The festive season is upon us and that can only mean one thing: the process that is ‘2019 Business Planning’ has officially begun. Whether it fills you with excitement or leaves you with the urge to reach for the mulled wine, it is tempting to focus all your efforts on looking forward rather than looking back, which would be a misstep.
It’s important to take stock of 2018 from an individual business perspective and critical to assess the industry landscape as a whole. The print industry had another hectic year and there were a number of different milestones which could hold the key to unlocking exciting opportunities for 2019. So what were the most important takeaways?
1. GDPR became a reality
We couldn’t discuss 2018 without mentioning the landmark moment that was the implementation of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). With GDPR shining a spotlight on security like never before, we’ve seen organisations assessing their data processing activity much more closely. As part of this, many channel businesses are running GDPR-specific events to address industry concerns, educate and debate best practice. Going forward we should expect to see print businesses attempt to get to grips with how they can be GDPR complaint without compromising on marketing efforts, and looking to channel partners and vendors for advice.
2. The journey to the cloud has got a little shorter
In previous years, IT resellers have held back on offering cloud services due to customers’ reluctance to move to something less tangible. This year however, we’ve seen a change in this mindset with an increased adoption of cloud-based platforms like DocuShare Flex. Vendors are now more focused on showcasing the benefits of the cloud and providing a more flexible and collaborative approach for partners. Print vendors have also started to conduct more research into the cloud-based apps and services the SMB market is investing in, revealing new opportunities for integration.
3. Apps are in demand
The shift towards the cloud has also fuelled the growth in app development, particularly for multifunction printers (MFPs) as channel partners are increasingly recognising the potential of apps to address customer pain points and facilitate more personalised services. Examples include Xtandit’s ‘Quiver Secure Scan’ that enables customers to securely scan their documents, and EtiQube’s apps, which enable device geo-localisation and consumables re-orders. Apps enable customers to transform their MFP into a truly customised device. As they surge in popularity, we should expect to see an even larger breadth of apps available in 2019.
4. The shift from physical to digital continues
The print industry is accelerating its transition from physical to digital. This shift has started to extend beyond hardware as more SMB customers look towards trusted partners to support their transitions, allocating more resources towards managed services and solutions. With smaller budgets than large enterprises, SMB customers are increasingly looking for plug and play options and vendors that can be a ‘one stop shop.’ There are already many solutions gaining traction, such as hybrid mail, and those that deal with scanning and e-invoicing are helping to drive down costs and improve file access, longevity and management. In the coming year, solutions like these will give vendors the opportunity to offer a flexible team that can educate, implement and support in real-time.
When it comes to 2019 planning, there’s plenty of opportunity for channel partners to identify lucrative new offerings via apps and the cloud, as well as finding new ways to grow in a market which is rapidly evolving. The most successful will aim to take lessons from this year to get out in front – so what are you waiting for?
Carlo Longhi is the Director and General Manager of UK Indirect Channels at Xerox.
The PCR Awards 2019 take place on 6th March at The Brewery, London. Buy your tickets here.