime, we are heavily committed to extending our Print Services leadership position in the channel through eConcierge, PagePack and the new enhancements with XPPS – providing service providers with multiple opportunities to profit from whatever type of print network/print technology a customer may be running, all while reducing waste, saving money, and vastly simplifying toner and supply management.
We’re also working with partners like Cisco and Computer Associates to broaden our reach by offering our cloud solutions through their VAR networks.
What is your channel philosophy?
Xerox’s message to the channel is that we’re open for business. We know there’s no other way to get to the SMB customer. We depend on the channel, we’ve been in this business for a long time and we look forward to engaging new partners attracted by the Xerox brand, offering and value proposition.
We continue to make investments to become more of an indirect company. Since creating the Channel Partner Operations organisation last year, we’re working with other IT companies – the companies our partners work with – to make it easier to integrate print into their overall business.
We’re more flexible with the portfolio – making it easy for new partners to use our offerings and solutions. We recognise that we’re better known for selling to the enterprise but in the past year we’ve made big strategic changes to add more people, products, services, tools and training to open the brand, product line, and strategy to SMBs.
This past year we also earned the top spot in all major analyst reports on MPS. In fact, analyst firm Quocirca credited Xerox with “being ahead of the game” when it comes to SMBs adopting MPS at a faster rate – highlighting our continuum of MPS services delivered by both direct and indirect distribution channels, and continued expansion of the capabilities offered through Xerox Print Services and XPPS.