Competitive trade-in options

Tech Data is enabling partners to offer their end-user customers even more attractive trade-in options for assured recycling and asset disposal of data centre and infrastructure products.
The expanded range of options is the result of new partnership agreements with specialist third-party suppliers. It covers brands such as HPE, IBM, NetApp and other well-known enterprise vendors.
Mark Glasspool, Services Director, UK and Ireland, said: “Improving sustainability to move towards net-zero carbon goals is on everyone’s agenda. There is tremendous interest in recycling and re-using of IT equipment and, with the enhanced range of options we are launching, our partners can help their customers even more.
“We can work with partners to enable enduser customers to extend the lifecycle of their IT products and find competitive trade-in options when they need to update or refresh their infrastructure. By doing this, partners can get a better return on their investments while moving towards their sustainability goals,” he added.
Through its extended partnerships, Tech Data now has more recycling and refurbishment services capacity. All IT equipment – from servers to smartphones – can now be traded in or handed over for safe and sustainable recycling or refurbishment in line with all government and industry standards. Across Europe, Tech Data takes more than 90,000 items for trade-in or refurbishment in an average month.


60-day free trial offer

SYNAXON UK has announced that the full range of online capabilities offered by distribution partner Exertis are now available on its EGIS stock and availability platform, enabling resellers to see their personalised prices and manage details of their orders, including live order tracking and RMAs.
At the same time, the company is announcing extended 60-day trials of EGIS for new partners. Resellers can register for the platform to check on current availability and pricing, and place and manage their orders with more than 40 distributor partners that provide live data feeds for the platform.
Managing Director Mike Barron, said: “Now that we are providing access to the full capabilities of Exertis, it’s the perfect time for partners to give EGIS a try. The 60-day free trial is a zero-risk offer for them and we will provide full training, so they can really see how EGIS can benefit their business.”


Tech Data launches Embrace

Tech Data has launched Embrace, a business resource group (BRG) focused on diversity, equity and inclusion and dedicated to ensuring that people of all races, religions and cultures feel welcome and comfortable, and represented within the company.
David Watts, Managing Director, UK and Ireland, said: “Tech Data is committed to maintaining a culture that celebrates diversity, equity, and inclusion and we are really looking forward to getting Embrace underway and seeing how it can make a positive difference, not only for those employees who belong to racial, cultural, or religious minorities, but also for everyone in the UK and Ireland organisation.”


View from the channel

Craig Pratt, Regional Sales Director, CMYK
Q: How’s business; better or worse than 12 months ago? And how confident are you about the future?
A: I joined CMYK in January 2021 with the remit to help set up and establish a new operation in the North of England. So the past 12 months has been an exciting journey so far here at CMYK.
Having previously worked at one of the region’s largest firms for 12 years prior to its change in ownership, it helped me build a solid understanding and knowledge of our industry. This in turn has helped form strong relationships with organisations across our region and beyond. Our focus in 2021 was the drive to establish CMYK as a brand in the North of England and build on the wider group strategy and successes. We’re in a great position looking ahead. With our continued focus, combined with the capabilities and skillset we have at CMYK, we will only grow as a region, especially as businesses look to partner with an agile, current, dynamic and forward-thinking provider of workplace technologies.
Q: In what areas are you experiencing strongest demand?
A: We have seen strong demand in our managed IT services and hosted communications offerings. CMYK has built an exceptional reputation as a leader in the IT space, so the business was in a great position at the beginning of the pandemic when clients required assistance to deploy to home-working, or looked for guidance on adopting a more fluid / hybrid way of working. Unlike a lot of our peers founded in the world of print, CMYK has decades of experience in IT services with the agility, infrastructure and resources to react instantly to the operational requirements pressed upon clients when the pandemic arrived. Managed print and document workflow continues to remain steady, with extremely strong growth across the North East of England.
Q: How have you changed/are you changing business operations to exploit new opportunities?
A: The past 12 months has been a steep learning curve for me personally, having come from a predominately print and document workflow-related background to then embrace and understand the wider agile portfolio of solutions we provide at CMYK has been a big change. That said, the support and skillset of the team at CMYK is truly outstanding, we all work together to support one another with a single goal in mind and that’s to provide excellent service and value to our clients.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing channel businesses today?
A: The biggest challenge which has always been a constant, is continuing to drive the business forward, continuing to evolve and gather sound understanding of the wider landscape and direction of our industry.
We operate in an already competitive marketplace which has been driven predominantly by price for some time, so we need to continue to showcase and demonstrate our expertise and that ‘edge’ we have that delivers tangible value to our clients. In the past year we have seen a lot of MPS businesses attempting to diversify into the IT and comms space, this is something you can’t master overnight and may present a challenge in the future.
Q: Could vendors and distributors do more to help you overcome them? And if so, what?
A: CMYK has long standing partnerships with vendors and distributors. We have regular dialogue with our partners and they are continuously supporting us to achieve our goals. We are an independent, nimble business which is continuously exploring and understanding our marketplace. We always take the time to listen to our partners when we see value in a proposition.
Q: If you could change one aspect of your job what would it be and why?
A: I honestly wouldn’t change a thing, I’m delighted with our journey to date. It’s been extremely hard work but at the same time very rewarding. The support from everyone at CMYK and our networks has been overwhelming and I’m extremely excited to see what the future holds..


