Designed to take office productivity to a whole new level, Sharp’s Cloud Portal Office creates new opportunities for channel partners to secure a new revenue stream by adding further value to Sharp MFPs.
With this document sharing and collaboration solution, Sharp is meeting the demands of Generation Cloud, empowering its partners to capture a larger chunk of a growing market. Industry analysts IDC said that half of all businesses are already using cloud services in some form or other today and that this figure is predicted to rise to more than 90% in the next three years.
A Gartner study of large businesses found that despite the fact that the explosive growth in the number of mobile devices used by employees is driving demand for easy remote access, only a small proportion had moved towards cloud email or office systems.
These findings, coupled with the results of research conducted by Sharp last year, which identified the emergence of a new generation of worker that’s moving towards a more flexible, collaborative working model and an increasingly tangible demand for more collaborative, flexible working practices, reinforce the point that by delivering cloudbased solutions, channel partners have the potential to grow their businesses.
Giving back control
Solutions Product Marketing Manager Chris Hale said: “With Cloud Portal Office, resellers have a powerful message to convey to customers.
“An issue with a number of cloud storage solutions on the market today is that the business doesn’t have full control over the information that’s stored and accessed. Say for example a member of staff wanted to share a file, they could simply open up a Dropbox or similar account, but what that means is that information is removed from the business and outside of its control. Worst case scenario, if that employee moves on, then potentially the data moves with them and is no longer accessible to or controlled by the business.”
Hale said that Cloud Portal Office removes this threat. The service is accessed through a single sign-on portal, the Sharp Cloud Portal, which is securely controlled by the IT department. As employees leave or take on different roles, administrators can use the Sharp Cloud Portal to change access permissions, cancel/add subscriptions or increase storage space at a moment’s notice – all through a secure web page.
The business case
The Sharp survey, which polled SME employees in UK, France, Germany, Sweden and The Netherlands, identifies a clear opportunity gap between what Generation Cloud workers are demanding in the workplace and what is actually being provided by SMEs across Europe.
Half of respondents believe that increased collaboration in the workplace would have a direct impact on their business’ bottom line by making it more profitable. However, the reality of service provision within the SME sector is far from the demands of Generation Cloud workers. The results demonstrate that by not fully embracing new ways of flexible and collaborative working, SMEs are failing to realise the business benefits it can bring:
- 61% of respondents claim it would make them more efficient;
- 43% do not have ways to easily share documents and collaborate with people outside the corporate network;
- 39% of employees say their company has no official policy on sharing work information beyond the work network;
- 67% of employees still typically share information as paper print-outs;
- 13% of employees download collaborative working tools if their company doesn’t provide them.
Securing new revenues
Sharp Cloud Portal Office is an advanced file storage and collaboration tool designed to make businesses more efficient and to support an increasingly mobile workforce by making it easier to share information.
Hale said: “In a nutshell, Cloud Portal Office simply allows businesses to collaborate better. It allows users to securely access, upload, download, manage and print files; create new folders; collaborate; and share – from any PC, mobile device, Sharp MFP or Sharp BIG PAD interactive whiteboard.”
An overall decline in output volumes and click charges has led to reduced revenues for dealers, but with Cloud Portal Office, Sharp is offering its partners the opportunity to secure potential new revenue streams.
“Cloud Portal Office not only supports end-users in better collaboration, but also adds real business value to Sharp’s resellers who have seen an overall decline in print volumes and cost per copy rates. Cloud Portal Office provides an opportunity for partners to engage in new conversations with existing clients and new prospects to secure additional revenues,” Hale said.
“There are a host of cloud-based services on the market today,” he explained. “But Sharp Cloud Portal Office is unique. Some MFP manufacturers provide the connection into Cloud solutions, but no storage space or functionality; while storage providers don’t provide the necessary integration with MFPs, which are essentially the on/off ramp for document workflow.
“In contrast, Sharp is offering a full service – which includes both storage and integration with office products – in a single sign-on service. For those partners who already provide document management and workflow solutions, Sharp’s Cloud Portal Office will help ensure they remain a valued business partner to clients.”
Hale added: “In today’s market, dealers are not competing on price, the differentiator is all about the value-add and the service delivery. Offering Cloud Portal Office will help with client retention and help ensure your customers keep coming back.”
Sharp’s BIG PAD interactive whiteboard connects to Cloud Portal Office just as effectively as its MFPs. With BIG PAD, users can display presentations and other documents in a format that’s big enough for everyone in the room to see. It’s easy to use – users simply select the file, drag it to the whiteboard and open it up.
Via the BIG PAD’s touchscreen technology, users can capture everyone’s ideas by adding notes and comments in freehand before saving it all in a new document and securely storing it in the cloud.
Meeting notes can be created and shared in an instant – even with colleagues in a different country – and anything that’s onscreen can be preserved as a PDF.
“The service is based on a per-user subscription model, rather than an MFP subscription model and will provide a regular income stream for dealers. Plus, the pricing structure fits with dealers’ current model whereby they invoice click charges on a monthly/quarterly basis,” said Hale.
It also removes the requirement for significant capital outlay or investment in dedicated IT staff to manage it. “The investment required to set-up and manage a facility to access documents anytime, anywhere would be significant both in terms of equipment and people,” explained Hale. “But with Cloud Portal Office the only outlay is the cost of the subscription. Which can be scaled up or down as the business requires.”
“Cloud Portal Office adds a whole new dimension to mobile working,” said Hale.
“It also offers flexibility in that users can print from any Sharp cloud-ready MFP, wherever they are.
“Anyone who has subscribed can use an Android or Apple iOS device to work on the move. What’s more, a uniform design across every mobile platform means that everyone has the same experience regardless of which mobile device they’re using.”
All data is protected by access controls, powerful firewalls, state-of-the-art encryption technology and redundant fail-over systems. That means information is always safe, always secure and always available.
As all modern Sharp products are already equipped for use with Cloud Portal Office, opening the service to new users (including existing customers with cloud-capable Sharp MPFs already installed) is simply a matter of granting them monthly subscriptions.