There was a time in the not-so-distant past when, despite the emergence of managed services across the channel, managed print remained the rarified air of a few solution providers, predominantly print-focused specialists.
But a year into its efforts to bring its Xerox Partner Print Services (XPPS) program into the Canadian market, Ajay Dhingra, vice president of indirect channels at Xerox Canada, says that’s not necessarily the case anymore. In its first year in Canada, the company has signed on around 70 solution providers for the program, and Dhingra says that membership is a mix of partner types.
“The most exciting part for us is that in the past, it was mostly traditional print-centric VARs that have been going on this business, but now we’re seeing managed service VARS that are looking at print as just another managed service,” Dhingra said.
Dhingra said Xerox, which has been on a multi-year quest to grow its presence in the SMB space by getting closer to its partners, designed the XPPS program for just such an eventuality. He said the program provides a variety of tools and resources for partners at various points in their own managed services journey – established managed print service providers can simply take on the company’s marketing collateral and/or use its console to manage customers’ environments, while partners who are just starting out can get backstopping from Xerox’s own managed print organization in areas where it’s yet to build its own practice.
It comes as no surprise to Dhingra that the channel beyond the traditional print community are catching on with managed print – he described it as “a natural, elegant part of a managed services offering.”
Xerox is itself probably the largest managed print service provider in the country, buoyed by its acquisition last year of LaserNetworks, which was previously the largest independent managed print house in the country. But as is the common theme in vendors with hybrid channel approaches, Dhingra sees the company’s own managed print capabilities targeted at its Enterprise Print Management offering for large business, while Laser focuses on its core verticals, including legal and oil and gas, while the company works with the channel to reach the large base of SMB that comprises the vast majority of the Canadian market.
Dhingra said the company treads carefully in areas of channel conflict – it knows its reputation is as an enterprise vendor, and predominantly a direct seller, but over the last five years, it’s been working to expand its presence in SMB through the channel.
“When it comes to the broad side of the market, if you look at how those companies get technologies into their offices, it’s through the VAR community,” Dhingra said. “We need to ensure and continue to evolve a strong channel presence in managed print – not just in printers, but in partners who can add print to their ‘outsourced CIO’ status with customers.”
Growth in the market is exceeding Xerox’s own expectations, he said. The program spun up in earnest at the midpoint of last year, and from Q3 to Q4 of 2012, XPPS revenues grew 400 percent. From Q4 2012 to Q1 2013, Dhingra said XPPS grew by about 2,000 percent. Granted, that kind of growth is the product of starting from $0 in revenues a year ago, so that kind of growth is likely to normalize in the short term. But Dhingra said the company still expects to grow faster than the overall managed print market, which InfoTrends has pegged at a 14 percent CAGR.
Dhingra said the next steps for XPPS include the addition of some of the new security functionality introduced in Xerox’s ConnectKey platform earlier this year, an offshoot of its partnership with McAfee on print security. The company will also seek to increase integration with its managed print console and the tools (ERP and PSA first and foremost) on which solution providers run their business, providing an opportunity to further mainstream managed print within a partner’s business.
And he said the company is not quite done building out the ranks yet – with 70 Canadian partners on board, he said Xerox is “about halfway in our journey” when it comes to recruiting partners.