Print vendor Brother is still working against preconceptions of it being "low end" in spite of its recent move into the enterprise space, according to Mike Mulholland (pictured), head of services and solutions.
These preconceptions, however, can work in the company's favour as new partners and customers are intrigued at just how much the firm has changed, he added.
"I think most people who have engaged with Brother recently are quite surprised about how it has changed," he explained.
"They know that Brother is a large, successful organisation, but they thought that the market we played in was small office and home office.
"When they come in to see us now - and we show them a product range - they're blown away because it's much more sophisticated than what they perceived.
"It's like we're the best thing that they've never heard of. When we get together with some resellers or systems integrators that we haven't courted for a while, they're pleasantly surprised with what's happening at Brother because they see it as an opportunity for themselves."
As part of its strategy to expand its customer base, the print vendor has recently added a number of new features to its existing Software Solutions range.
The new features are: Order Supplies, which allows customers to streamline the replenishment of supplies; Barcode Print+, which enables users to print barcodes within documents without the need for a specialist barcode printer; Remote Panel, which allows service providers to diagnose and resolve print and scan device issues from their PCs; and Request Help, which allows individuals to flag errors to service providers directly from the device's screen.
Mulholland stated that these additions open up new revenue streams for partners as they can sell them alongside the vendor's hardware and systems.
"We're channel-centric, so all of our partners obviously benefit from bringing out these new solutions," he said.
"There's invariably an amount of consultancy, to enable the solution that you've designed.
"For example, there would be a services architect involved in enabling the Request Help button…then once the user presses the button, a triage process has to be activated.
"The services architect would be the designer of that triage, and any fees associated with the design and operation of it are extra revenues that the reseller would benefit from."
One obstacle that managed print vendors and partners are encountering repeatedly is that customers don't wholly understand their own needs before issuing tenders, according to Mulholland.
"I think we get these when we have dispersed budgets within large enterprise organisations, and the enterprise decides to go to market for managed print service and they make it very clear on what the requirements are," he said.
"But during the procurement process, their requirements change. I think for vendors and resellers that becomes very difficult because we want to position ourselves in the best possible way, and truly understand what the customer's needs are.
"So we're in the best possible position to win, but then the needs change because the customer didn't fully understand their needs in the first place. That's a big challenge for us, certainly with enterprise-level customers."
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