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Lovin' Those LCDs
Bandwidth, video compression and remote management continue to drive early adoption of new signage solutions—all newer technology helping to drive sales of a time-tested peripheral: the monitor.
When it comes to displays, there are several ways solution providers can position themselves for success and growth, said Dan Schwab, vice president of marketing at D&H Distributing Inc., Harrisburg, Pa. "One nice thing about the display market that has created an opportunity for resellers is wide format," Schwab said. "People, from home usage, are now used to wide format. More and more people at work like the wide format as well."
Schwab also said that powerful desktop display configurations are becoming more widely integrated throughout the market. "A lot of our resellers have gone back to [providing] dual displays, just like you'd see in the financial markets," Schwab said.
Often, dual display technology has the benefit of being relatively easy to integrate out of the box. But there are potential flourishes that can be provided by software and integration, with opportunities to add value, upsell and spark that "wow" factor from clients that dual display has become a key opportunity.
Several solution providers said that attractive new LCDs, in and of themselves, have led to a solid refresh trend in the market. While it's not unheard of for PCs to produce a 7 percent margin, that number can double with a new display and increase even further in dual-monitor solutions. That's in addition to the opportunities with signage or kiosk rollouts.
In the survey, ViewSonic Corp., Walnut, Calif., was chosen as the most recommended pure-play display vendor by VARs, followed by Samsung, Sony Corp. of America, NEC Corp., LG Electronics Inc., Sharp Corp., Philips Electronics and Panasonic Corp.
Props To Printers And Scanners
From major advances in print technology and ink, to a renewed focus on return on investment through more efficient workflow, to managed services, the document imaging sector has been experiencing a renaissance.
In digital imaging, advances in energy efficiency, device consolidation and consulting in workflow efficiency have worked as a sales and profit driver throughout all segments—from small businesses to the enterprise. It's also become more competitive, with vendors including Xerox Corp. and Oki Data Americas Inc. rewriting their channel programs over the past year and providing incentives for VARs to sell workflow solutions instead of just hardware and ink.
Solution providers are also getting more green. When asked to select from a list of reasons for choosing a printer or scanner, a whopping 88 percent listed "energy savings/'green' technology." In previous years, the issue was barely noticed.
Efficiency, Energy Star ratings and environmental friendliness are components of the solution approach that VARs have increasingly embraced the past couple of years.
"Look at it in terms of the entire business model," said Jim Fall, vice president of strategic planning at Cannon IV, an Indianapolis-based solution provider. "For a reseller like us, who has taken a solutions approach, the hardware component may represent 30 to 40 percent of the value of the entire project. The software, supplies, services, the glue that brings all of the other technologies together, is the other 60 to 70 percent of the entire value of the transaction."
There is a significant opportunity in driving growth and profitability through device consolidation among printers and scanners, said Jackie Paralis, senior marketing manager of channel development and programs, at Oki Data, Mount Laurel, N.J.
Deploying MFPs can be critical to that end, but solution providers may need to move beyond any reticence to develop additional skills, she said. "It's not a risk, it's a fear factor because these guys know printers," Paralis said. "When it gets into scanning, archiving, integrating with DMS systems, they know nothing about this. And they're scared. [They'll ask], 'Will your sales guy come with us on a call?' I say, 'Yeah, that's no problem.' It's a little bit of hand-holding until they get over that hurdle."
Paralis said both vendor partner and solution provider need to understand that there is more of a time investment, in many cases, than a cash investment, in developing skills to upsell document imaging peripherals into the enterprise. "The two things they don't have are finances, and the time for their sales reps to get educated," Paralis said. "They're not going to take them out of the sales field to come in for all-day training. They want something that's flexible. It needs to be simple enough so they can understand it without someone standing in front of them without teaching it to them."
Oki Data is in the midst of a pilot program—Oki University—that provides partner training and education in some solutions. "Anything but color, we could train online," Paralis said.
In the printers/scanners category in the survey, Hewlett-Packard Co., Palo Alto, Calif., was chosen by respondents as the most recommended vendor. Lexmark International Inc., Lexington, Ky., has stumbled in its growth and earnings over the past year, but its commercial sales through the channel have remained steady, executives of that company have said. Along with Oki Data and Xerox, other vendors to receive marks include Brother International Inc., Canon Inc., Ricoh, Konica Minolta Holdings Inc., Epson Corp. and Dell Inc.