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Carl Schell

Remote Workforce Opportunities Abound for Dealers during Coronavirus Pandemic

What the Office Equipment Channel Can Learn from MSPs

Apr 6, 2020 12:22:28 PM


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Despite the coronavirus wreaking havoc around the globe, there is a silver lining.


Hello, remote workforce.


Dale Stein, Co-Founder of the Technology Assurance Group, reports that, based on a survey of TAG members, job tickets over the past month have doubled compared to typical MSP workflow. Traditional office equipment dealers that already offer managed IT services are ahead of the game, and it stands to reason that these organizations have also seen a similar uptick in IT work. Which is very good for the channel, as office print has shifted to the home and, well, businesses with a portfolio that reaches beyond output hardware and MPS can still make money—here are three things that can help…


Game of telephone. Of the TAG members that provide telephony services, Stein says that 30 percent have replaced multiple, outdated systems with hosted voice since mid-March. That equates to plenty of recurring revenue, aka the alchemical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. If now isn’t the time to add this piece to your arsenal, when is?!


The 3 C’s. Cloud, collaboration, conferencing. Microsoft Office 365 is just the tip of iceberg—Microsoft Azure is the real difference maker (or Amazon’s or Google’s cloud platform, depending on preference). Layering apps such as SharePoint and Teams into an Azure ecosystem can have a dramatically positive effect on collaboration. With conferencing, when video is added to the standard voice and messaging package, meetings can be transformed to the tune of 90 percent effectiveness, according to Stein.


And then, print. TAG realized early on that many people—hard to believe, but still—don’t have a means for printing and scanning at home, during the COVID-19 outbreak or otherwise. So, for $29 a month, a TAG member will place an HP LaserJet Pro MFP 428 in a person’s house, with a third-party managing the device and handling the auto-replenishment of consumables. What’s more, the MSP collects commission on the supplies. Doesn’t sound too shabby, right?!

A couple of more C’s play into the bullets above: communication and connectivity. Whether it’s with humans or technology, both are essential, especially when face-to-face meetings and even conversations are a virtual—pun intended—impossibility. Because when the coronavirus crisis has subsided and social distancing isn’t being practiced 24-7, the world will never be what it was like before, and that goes for how we conduct business too.


Be smart and get on the train to “newhere” now!


Further Proof

“The COVID-19 pandemic will remain etched in our minds for decades to come. This societal mandate of working from home is the key catalyst in how the modern office will evolve. Technology like Office 365/Google and VoIP can enable 100 percent work from anywhere positions. Combining these with public resources from Azure will result in organizations being truly independent from local restrictions. Still, the idea of “togetherness” can be difficult to overcome—some people just want to work in an office. As such, we’ve enhanced Microsoft Teams to use more video, but otherwise we haven’t changed our processes nor have our clients seen any changes in reaching support.” –Greg Sweers, CEO and Steward of ACTS360


“Prior to the proliferation of the coronavirus, many companies were unwilling to allow employees to work from home, but now it’s a requirement to keep businesses operational. This presents a new set of challenges, which include measuring worker productivity, securing home workspaces, compliance with state and federal laws, and supply shortages of laptops and headsets. The result has been a service ticket increase of around three times our normal level. The higher volume has certainly been a challenge, but we’ve been able to provide our customers with quality support. Nobody knows how long the stay at home orders will last, but it seems like this might be the status quo for the next few months for most people.” –Rupy Bans, Director of Technology Services at i-NETT


“It is times like this that people will become experts in a lot of subject matters. From an IT perspective, look at the business options that you have not yet launched. Calculated risks always take a little bravery, but by assessing and planning you can make sure you have what it takes to enter a new space. It could be a focus on cloud computing, phones, or software as a service.  Catching up on a backlog of project work is also important right now, so when we do come out of this crisis, we are better positioned to take on the current of a robust economy that will have been pent up for months and is ready to take off.” –John Eckstrom, President and CEO of Carolina Business Equipment


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