Print.IT Reseller - issue 54

PRINT IT RESELLER.UK 23 Q&A 2025 market insight study, 71 per cent of manufacturers are aware that disruption is coming. However, only 39 per cent expressed confidence that they were ready for future changes. It’s important for OEMs and print channel specialists to lay the groundwork now to prepare for a digital future and make sure they stay ahead of the curve. Manufacturers and channel partners that are quick to embrace DX-related technologies will undoubtedly outgrow their competition. To do this, OEMs must have an open approach to partnering with innovative newcomers who offer complementary software and service solutions. This is crucial to future success. Furthermore, customers will increasingly look to buy products from IT capable vendors, meaning OEMs and channel organisations need to respond accordingly. OEMs will need to move into the office equipment channel to the IT channel, embracing innovation and digital transformation to provide the products and services that businesses expect in today's digital era. It’s also important to remember that the print industry is built on an annuity business model of multi (three to five) year service contracts. Therefore, the added complication off-setting a declining print business will be finding multi annuity business alternatives. A natural alternative in the digital space is as-a-service products, but printing will also have to evolve in order to become even more mobile and cloud-based. PITR: At Inspire Expo you announced Sharp is offering channel partners profit opportunities beyond print through a wider portfolio that spans large format displays, videoconferencing and collaboration solutions. What’s the take-up been from the traditional channel in terms of diversifying into new areas since we last spoke at the beginning of this year? JC: We have seen growth in the MFP channel for certain solutions, particularly interactive whiteboards. Our BIG PAD portfolio, for example, has proven popular with dealers responding to the growing demand for collaborative solutions. We’re also seeing some uptake of video conferencing – especially amongst partners who were already early adopters of a diversified approach. However, the overall pace of diversification needs to speed up. There is a real risk that resellers who don’t make this journey fast enough will be left behind. We do try to go to partners with services and solutions that are easy for them to integrate into their existing portfolio, particularly if it’s something their natural channel competitors are offering. We’ve already proven that successful diversification is possible through our direct sales force, so we will continue to encourage and support our channel partners to do the same. PITR: Where do you see the print industry going in the next five years? JC: As IDC predicts, the print industry is in decline. However, it will remain a substantial industry – printing won’t go away overnight, or in the next five years. It is entirely possible that new disruptions will accelerate the decline in print, for example brand new technology or the rise of Generation Z, but these factors are harder to predict. What’s certain is that you will see an increase in diversification beyond the MFP, particularly for OEMs. The office equipment channel will become smaller, either because of acquisitions or because there will be less appetite for products. Therefore, OEMs will need to follow the market and move into the IT channel to keep up with the competition. Products themselves will also evolve, driven to a large extent by consumer technologies. For example, we are already starting to see voice recognition in business environments, including in printers, but this kind of technology will become more pervasive in the next five years. Importantly, organisations across the industry will have to become much more efficient in the way they serve their customers. As revenues decline and margins become thinner, we need to think about how we deliver MFPs to customers and how we can streamline this process. Manufacturers and channel partners that are quick to embrace DX-related technologies will undoubtedly outgrow their competition