R.J. Stasieczko

Imaging Channel!! Here’s Why I am Excited to be part of the BEI Services Inc. Team

BEI Services has been providing service process improvement metrics for decades. BEI’s experience and the vast amounts of data collected from thousands of service professionals and millions of print devices have positioned itself to offer all the information our partners need to run exceptional service organizations. The hundreds of our current customers have saved millions of dollars. Each day BEI continues providing the intellectual tools for service improvement. With today’s advances in technology, we are excited about the future of not only continuously improving our world-class platform but helping our valued partners improve in delivering to both their internal and external customer’s a better experience.

Today there must be even more understanding of service cost as new and different approaches to market become mainstream. Sales strategies like Device Billing or Seat Based Billing will only work profitability if you truly understand your cost. BEI Services is by-far the best in the industry for understanding service cost.

Over the next months, we will be adding more features and benefits to ensure that our partners can continue capitalizing on this most critical component of their deliverable. Everyone in the Imaging Channel understands the importance of the service annuity, the lifeblood which pumps through the heart of our industry. The BEI Services Team is dedicated to the commitment of continuous improvement. We understand that Analytics Equals knowledge which Equals Best in Class. It’s in this group of best in class that our partners find the best possible outcome for profits.

The protection of your businesses profit is more important than ever in a fast-changing deliverables future. Most already know, or should be aware, the future of document output is changing. The equipment, the supplies, the ways of service, the modes of delivery, and yes even the ways of selling print equipment is changing. Remember it doesn’t all have to end to disrupt one’s current circumstances it just must change enough to make the old way painful both for you and your customer. The future of all the components of the print equipment deliverables is threatened. Don’t get emotionally attached to the excited cries of paperless. I will scream again it’s not a paperless argument it’s a change in the components of the deliverable which should motivate all dealers to take seriously the need to explore improvement continuously.

“If we don’t seek out and understand how we can be defeated we are at the mercy of those who plan and execute our defeat.” 

Imaging Channel Resellers must capitalize on their current circumstances. It’s from the fuel, or (PROFIT) of the existing deliverable which will feed the engine of change. However, if you want too long, the fuel truck will be empty. Many industries are seeing shifts and fearing the unknown competitor who sits outside the window of their current circumstances, waiting for technology advances, advances which will eliminate or de-value their current end-users desired outcome. In other words, your end-users find a better way and then desire something different which might include you if you’re not ready. BEI Services has the tools and the expertise to help our partners uncover and capitalize on the benefits of performing as a Best in Class company.

Let’s explore where to find surpluses of cash just waiting to be used for your innovation. It’s safe to say most business owners convince themselves they are 100% focused on protecting their business, they understand the absolute necessity of that. At BEI, we live to help control the operating cost our partner's service and support centers.

Here are some examples of business processes BEI helps maintain within the Imaging Channel.

Territory management, BEI Services has the world’s best in class system for territory management. Our territory management software has reduced millions of callbacks, and this has increased the end-user customer satisfaction. A dealers Customer experience has quickly become much more important than more relationship based as in the past. Customers waiting for parts, or continuously having to call back are not an acceptable experience.    

Ensuring parts and toner inventory turns at least ten times a year. Some dealers had not reevaluated levels and still stock like 1980 when it took four weeks to get something the world has changed it got a lot faster. No dealer in the industry should have 9 or 10 months of stock sitting in their warehouse, no dealer in the industry should have parts or supplies which have not been used in 18 months. Dealers should not be writing off more than 1% of inventories. BEI’s software highlights behaviors which are inconstant to best practices causing profit loss. These alerts and details provide the dealership with information to act on saving our partners millions of dollars.

Many dealers have delegated their inventory and service controls to great, fantastic people; however, many are not trained in business acumen regarding PNL’s. Inventory and service management is just as critical as sales management. No good business leader would allow their sales manager to continue in their role if sales were not growing, had no plan or accountability metrics. However, some dealerships are bleeding much more in losses from inefficient inventory, and service management deficiencies. Fifty percent of the company’s revenue comes from your service department so your service business must be managed by business mentalities, not strictly technician mentalities. Today this is more important than ever.        

However still today, in some cases managers’ excuse away the reports, don’t read the reports or refuse to manage the disciplines the reports outline. BEI understands that Dealer owners must take the lead when core changes are needed we are responding with our Executive Dashboards and Acuity programs.

Today Dealers could easily be circumvented by other means of delivery and service, as manufacturers continue improving equipment thereby eliminating more and more onsite service as this and the lack of reliance on the equipment itself from end-users get closer and closer in-line the industry will experience many challenges. Today independent dealers must look to disrupt themselves into a sustainable future and do it before someone else takes control of their disruption.      