Cisco EA accreditation

Tech Data has become the first distributor accredited to offer Cisco Enterprise Agreements (Cisco EA) through partners in the UK and will be working with Cisco partners to extend the availability and reach of Cisco EAs to more mid-market customers.
With immediate effect, Cisco partners will be able to apply to offer EA plans to their customers through Tech Data without having to attain a formal Cisco EA accreditation of their own. Tech Data will manage all the administrative tasks to ensure that the customer is fully registered for their agreement.
To become fully authorised as a Cisco EA partner, Tech Data was required to achieve specific technical accreditations across the region. Jon Sawdon, Business Unit Director – Cisco and enterprise networking, at Tech Data, said: “Cisco EAs offer customers simplicity and flexibility and enable them to maximise the value of their investment in Cisco software. The additional resources we have put in place to achieve this accreditation means that our Cisco partners can now offer EAs to their mid-market customers, extending both the value that they provide and the reach of the Cisco EA programme.”


Spending on IT services set to grow

According to Gartner, economic recovery with high expectations for digital market prosperity will continue to boost technology investments in 2022. The analyst house’s latest forecast expects worldwide IT spending to total $4.5 trillion in 2022, an increase of 5.1% from 2021
Gartner contends CIOs are now in a position to move beyond the critical, short-term projects over the past two years and focus on the longterm. Simultaneously, staff skills gaps, wage inflation and the war for talent will push CIOs to rely more on consultancies and managed service firms to pursue their digital strategies.
Gartner forecasts that the IT services segment – which includes consulting and managed services – is expected to have the second highest spending growth in 2022, reaching $1.3 trillion, up 7.9 per cent from 2021. Business and technology consulting spending, specifically, is expected to grow 10 per cent in 2022.
With this in mind, PrintIT Reseller asked some of the industry’s leading vendors how they are changing go-to-market strategies and their offering to capitalise on the opportunity to help organisations pursue their digital strategies, and support them as they move into 2022.
Mike Barron, Managing Director,
“A skills shortage causes the same problems as a product shortage. If you can’t get the equipment you need to upgrade, your project has to go on hold. If you don’t have or can’t buy-in the skills you need to implement a new system, or migrate to the cloud, you have to delay your plans. Otherwise, there is more of a risk that your project will fail.
“The short-term issue is how to get those projects moving and that’s inflating the price of technical people in the market and causing a lot of movement between businesses at the moment. From a longer-term perspective, the challenge for businesses is knowing how far ahead and how much they should invest in IT skills and people. It’s not an easy conundrum and I suspect it will continue to be a major issue for some time.
“Taking a more positive view, it’s certainly driving more end-user businesses to look at handing over core IT functions such as print to managed services providers. The great thing about managed print for partners is that you don’t really need new skills to offer a service – the barrier to entry is quite low and there are simple propositions available from third-party players.”
Andy Brown
Andy Brown, Technical Services Director, Tech Data
“This is a huge challenge. With the return to the workplace and projects reigniting, we’ve seen higher attrition rates amongst technical staff in partners. It’s something we are trying to address in a positive and pro-active way.
“As a value-added distributor, we are experienced in supporting partners and augmenting their capabilities with outsourced skills and services. We’ve made investments to guide resellers through short-term skills gaps, as well as helping with the training aspects associated with skilling-up new recruits.
“While that’s all great, in the longer term, partners will need to develop and maintain a sustainable culture that will prevent, or at least slow down, rates of attrition. There is a clear shift in the desire for ‘softer benefits’ – i.e. flexible working, private healthcare, and learning and development opportunities.
“In our own business, we have invested in individual development for technical colleagues – in areas such as hybrid cloud, for example. We’re extending that out and offering partners that same programme, and directly engaging with partner technicians to support their development.
“It’s really important to give technical people proper routes for progression and ensure they feel valued. At Tech Data, we operate servant leadership principles to foster a sustainable culture within the business where co-workers understand that their input truly makes a difference. Alongside this, we build organisation health through inclusive workplace policies and supportive structures.
“This is all about making our business more attractive to talent and giving them every reason to stay with us. If we have the right people with the right skills, we help partners fill the gaps in their own capabilities. At the same time, many if not most partners will want a degree of autonomy when it comes to technical capability and will want to make their own plans to attract and retain technical talent. Being able to deliver the high level technical services is vitally important in today’s market.”
Chris Bates
Chris Bates, Business Unit Manager – Print and Supplies, Tech Data
