Lexmark eyes channel opportunities in evolving printer market

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Software service will allow partners to add value

The traditional printer might be under threat from spectre of the paperless offices, but printer vendor Lexmark believes that there are still plenty of opportunities for the channel in a changing landscape.

Following the recent announcement that it would be partnering up with Micro P, Lexmark is keen to show that it is looking to move further into the channel, with expansion into new markets.

At the centre of this is a move away from traditional hardware services will a bid to increase the leverage of its software services, SMB and retail sales director Martin Fairman told ChannelBiz.

Since its acquisition of Perceptive, Lexmark has been looking more and more towards services such as enterprise content management, and has been busy buying up software firms of late.

In fact Lexmark has already acquired three companies in recent months.  While Fairman couldn’t shed any light on further action, we were told that in the right circumstances, more acquisitions are not being ruled out.

With a move into what happens once a document is scanned, Lexmark is hoping to evolve its role in the channel.

“We are looking for more solution providers and resellers that already cover hardware, but now need a vendor like Lexmark to take  them into the world of cloud computing and the electronic documents,” he says.

“We recognise that a lot of dealers will not have the capability, but that is where the market place is going.”

According to Fariman, disties such as Micro P are going to help try to “drive that charge forward” in a bid to find new partners to “move in to these emerging markets that Lexmark has been targeting”.

The main problem he highlights in moving its channel into new markets is resources.

“The only challenge is that the dealers that we are courting at the moment understand where the market is going, but don’t have the resources in the economic climate to invest a lot.

“We do have now a comprehensive sales team to work with dealers and help them into emerging markets where there is revenue opportunity and margin opportunity.

“We are re-training our sales team to more solution rich selling, as we are in our channel, re-educating them about what Lexmark means in future,” he says.

There are indeed big changes coming up in the printer market with a number of challenges such as the boom in mobile devices such as tablets.

However, Fairman, perhaps not surprisingly, believes that talk of paperless offices are still far off yet.

“I am not sure the paperless office will ever be realised.  I am not sure it will happen in my lifetime.”

In fact he says that with more and more people working from home there is actually an increase in paper consumption.

Ultimately though the firm is looking to evolve the role of the printer away from its traditional role.

Machines are set to become much more feature rich we are told, with five or six applications on a device, for example linking with Microsoft Office software.

The channel is always looking at what the next big thing is, he says, and what the vendor can  do to bring them into new emerging markets.

“We want dealers to recognise the future of the business and where it is going.”

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