My doctor had a choice I am glad he wrote the needed prescriptions. I guess if he didn't know what to prescribe, he might have instead written my obituary.
Spending over 30 years in the Imaging Channel, there have been many opportunities to read the industry's obituary. Of course, those in the industry have all cashed lots of checks past the date of the obituary.
In reality, an obituary is so unbelievable for the living that they don't accept it, and thankfully, they don't.
Or as Mark Twain once said, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."
I recently had my annual physical; first, I must admit that my annual physical was a half-decade overdue. So, based on this tardiest, my doctor held nothing back. The poking and prodding were intense, the scans, the treadmill, and the blood work all gave the evidence that I might live to be 90—much different outcome than both me and my doctor thought as I participated in the dissecting of my body.
But, what a relief for a guy turning 60.
Businesses are like people they need check-ups, they need great doctors, they need quality data. They need an occasional prescription to correct what threatens its ability to sustain its life, and yes, sometimes it needs open-heart surgery, or even worse, it needs chemo to kill what intends to kill it.
However, a business or a person should never accept their death while still living. Besides, a company, unlike a person, can survive centuries. Of, course businesses to survive for centuries must have the ability to continuously modify over gambling on the results of a forced change. Both a person and a company must have control over their health.
Today's businesses must replace the old waiting game Change Management, a reaction-based process with that of the constant preventive processes of Modification Management.
Change Management is surgery after the heart attack, a reaction to the stubbornness of the status quo. Modification Management is eating the right foods, exercising, doing what is prescribed for improvement, and doing everything possible to prevent the heart attack from ever happening it's a continuous process for improvement.
My friends' the questions the doctor asked me are the same questions I ask the Imaging Channel's actors. Here are those questions.
From my doctor - Are you ready to finally quit smoking? (For the industry - are you prepared to quit business practices not conducive to market realities? From my doctor - Are you ready to stop ignoring data? (For the industry, no translation needed here) From-my doctor - Are you prepared to take the prescriptions that have worked for others? (For the industry- Are you ready to adopt what is working for others over procrasting your improvement?) From my doctor - Are you willing to accept the dialogue of tough conversations? (For the industry- Are you ready to listen to the hard conversation over the obsession to only engage with those who tell you what you want to hear?) From my doctor - Are you ready to continually modify behaviors, thereby avoiding a forced change for your survival? (For the Industry - Are you ready to stop chasing buy-in and build teams that instead bought into an organization determined to stay relevant?)
The Document Imaging Channel, is facing a critical challenge to its life. The industry is in the ICU; however, the industry is not dead, the industry needs the best doctors, needs the best nurses, requires the very best pharmaceuticals available. The industry needs to replace its hope for survival with its actions to survive.
This virus has sped up the disease caused by the channel ignoring past prescriptions. Unfortunately, the industry needs severe surgery; it will need potent drugs, which will cause illness. But, if the Document Imaging Channel's actors will do these things, they will come out of this terrible crisis. No one can tell entrepreneurs they are dead; only the entrepreneur can decide what to give up and what to add to survive.
I think it's important to remind my industry friends as my doctor reminded me of the advice I ignored. I don't like I told you so's, however, I will fight as I have for at least a decade to ensure my message is presented. My vision and goals remain today as they always have. To help reinvent an industry.
Over the last decade, I have warned and prescribed many things. Today in this article; I will re-share some of those prescriptions and the warnings meant to prepare an industry for massive disruptive changes.
Here are those arguments and past prescriptions
Argued for Diversification in products - Managed IT Services I did not just say do it, I explained how to do it. Based on experience in actually doing IT. Instead, of delivering or training to deliver IT services. Many in the industry tried to incorporate Seat Based Billing an IT Services billing model based on numerous compute and software components as a model to bill copiers and printers. Billing Copiers and Printers on their own through the Seat Based Billing Model was never a reality to the marketplace. Those dealers already delivering Managed IT Services however, could easily add copy and print equipment to their already existing Seat Based Billing Model.
Argued that Attempting to Jam 21st century Business Needs into 20th Century business Processes would be fatal.
Argued That IT Services Must Be a Stand-Alone Profitable Business outside the Core print business. Too many dealers and even some manufactures were and continue paying the operating cost for their IT deliverable from the copy/print business profits. It is only through scrutiny and fiscal responsibility that actual performance can be measured and improved. Those hiding losses will one day find themselves under immense pressure. We can now all admit that that one day is today.
Argued for Diversification in Human Capital needs. My argument was as old-mindset were struggling in delivering new concepts. Seen clearly in the industry's attempts to deliver innovation through outdated business models.
I argued for Diversification in Acquisition Strategies- I suggested alternative verticals such as financial CPA firms, security firms, Office Product dealers, and IT services organizations. Today we are witnessing are friends in the IT Services industry buying CPA and financial organizations one almost monthly.
Argued that Manufactures would not excel in buying dealer distribution without severe cuts and modifications to sales, and service delivery costs. I screamed louder, as we all witnessed Ricoh mostly evacuate their direct model.
Argued against Buying Other Copier Dealers without a clear strategy and ability to diversify the deliverable. Today we see the severe pain in the roll-ups as they struggle through the weight of advancing volume declines eroding the value of their copier/print business model. The dreams of 10X Earnings have been awakened prematurely by a pandemic's nightmare.
Argued for dealers to Pay Attention To The Alarming Data screaming for recognition a few years before this terrible virus exposed what ignored data can cause.