“The skills shortage is a problem for end-user customers as well as partners. As Gartner has pointed out, this is driving up demand for skilled staff and compelling IT managers to rely more on external consultants and managed services providers.
“While print devices are fairly simplistic from a technical perspective, they still need to be managed and maintained – and frequently need to be replenished with ink, toner, and paper. The last thing you want as an IT manager is the time of technical staff being taken up monitoring and managing the printer estate. If they can place the management of print devices into the hands of an expert provider, that’s one less thing that the IT manager or SMB has to worry about. This is especially true now that many more company-owned print devices are being deployed in the homes of employees, as organisations shift to hybrid working.
“This is one of the factors driving the growth in managed print, and that’s going to be a huge opportunity over the next couple of years. From a partner perspective, the great thing about managed print is that it is relatively easy to offer. Tech Data’s own OpenMPS service can be switched on quickly and easily, providing an automated way for partners to monitor customer devices and preorder replacement cartridges. This takes the burden of managing print devices – whether they are located at home or in the office – off the customer and thus ensures that key technical staff are not diverted from more important and fulfilling tasks.”
Jonathan Wagstaff
Jonathan Wagstaff, Group Business Intelligence Manager, Exertis
“The Gartner forecast looks at global ICT trends, so it will inevitably be weighted upon regional trends, some of which are faster growing economies. Looking specifically at Europe and the UK in particular, it seems reasonable to assume that managed services present a solution to CIOs either struggling to recruit FTEs due to wage inflation, skills shortages, or a decrease in international candidates driven by both Brexit and COVID – the irony of the former being that some MSPs offshore parts of their operations, or are international with the main service centres outside the UK.
“Managed services also offer the flexibility of any XaaS model, with easier and faster scalability; given the critical nature of digital transformation for most enterprises to survive today and remain competitive in the future, being able to accelerate plans is key.
“Services including white-label for the channel are a core component of any value-added distributor, and a part of what Exertis offers across a range of categories and vendor partners. We can help our partners to meet end-user requirements faster and grow that business with them over time, helping them to win business they couldn’t do otherwise without support.”
Andrew Ratcliffe
Andy Ratcliffe, Managing Director, Key Digital
“I would expect IT spend to continue to increase over the next three to five years, with the majority of that increase in spend going to managed service providers like ourselves. Organisations are now looking for expertise beyond their own internal remit to negotiate challenges such as integration, user adoption, legislation, future-proofing and the sheer breadth of technologies available to deliver the most effective digital strategy.
“Our business has adapted over the years to offer a full technology-as-a-service (TaaS) portfolio, as our customers turned to us as technology experts. Delivering a successful digital strategy cannot be done alone, it requires multiple specialities and technical proficiency – that is where we see our opportunity and growth.
“The disruption over the last couple of years has also created opportunities.  In the scramble to provide workers the opportunity to work from home, many organisations were forced to take shortcuts and make quick decisions to make data available to employees. Now cybersecurity, compliance and legislation are at the forefront; a Gartner study published in October 2021 identified that ransomware attacks are the number one concern to business executives, beyond the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and supply chain disruption.
“By applying our expertise, we continue to support our customers end-to-end with as much or as little involvement as they need to deliver their digital strategy successfully.”
James Overton
James Overton, Director, SOS Systems
“When you are looking at the MPS landscape, it is becoming more obvious that printing itself has become less important, whilst the methods of printing and the security concerns around it, are more of a focus.
“This change has created different conversations, we are now talking about endpoint security and cloud technologies as part of the discussion, which by nature creates opportunity for further soft services and professional services consultancy.
“Personally this is where I see the opportunity for growth, MPS vendors are being forced to educate themselves in these other areas and that gives them a new level of credibility from the client side, as well as a new range of software to provide.
“Most MPS vendors are reviewing or shaking up their approach to market at the moment and we are no different. Ultimately, with a possibly permanent forecasted reduction in click revenue, to stand still would be foolish. We are looking at new areas to diversify into, that complement our existing services and I see the take up in cloud technology being a massive area of expansion for us moving forward.
“We are finding the traditional print audit approach to be less popular and that businesses are more concerned around how they can be more efficient digitally. By highlighting the manual processes within an organisation and demonstrating how these can be automated, this will naturally help customers to achieve their digital transformation goals. Vendors could potentially help, by sharing success stories within the newer product lines, so that our sales approach is as modern and relevant as possible.”
