How to Use COVID-19 to Create a Future-Proof Business

It would be impossible to analyze the current state of play of our industry or examine the trends most likely to shape our market without discussing COVID-19. The pandemic has conditioned every aspect of our business, from where we work and how we collaborate to the way we serve our customers. In the blink of an eye, the landscape of our industry has changed dramatically. 

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Customers’ needs have changed, budgets and cash flows have been severely hit, and we have been forced to quickly adapt. Some have done so quicker and better than others, but all of us will be forced to make long-term changes to the very foundations that have come to define our businesses.

It would be impossible to analyze the current state of play of our industry or examine the trends most likely to shape our market without discussing COVID-19. The pandemic has conditioned every aspect of our business, from where we work and how we collaborate to the way we serve our customers. In the blink of an eye, the landscape of our industry has changed dramatically. 

Customers’ needs have changed, budgets and cash flows have been severely hit, and we have been forced to quickly adapt. Some have done so quicker and better than others, but all of us will be forced to make long-term changes to the very foundations that have come to define our businesses.

Pre-COVID “business as usual” will not suddenly pick up where we left off. It’s the here and now; it’s the acceleration of trends and technologies, changing consumer behaviors, and a new approach to the way organizations function. 

Many manufacturers find themselves undergoing the biggest digital transformation in their history. It is a necessary step to become more agile as an organization and to provide quality service. The pandemic has only served to reemphasize the importance of this. 

Embracing uncertainty

This is a period of huge disruption and change, and we must be willing to fail quickly and learn quickly while continuing to put our customers first. In fact, when looking ahead, uncertainty is one of the few things we can actually be certain of.

We have seen the rise of e-commerce in our sector in recent years and its importance has been elevated to a whole new level during COVID-19, as many customers are now unable or unwilling to visit physical stores. 

Dealers, therefore, must be able to meet the demands of the digital age while leveraging their skills, expertise and the hard-earned trust of their customers. Those who fail to catch up will be left behind. 

I firmly believe that manufacturers will have an important role to play in this regard. Realistically, many dealers may not immediately have the resources or know-how for this shift toward e-commerce. We can help our dealers by providing them with the necessary infrastructure, resources and coaching they need to sell online. We see our role as one of a supportive partner, giving the dealer network the tools and platforms they need to grow.

Cash flows and supply chains have been severely impacted in recent months and CFOs are seeking ways to quickly reduce costs just to survive. They are now looking to their channel partners to help them optimize print investments and control dispersed fleets without sacrificing service or quality and, to this end, I suspect that managed print services will gain significant traction.

We have seen A3 printers dominate, but with the rise of remote working, dealers must be prepared for the shift toward personal A4 printers. With more people at home, many families are printing in greater volumes than ever. When the pandemic arrived, there was little time for organizations to address the technology needs of all employees. Now that the dust has settled, remote workers have turned their attention to quality. They want reliable and durable printing devices that guarantee professional output and last the test of time. We must be able to deliver.

Portfolio diversification 

This leads into how we must adapt our offering. For decades, companies have been able to get by with a narrow product portfolio, selling office printers and MFPs. Over the years, this has begun to evolve, just as the role of your business will have. COVID-19 has served to accelerate that evolution, with print volumes declining and organizations moving away from offices as remote or hybrid working becomes commonplace.

To be complete solutions providers, both in hardware and software, dealers must look to strengthen in the areas of document management solutions, enterprise content management (ECM), and IT solutions.

During uncertain times, the last thing many companies want to think about is substantial short-term expenditure. However, this investment in diversification is a way to future-proof your business while laying the foundations for sustainable success. 

While it may seem daunting to invest in whole new areas at a time of financial uncertainty, it is not as big a gamble as it may seem at first glance. This is about providing the foundations that will give you the roots to grow and bounce back quicker and stronger than ever. There will be a recovery from the economic impacts of COVID-19, and those who best equip ourselves to be ready for the new world that we emerge into will thrive. 

Hybrid working

The quick shift to remote working has posed challenges for all companies. Many were unprepared for the sudden change and were forced to piece together strategies on the fly. Others quickly realized that they lacked the necessary technology for their employees to work effectively from home.

 Despite these initial technology and workspace-related growing pains, remote working is here to stay. In the months ahead many companies will be following a hybrid working strategy as they try to find the right balance between employees working on-site and at home. 

As mentioned previously, the need to convert living rooms into professional remote workspaces has driven the demand for compact, reliable printing devices, and we anticipate A4 devices’ overall market share will continue to expand.

During uncertain times, predictability is gold, and more and more companies will edge toward fixed plans with an added degree of flexibility — the ability to dial up or down. Whether it’s our online news feeds or cellphone plans, we all want things personalized to our needs. 