Most dealers would recapture a minimum of 20% of their Service and support operating cost if they managed by the numbers and not the emotional non-sense which attempts to penetrate one’s common sense.

Think about this. Currently 60% of all service calls are created by your technicians or lack of good inventory control. 30% of these calls should never happen. More than likely 70% of your profit comes from services and 30% comes from supplies, Hardware is a wash at best or drains 5-7% of your overall profit. Service departs must be vigilant to continuous improvement

With regards to revenue. Fifty percent of your revenue comes from service, and supplies the other fifty percent comes from hardware sales. A ten-million-dollar dealer with a five-million-dollar service platform running at fifty percent gross margin would have a cost of service of 2.5 Million saving 20% would reduce cost by Five hundred thousand dollars a year, or $46,666 per month. That my friends is a big number and should get your attention. Regardless of your dealerships size maximizing profits, and controlling inventories is mandatory for survival and to the cost of innovation. 

So, here’s the question what could your dealership invest in with an extra half a million dollars a year. And I guess I would say this, “If you think that you’re doing your best, that’s not the same as knowing you’re doing your best.” It is time to re-evaluate your service strategy and begin preparing yourself for the real possibilities that the annuity service platform which feeds the Imaging Channel will cease to bring enough nutrition for continuing our current circumstance.

Most dealers have qualified managers in their ranks. However, they normally don’t have a surplus of change leaders. Focused structural changes must be led, the dealer owner and their senior executives’ must take the lead. Those managing a current process who believe is performing just fine will become emotional and most definitely challenge any new order of things. In all reality, it’s 2017, and the fact is this- if your managers aren’t ripping up the past on their own you need to and BEI is here to help.  

“Business disruptions are the result of innovation improving the customer experience so drastically that the old way becomes a customer nightmare.”

Let BEI Services help you navigate to a more profitable future by providing the metrics, solutions, and knowledge from the world’s largest data base of Print service analytics.

R.J. Stasieczko  

The Intersection Where the Digital and Physical Worlds Meet

The Typewriter was still clicking away when the Word-Processor was invented; the word processor was a better experience. This better experience caused the collapse of the typewriter sales and service model

The camera was still taking pictures on film when the Digital Camera was invented; the digital camera was a better experience. This better experience caused the collapse of the camera and film sales and service model

The Copier/Printer will still be making copies/prints as its Customers continue printing less and less and reading more and more digitally, and soon the customers’ of this industry will obtain a better experience. This better experience will cause the collapse of the current sales and service model.

The examples above are about Innovation, Disruption, Change, and Destroyed industries. Those reading this article either defend why the industry they represent is safe or they admit their impending doom. Some will recognize the need for change and continue doing the same as they miscalculate the time remaining to continue capitalizing on the old way. 

It seems unbelievable that any logical business person living today would ever question the reality that all products and services are susceptible to obsolescence. Today’s business world lives in both a physical and Digital or Virtual World. We have gone so far past the place where ideas and imaginations were held hostage by the restraints of limited technology and our physical reality, with today’s technology one’s imagination can be fueled and nurtured in the realms of a virtual world and then completely disrupt the physical world.

“Innovative companies understand that Customer Experience lives at the intersection where the digital and physical worlds meet.” 

Organizations who continue making U-turns just before the intersection where the digital and physical worlds meet will soon find the Intersection blocked permanently. Blocked by a new competitor. In the past, the competitor was known today the competitor or disrupter is unknown and unimagined. Competition today hides in the virtual world waiting for the opportunity to catch off guard those who perceive that their physical world is safe and secure in its current circumstances.

Every business must have the capacity to live in the virtual world where they perfect their customers’ experience as they deliver in the physical world. Some organizations like our friends at Uber do quite well in the digital world; some would say they perfected it. However, Uber is struggling in the physical world they have had many collisions at the intersection where their digital and physical worlds meet. Their apparent leadership dilemmas and poor management strategies are well known. When innovators completely disrupt a physical worlds deliverable with an innovative solution from the digital world the disrupted will fight. The problem is they fight with the tools from the physical world they will highlight the benefits of their outdated deliverable by discrediting the innovators' inabilities to compete with them in the old way discounting the fact their customers’ want the new way. Uber is proving an excellent customer experience will win over a poor management experience and the loud complaining of those disrupted. An Innovator can learn how to manage better, but a customer won’t tolerate a bad customer experience. Today you can be the best-managed company in the world and lose to the new unknown competitor with terrible management who delivers a better experience.     

