I was reading from a sheet of paper the other day, and I did something that made me think it's been a while since I held a sheet a paper. Yes, my friends, I tried to blow up the writing with my fingers and actually attempted it twice. Please tell me I am not the only one who has done this?
What if the pandemic happened a decade before Blockbuster filed bankruptcy?
The subscription service exploded in popularity, and Netflix executives flew down to Texas in 2000 to make an offer to Blockbuster CEO John Antioco. For $50 million, Netflix would join forces with Blockbuster and help it launch its own online and DVD-by-mail service [source: Graser]. Antioco laughed Netflix out of the office, seeing it as a niche player.
Who's laughing now? As of April 2020, Netflix is valued at $194 billion, according to Forbes. And Blockbuster — which filed for bankruptcy in 2010 — closed its last retail stores and canceled its copycat DVD-by-mail service in 2013 [source: Mauk].
Let's now imagine that in the fall of 2000, a global pandemic shuts down the global economy. As Mr. Antioco witnesses his stores empty with all the lights off, does he pick up his rotary phone call Netflix and say, maybe we should talk? Would a pandemic lesson have saved Blockbuster? Well, there was no global shutdown, and in 2010 Blockbuster filed bankruptcy.
Well, today's pandemic was wake up call to the Document Imaging Channel's leaders. My question is this, who will its leaders call back? Yes, I purposely said call back. Because like Blockbuster, the Document Imaging Channel has had its Netflix moments presented many times over this last decade.
Many in the industry saw technology equipment or any services that eliminated print or caused a constriction to their core print deliverable as problematic. Like Blockbuster's leaders, the Document Imaging Channel's leaders held steady on only what they were comfortable with, like the Blockbuster leaders the Document Imaging Channel leaders think they control the best means to their customer's desired outcomes. Sadly, without a severe readjustments in the mindsets of the Document Imaging Channel's leaders - like the leaders of Blockbuster, they will perish.
I think about the dealers over the last decade, meeting with consultants to learn the IT Services Deliverable. Some believed what a great idea, but never put their passion behind the opportunity they saw. Some were probably as arrogant as Blockbusters Mr. Antioco saw no need to diversify into anything they thought would threaten their core deliverable.
The Document Imaging Channel Now has a great opportunity one Blockbuster did not have. A chance to learn from its firsthand witness of its future declines and relevance and very few industry's get that opportunity. This global pandemic has opened the door to the future workplace, and all the channel's actors were forced inside.
The pandemic will in-fact, end, and life will go on. However, the industry must ask this question, how long till the future experiences the industry's actors and their end-users witnessed become the new normal?
For the first time in the industry's history, the pandemic showed the industry what a 40% decline looks like, and, in some cases, even more, significant reductions were experienced. Yes, the decline was impactful, it was real, it affected the industry's financial stability, and it showed all the industry's leaders just how vulnerable the B2B print deliverable is.
This trip to the future the industry took must not go to waste.
The pandemic allowed an industry to witness how existing technologies are helping to eliminate the need for business printed documents.
No one in the industry believes that business printing will grow; the only questions are. Who will leave the industry as it consolidates? Who will modify and diversify to remain relevant? How long past 2020 until the industry again sees a 40% decrease in printed volumes from the pre-virus levels?
I say, why wait, the diversification must start now. Pick up your phone and call back those who attempted to help you. Unlike Blockbuster, you have a second chance. Don't be Blockbuster.
However, please don't believe that production print is a diversification. It's a small market. Look past the emotional noise and look at the data. You will realize Production Print is as invaluable to saving a print dealers outdated business model as popcorn machines were to saving Blockbuster's Stores.
"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/