by Hiro Imamura, Canon
A customer is only as productive as the weakest link in the technology they rely upon. In the case of document capture, authentication, security and document management, each is a critically important link in the user’s workflow chain. The chain is strongest when links are uniformly connected, cohesively functioning as a whole. When the links are performing independently, without any interlink communication, it is not a functioning unit. When this happens, something as simple as a software update can cause a break, interrupting everyday business processes.
A holistic solution and services approach provides the crucial connection between links, as such an approach is designed to help ensure business processes communicate and the chain remains intact. Adopting this single-provider, common-platform approach can bring numerous workflow benefits, from increased compatibility and efficiency to transparency and streamlined vendor servicing.
Both end users and resellers encounter situations where they require technical support. In the past, businesses were accustomed to gathering solution components in an ad-hoc fashion, similar to the way one might order from a take-out menu: one solution from column “A,” another from column “B,” and so on. But companies are now realizing that the component from column “A” may not integrate well with column “B,” causing a glitch that could interrupt or halt business processes, leading to a goose chase for answers from each separate service provider.
When solutions services are provided in a more piecemeal fashion, users are often faced with different contacts for each part of the system. As one can imagine, needing a card file or phone book of customer service contacts puts the end user at a disadvantage. If a problem occurs, or even a common occurrence such as a software upgrade, they may be left wondering who to call. If a solution is comprised of software components from multiple providers, and each of them requires an update, one component of the solution often lags behind, becoming the weak link in the chain.
With all the headaches that can result from just one weak link, it’s no surprise that 79 percent of customers say they prefer one provider for both MPS and DC/ECM.1 When a holistic approach is applied, end users only need to rely on one vendor who is familiar with the solution and how each component interacts with the others – no goose chase.
The Learning Curve
A disjointed solutions services strategy requires users to work across platforms from multiple providers. This inconsistency is not only taxing on the employee who must learn numerous interfaces, but also on the employer who must train new users and on the service provider who must respond to customers having difficulty using their technology. But with a consistent design and provider model, the end user benefits from a comfortable user experience across the entire chain. Given that the solutions were all developed by the same provider, they are compatible and in sync, designed to allow the user to seamlessly move from task to task.
If this fully integrated approach is so beneficial, why haven’t more organizations adopted it? It may come down to a lack of knowledge that a single provider can deliver such an approach. Recognizing the common workflow situations many customers encounter, a solid strategy focuses on providing the “complete chain” – linking MFPs, integrated software, professional services, support and infrastructure. When an approach like this is put to use by the dealer or provider, it can have true profitable staying power.
With one unified platform, there are fewer differences across devices and systems, which also means a much smaller learning curve for the dealer (many of which are small-to-medium-sized businesses with limited resources). This helps reduce the dealer resources and cost to deliver the solution and services. It’s also in the dealer’s best interest to tout the benefits of having a holistic solution services approach since, in most cases it provides a powerful competitive differentiator, and has the potential to increase customer loyalty while also providing wider margins.
The Future of Well-Positioned Dealers
As the customer’s trusted advisor, the dealer is required to not only have a tight grasp on the workflow issues facing a customer, but also to offer up a suggestion they are confident in recommending. Dealers need to master the solutions and services to become experts while also ensuring the solutions and services they offer keep the end user satisfied.
Technology providers offering a combination of powerful MFP technology, integrated software, services, support and infrastructure are better-positioned to help dealers and customers succeed. The bottom line: With a holistic solutions services strategy, the dealer has the opportunity to maximize both their own business, as well as the customer’s.
1 Photizo Group, 2015 MPS Decision Maker Tracking Study.
This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of The Imaging Channel.