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Service appeal

Apogee Corporation is making an additional six-figure investment in training as part of its expansion plans. James Goulding reports

At the beginning of May, Apogee Corporation, an HP Company since 2018, announced that it was investing an additional £250,000 in employee training as it continues to accelerate its transformation from a managed print services provider into a managed workplace services provider.

The investment in role-specific coaching, mentoring and the Apogee Learning Academy eLearning platform is part of a company-wide drive to support employees at every stage of their career at Apogee. With a particular focus on upskilling in IT and compliance, it will also strengthen Apogee’s in-house capabilities as it expands its service offering to include managed IT
services, as well as managed print and document services.

Apogee was starting down this road when the pandemic struck, and the long-lasting changes to technology infrastructure and working practices that have followed have only reinforced CEO Aurelio Maruggi’s conviction that the company’s future lies in diversification and more strategic relationships with its 11,000-plus customers, many of which, like Apogee, are embarking on digital transformation projects of their own.

Apogee – Corporate

“At the onset of the COVID pandemic, we realised that work wasn’t going to be the same and that there was an opportunity for us to continue to provide clients with what I like to describe as the single most important product that Apogee delivers, which is peace of mind. We realised there was an opportunity to provide peace of mind beyond print – to understand the customer’s environment; to understand the journey they are on, be it towards digital transformation or more automation; to provide a range of possible solutions that the client can rely on to drive that digital transformation; and, even more importantly, to support those solutions with hardware or software that we are able to put together, configure, deliver to the client and support throughout its lifecycle,” he said.

In addressing these concerns, Apogee has continued to expand its offering beyond managed print, introducing a range of additional services that in some cases were developed to help customers overcome specific challenges associated with lockdowns and remote working, as Maruggi explains.

“We currently have three categories of service. One is managed print services. The second is what we call Outsourced Document Services, where we produce medium to high volume print on behalf of customers at our two production centres, one in the City and one close to Manchester, supported by our own delivery services.

“In March to May 2020, to meet customer demand, we added scanning services to our Outsourced Document Services. During the pandemic a lot of clients redirected their physical mail to our production centres, where we open the envelope, check the contents and scan documents to a cloud-based repository or to an employee for processing.

“We also have a hybrid mail service, which was particularly valuable during Covid and still is for hybrid workers. Hybrid mail gives every worker the equivalent of a printer driver on their desktop or laptop that enables them to send a document to one of our production centres for printing, along with the address and type of postage required. There, it is professionally printed, put in an envelope, franked and delivered to the addressee, saving a lot of time and inconvenience for hybrid workers who no longer have access to a franking machine.

Apogee – Corporate

“Our document services business has been experiencing double-digit growth and we expect it to continue to grow steadily. A lot of medium to large companies in our customer base still have internal reprographic centres where they do high volume production printing and more and more of them are keen to outsource that work and redeploy the resources and investment from their reprographic centre to IT or other parts of the organisation.

“The third area is what we call Managed IT Services. This covers a very broad spectrum of technologies and services and the approach we are taking is not to boil the ocean all at once but to identify areas of IT that have closer adjacencies to the services that we already provide in managed print.

“So, at the beginning of last year, we started providing device-specific services. In the case of desktops or laptops, for example, we would identify the right device for the client’s needs; configure it, or image it as it is called in the PC world; deliver it to the right location after the device has been properly tagged; provide remote monitoring and remote support throughout the device’s lifecycle; provide break and fix services if needed; and, last but not least, provide end of life disposal. We include everything from defining the right device to managing its end of life all in a single contract similar to what we do in managed print services.

“This is our starting point in managed IT services, but this year and going forward we will be launching additional services in the areas of security, cloud services and eventually networking services,” he said.

Lower print volumes

Although Apogee is still in the very early stages of its transformation – print still accounts for more than 90% of revenues – its Outsourced Document Services and Managed IT Services have already proved to be valuable additions to its offering, especially during lockdown when office closures severely disrupted the company’s established managed print services business.

“In the darkest days of Covid, overall print volumes of our installed base were 50% to 60% lower than pre-Covid levels, and even now, we are experiencing anywhere between a 25% and 30% reduction in the pre-Covid print volume,” explained Maruggi.

“Volumes have dropped significantly because with hybrid working more employees are choosing to spend Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the office, with Mondays and Fridays devoted to flexible or remote working. In addition, digital transformation and more automation have transformed certain processes from a reliance on printed paper to become more digital.

Longer term we expect there to be a 15% to 20% reduction to pre-Covid print volumes. That is not a massive reduction, but it is a material reduction.”

That said, Maruggi does not expect Apogee’s managed print services revenue to decline, but rather to be flat, as the company competes for and wins new contracts and identifies new opportunities in print.

“There will be some decline in the print volume and the print fleets of existing accounts, but this will be offset by areas of growth for us, primarily in the public sector. Apogee historically has been under-represented in central and local government but over the last two years we have secured positions on virtually every large public sector framework, giving us an opportunity to grow with public sector entities in a significant way. And there are still growth opportunities in the enterprise space. The majority of these cases go to tender and every time there is a tender process we have an opportunity to present ourselves and to present the new capabilities that we have built within Apogee.

“In the SME space, what we call commercial, most growth will come through acquisition. We did an acquisition at the beginning of last year and we may look to make a few acquisitions down the road in order to expand our SMB client base. Organic growth is mostly coming from mid-to- large corporations and public sector, where our primary competition is from vendors’ direct sales, not other resellers.”

Core strengths

While Maruggi has confidence in the resilience of Apogee’s core business,
he expects managed IT services to be the company’s main engine of growth in the future, thanks in no small part to the strengths the company has developed over its 25 years as a provider of managed print services.

“Our company has only two assets: customers and employees. We have in excess of 11,000 clients that we serve every single day with managed print. That is the biggest strength we have, the relationships with those clients and the trust we can build in understanding their customer environment, understanding their journey and helping them through their transformation.

Apogee – Corporate

“The second asset is the people associated with the infrastructure we have put in place. Every single day we serve in excess of 150,000 devices distributed across the UK, Ireland and Germany, where we have a small presence. We have a very well distributed workforce that’s able to reach out to any client in a matter of hours and provide what they require – in the past on their printing devices and in the future on any IT device; it could be their desktop, their laptop, their conferencing solution, their servers and so on. That is a significant asset.

“Our network, backed up by support from our call centre to our distribution centre, which configures and moves literally thousands of products every quarter, means we are able to deliver a solution to a client, wherever that client is and however many offices they have. And in the hybrid world the number
of offices is growing in a more than exponential way because the client
can say ‘I want 1,000 PCs and I want 100 delivered to my office and the remaining 900 to be delivered to my employees at their home addresses’.”

On this basis, Maruggi says he is positive and confident about Apogee’s ongoing business transformation and the opportunities it presents.

“The kind of transformation that we are seeing around us in workplaces is a great opportunity, almost a once in a lifetime opportunity. Where there is transformation, there are problems and risks and people wanting peace of mind. We want to be a trusted partner to our clients so that however big
or small the problem they face, we understand it, come up with the right solution and then stand behind that solution. That is our commitment to our clients,” he said.

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