How the Imaging Channel Can Be a Trusted Source for Customers in Collaborative Work Environments

Change. Our world has gone through many changes over the past three years, impacting our personal and work lives beyond what we could’ve imagined. While it has been difficult to navigate the long-term effects presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, one silver lining we have all seen is this sudden shift in how we work and collaborate, which has brought to life new technology and business solutions that have opened up new opportunities for the channel community and organizations around the world. 

For many in the workplace, gone are the days of having to trudge to the office Monday through Friday, hosting conference calls on spider phones, and leaving PCs and laptops in your cubicle for the weekend. Today’s office environment largely encompasses the hybrid model, with impactful technology like interactive displays and more durable laptops that allow employees to continue working efficiently and productively no matter where they are. We have gradually come to see the hybrid model become a permanent part of the world, as many organizations are now fully equipped to support both remote and in-person employees, providing them with the proper tools to optimize communication. Following are a few points for the channel community to consider to stay ahead of changes in the office tech landscape. 

Stay ahead of developments in tech

Corporate studies have found that, although many workers still enjoy occasional office time to build culture, collaborate in person and print large files, remote workers are up to 40% more productive than employees working in an office, showing that if employees’ technological needs are met, they’re able to work even better regardless of location. For the channel community, it’s critical to understand and anticipate what organizations need in order to cultivate an environment where their employees feel supported with the right tools. 

There are many technological solutions to promote this, whether it’s a new service that can streamline communication or a new device that can upgrade and improve meeting proficiency. No matter which direction your customer heads in, it is critical for office technology providers to inform themselves about the latest developments to be well equipped and prepared for customers’ needs in our ever-changing world. 

Diversify your product suite 

It’s no secret that imaging channel dealers have had their slew of challenges over the past few years. From supply chain disruptions to unplanned lockdowns, there are many variables that have impacted dealers’ business structure and ability to fill customers’ needs.

For example, it can be a restricting and frustrating experience for businesses working with dealers who offer just one product suite. Dealers will find that this limits their customer base and can make it tough to differentiate themselves. You can sell imaging devices to customers but if you’re not able to diversify your suite of products, you’re only solving one issue. This can be justifiably seen by the customer as a failure to address or anticipate other problems they may be facing or devices they may need now or down the line. A customer may then feel inclined to ultimately turn to a competitor they see as more of a full solution provider who can serve as a one-stop shop to solve all of their challenges and provide them with a comprehensive solution. 

Additionally, devices and services that lack integration can result in gaps across office touchpoints. This can lead to lower productivity due to the need to focus on time-consuming processes and less flexibility for those working remotely. Collaboration can also be impacted as employees in today’s hybrid world connect across a variety of communication streams, whether it’s Microsoft Teams, Zoom, email, phone calls, and even texting. When businesses are lacking an integrated fleet of devices and services, it can be a disadvantage to how efficient and successful their employees will be. For dealers, it’s critical to be aware of this in order to be a “first choice” for organizations when it comes to providing integrated, tech-forward office technology and solutions. 

Imaging channel dealers should approach their offerings from a strategic, holistic perspective in order to be successful and adapt as technology and end users’ needs evolve. According to a recent Microsoft study, having effective communication is a critical skill for 95% of employees as they progress in their careers, demonstrating that technology and communication go hand in hand. By offering a diverse range of products, dealers can address multiple needs to create a more dynamic work environment. It is also important to have the ability for multiple work systems to collaborate and be thoroughly integrated both in the office and remotely. If an employee is in a conference room and wants to share content on an interactive display board, it should be simple to do without wasting time and having to deal with a frustrating interface. What truly matters most to make an office more efficient and collaborative is having systems work together seamlessly, which can be achieved by incorporating software that integrates and automates device connectivity. The more that a dealer can do to touch the different parts of that integrated experience for employees and have everything working together, the more valuable they will be in the long run. 

Position your team as go-to experts

A business could have the best technology and services deployed throughout their organization; however, if employees are not properly trained on how to use these tools, they could be doing a disservice to themselves and their team members. 

Local imaging dealers can position themselves as experts on these products so that their customers can turn to them for training and troubleshooting. Offering this post-purchase support and service will also provide an incentive for organizations to choose to work with a local dealer rather than purchasing from a retailer when making long-term decisions on tools needed for employees to do their jobs. Dealers can be the first stop for end users to educate their teams on devices and collaboration tools. For example, this can be extremely beneficial for someone like a small business owner who has limited resources and does not have an IT team to help with software and hardware management or cloud computing. These small businesses can turn to their local dealer for support, asking questions and receiving training. By standing at the ready to answer these concerns, dealers can present themselves as leaders in the space who are knowledgeable on all their products and latest technology.

It’s imperative that dealers diversify their product portfolio to be agile in today’s ever-changing technological environment. This way, they can offer a vast array of business solutions that can be integrated for employees whether they’re in the office or working remotely. This helps organizations streamline workflows, keeps employees productive, and facilitates team communication. The channel community needs to remain open to changes in both work styles and technology updates to adapt to their customers’ needs. Being a knowledge bank for customers can help dealers be a dependable resource for organizations as they work to introduce new technology and upgrade existing products to ensure employee and overall company success. 

As vice president, Marketing, Bob Madaio leads the marketing team for Sharp Imaging and Information Corporation of America, the B2B arm of Sharp Electronics.