Argued The Insanity of The False Hopes of Production Print. As manufacturers continued bringing to market production print equipment. I warned what data was screaming. Success in Production Print was overrated and mostly un-had.
In 2018 I published in ENX magazine an article outlining the absolute underutilization of Production equipment and how this underutilization was killing the profitability of the deliverable. This article was based on data from NEXERA, (BEI Services) the world's largest database of print equipment and its services. I highlighted in detail nearly six thousand production devices.
The Production Print business model is only profitable and worthy of engaging by dealers with the right business maturity. Dealers with processess designed for production print applications. Unfortunately, as manufacturers increased their hyped rhetoric dealers drove production print to insanely low margins by delivering through immature business models. I prescribed numerous times for dealers ill equipped in delivering production equipment to leave that equipment on their manufacturer's docks.
Argued Overstaffing in Service Departs was hindering excellent service. The need to have the right training, the right parts on hand, and first call effectiveness above 50%. Excellent service was being held hostage by outdated approaches or false accountability to in-accurate data.
Argued for E-Commerce, dealers and manufacturers need to implement alongside their legacy business model an e-commerce model and open their minds to the possibilities of delivering and servicing print equipment in ways outside their legacy model.
Argued for dealers to Stop Learning What They already knew. Filling chairs in schools to learn what never worked, I have and continue to debate the merits of foolishly Chasing MPS in the SMB space as the industry's only means to deliver print equipment, supplies, and services.
The industry took an enterprise deliverable and foolishly jammed into an SMB business model. Instead of applying MPS as an Option, they demanded MPS as the only option. Unfortunately, now during this pandemic and the Work From Home Movement. We see these same tactics regarding WFH printer needs. I can't scream about that nuttiness enough.
The thought that their are consultants discussing Managed Print Services in Houses is insanity.
This approach is again jamming the 20th-century business process into 21st-century market realities.
After 20 years of trying MPS in the SMB, it has not succeeded in getting the industry's dealers or manufacturers ' direct operations all their customer's print business. This misguided quest was presented as the industry's only mode of delivery. Based on that stubbornness, The document Imaging Channel has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in printers and supplies to those with transactional business models outside the industry's borders.
Those ignored customers looking for MPS alternatives found alternative sellers through both e-commerce and even face to face sales approaches. As we see today, after 20 years, with the best salespeople in the world, tens of millions spent on MPS redundant training; and still there are 5-7 devices off-contract, many being bought, and supplied from others for every one device on an MPS Contract.
Was one of a few in pioneering billing for service without collecting meters; Of course, I was using real data. Along with the reality, OEMs as HP were already billing compute equipment as a DaaS model along with their printer/ink subscription-based model.
In the last year and a half we all saw, Konica and some Mega dealers also began delivering with a no meter concept. Thankful, very few are arguing against no-meter billing—however, the industry as a whole continues to procrastinate its implementation. I plead to the dealers, don't allow outsiders to capitalize on this subscription model ahead of you.
The A4 Revolution! This one is my harshest warning which in itself will reinvent the industry with or without its permission.
In a speech at The Boston Lexmark Roadshow in 2018 i proudly announced. The start of The A4 Revolution. This revolution was a strong warning for an industry built on processes to sell A3. Some saw the A4 Revolution as a war against the capabilities of one machine over the other.
As some still refuse to accept the A4 Revolution's real threat, which is about the impacts A4 represents to the industry's dealers business models as end-users replace hundreds of millions of A3 devices with those of A4. The industry, for the most part, understands these impacts. However, many still fight against the A4 Momentum; mostly, those fights are backed by unprepared manufacturers. Who ignored the realities of a changing marketplace. A marketplace that started drastically changing nearly a decade ago.
The evolution of the A4 equipment with its less parts, less on-site service needs, less cost of hardware. All aligning with rapid declines in print needs is proving detrimental to the 1990 business model. A model built for growing print applications within the businesses they served. Folks years ago what we call upgrades today were actually upgrades.
I have never preached the Stupidity of a Paperless World. I continue to warn that those ridiculous arguments are a distraction to the real threat, which is the evaporation of service and supply annuities, along with declining hardware revenues causing severe stress to the current business model.
I guess, In reality, we all know those who preach the paperless argument have no imagination to help improve a business model. It seems more comfortable for those folks to write obituaries.
My friends, I never claimed to have all the answers I do, however, claim - in this article and over 200 others, along with my 325 Videos and End of The Day With Ray! series, all of my conversations, whether one to one or speeches to audiences worldwide, my attempts were and still are to help an industry reinvent and continuously modify its behaviors to prevent the need for its obituary. Yes, somethings will perish, and new things will blossom. Products can change, or become less valuable. However, people have to choose whether they become less valuable.
From collaborative imaginations, looking where others do not and welcoming those with alternative views is where inspiration is found. Our industry must quickly get comfortable doing all the uncomfortable things many of its leaders have long knew needing doing.
I admit many times the conversations describing the industry's disease were brutal, and for some un-welcomed. However, in my quest to help improve and reinvent an industry, I do not care about making people happy, or running a hospice for the industry. There are already too many selfishly doing that regardless of what that happiness is hiding and preventing. My only care is helping people kill the cancer of the status quo.
The Document Imaging Channel must now decide whether they go into a hospice or kick themselves in the ass, rip up their obituary, and write up their new creed to reinvent their relevance.
"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/