The success at Uber is strictly about their customer’s experience. Back in the early days of Amazon, Jeff Bezos apparently understood the importance of this intersection between digital and physical worlds. Amazon should have taught many that it is at this intersection where Customer Experience lives. Today many companies still believe their relationships of the past are what feeds their businesses. These beliefs will destroy many who think this way. Here’s my explanation. Relationships based on a push economy where for the most part built and maintained by the products' pushers. In this ever growing pull economy customers’ will look for, find and engage with, and trade in all old relationships for a better experience every time. In other words, the customer will form a relationship with an experience, and this experience could be void human interaction. People who like Uber like their APP, their great relationship is with the APP on their phone.

Today the most successful companies in the world live in the digital world, Jim Crammer calls these companies FANG, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google.

Any organization who believes they can avoid the intersection between the digital and physical world are mistaken and will see their old customers and relationships leaving for the new better experience.

The digital world has created a Pull Economy, the customer experience or a business’s remarkability becomes the most valuable asset the company has, and today more and more consumers will judge a company’s remarkability in the digital world first. What many are ignoring is this fast growing Pull Economy is a result of the continuous advances and capabilities of innovative technologies. How customers interact for commerce and trade will become more and more problematic for those industries created for a Push Economy. The questions are. Will the legacy product and service providers living in the Push Economy innovate themselves to a place where their future customer will pull from?

“Today’s technology allows anyone with a spark of curiosity to create flames of knowledge.”  

That quote applies to both companies and their customers.

In Closing: If you’re the leader that believes your current circumstances of continuing the practice of making U-turns back to the past instead of driving through the intersection where the Digital and the Physical worlds meet soon you will find yourself in the parking lot called obsolescence. 

If you enjoyed this article send me a LinkedIn request and let’s continue the conversation, or e-mail me at raystasieczko@gmail.com

R.J.Stasieczko  

While you’re marketing to your Customers, Someone is stealing them with their Remarkability

While you’re marketing to your Customers, Someone is stealing them with their Remarkability.

Marketing has no power over Remarkability. Why do so many organizations fall victim to the new competitor who through their remarkability delivered a better experience? And why do so many organizations spend more on Marketing, than their remarkability? Or why do all organizations have marketing departments and hardly any have Remarkability departments? Today too many organizations are buying marketing campaigns instead they should be investing to increase their remarkability.

A simple answer is most of these organizations believed that great marketing would sell anything to their great relationships. Today, however, the new unknown competitor hunts for these organizations they listen for those who cheer the loudest “WE HAVE THE GREATEST RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR CUSTOMERS.” Then they attack with a weapon called “A REMARKABLE EXPERIENCE.” Well it is 2017, and Great Relationships might get you invited to lunch, but it won’t guarantee a continuing business relationship. Today customers will trade in a relationship for a better experience like one would dump an old car. Customers today want a remarkable experience, they do not care about your slogans and marketing propaganda. And if you are in fact remarkable your customers can tell the world in seconds. 

Every business must agree that their Remarkability must come before their Marketing. So every business must ask this.

Does this marketing expense make me more Remarkable, or just tell people how remarkable I am?

For many marketing is telling their story as they believe it. Many organizations look at their marketing as merit badges, badges they award themselves. Why do businesses not understand that their customers should be their marketing departments? Especially with today’s technologies for communicating.

A slick marketing campaign might temporarily fool one of your value, however, sooner or later your remarkability is what determines a continuation or a referral of your services. No business buys a beautiful but broken brochure twice. Today customers want an experience which they define as remarkable. Therefore companies that focus on their remarkability will always invest towards its constant improvement, and companies who don’t focus on their remarkability will continue turning over their check books to marketers. Remarkable businesses get the reward of customers buying them; unremarkable businesses will always be buying customers.

“Today businesses must remember, your customers will always be yours and your competitors’ prospects, so businesses must always treat their customers as prospects and continuously deliver them a remarkable experience.”     

Today organizations must understand that customers are not for life because your marketing says so, customers are only for the life of your Remarketability, which is always threatened by someone else more remarkable. Those who yell from their roof top how great they are, should silence their noise and listen for the cheers from their customers yelling we want more. Those organizations marketing to their external customers with sayings like “Customers for Life,” must educate their internal customers that this translates to "Prospects for life." Thinking our customers’ relationships will last forever confuses the importance of customer experience, over customer relationship.

” Your Marketing is about you cheering you; your Remarkability is about your customers cheering you.” 