Costs spiral in the absence of control, and the ability to provide an agreed service at a flat rate makes the predictability and financial control of MPS very attractive, even more so when organizations are still trying to strike the right balance between the office and remote workplace. The rise of digitalization has naturally led to a decline in paper usage. Hybrid workspaces will use less paper but the need to print will still exist – companies will look to print smarter.

As part of the hybrid workplace transition, managed print services fleet assessments will prove to be an invaluable tool for managers and CFOs, giving them the relevant data to understand how much and where staff print, scan, fax and share documents and data. The data we give customers is critical to making sound business decisions. 

MPS providers who get it right will be proactive; they will identify and address issues before they arise and will provide the right solutions for real business pains. 

A personalized touch

At a time when technology dominates most conversations, basics matter more than ever. It’s not only the offering that defines a company, it’s the people and service, the professionalism and dedication to going that extra mile for the customer.

Organizations are under more pressure than ever before to reduce their costs. Going into a battle to be the cheapest just starts a downward spiral, not only for your profit margin but for an industry as a whole. Like with any situation in life, a battle to the bottom just means that we will lose out more and sooner. 

So, how can we compensate? With top class service. Putting a face to a name, adding that touch, doing a favor for someone when they most need it — these are all the factors that can make a difference. When that person has to make a difficult decision, it could be what sets you apart.

We must be great in each and every interaction with our customers. The value of great service and a human touch is still incredibly important in the eyes of our customers. Beyond products, people today are looking for that personalized experience.  

Those who go that extra mile to really understand what makes their customer and organization tick will reap the rewards. 

Securing the future

With hybrid working, we are seeing employees spread across offices and homes. The number of devices and internet connections connecting to shared databases has seen cybersecurity threats skyrocket. 

The burden on IT departments is tremendous and organizations need help to get their fleet under control. More than hardware vendors, dealers have the opportunity to become trusted security advisors. It will be their expertise that helps provide businesses with the solutions to boost efficiency and productivity while protecting their data. 

Security will be the foundation upon which success is built and we need to provide customers with the tools to collaborate and share information quickly and securely, regardless of where employees are working from. 

Dealers who provide solutions that enable organizations to share data and information quickly and securely across locations will add significant value to their offering. When it comes to security, a proactive approach is a must. Look for solutions that enable dealers to monitor customer devices in real time and identify and address potential issues while remotely managing software updates. 

This period of immense disruption poses many challenges but as I look ahead, I am bullish about the new opportunities that will arise. These are exciting opportunities that have been accelerated because of the pandemic and they will demand us to be the very best professionals possible. 

Dealers who build sustainable success going forward will be those who take a holistic approach to document solutions. Hardware will continue to be the foundation of what we do, but striking the right balance between hardware, IT solutions organizations and people will be key. 

Pre-COVID “business as usual” will not suddenly pick up where we left off. It’s the here and now; it’s the acceleration of trends and technologies, changing consumer behaviors, and a new approach to the way organizations function. 

Many manufacturers find themselves undergoing the biggest digital transformation in their history. It is a necessary step to become more agile as an organization and to provide quality service. The pandemic has only served to reemphasize the importance of this. 

Embracing uncertainty

This is a period of huge disruption and change, and we must be willing to fail quickly and learn quickly while continuing to put our customers first. In fact, when looking ahead, uncertainty is one of the few things we can actually be certain of.

We have seen the rise of e-commerce in our sector in recent years and its importance has been elevated to a whole new level during COVID-19, as many customers are now unable or unwilling to visit physical stores. 

Dealers, therefore, must be able to meet the demands of the digital age while leveraging their skills, expertise and the hard-earned trust of their customers. Those who fail to catch up will be left behind. 

I firmly believe that manufacturers will have an important role to play in this regard. Realistically, many dealers may not immediately have the resources or know-how for this shift toward e-commerce. We can help our dealers by providing them with the necessary infrastructure, resources and coaching they need to sell online. We see our role as one of a supportive partner, giving the dealer network the tools and platforms they need to grow.

Cash flows and supply chains have been severely impacted in recent months and CFOs are seeking ways to quickly reduce costs just to survive. They are now looking to their channel partners to help them optimize print investments and control dispersed fleets without sacrificing service or quality and, to this end, I suspect that managed print services will gain significant traction.

We have seen A3 printers dominate, but with the rise of remote working, dealers must be prepared for the shift toward personal A4 printers. With more people at home, many families are printing in greater volumes than ever. When the pandemic arrived, there was little time for organizations to address the technology needs of all employees. Now that the dust has settled, remote workers have turned their attention to quality. They want reliable and durable printing devices that guarantee professional output and last the test of time. We must be able to deliver.

Portfolio diversification 

This leads into how we must adapt our offering. For decades, companies have been able to get by with a narrow product portfolio, selling office printers and MFPs. Over the years, this has begun to evolve, just as the role of your business will have. COVID-19 has served to accelerate that evolution, with print volumes declining and organizations moving away from offices as remote or hybrid working becomes common place.