Martin Roberts
Martin Roberts, Managing Director, Neuways
“The interesting thing is the way spending and budgeting has changed over the last ten years. A decade ago, it was more elective spending – people had a clear view of what they needed to spend over the budget period and they stuck to it.
“Across the last few years particularly, there has been a large spend on un-budgeted, unforeseen things. Not only has this been to protect companies from cyber threats, but during the COVID crisis they have had to make un-budgeted spend to just work, or make the work they do easier – to enable remote working, for instance. I hope, as businesses come out of the crisis, there is more opportunity to decide where money is spent on a strategic level in a proactive rather than reactive manner.
“In terms of changing our go-to-market strategy, we don’t think of it as capitalising on opportunities, but more about serving the needs of our customers. If demand grows in an area and we don’t react to it, then we are potentially not meeting their needs. It is not as simple as distributing some marketing to say: “We do this”. To react appropriately, we invest in our people, help them learn what is required. Provide them with any toolsets required and expertise. We spend time examining if each new trend that is thrown up is not just a buzzword or a hyped-up bandwagon, or a genuine need that our customers have or may have. One of our principles has always been that we will never try and sell something to someone if they don’t need it. We don’t incentivise our salespeople to sell certain things, as it might not be the right fit.
“One area we are constantly investigating is cyber security. We put it at the heart of everything we do, as it is representative of a safe way to grow a business. A key aspect for instance, is moving to the cloud and supporting customers with that. It’s not only about Microsoft Office 365 and becoming experts in the migration to that system from an on-premises systems. It’s also how we are also expanding our offering to deliver Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. This will allow customers to gain the advantages of SME ERP, with a focused and rapidly deliverable implementation, as well as the optimisation of suitable systems for those businesses.
“The important thing is that all investments in IT, by a company of any size, should be part of a strategic plan. IT spend that is reactive is not always the best spend. In the real world, sometimes it’s needed to deal with a problem – but, if it can be done strategically or tactically, then it can help get better value for your business.
“Organisations come to us and ask what we think they need. We can review their needs and requirements, and how technology can fit among their overall strategy and landscape.
We love talking about business systems and IT, we’re not driven by shareholder dividends, but a passion for IT and what makes a business tick – we will talk about it all day long.
“We have a unique perspective, as our customer base goes from small SMEs, all the way through to largest corporates. As a result, we help give our customers the best for their business. We utilise our experience of working with SMEs and how that can help larger businesses, and vice versa, meaning all of our customers are beneficiaries of our collective business experience.”
Mark Bailey
Mark Bailey, Managing Director, EBM Managed Services
“Since 2017 we have been transforming our business from the typical print dealer to a managed service provider and we have seen an upsurge in sales across all three managed services we provide: IT, telecoms and print.
“The latest forecast from Gartner provides some interesting insights into trends we are also seeing in our target market and client base, mainly SMEs. From the report we can see that data centre system growth slows from 11.4 per cent in 2021 to 4.7 per cent in 2023. I believe this is due to the typical SME moving away from server-based software providers to fully cloud solutions. One example is the migration away from Sage Accounting to Xero. Whilst Xero is based in a data centre, the client doesn’t need their own hosted server, therefore there will be less individual SME installs within a data centre environment which will contribute to the drop in spend.
“Another trend we can see in the report is that devices spend is dropping consistently. This is quite surprising, and currently we cannot see this translating to affect our business. With the recent events of the pandemic, we have seen that SMEs have come to realise their reliance on their devices. Before, they were taken for granted. Now they are taken as a wise investment and keeping up to date is worthwhile.
“In the new world we live in where people have been in lockdown and remote working, we are seeing SMEs actively bringing their staff back into the office. This continues to present an opportunity for EBM. If they haven’t done so already, our clients are taking this chance to upgrade infrastructure, and are looking to generally get ahead of the curve. We have seen this especially ahead of the ISDN/analogue network switch off. Leaving infrastructure upgrades to the last minute or having out of date equipment with limited functions clearly caught lots of businesses out when flexible and dynamic working was required.
“It has been a good time to reflect on our own business strategy. For many years we have been advising clients to move into a cloud environment. We feel we have got it right, although you can always learn something new. During the pandemic we didn’t sit still, we looked at ways to increase our product offering and grow the business. Our main strategy going forward is the one-stop shop for all managed services. SMEs are moving away from employing an in-house IT department and outsourcing the skillset to a dedicated service provider, thus saving money and removing any skill shortages they are facing, and recruitment processes they must carry out. We’ve bridged our own gap in the current skills shortage by investing in our own team members and upskilling them to be customer focused and dedicated.”
