"Those who Continue To Fool themselves will Remain Foolishly Confident In their Continued Relevance."
I have and continue to vocalize that human capital adjustments must be part of the Document Imaging Channel's prescription to keep in relevance. I am defining these human capital adjustments as the need for new blood, over merely changing the titles of those currently in charge. This article will highlight those thoughts.
Here's my thinking; if the current leaders were going where the customers were going, they would have already changed their titles on the way there. Leaders don't wait for directions; they create the directions others will follow. Changing the title to include the word digital won't cause digital disruption. Which frankly is already long over-due inside the Document Imaging Channel.
When this pandemic started, I said that the SMB print equipment customer would increase their digitalization speed by five years. This thinking was not of a crystal ball; most realistic businesspeople have also come to that conclusion. Over the last six months, we are all watching the world's businesses scurry towards digitalization.
For the first time, the Channel's end-users are asking tougher and new questions of themselves and their providers concerning the need for printed documents. The industry's fate resides in these new questions and those who provide relevant answers.
"As an industry's relevance faces challenges, its leaders have no choice other than to create the new relevance."
Clarification for my friends selling and servicing print equipment is this. Digitalization won't eliminate print; it will merely rapidly decrease the need for many of the A3 MFP equipment's applications. Some say, and I agree volumes will also reduce by at least 10-12 percent per year.
Those decreasing volume percentages and diminishing needs of equipment's applications will cause opportunities for outsiders to change the industry's business model; The how print equipment is delivered, supplied and serviced is extremely ripe for disruption to a massive percentage of the Document Imaging Channel's end-users. As the pandemic exposed, many businesses could function without going down the hallway and retrieving the sets of stapled documents for the weekly management meeting. Or printed reports to handoff from one person to another.
Today, most agree that the need to modify the decades-old deliverable of print equipment and its services is past due. However, some are not entirely in-line with the realities of what's needed to make those transitions successfully.
The Document Imaging Channel has been behind on many fronts. The Channel's obsession in saving its nostalgia and this pandemic was not the beginning of the industry's challenges. It does seem as many out-dated deliverables are now blaming the pandemic for their rapidly fading relevance. In the case of the Document Imaging Channel, its end-users have been leaving the Channel's preverbal stores for over a decade.
The obsessions for the manufacturers and the dealers who represent them to insist on every transaction being a contractual agreement forced many of their customers to seek alternatives—these alternatives aligned with the market's realities.
I predict that history will reveal that the Document Imaging Channel's obsession with controlling every printer, its services, and supplies in a managed print agreement within the SMB sector cost the Channel's dealers and those manufacturers with direct operations billions in revenues. As those end-users who wanted to buy without restraints went to alternative sources. The industry dealers and many manufacturers made and continue making the means of getting print equipment way too complicated.
In that complication, the SMB end-users flocked to Amazon, IT Service Vars, and the Office Product Reseller's Channel. These organizations welcomed the Document Imaging Channel's customers to their customer roles with more straightforward programs such as e-commerce platforms where one can click buy now. These alternative options provide a business model that is void the complications of the Document Imaging Channel's contractual leases and MPS models.
Even as data showed from all DCAs that there are 5-7 devices not under contract for every device under an agreement, the Channel refused to modify. Those non-contracted devices are A4, and the Imaging Channel's end-users are buying them, servicing them, and supplying them from outside the Channel's borders. These end-users will soon look for more advanced A4 MFPs as they will determine A3 and its complicated contracts are out of alignment with the new relevance the pandemic exposed.
Six Months in a Pandemic, What's changed? Hopefully, more than titles.
Today the Channel's leaders will not be able to pivot just because they got a new title. Unless these re-tilted leaders were already outspoken, determined, and already presenting arguments for changes before the pandemic. If not, the question to ask - is, why or how will they now?
The Channel needs to bring in the human capital, which understands the realities of today's buyers. The dysfunctions of the Document Imaging Channel's deliverable are clearly being exposed. A decade of some denials, and believing the comfort of current circumstances got in the way of bold action.
Still their are significant dysfunctions much of the industry continues ignoring. Even after six months as a global pandemic, brought a new awareness to both the Channel's end-users and all the actors who service and support them.
The Channel still struggles in selling with modern billing arrangements such as iDaaS meter-less billing or subscription-based billing. Subscription-Based billing is how nearly every other component of technology and its services is transacted.
