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Print channel continuing services shift

Research from Quocirca highlights areas for potential growth and identifies challenges for channel firms in adapting to meet changing customer needs

The idea of managed print services is not a fresh one but the channel continues to face challenges getting into a position where it can provide cloud-based offerings.

Having identified strong customer demand for cloud solutions and services to help deliver automation and sustainability, print specialists are keen to position themselves to deliver those.

Insights in Quocirca’s annual State of the channel study included the revelation that diversifying into new business areas was a major challenge for a significant number of the partners surveyed.

Quocirca shared the response from one independent software vendor that sums up the challenges channel players are facing: “The [majority] of small/medium dealers have yet to find a sustainable alternative to click revenue, and bravery will be required from many who have not yet taken diversification seriously.”

Firms operating in the channel are looking to shift away from the transactional approach to a more consultative one to improve their long-term prospects. Quocirca found evidence that a shift is happening, with an average of 19% of channel revenues now coming from IT services, indicating that progress is being made.

One of the emerging areas where the channel is responding to user demand is on the AI front, with Quocirca revealing an increased interest in the technology among print players keen to incorporate it in their offerings.

“After a period of major upheaval, there are signs that the channel is entering a more stable and confident phase where it can focus on building a foundation for long-term success,” said Quocirca CEO Louella Fernandes. “That foundation must include a shift to consultancy-based services that drive ongoing revenue and deliver sustained customer value. However, achieving this transition remains a key concern.”

The channel is looking to vendors to help them, particularly when it comes to sustainability through the release of greener products and services. There is a desire for suppliers to provide more information around lifecycle impact and practical ways customers can reduce energy.

“As the channel continues to navigate market transformation and build consultative, collaborative relationships with customers, vendor support will be critical,” said Fernandes. “This is especially true where sustainability is concerned. Partners seek more information about device lifecycle impacts, help developing energy-saving strategies for customers and sustainability-focused deal support.”

The research found automation, cloud services and security to be the top three areas for growth, with vendors playing a key role in ensuring those could be delivered via the channel successfully.

“Many vendors and channel partners need to access new and diverse technologies, skills and specialisms to capitalise on opportunities in rapidly expanding areas like AI, cyber security and cloud computing,” said Fernandes.

Not every business will be able to develop a response to those market needs organically, so there is an expectation that consolidation across the print channel will continue to be a feature in 2024.

“While the largest vendors have the resources to develop propositions in-house, strategic partnerships or acquisitions are the logical route to take for most in the channel,” said Fernandes.

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