I thought it would be a good time to repost this article. Over the last year, we have all witnessed many changes. and hear of many to come. The saving of Sharp by Foxconn, the conclusions of both H.P. and Xerox separating their print businesses from their services business. The impending crisis at Toshiba, the desperation at Ricoh as they attempt to shut off the gaping wounds of profit losses. Seven months to years end lot's can happen. I originally posted this article in March of 2016
I spent the last 25 years in the copy/printer industry, an industry which has seen many dynamic changes. The changes and innovation we are witnessing today will truly disrupt this industry. In the past, innovation helped us sell more. Today that is no longer the case. It does not matter what industry you’re in; when your market is determined to seek a better way, and when that way is without your product or services, your future will be determined by how you respond.
These are my thoughts on an industry going through disruption.
When the whole world wants to print less, why is it that the print equipment manufacturers and some of its dealers continue to look for the return of the past glory days? And why do they continue going to the trade shows where the past is glorified and they listen to the spin from those trying to keep old ways relevant? Remember when the slogan “Print on Demand” was a way to control print workflow? Remember when Managed Print Services was the next big thing to control out of sight printing costs? Remember when refurbished print cartridges were a solution to overpriced OEM products? Remember when copier manufacturers believed that replacing printer inventories with their brand was the key to a successful Managed Print engagement? As we look back at the print/copy industry’s recent past, one thing has been unquestionably clear: customers want to print less. They want solutions that move them forward. Customers have shifted their thinking from “show me how to print cheaper” to “help me understand how not to print at all.” This evolution is undeniable. The marketplace has reached a point of innovation acceptance, and customers expect real alternatives to not simply reduce, but completely eliminate the collection of paper.
Innovative revolutions are always ignored by organizations or manufacturers who believe that their past successes can carry them to the future. They believe that additional benefits or features can save their product lines or service platforms from obsolescence. They believe their growth – if they actually have growth – is a result of market demand. In our industry, I submit their measured revenue growth is largely a result of acquisition(s) or taking the scraps from those who exited the space or completely changed their deliverable.
The future will determine the outcome of all innovation.
“Obsolescence is when you focus on bringing the past to the future instead of bringing the future to the present.”
Those who subscribe to this will miss out on great opportunities. They will fool themselves into believing they can outsmart the market. They will surround themselves with those who think and believe as they do. These organizations find temporary comfort if they are leading the pack in either revenue or market share. Instead, they should be focusing on leading innovation; pioneering what is new. As we can imagine, the last one delivering products and services as they become obsolete is usually the biggest or strongest. The problem is that being big and strong won’t save you from obsolescence.
A marketplace is the result of what people want and how they value what they need. Innovation is responding to a market in search of a better way. Organizations can and should be proud of what they built. However, the size of their customer base is not their greatest asset in times of market shifts. Organizations who believe they can be proficient in the new way while remaining on the path of their old ways will find themselves blindsided by the disrupters.
The print and copy industry is definitely at a turning point. The future has largely been determined, and those who call the industry home must embrace change or simply collect on the remaining clicks. One thing is certain, the market has shifted.
A determined, innovative leadership team with clear and focused mindset and the ability to obtain a collective buy-in can transform any organization. Without this mindset, organizations are doomed to the status quo. When your products and services are going through a market shift, this must be matched with a shift in the leadership’s mindset. They absolutely go hand-in-hand.
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