R.J. Stasieczko

It takes Determination to move a Rock or change a Business

Over the last few months, I have been talking with some Technology Channel leaders regarding my Vision of future Channel Distribution. A Vision I named “The Innovation Channel.” As these discussions take place, I am reminded of how determination lessens in value as some age. This thinking brought me to the creek which ran through the neighborhood I lived in years ago as a child. 

That creek we played in had a Big Rock; this Rock was obstructing the way the creek flowed down to the pond at the bottom of the hill, this Rock would cause the creek to dam. All of us kids knew that in-order for the creek to run free the Rock must be moved. We were all determined this Rock would be moved by summers end

The Rock, was huge, the size of a car and weighted surely as much. It took most of a summer for us kids to pry Big Bertha, free (of course we named the Rock). None of us who took turns digging around it ever considered for one minute our mission would fail. In our minds, we saw the creek flowing uninterrupted we saw Big Bertha rolling down the creek freeing the water. We didn’t think about how heavy the rock was, or how long it had been there buried in the mud of the past, or how many, or if any snakes would be freed to bite us, as the Rock came loose. We didn’t’ care that the older wiser kids would laugh as they watched our determined efforts fail over and over. Well, our determination and fortitude paid off. We had our victory after around seven weeks when the Rock broke loose and found its way down the creek where it sunk to the bottom of the pond, our mission was complete, and our summer was over.

Whether it’s a Rock or a mindset, the flow of water, or the flow of ideas, neither will flow when block. In the physical world it’s easy to remove obstacles, we see them clearly in front of us, and with determination, we move them. However, in the world of one’s mind these dam's, we create of past thoughts and current thinking, block the flow of visionary thinking. We can’t participate in the future when our minds are stuck in the mud of the past, or can’t break free from the prison of the present.

Leaders, we all need to be determined to clear the past from our minds like the Kids in the Creek cleared the Rock. Just because we don’t see what’s ahead doesn’t mean we should not proceed. The highway of business does not have any stop signs in the fast lane to the future. There our yield, and caution signs but never stop signs. Like those physical obstacles we see and move, we must also remove the mental barriers of the past and present.

“When we stop looking for absolutes is when we discover the excitement of the unknown.”

The flow of ideas builds its energy from the collaborating efforts of open minds, minds which have the capability to imagine. It’s from this collaboration that new ideas give birth to something amazing. Nothing is ever created from individualism. Without collaboration, nothing happens. So if your focus is collaborating with like minds, you will build more of the same you may improve something but will never create something entirely new. Relevancy knows when something new is a better solution than improving something which is obsolete or heading there.

Today many with-in the Technology Industries will see seismic shifts in not only technology itself but in the way it’s Used, Purchased, Serviced, and Delivered. End-users of technology will have more ways to absorb the benefits of technology than ever before. Technology is the one sure thing that continuously changes. Today’s biggest challenge for legacy technology reseller is keeping up with what new innovative technology companies reinvent, and how those reinventions will effect technology resellers and their deliverables.

 “Jeff Bezos, did not beat Barns & Nobel because he was richer or bigger he wasn’t, he beat them because he bet they would never focus on the future while they lived in the past, he obviously won. Many organizations could learn from this, of course Jeff, is betting they didn’t.”

More and more we are witnessing the fall of many once great companies and industries. Today most of these failures were a cause of a failed Technology Program. The outdated systems of the past will destroy those who refuse to innovate. Many companies will continue with outdated ERP System, outdated sales tactics, outdated CRM’s and outdated management strategies. These outdated companies will see new competitors. Competitors who find and acquire their customer by utilizing tools and technologies unimaginable to those companies stuck in the past and think their present is the future, companies who refuse to invite imagination to their decision tables. Legacy organizations will continue looking in the same places for new answers while their new unknown and unimagined competitor looks in new places, places where they find these legacy organizations stubbornly stuck in the past and denying the challenges of the present. These new disruptors have the advantage of creativeness an advantage which is compounded by technology like never before. Ironically there are a lot of technology resellers who still believe that technology is about selling things. If these resellers understood that end-users don’t care about the things, they care about the results they need from things, and both things and desired results change at quicker speeds than ever in history. Today’s business landscape is the disrupters’ Playground, and can easily become the legacy players’ Graveyard.

So like the kids in the Creek, get determined and just move the Big Rock, so the water of ideas will run smoothly to the pond of collaboration.

In Closing: as I say repeatedly

 “A company becomes obsolete when they focus on bringing the Past to the Future Instead of bringing The Future to the Present.”

If you like this article send me a LinkedIn Invite or send me, an e-mail raystasieczko@gmail.com Collaboration starts with conversation.