Tom Scott
Tom Scott, Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, Aura
“Our interactions with customers suggest that the estimates may even be conservative and never before have we had a landscape where every organisation is evaluating how and where they do business combined with the new challenges of remote working on masse.
“Aura, whilst only formed in March 2020, had been developing for two years prior to this, focussed specifically about how to make a workplace feel more connected. We believe the process of assessment and discovery has to be done in a consultative way. The old adage that you don’t know what you don’t know, has never been so relevant, as very few people now really know what you need to know, and customers have typically never prepared for these significant shifts in behaviours.
“Technology plays a key part in all of this and in the hybrid world we have quickly evolved to a point where it is vital we keep everyone connected and engaged regardless of where they may be working that day. It is also vital that all of the technological solutions play well together, and that the customer offering is intuitive and adapts to many different ways of working.
“Furthermore, it is simply not enough to gather vast amounts of data, this needs to be translated into meaningful insights that inform the chosen audience. I hear a lot of talk about the single pane of glass as a way of bringing all this together, however without the intelligent analysis, too much data can obfuscate the real issues.
“Vendors have a responsibility going forward regarding inter-operability and creating a framework to create seamless user journeys. A well-developed API for their solutions are the first step to creating simple and intuitive workflows across vendor solutions.”
Mark Williams
Mark Williams, Chief Operating Officer, Complete IT, a part of Sharp
“With the pace of technological change across all industries, there is always a direct correlation to increasing IT spend. There has seemingly never been a sustained downturn in the past 20 years that has affected our industry in a negative way. To keep ahead of this change, at Sharp we continually invest in new technology and our people to keep ahead and ensure our clients don’t have to invest themselves.
“Wage inflation and the resultant skills gap that we are seeing across the industry has a major impact on this and this, subsequently, means that our clients look to us more for guidance. The pandemic didn’t allow our clients and their internal teams to focus on training and their own development to the extent they would have liked as it was very much all hands to the pump. We see this as an opportunity to support those internal teams to allow them space to train and focus on their IT project delivery whilst working with us to take on some or all of their day to day tasks.
“We have a very clear direction within the sectors that we support and that is to provide quality IT services that are right for our clients. With the massive upsurge in commercial cloud services throughout the pandemic, those clients are now looking to us to help them capitalise on those platforms and understand how best to use the technology they now have access to.
“The amount of services that they are now able to access and the challenges that they can better solve through technology is huge. The advancements in two years for some businesses is more akin to a decade of change and it is that change that is driving our investment in people and new skills. These new skills will further drive our portfolio of services around business systems which encompasses the wider Microsoft Suite outside of basic email and office (Dynamics, Power Platforms, SharePoint and the wider security platforms).
“It is very clear for us that a huge focus needs to be on the support that we can offer our clients throughout 2022, such as helping them realise the investments they have already made in technology. As a go to partner for our customers, we have the people that can support them with that, and it is a conversation myself and our teams have every day.
“However, that said, cloud isn’t always right for every business which is why we help our clients assess the relevance to them and ensure that the next technology change is the right one.”
Dave Prezzano
Dave Prezzano, Managing Director, HP Inc. UK & Ireland
“Technology is more central to people’s lives than ever before. The transition into a hybrid world is serving as a catalyst for change, which is resulting in huge opportunities for digital services and new workforce solutions.
“People are finding that digital technologies suit their needs in a hybrid world better than expected, and so, a preference for digital-first interactions is likely to dominate in the years to come.
“While our hardware will continue to play an essential role in the lives of our customers, we are additionally seeing opportunity and investing in softwareled digital services and data science to meet a wider range of customer needs. We plan to go after this opportunity by integrating and expanding our existing services offerings, like managed print services and device-as-a-service offerings, and additionally are investing to develop new services for customers, such as managed video conferencing and remote computing solutions.