To be complete solutions providers, both in hardware and software, dealers must look to strengthen in the areas of document management solutions, enterprise content management (ECM), and IT solutions.

During uncertain times, the last thing many companies want to think about is substantial short-term expenditure. However, this investment in diversification is a way to future-proof your business while laying the foundations for sustainable success. 

While it may seem daunting to invest in whole new areas at a time of financial uncertainty, it is not as big a gamble as it may seem at first glance. This is about providing the foundations that will give you the roots to grow and bounce back quicker and stronger than ever. There will be a recovery from the economic impacts of COVID-19, and those who best equip ourselves to be ready for the new world that we emerge into will thrive. 

Hybrid working

The quick shift to remote working has posed challenges for all companies. Many were unprepared for the sudden change and were forced to piece together strategies on the fly. Others quickly realized that they lacked the necessary technology for their employees to work effectively from home.

 Despite these initial technology and workspace-related growing pains, remote working is here to stay. In the months ahead many companies will be following a hybrid working strategy as they try to find the right balance between employees working on-site and at home. 

As mentioned previously, the need to convert living rooms into professional remote workspaces has driven the demand for compact, reliable printing devices, and we anticipate A4 devices’ overall market share will continue to expand.

During uncertain times, predictability is gold, and more and more companies will edge toward fixed plans with an added degree of flexibility — the ability to dial up or down. Whether it’s our online news feeds or cellphone plans, we all want things personalized to our needs. 

Costs spiral in the absence of control, and the ability to provide an agreed service at a flat rate makes the predictability and financial control of MPS very attractive, even more so when organizations are still trying to strike the right balance between the office and remote workplace. The rise of digitalization has naturally led to a decline in paper usage. Hybrid workspaces will use less paper but the need to print will still exist – companies will look to print smarter.

As part of the hybrid workplace transition, managed print services fleet assessments will prove to be an invaluable tool for managers and CFOs, giving them the relevant data to understand how much and where staff print, scan, fax and share documents and data. The data we give customers is critical to making sound business decisions. 

MPS providers who get it right will be proactive; they will identify and address issues before they arise and will provide the right solutions for real business pains. 

A personalized touch

At a time when technology dominates most conversations, basics matter more than ever. It’s not only the offering that defines a company, it’s the people and service, the professionalism and dedication to going that extra mile for the customer.

Organizations are under more pressure than ever before to reduce their costs. Going into a battle to be the cheapest just starts a downward spiral, not only for your profit margin but for an industry as a whole. Like with any situation in life, a battle to the bottom just means that we will lose out more and sooner. 

So, how can we compensate? With top class service. Putting a face to a name, adding that touch, doing a favor for someone when they most need it, these are all the factors which can make a difference. When that person has to make a difficult decision, it could be what sets you apart.

We must be great in each and every interaction with our customers. The value of great service and a human touch is still incredibly important in the eyes of our customers. Beyond products, people today are looking for that personalized experience.  

Those who go that extra mile to really understand what makes their customer and organization tick will reap the rewards. 

Securing the future

With hybrid working we are seeing employees spread across offices and homes. The number of devices and internet connections connecting to shared databases has seen cybersecurity threats skyrocket. 

The burden on IT departments is tremendous and organizations need help to get their fleet under control. More than hardware vendors, dealers have the opportunity to become trusted security advisors. It will be their expertise that helps provide businesses with the solutions to boost efficiency and productivity while protecting their data. 

Security will be the foundation upon which success is built and we need to provide customers with the tools to collaborate and share information quickly and securely, regardless of where employees are working from. 

Dealers who provide solutions that enable organizations to share data and information quickly and securely across locations will add significant value to their offering. When it comes to security, a proactive approach is a must. Look for solutions that enable dealers to monitor customer devices in real time and identify and address potential issues while remotely managing software updates. 

This period of immense disruption poses many challenges but as I look ahead, I am bullish about the new opportunities that will arise. These are exciting opportunities that have been accelerated because of the pandemic and they will demand us to be the very best professionals possible. 

Dealers who build sustainable success going forward will be those who take a holistic approach to document solutions. Hardware will continue to be the foundation of what we do, but striking the right balance between hardware, IT solutions organizations and people will be key. 

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Óscar Sánchez

Óscar Sánchez

Óscar Sánchez is President & CEO of KYOCERA Document Solutions America. Previously, he held the position of Executive Vice President of the European Headquarters for KYOCERA Document Solutions, responsible for both the Sales Division and the Marketing Division in the EMEA region.
Óscar Sánchez

Latest posts by Óscar Sánchez (see all)

Óscar Sánchez

Óscar Sánchez

Óscar Sánchez is President & CEO of KYOCERA Document Solutions America. Previously, he held the position of Executive Vice President of the European Headquarters for KYOCERA Document Solutions, responsible for both the Sales Division and the Marketing Division in the EMEA region.