The latest quarter of results came in, and again HP is up over 11% from last year. How many other print vendors can claim any growth, let alone double digit? PC sales went up by the same amount. Coincidence? Of course not. It’s strategy execution. Here’s how I read the latest results and how they present both, a threat and opportunity to your business.
The imaging industry has long seen print and IT as being separate buying decisions with different sales cycles. The data hereshows the opposite. Print and computer hardware decisions are being made together. At least they are for the biggest PC and print vendor in the world.
Let’s look at the statistics.
The current data suggests that print represents 1.4% of the overall IT picture. In North America, IT represents over $1.6 trillion annually, so print is roughly a $22 billion industry. Perhaps a better way to look at it is the graphic below. Much of what we consider print, falls into the devices and infrastructure category of IT. This category accounts for 17% of IT spending.
By the way, that 1.4% is shrinking, while the overall IT spend is increasing. No wonder it's harder and harder to get face to face appointments with decision-makers. Ask the question another way:
While $22 billion is still a big nut, on a percentage basis of overall IT, it’s approaching a rounding error. But here’s the good news, when combined with PCs, laptops, and other IT hardware, it becomes significant again. HP is showing this. They are also showing what a company focused on these two categories can do.
If you don’t follow this lead, then your job becomes increasingly difficult: explain to your customers that print is still important. Document security is paramount. Managing print is an expensive internal operation, they need to be managed separately from the rest of IT. Maybe this is true...but 1.4% is not a big number. Especially when competitors can manage it within the larger conversation of devices and infrastructure.
Here’s where you come in: finance it!
In my experience, those companies that sell IT hardware to small businesses do just that—they sell it. They are willing to make little to no margin, and they often suggest to customers that the hardware be sourced from somewhere like CDW or Insight. They focus on services instead of hardware. So why not take a bite out of that big apple yourself?
When this category is combined, the opportunity to finance more products with a higher value will increase. The trick is that, these companies need to see you as something more than a one category provider. One sure way to do this, is to have a website that addresses IT and makes you look like a serious player. Financing technology is your core business strength. Applying that core business strength to such a small slice of the revenue pie is like putting a governor on your sales engine. Once you have passed this challenge, I’d move right into other aspects of IT—managed service, software, telephony etc., but computers and laptops are the lowest hanging fruit you’ve got. Start there.
Oh, and about that website...do you look like you can manage your clients’ hardware technology?