“Services have long been a part of our strategy; the opportunity today is fundamentally different than it was prior to the pandemic – the market is bigger, growth accelerating and the role we can play is greater than ever before. For example, approximately 69 per cent of global IT leaders expect to heavily invest in security software this year in anticipation of the continuation of hybrid work. For channel partners this means that products offering seamless built-in protection, like HP’s Wolf Security, will increasingly become a market expectation to ensure always-on defence for remote work environments.
“Delivering on this new customer relationship dynamic in 2022 will require channel partners to show up for customers in ways that showcase their ability to predict consumer needs and deliver quick, flexible turnarounds by leveraging predictive analytics. HP is supporting its partners through this new landscape through its robust channel intelligence platform HP Amplify Data Insights, allowing partners to enhance customer experience, shape long-term growth strategies and drive recurring revenue. By adopting a digital-first mindset, partners will find vast opportunities to create new value propositions geared towards hybrid.”
Mike Mulholland
Mike Mulholland, Head of Services and Solutions, Brother UK
“IT roles are in huge demand. Firms are scrambling to hire top talent as they accelerate digital transformation to adapt to the new world of work. But businesses are struggling to fill these posts, and leaders and CIOs are turning to IT consultants for the knowledge and capacity that they lack in-house.
“This is a major opportunity for the channel. Many firms stand at a crossroads for their IT strategy, where resellers and consultants alike can provide value in steering businesses in the right direction. For example, hybrid working models require fresh thinking and consultation on workflows, security, document management and controlling a fleet of technology at distance – and the skills shortage means the ideas and answers are unlikely to be found in-house.
“To capitalise, resellers should be completely in tune with their customers’ needs. An in-depth assessment can help paint a detailed picture of print use beyond the view of just the CIO.
“Vendors need to work just as closely with the channel, so that resellers are offering customers the right solutions – no square pegs for round holes. For example, we’re looking at new ways in which our managed print service can become more scalable to suit a small user looking for low commitment, up to the large corporate user with complex printing requirements.
“We’re also refreshing our inkjet line-up to meet the requirements for the new world of work. Our new A4 Mini Business range was launched to help partners equip customers moving to a more decentralised model of working. And we have exciting announcements to come on our flagship inkjet range, which will better meet companies’ sustainability and productivity goals.”
Mark Ash
Mark Ash, Chief Revenue Officer, Konica Minolta
“As the world economy begins to settle down into the new normal, IT investment continues to be a critical area for businesses to adapt and grow. The global IT market remains buoyant, and we anticipate the UK growth of 5.1 per cent to be sustained for the next three to five years.
“Konica Minolta will be focusing on our ability to efficiently and effectively deliver IT services to support our core markets of SMB, enterprise and public sector. Our extensive experience of delivering digital transformation in many enterprise organisations allows us to leverage these methods and approaches with the vital and often overlooked SMB market. SMB represents 99 per cent of the number of private organisations and contributes £2.3 trillion turnover (52 per cent of the market).
“Whether it be a fully digital process automation, an outsourced IT helpdesk for example or blended approach of outsourced heads/departments and process automation. There are many benefits such as reducing employment costs, accelerating processing capabilities, the ability to free staff time to focus on their real priorities – all of which helps to accelerate revenue generation and bring further benefits to employees’ wellbeing and work/life balance – an area which has become much more prevalent and vital in retaining talent.
“We strongly believe that digital transformation is going to be a defining moment in the shifting business landscape and there is no better time to start the process.
Colin Blumenthal_
Colin Blumenthal, Vice President of IT Services, Sharp Europe
“Many businesses will face increased challenges to attract and maintain talented IT team members. Managed services businesses, such as Sharp, have an advantage in so much that being technology-based through and through, they can be attractive to prospective team members who want to learn and work with a variety of IT configurations and technologies.
“An MSP provides variety, allowing the team to draw on, develop and learn new technology skills. This can be more stimulating than working at a non-technology business where you are working with the same technologies and users’ day in, day out. Subsequently, this will mean that a large proportion of IT talent will be driven to consultancies and MSPs. The impact of this is likely to be a growth in the demand for their services throughout the UK business sector.
“At Sharp, our focus has been on SME businesses and they have tended to outsource most of their IT and digital strategies as they do not have the scale or need to build up internal IT resource(s).
“So, our core go-to-market strategy of positioning ourselves as a pro-active and business-enabling IT partner for our clients will remain the same. However, in addition to our core support services, we are increasingly focussing on leading with some of our other service covering; ERP, telephony and SIEM backed cybersecurity services.”


