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Print Security. An Opportunity for the Channel? (Part 2)

By Steven Swift, co-founder & consultant at IDeAs

1st part available here.

Nevertheless, for this to be an opportunity for the Channel, customers have to be convinced of the threat, and ready to invest in countering it. Evidence we have so far from channel partners we have spoken to is that this remains a big challenge, particularly with SMBs, although larger corporate and public sector customers are beginning to take more notice, especially where compliance is an issue.

So what needs to happen for customers to start taking security more seriously across the board, including printers and other peripherals? There are already examples of organisations being compromised by attackers gaining access to their networks through weak points, such as printers, but do we have to wait perhaps until such an attack makes headline news, before SMBs sit up and take notice?

Let us hope not. There is perhaps another way to address this, to give customers the protection they need, and to generate a new revenue stream for print channel partners.

An interesting finding from a recent user survey published by Brother UK was that among customers of all sizes, the convergence of Print and IT is seen as one of the key emerging technology trends. Recognising this, we have been working with print channel partners to help them extend into IT Managed Services.

If a channel partner manages his customers’ networks and workstations, for example with a leading Remote Monitoring & Management platform, such as SolarWinds MSP, then security is a key part of the service he is delivering.

At that point, it becomes much easier to have the conversation with the customer about the need to ensure security covers not only workstations and servers, but also network peripherals, including printers.

As with any new service, a key first step has to be gaining an understanding of the current state and user needs, as the start point for making recommendations on new solutions. We have recently started to see more corporate customers requesting quite in-depth print security audits, as an integral part of developing an MPS proposal. HP too is encouraging channel partners to offer print security audits as part of a comprehensive security service for printers.

Our point is that this will be much easier to explain and sell to customers, especially SMBs, if it forms part of a combined IT and Print Managed Service. HP has an advantage over other print OEMs on security, as a leader in personal systems as well as printers. This allows it to share insights, investments and technologies across both sets of devices, and of course gives it greater credibility as an established IT industry leader.

From HP’s point of view, the security angle can also be an important factor in achieving its target of growing share in the A3 channel, and maybe also getting some A3 channel partners to start selling its personal systems, as well as printers.

However, as HP themselves acknowledge, security is a much bigger issue than this, and one which requires a consistent approach from all OEMs, with common industry standards.

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This article was written on 31 Oct 2019, and is filled under Non classé.