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Channel partners can leverage the subscription economy to grow

Roman Rudolf, vice-president, strategy and services at Tech Data Europe, shares his thoughts about how the channel can get the most out of subscription models

Edge computing devices such as PCs, tablets, smartphones and peripherals are expected to see increased demand in Europe in 2021. Analyst house IDC forecasts year-on-year growth of 12.4% by the year’s end.

How can resellers capture their share of this market and even use this strong demand to open up new markets? These can include the public sector and education, which are segments looking to invest in new digital devices, says IDC, in addition to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

One key here is how partners pivot from transactional selling to offering the right kind of technology-as-a-service (TaaS) offering. This can be challenging for some traditional device resellers, but the advantages can be considerable if the business realigns to this new way of providing value to customers.

While there may be increased demand for computing devices, partly driven by how pandemic lockdowns have increased digital remote working, customer finances are not necessarily healthy. In some sectors, such as hospitality and retail, there have been long periods of total or partial shutdown and financial reserves have had to be dipped into.

Some of the potential new markets in the public sector or education typically do not have large IT budgets. SMEs are even more cost-conscious while needing to keep pace with the new world of hybrid working.

To unlock these opportunities, it is becoming more important for a reseller to offer financing packages. This is why flexible funding is a critical component of the best TaaS offering. There may be objections from some resellers who do not have the capabilities to source the financing packages, coordinate the credit checks and present the best possible financial solution to the client.

These can be overcome when the TaaS solution comprises both access to a range of financing options and can automate and orchestrate all of the processes needed to make an investment in new devices affordable.

Software resellers have benefited from as-a-service subscription model for many years. Hardware resellers can do the same and offer a subscription model for an array of devices. What a team needs to understand is how it is so important that their TaaS capability allows them to build a total package of devices, including PCs, tablets, smartphones and peripherals, and then generate a total monthly subscription offer to a prospect.

Again, what is key here is how this process is fully automated and reduces the need for manual intervention.

Some resellers may be sceptical about a hardware-as-a-service model. But again, when properly configured, a TaaS option can simplify how a customer upgrades their technology over time. The parallel is how people lease new cars for a few years and then move on to the latest model by extending their lease for another set period of time.

This can be a powerful play with budget holders within a customer base who are suspicious about how quickly technology hardware investments depreciate. Making endpoint hardware an operating, rather than capital, expenditure has great appeal.  

TaaS can make the reseller/customer attachment much closer and enduring. And within that relationship, how well the reseller is able to step up and sort out specific challenges with how a customer manages their hardware is additionally attractive.

A barrier to major hardware technology replacement is the requirement to take out of service existing PCs, tablets, smartphones and other devices. The proper disposal of these devices is a difficult job and there must be a total assurance that all personal and company data has been wiped from a device.

Again, some resellers could attempt this task themselves, but this is a very specialist area, with serious risks if the work is not completed correctly.

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