Nobody knows the answer for sure, but here at Fontware, we are always keen on trying to understand what our channel needs, feel is right for the market, and generally keeping an eye on what is going on in terms of solutions & MPS within the partners themselves.

Having done some analysis in a couple of different areas recently, it’s been an interesting exercise and has thrown up some intriguing responses.

Aside from the fact that we are a solutions provider, and many would expect us to believe this or preach it as a result, we do still very much believe that the “Printing & Imaging Channel” as we’ll call it for generic reasons, is going to eventually move heavily in a solutions direction.

This is to say that MPS and the now heavily regular Pull Printing elements will be part and parcel (although much of this is already commoditised) in any reseller or dealer with additional solutions focusing on workflow, and the digital rather than the physical document, becoming the new “thing”.

Now, this may not sound like new news to many, and I have pointed this out in the past in this very blog, but the general consensus among the channel is an interesting one. It’s fair to say that a majority of those we speak to also agree that this is the direction everything will take, albeit with no idea on timescales.

The interesting part comes from the fact that 90% of those partners are currently not engaging, or do not plan to engage in the next 6-12mths in pro-actively pushing solutions to their clients. The pull (no pun intended) towards continuing to place all resources and time in to the standard practice of MPS contracts seems just too great for most at the moment.

Anything to do with solutions is purely a reactive method for them – if the customer doesn’t ask for something, they don’t mention it. Simple.

I certainly wouldn’t be brash enough to go round telling highly successful organisations how to run their business, however what these results do throw up is another intriguing point aside from the simple fact that not many get engaged in solutions pro-actively.

The key point is, that there are a selected few who ARE pro-actively pushing solutions, including a few who are just starting to do so, getting themselves up to speed and selecting solutions to become specialists at.

The UK Printing & Imaging Channel, whatever manufacturer you supply, is a relatively small one in the grand scheme of things, and so this results in a question…

….Are those not getting involved now, in danger of being left behind when the whole solutions race finally comes around?

I wouldn’t be surprised if an element of this does occur.

Those partners (who are both big players and much smaller outfits) are gearing themselves up, slowly but surely, and really taking selected solutions to market with ever increasing success.

And once they have carved their way through their own MIF’s (see our last blog discussing the Mid Contract Strategy) they will start on their competitors customers, because discussing and ultimately implementing these 3rd party solutions can easily be kept completely separate from an MPS contract conversation should they wish, especially with those where the partner has only bothered with the hardware, consumable and break/fix in their customers infrastructure. It’s a sneaky back door that is very much unlocked.

Effectively, those contracts/customers are wide open from a solutions point of view, and the partners that are ahead of the game and already up to speed on solutions will be licking their lips in anticipation!

We’re very proud to work alongside a lot of successful resellers and dealers, but there is a real danger for many of them that the few we work with who are really progressing and gaining both an understanding and a track record of solutions, are going to eventually start clearing up, and even start eating in to MPS contracts when they come round for renewal.

In our view? Solutions will be essential to MPS business as much as MPS business will be essential to solutions.

The next 12-24mths will likely reveal the true answers as to how it will start panning out, and its safe to say it will be a fascinating watch for some, but perhaps not for some others.

If you want to find out some of the other things we discovered, or want to discuss how you can start with a solutions strategy, feel free to get in touch.