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A roadmap to digital maturity

By Contributor
Fri 1 Apr 2022

Article by ECI Software Solutions managing director of sales Anna Grubb.

The Australia-New Zealand managed print services (MPS) market is among the most mature of all the Asia-Pacific (APAC) territories – reflected by the widespread adoption of enterprise resource planning (ERP) technology. That being said, not all ERPs are equal and there’s still huge variation in the capability of technology utilised by businesses.

The print industry, like so many others, was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the sudden move to remote working. However, contrary to what many expect, the rapid digitisation of the modern workplace hasn’t spelled the end of office printing. One report found that the field service management market size is expected to grow from just over 4 billion AUD$ (3 billion USD) in 2020 to almost 7 billion AUD$ (5.1 billion USD$) by 2025, with APAC set to be the fastest growing region during this period.

Not all ERPs are created equal

There are clearly many opportunities for MPS businesses and while some dealers use antiquated or  more basic proprietary software where different applications don't ‘talk to each other’, growing numbers are seeing the benefits of fully integrated cloud-based systems.

Not only can this technology enable better cash flow management, reduce costs and provide greater understanding around the profitability of every contract, modern ERPs are designed to facilitate the hybrid working model - meaning that teams can effectively work from any geographical location.

Businesses that haven’t yet achieved digital maturity will struggle to meet customer’s growing expectations and there is the very real risk that some will get left behind as competitor’s digital transformation programmes go into overdrive.
Those that lag furthest behind may already be losing time and missing opportunities. Even if they currently enjoy long-standing relationships with their customers, customer expectations are changing rapidly - even smaller firms want smart devices that help them to increase efficiency and productivity.

Without increasing their own digital capabilities to match, dealers will simply drop out of the market.

Maturity Gate 1: The Primal operator

Although there are very few dealers who operate entirely without some form of software, there are many who continue to use spreadsheets, paper invoices, physical order forms and other manual processes.  

Time-consuming, error-prone and difficult to operate remotely, these businesses lack the insights needed to serve their customers well. The owner or sales staff often fall back on their own knowledge of the business and industry and while experience is undeniably valuable, the market has changed dramatically in recent years. Many may not be aware that their customers’ requirements have changed and the level of service they require.  

Without specialist technology, these dealers will miss out on sales and lose customers, as they are unable to compete on efficiency.

Maturity Gate 2: The toe-dipper

These dealers normally have basic electronic processes, including ERP software, in place. Often, they are reliant on several applications – but none of them talk to each other. Because of this, reporting and performance monitoring is a challenge, as staff don’t have access to all the data that they need at their fingertips.

As with the primal operator, even small improvements at this level can make a big difference. A system that can automate tasks and provide real-time insights from any device will save time and drive more effective decision-making, ensuring that business development opportunities aren’t missed as frequently.

Maturity Gate 3: Almost there

Although they’ve reached a higher level of digital maturity than many of their competitors, dealers at the ‘almost there’ stage are in danger of losing out to new entrants if they do nothing. In IBS World’s aforementioned report, conclusions are drawn that if ‘firms fail to incorporate technology to boost efficiency they may struggle to remain competitive.’

This group will usually have a second generation ERP in place, with more automation and integration than most. But the systems are still not fully connected, and they might not use all the features the software offers to make improvements.

Maturity Gate 4: The next gen operator

Full integration enables dealers to gain a complete, real-time overview of business performance, and drill deeper into the data, without logging into multiple applications.

They can rapidly understand the profitability of every contract and device – which means they can start to increase their margins. Accounting, reporting, contract management and equipment tracking can all be managed in one central system, with automated purchase order (PO) generation, invoicing and notifications when warranties and contracts are coming to their end.

Linking different departments seamlessly together means customers are never left waiting for a technician and dealers are paid on time. They can manage cash flow more effectively, plan more accurately and identify new potential revenue streams. Importantly, the next gen operator is also well-placed to diversify into new areas of the market by scaling up their current systems.

Equipping your staff, including technicians, with the right technology to work efficiently will not only improve cash flow, but also reduce pressure on your margins and facilitate more seamless ways of working. Read the full Roadmap To Maturity report, and to find out how ECI’s software can help your business, click here.

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