January 17, 2018: 2018 Industry Forecast Manufacturers Look to the Year Ahead

Compiled by: Brent Hoskins, Office Technology Magazine

January 17, 2018 - What will be the greatest opportunities in the new year? To find the answers, Office Technology magazine asked 11 MFP and printer manufacturers to share their expectations for 2018. Perhaps the insight shared will help you better position your dealership for success.

Each of the contributors was asked to address the following questions in essay form: What do you believe will be the greatest market and product opportunities for dealers in 2018? What are the best sales and marketing strategies for dealerships in pursuing these opportunities? What will be the most significant challenges dealers will face in 2018 and how can they best address them? What notable changes in demand/needs/expectations do you anticipate from end users in 2018? What do you see as the characteristics of the office technology dealership that is best positioned for success in 2018? Following are their responses.

The forecast for 2018 comes down to one thing.

It isn’t a buzzword. It isn’t cloud or mobile or apps or green or cybersecurity. It isn’t even a piece of technology. But it will be a focus for anyone selling the technology — the spectacular technology — our industry produces.

In 2018, success in document imaging will be driven by one thing: relationships. Success will be driven by both dealer/customer relationships and manufacturer/dealer relationships, and the strongest relationships will win. Technology continues to be the backbone of our industry — hardware primarily and software increasingly. We are technology companies. It’s what we sell, earning billions of dollars every year. For many years, our value to our customers was simply the technology itself. And every year it got faster, more reliable, and with more functions and features.

But that’s not how it works anymore. The value we provide is no longer the technology itself; it’s how that technology improves our customers’ businesses. Selling now means explaining how technology helps companies run more efficiently, how it simplifies everyday tasks and how the cost to customers is more than offset by the contribution to their bottom lines.

Yes, it is amazing that an MFP can be used to access a cloud-based CMS, retrieve a document and then send it directly to an iPhone anywhere in the world. But if your customer doesn’t understand how that particular capability will help its business, you won’t make a sale. And if that customer doesn’t believe that you know how its business works, and how to make it run better, you won’t make a sale.

It isn’t easy. Expertise in document- and data-related business processes takes time. Insight into a client’s specific business process takes discussions, and ongoing dialogue with multiple stakeholders and different departments. It takes time. In other words, the expertise your customers now require can only be achieved through deep, consultative relationships — trusted advisor relationships. The reward? The best, longest-lasting, most profitable sales opportunities.

This new reality will create significant challenges and enormous opportunities for individuals and organizations in our industry. It really depends on the mindset. For those willing to dig in, those determined to learn about their customers’ operational needs and issues, and those willing to embrace the idea that the sale is always ongoing, 2018 is going to be extremely rewarding.

"Success will be driven by both dealer/customer relationships andmanufacturer/dealer relationships, and the strongest relationships will win."

And what about manufacturers? What is our role? Is our responsibility simply to continue to develop innovation after innovation, to relentlessly improve every aspect of companies’ document and data infrastructures?

Absolutely. But that’s not all. In 2018, our success will also hinge on (you guessed it) relationships. As with the dealer/customer relationship, the manufacturer/dealer relationship will not just be about supplying technology, but about improving businesses — our dealers’ businesses. That will mean providing training opportunities in solutions selling, access to industry experts and whatever resources dealers need to serve as trusted advisors to their customers. At Kyocera, this kind of support continues to be our top priority.

In 2018, the document imaging industry will once again produce technology that enables businesses to run more productively, more efficiently and more profitably. And the dealerships that have the most trusted advisory relationships with their customers will sell more of it than ever before.

www.officetechnologymag.com | December 2017

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