MPS in India is still in its early stages. The growth has just started and there is a lot of business to be done.
Channels have been pivotal to IT companies deploying their products and solutions in far off geographies. Not only are the channel partners the face of the company in new markets, they are the ones who have traditionally catered to small and mid-markets. According to Balaji Rajagopalan, Executive Director- Technology, Channels & International Distributor Operations, Xerox India, “This is particularly relevant for SMBs. For IT partners supporting such organizations, this represents an incredible opportunity for growth. Various researches shows that SMBs are adopting managed print services at a fast pace.” Rajiv Bhatia of Ricoh India adds, “As VAR’s are close to SME customers, who have the keen desire to optimize and be technologically updated, we see the VAR’s playing a significant role in enhancing the adoption of MPS.”
Revenue Opportunities for Partners
MPS in India is still in its early stages. The growth has just started and there is a lot of business to be done. As per Balaji, “Print optimization is the largest, most immediate MPS market opportunity today. With a growth rate of an astounding 11%, it is estimated that 54% of print revenue will be under contract by 2017. The channel partners have a huge opportunity here, to tap this segment aggressively and create long standing relationships.”
Companies have already seen the huge potential for MPS in Indian SME market. Ricoh’s Rajiv Bhatia puts it simply as, “VAR’s are increasingly aware of the MPS offerings due to many customers showing intent to move their printing needs into a MPS platform. As VAR’s are close to SME customers, who have the keen desire to optimize and be technologically updated, we see the VAR’s playing a significant role in enhancing the adoption of MPS. For this purpose, the understanding of MPS and the consultative sales approach needs to be adopted by VARs to achieve success with their customer base.”
Another big catalyst for the business is the subscription model that enables young SMEs to procure and implement solutions without incurring a financial load. “In SME market, everyone is moving from CAPEX to OPEX model and we have already taken a big leap forward in this direction. We are offering MDS solutions to corporate and we are not asking the customers to buy our machines, they can rather pay us as per use,” adds Swetharanyan.
Ripon Baruah, Baruah Enterprise, Guwahati, a Kyocera partnersaid, “We are witnessing huge demand for MDS compared to traditional unit sales. MDS is providing us extra revenue with simultaneously helping us penetrate into corporate. We are expecting our print and data management revenue to at least double in the next two years.”
Tapping Business in Tier 2 and 3 Cities
MSP players believe that Tier 2 and 3 cities will enable much more opportunities in the future. But the key is spreading awareness to customers and knowledge to partners for improved MPS adoption. As per Rajiv Bhatia, “There exist bigger opportunities in tier 2 & 3 cities and Channel partners who understand the MPS concept, will adopt it willingly. The concept is still in a maturing stage in the Metro’s where OEM’s have their direct sales force aligned. It may take another year or two, for the Channel Partners to understand and adopt this concept.”
Xerox’s Balaji believes that though the adoption is low currently, numbers will improve, “We organize regular training sessions and meeting with our partners to update them on the new developments. We are providing our partners in Tier 2 and 3 cities regular training sessions to help them understand how MPS can be valuable both to them and their customers. Though the adoption is low, but we have seen interest and we are working towards helping them build this portfolio.” Kyocera’s Swetharanyan agrees that procuring business in Tier 2 and 3 markets is a challenge, “the partners are participating from tier 2-3 cities, but they are limited. Gradually they are being educated with the benefits of MPS solutions and we are yet to penetrate into tier-3 cities with our full capacity.”
Channel Related MPS Activities
Vendors have organized various activities and programs which aim to not just train existing partners but induce and add new partners and customers as well. HP’s Parikshet Singh adds, “We are doing a concept called Inkology Meets. Basically what we are doing is like a joint event where identified customers come along with our PMPS partners. We have about ten such get-togethers and we generally do 3-4 such meetings every quarter. It is primarily led by the PMPS partners.”
For Ricoh, getting more partners is the need of the hour. “Our go to market strategy has always been to bring on board our channel partners with the latest in global offerings and technology. Using the long term customer loyalty benefits from MPS business deals; we encourage Partners to adopt MPS,” says Rajiv Bhatia.
Today HP have internal trainers to train the customer side of the channel and trainers for the commercial side. So the company has built a training Infrastructure, where these trainers go and impart knowledge to its partners on all products.”
Expressing the importance to trainings, Ripon Baruah, Baruah Enterprise added. “Although the initial challenges were to convince the customers to shift to MDS but training and product demonstration sessions were really helpful in clear understanding about the benefits of the new technology. Kyocera India has increased its focus on providing MDS training to all the channel partners. Moreover, for the clear understanding of the new technology, the company is also organizing new product demonstration sessions.”
MPS has signaled a shift in the market for print solutions with the emphasis changing from product delivery to service and solution. Vendors have stopped focusing on only improving the hardware and now concentrate on the needs of businesses in current scenario. The perfect partners will be the ones who not just incorporate MPS in their portfolio but imbibe the concept. The industry has come a long way from print quality and cost effectiveness, and now refers to the space as document optimization. Players want channel partners to believe in the concept of MPS, brush up their knowledge, and improve their infrastructure to better serve customers. They want the partners to become proactive towards customer’s business requirements rather than being only reactive. Thus, the ideal partners for MPS would be the ones who are willing to improve their own expertise in not just printing but business relevance. In the words of Ripon Baruah: “Whosoever is aspiring to take up MDS into their portfolio should promote its benefits more and not just the price.”