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Sharp Business Systems UK has been taking steps over the last few years to widen the business and build on its print heritage with the addition of more IT services.
Act one in that story was the acquisition of Complete IT last August, which was followed by integrating the services offerings that came from that deal and working out what the joint proposition to customers would look like.
Act two had started earlier this year, with Sharp going out to talk to existing customers and partners about what it could now offer. That process was impacted by the arrival of the coronavirus and so Stuart Sykes, managing director SBSUK, is keen to pick up on that activity as the business enters 2021.
“We realised from about three years ago that the world was changing and that change was going to impact Sharp itself and its own customers, and its channel, and its channels customers,” he said.
The business is aimed with channel partners at the SME market base and the feeling was that change was coming and attitudes towards IT would evolve.
“One of the areas we felt had been neglected over time had been IT,” said Sykes. “Some of the IT infrastructure was almost seen as a necessary evil that just had to be catered for occasionally, but the expertise for many of the SME people was not in IT, it was in their business. We really saw that it will change over time and that the SMEs and people around the SME organisations would start to see more value in technology.”
That was the logic behind Sharp’s acquisition of Complete IT and, with life starting to get more back to normal, Sykes is keen to talk about the proposition the firm can now put in front of those SME customers.
“We feel as though, just pre-Covid, we had got to that position assembling the pieces of the jigsaw,” he said. “The next step was to move forward and take those out into the marketplace.”
Sykes has also seen SME attitudes to IT change and accelerate through the pandemic, further fuelling the belief that now is the right time to take a print, services and support pitch out to customers.
The acquisition of Complete IT does not preclude the firm from working with other partners and Sharp is now encouraging its channel to take more IT services and support out to market.
“We are then having some meetings with our senior partner channel to say right, this is our capability now,” said Sykes. “You already take print from shop as a manufacturer and supplier. You take software’s collaboration visual solutions, etc from us. Now this is a new part of our offering to do with IT services, and we’re going to make this work for you in the channel.”
The business ramped up its marketing activity back in September to reach out to SMEs to stress that it is now talking about much more than print.
“When customers start to do business with us saying ‘We want to deal with you’, that’s a great way to finish the year,” said Sykes. “It’s working really well and customers are signing and asking us to do business to help them. I really look forward to 2021 and continuing that.”