Success built on great service

Recommendations that come via word-of-mouth, remain a powerful way of convincing potential customers to consider using a specific product or service. For Integrating Solutions Limited (ISL), the service it provides has been the subject of many positive conversations between schools, academies and local government bodies like Transport for London for many years
This has resulted in a business that has prospered – with little or no promotional activity – since it was founded in 2005. Today, it works with leading print brands including Sharp, Ricoh, Kyocera, Lexmark and Toshiba, offering bespoke connectivity and print cost analysis, resulting in best-of-breed solutions for its corporate and SME clients. Through its innovative print audit products, ISL has consistently managed to achieve savings in excess of 30 per cent in relation to clients’ existing print cost expenditure.
In the last 16 years, the company has expanded its footprint, with various offices strategically based around the UK supporting customers across the breadth of the country. Today, the company supports a customer base whose devices produced in excess of eight million printed pages last year. To help counter its clients’ print volumes and the effect upon the environment, ISL is an active participant of PrintReleaf, a software platform that empowers businesses to sustain and grow the global forestry system by planting a tree for every page ISL’s customers print. This is a benefit that ISL offers all of its customers free of charge and which also complements its ISO 14001 Environmental Management System.
Proactive maintenance
The attentive service ISL provides is one quality that its many long-term customers enthuse about most, as Director Simon Wassell explains: “At ISL, we’ve put into practice something that’s often spoken about but rarely realised; proactive, preventative maintenance that sees our field service teams make regular prescheduled visits to our customers. During those once-a-quarter visits, they carry out maintenance tasks ranging from updating firmware to cleaning machines and replacing consumables that are near the end of their life. This ensures that customers’ devices are always in excellent working condition, reducing downtime and all the inconvenience that comes with devices being offline.”
With each machine benefitting from a minimum of four visits per year, preventative maintenance accounts for almost 80 per cent of the activities that ISL conducts on behalf of its customers, helping to minimise the time the company spends on reacting to breakdown calls.
Underpinning its proactive maintenance program is cloud-based Asolvi Vantage Online, which provides ISL with field service information in one place and ensures that customer data is accessible via a user-friendly and intuitive interface. Integrating seamlessly with Vantage Online to provide the company with print monitoring insights, is MPS Monitor 2.0.
Meaningful, business intelligence
Almost a year after deploying MPS Monitor, Wassell has no regrets about ISL’s decision.
“Our former data collection agent hadn’t really moved on. It was the same tool we had been using for a number of years. As our customer numbers and their print volumes increased, we needed a modern, scalable and secure DCA solution. It was clear to us early on that MPS Monitor not only met our monitoring needs, but its compatibility with other CRM applications essential to our business made it an obvious choice.”
He continued: “MPS Monitor’s ability to provide us with pure data and detailed analytics is unmatched. It delivers detailed, meaningful, business intelligence that’s easy to view and understand.
“Because the data is easily accessible, our help desk and service desk teams use it too, helping them to gain real insights into customers’ print relating to pages printed, toner coverage and print volumes.” This helps ISL’s print guidance to be based on quality information that leads to better informed decisions being made about devices that are under- or over-used.
Three qualities that stand out
When asked what has impressed him most about MPS Monitor, Wassell detailed three qualities that stand out: “First, the ease of integration with devices and other applications is seamless and stress free. Integration is absolutely essential for us, and the MPS Monitor team worked really hard to ensure that it this was successfully addressed.”
Second, in addition to MPS Monitor’s solution best meeting its needs, Wassell also sees parallels between the two companies’ customer-first focus: “From the outset, we really liked the team,” he said. “They went above and beyond the call of duty with respect to meeting our needs and requirements. MPS Monitor’s openness and honesty helps build the sort of trust that long-term relationships are founded on, and their personal touch has been very welcome. Finally, the pricing is very fair, especially when you consider the richness of the data provided, and, more importantly, its state-of-the-art DCA technology, security, integration, consumable logistics, contract management and advanced data analysis functions, all of which are all top-notch.”
With MPS Monitor now playing a key role at ISL, there’s even more reason to talk about the company as it looks to an exciting new year ahead.


