The Imaging Channel's Position and Optimism

The Imaging Channel's Position and Optimism

by ray stasieczko June 15, 2020

"Neither the Racer's starting position nor the Racer's optimism in winning guarantee a victory. It's the actions taken before and during the race, which leads to winning."

Too much Optimism Can Blur Visions.  

Recently I heard a leader in the Imaging Channel optimistically say, "The Imaging Channel is positioned perfectly to pivot to Managed IT Services" My response to anyone using the term "positioned perfectly" is this. The Racer had their position in the front row; some thought they were positioned to win. However, the professional Racer knew his position at the start of the race had nothing to do with his skills during the race. In other words, one's position is a defining starting point and has nothing to do with where one ends up or if they win.  

The Document Imaging Channel's unrealistic optimism to their perceived positioning for success in Managed IT Services is what I believe held many of them back in diversifying into or failing at the Managed IT Services deliverable.

It seems as the realities of their core print services deliverable's current circumstances were not sufficiently disturbing them enough to take diversification seriously, and they optimistically believed that when they needed to pivot, they could do so quickly.

Yes, there are some in the Imaging Channel who believes just being present or, in position, would provide them victory in delivering Managed IT Services. That thinking is as delusional as those who believe their customer relationships will last past their product's relevance. It is always through an out of alignment with market realities between customers and those who service them where industries become vulnerable to disruption.

The realities of delivering Managed IT Services seem to be out of reach for most of the Industry's optimistic actors. Unfortunately, after over a decade of good intentions, I would argue that no dealer or manufacture's direct operations are producing north of 20% of their print equipment and services revenues through a Managed IT Services deliverable.

The Industry believed that delivering IT Services would be easier if they could control the vision of its success so, when presented actions needed for success which could not be imbedded in the processess of the print deliverable they were dismissed as unrealistic. Instead of aligning their businesses to be IT services organizations capable of providing print services, they mistakenly remained Print services organizations that would attempt to deliver IT services. This mistake is costing the Industry's actors dearly.

The Managed Print Distraction

As I watched the Industry's dealers chase a fictitious diversification called Managed Print Services, I was concerned about the distraction over Managed IT Services. Managed Print Services was never a diversification; it was merely a reclassification of transactional to contractional revenue.

The thing which was common to both types of agreements was the revenue would continue declining. In other words, print equipment and its services would never grow within an account regardless of what one called, labeled, or classified its contractional component.  

The marketplace realities of the declines in Print Equipment and its services have been and will continue to be clearly defined in the numbers. Regardless of any optimism that those numbers will keep growing. This pandemic has brought an awareness to all involved with the print deliverable. More importantly, the Industry's end-users will now be presented with alternatives from new actors who also became aware.

The Numbers are Coming will the alarm bells finally be heard?  

Sometime in July, the Industry's manufactures will report earnings for the quarter ending in June. As we all remember, the previous quarter ending in March was a blood bath. It seems all signs would indicate that this coming quarter's end will be even worse. In reality, whatever the numbers, the cost cuts to achieve them are themselves redefining an industry's relevance.

"It's through the financial microscope where realities once blurred by too much optimism are clarified; it's through this clarity where visions must realign with realties."  

The quarterly results of an industry's key players are the barometer for that Industry. For the Document Imaging Channel, those key players are the equipment manufacturers and those mega dealers who represent them. Over the last decade, as print volumes continued to decline, many of the Industry's key players denied the merits of the decline, believing that growth through acquisition would outrun the market's reality.

If the Industry's dealers are ready to expand their relevance, they must admit to the reasons why the transition to IT services failed. The Industry must acquire the needed human capital to make the IT pivot. For too long, the channel has ignored the fact that delivering IT services is not about its positioning; it is not about its optimums. The Industry's leaders must admit providing Managed IT Services is about the actions they take, which will lead them to victory.

While the Imaging Channel aligns its optimism with its realities. They must also acknowledge, that it will be much easier for IT Services providers to delver print equipment than print providers to deliver IT services. The IT industry was waiting for the evolution of A4 equipment to align with the declines in printed output. This pandemic has brought awareness to what the IT industry was waiting for.

"Status Quo is the killer of all that will be invented."

Ray Stasieczko




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