The Channel is still ignoring data, data that has and continues to emphasize deep-rooted issues pertaining to the services model and its cost misalignments.
The Channel is still without digital engagement (E-Commerce) The in-ability for the Channel's end-users to purchase online is extremely contrary to the buyer's desires and marketplace realities.
The Channel is still discussing Managed Print Services for the SMB end-users like its 2000. This out-dated MPS talk track has misled the Channel's actors. After nearly two decades, does anyone believe the SMB customers want contracts to manage print?
What customers want is printed or copied pages when they need them. It is safe to say that most print end-users know that tomorrow they will print less than today. These end-users have long ago stopped in the policing of print.
The Channel's Dealers and Manufacturer's Direct operations are still over-spec'ing A3. Regardless of what data is telling them. The reason, many in the Channel saw no threat from outside competitors regarding the delivery of A3 equipment. What the Channel's Actors miscalculated was the outsiders had no intention of selling A3. After-all the end-users were moving towards A4, these outsiders knew that in time the A3 customers would increase in their movement to A4, and as they do they will welcome them through a much better delivery means.
The Channel has still not diversified Into Managed IT Services past 30% of its core print revenues. They continue focusing on products first and services as a function of the product. This product's first mindset is contrary to the Managed IT Services business model. Thereby explaining the lack of diversity.
The Channel is still attempting to close new and upgrade existing businesses by lowering out-put service costs as the out-put itself is declining. The reason they do this is to inflate the lease dollars dedicated to hardware. The business model of compensating sales on hardware revenue and profits has nearly destroyed the service profitability of the entire Document Imaging Channel Industry.
The Channel has still not ended the lunacy of prematurely renewing leases in desperation to increase declining revenues. As deliverable increases in its commoditization along with marketplace's competitiveness. The ability to sell, supply and service in the Channel's outdated model is playing havoc on its revenues and its profits. I fear post-pandemic. We will see some very questionable deals that were written in desperation to increase Dealer or Manufacturer's cash flows over any value to the actual end-users or real profitable value to either the dealer or manufacturer.
The Channel is still promoting the glories of production-print. However, they do not address how a 2% marketplace of production-print, which is extremely out of alignment with excessive supply versus demand, can honestly be a worthwhile endeavor. Many Dealers and Manufacturers are currently hiding the profitability of production-print. Either through unawareness or ignoring the awareness, however, as their massive customer bases of non-production print customers move from A3 to A4, Along with declining print volumes, all the misunderstanding or mismanagement of production print's losses will painfully surface.
Unfortunately, some of the Document Imaging Channel's actors are not in-line with the skills needed to respond to their quickly changing end-users as these end-users align their print equipment needs with today's reality. It's those competitive alternative platforms residing on the Channel's border, which will continue gaining momentum as the end-users' needs and the advancements of A4 move closer and closer together.
The time for providing the needed talent for transformation is now. That transformation won't come from business card promotions. Attempting to replace one's out-dated skills with new titles such as Digital Transformationist or other buzz words without executing the needed skills the titled describes will lead to defeat.
"During evolutionary events - on the job training will not align favorably with the speed of disruption the event is causing."
If those charged with leading digital transformation are ill-equipped, they must surround themselves with those equipped. Sadly, during times of unprecedented disruptions, egos can highjack good intentions. The Document Imaging Channel has been going through disruption for at least a decade. Many of its leaders remained silent or ill-equipped to navigate diversification and align to market realities. Pandemics don't create one's skills. However, they do expose the skills missing and the skills needed.
The Document Imaging Channel has an excellent opportunity for those willing to align with market realities regardless of its pain. Of course, those believing everything will continue as it was or are being fooled as temporally still does - have already lost.
The Document Imaging Channel's future will result from their actions so, as the digitalization continues to challenge yesterday's deliverables. The Channel's leaders must look to their borders and welcome those who already live where their past customers went, and more and more current customers will continue heading.
The arguments are not about print going away; the arguments are about the evolutionary improvements of A4 print equipment and the evolution of end-users' awareness. As those two things continue evolving, they will align and create a massive disruption to the circumstances of The Document Imaging Channel's out-dated Business Model.
"Status quo is the killer of all that will be invented."
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CEO/Founder TEASRA, The Innovation Channel, and Host of The End of The Day With Ray! https://www.endofthedaywithray.com/