Konica Minolta announces forthcoming appearance at The Print Show 2022

Konica Minolta Business Solutions (UK) Ltd today announced it will be exhibiting at The Print Show 2022, which is being held at the NEC Birmingham, UK, 20th – 22nd September. Located on Stand B17 in Hall 17, Konica Minolta will be showcasing its latest range of production print and industrial print solutions.  
Jon Hiscock Head of Production & Industrial Print at Konica Minolta Business Solutions (UK) Ltd commented, “We are excited to confirm our forthcoming appearance at The Print Show in September. The event is the perfect opportunity for customers to see some of the latest product releases and innovations on the stand, to explore the options and to speak directly to our expert team, who will be on hand to discuss specific requirements or applications to suit the needs of your business.”
Konica Minolta’s appearance at The Print Show is an integral part of its new ‘Igniting Print Possibilities’ campaign with the slogan “See the Potential”, an inspirational rallying cry for print service providers, inviting them to discover a world of opportunity in the post-pandemic landscape by conquering new markets, embracing new techniques, and creating unique customer experiences. Konica Minolta’s stand will feature the new branding, which focusses on messaging designed to help print businesses to improve and grow with a trusted professional partner.
Jon added, “Our Professional Print portfolio is here to help businesses service new markets, create stand-out products and improve their workflow, thereby enabling them to maximise profit and ensure a competitive advantage. By increasing your business’s print productivity, efficiency, versatility, and sustainability, it is much easier to enhance the agility and creativity of what you offer and to successfully compete against your competition. We are passionate about helping our customers embrace the opportunities on offer and our stand at The Print Show is the ideal place to see how we can help your print business.”
About Konica Minolta Business Solutions (UK) Ltd
Konica Minolta’s innovations help businesses to shape the future, today, changing the way people conduct business and use technology to work smarter, faster and better. As a leading Smart Data and Digital IT Services company, we meet the changing needs of customers with our Digital Print, IoT, Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality solutions.
As a provider of comprehensive IT services, Konica Minolta also delivers consultancy and services to optimise business processes with intelligent workflow automation, and implements solutions in the field of IT infrastructure and IT security as well as cloud environments.
Konica Minolta’s solutions are proven to improve quality, reduce cost, eradicate risk, increase accuracy and streamline business processes. Recognising there are no two businesses the same, we pride ourselves on our customer partnerships and tailor our solutions to our customer needs, giving them the competitive edge they need to remain at the forefront of their markets.
Combining our market leading, award winning and easy to integrate technological platforms, with our strategic partnerships, business solutions and services portfolio, Konica Minolta is continually improving quality, reducing cost, eradicating risk, increasing accuracy and streamlining business processes for our customers. Our strategy has our customers at its core. With strong and mutually beneficial customer partnerships, our aim is to achieve mutual sustainable growth through technological innovation – giving shape to our customers’ ideas. We bring flexible solutions that not only meet our customer expectations, but exceed them, time after time.
Part of the global Konica Minolta Group, Konica Minolta Business Solutions (UK) Ltd is headquartered in Basildon, Essex and operates out of 10 offices across the UK, employing over 750 people.
Terms and product names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders and are hereby acknowledged.


EMEA distribution agreement

Arrow Electronics has announced an EMEA distribution agreement with network-as-a-service (NaaS) provider Megaport. The agreement makes Megaport’s private software defined network platform available to companies in EMEA looking to modernise their networks and accelerate digital transformation.
Megaport offers agile networking capabilities that help reduce operating costs and increase speed to market compared to traditional networking solutions. The NaaS platform provides private, scalable, on-demand connectivity to the world’s leading cloud service providers.
“After security, cloud optimisation is a top priority for the CTO, and having the best cloud connections to optimise costs is top of mind for most organisations going through digital transformation,” said Alexis Brabant, Vice President of Sales for Arrow’s enterprise computing solutions business in EMEA. “We’re pleased to be working with Megaport to help them expand and deepen their channel relationships.”


Everything You Wanted To Know About Color Products — But Were Afraid to Ask

Colour or monochrome printing? Which do you mostly use?
There is plenty of evidence that color printing increases the visual appeal and makes printed information easier to recall. In our daily lives, most people prefer to be saturated with colorful things than black-and-white or monochrome elements.
After the advent of color TV in the 1950s, no one returned to a black and white screen experience.
Studies also reveal color ads are read up to 42% more often than the same ads in black and white.
Ninestar’s upcoming Color Talk webinar will share insights on functional color toner cartridge solutions, focusing on how to choose reliable color products to win loyalty from users. What makes a good color toner cartridge? What kind of products can help you win a bigger slice of this market cake?
To help you solve the problems when sourcing first-rate color products and win a larger slice of the market cake, there will be a Q&A session during the “Color talk” Webinar. Please send your questions about color toner cartridges to Ninestar will assist you by answering as many questions as possible. We sincerely welcome and look forward to your E-mails.
The short, color talk webinar is free but requires pre-registration to seek participation at the event. Click here to reserve your place now! The event will be here in just 7 days. See you at the webinar!
Time: at 16:30 Greenwich Mean Time, May 19, 2022
About “Walk The Talk”
Walk the Talk features a series of webinars that leaves no stone unturned in bringing you the latest ideas, innovations, strategies, experiences and opportunities to thrive in the competitive market. 
Color talk is the first episode of Walk the Talk series.