R.J.Stasieczko     

Are you Customer Centric or Product Centric?

Most in business would say “Of Course We Are a Customer Centric Business.” However with today’s rapid rate of disruption caused by organizations and Industries who continuously out innovate legacy organizations. I would say they are lying to themselves and here are my reasons for saying this.

A company is built to sell a product which solves a problem. What happens when the problem the product solves is not an issue anymore? Or what happens when someone else circumvents your products delivery mechanism? How a company or industry answer those questions will determine if they run a Customer Centric or Product Centric business. If it were a Customer Centric Business, they would respond by abandoning any or all of their deliverables components which caused their irrelevance. They would say it’s time to create another business and solve a different problem, or they would say maybe it’s time to create a new delivery system. Customer Centric Businesses always are in sync to what their customers’ want, how they want it and can change fast as their customers change what they want, and how they want it.

Sadly today we see industries and organizations dying at record speeds. The reason is they were Product Centric. Product Centric Companies, hold on to the belief that customers want their product regardless whether it still solves a problem or not. Product Centric Companies focus more on selling the relevancy to their dying product then selling relevant new products. Their customers’ left when the creative or innovative new way highlighted the old ways irrelevance, causing the old way to be the new problem. A problem the innovator is eager to solve.

The Taxi Industry, an excellent example of being Product focused over Customer focused. Uber, built for the same customer. The difference Uber made the means of the Taxi industry’s deliverable obsolete. UBER focused on bringing a better experience to the Customer and completely blindsided a once lucrative industry.

“The Customers experience is not about products it’s about the intersection where products and their customers meet.”

This intersection is under construction constantly, and most of the time the construction workers are completely unknown to those who originally built the intersection. Those who created this intersection simply thought they only had to maintain maybe re-tar or repainted the lines. Those new unknown road workers came in and ripped up the pavement widened the road and put in sensors for driverless cars, completely reinvented this metaphorical intersection where your customers and your products meet.

Industry and organizations must stop in the belief that their current products are their business forever. Yes, currently they are. However, all products are susceptible to being disrupted and made irrelevant. The struggle in this evolutional processes is the admittance of one's irrelevancy is painful. Yes, businesses get too emotionally attached to their current circumstances. Once the decline begins some will start buying up those who decided on an exit plan rather than a growth plan, many will be forced to lower their products price as demand for their product decreases; many will remain in place do nothing and perish without even being missed.

The easiest way to recognize a Product Centric Company over a Customer Centric Company is simple. Look how they react during the disruption of their industry. Let’s look at the Taxi industry when it became apparent that Uber’s customer experience was the preferred means to their desired outcome. Here are some of the ways the Taxi industry responded. They rallied their unions, they began arguing in court rooms, and they perpetrated as much bad press as possible. Here’s what they didn’t do. They ignored the power of the Smart Phone, they ignored an opportunity to innovate, and they ignored the demands of their customers and focused on their own needs to continue delivering the product of their current circumstances. They still are focused on the way it was, and the outdated product they have. The legacy Taxi industry is most definitely a product centric business model. So the difference between product focused and customer focused is clear within the Taxi industry. What about your Industry, or Organization. Don’t be the company that is so focused on solving yesterday’s pain points that you stop looking to see what is causing pain today, or what could cause pain tomorrow.

I heard a sales pitch recently where the sales representative explains with excitement their differentiator. He bragged his company answers the phone in two rings. I wondered if one day this company would be disrupted by an unknown competitor. A competitor who doesn't even accept phone calls. I thought will this company focus too much on its current product and how it's delivered. Missing the signs of someone else's innovation, an innovation which threatens both their product and their products delivery.

Today many industries will find themselves at the crossroads of irrelevancy. Those organizations who are customer focused, Innovative, and understand the importance of creating a new way before someone else does. And if by chance someone else’s innovation beats them, they respond by reinventing to the new acceptable way. Or creating an even better way. One thing Customer Centric Companies never do is remain loyal to an irrelevant product, service, or delivery system thereby causing their irrelevance.

“How and where your products intersect with your customers determines your customers’ experience and your products relevance.”

Today’s technology is allowing Innovators to recreate the experience of getting products. It’s not just about product obsolescence; it’s also about the means to a product's delivery which is being threatened and changed by innovation. So next time you hear someone say it’s not about Customer experience tell them to talk with Jeff Bezos, the guy who proves daily, delivering a better customer experience can quickly win over, not just customers, it can completely change Industries. Amazon confirmed business obsolescence is not just about products it’s also about a better experience to the means in getting them. Years ago Leonard Riggio, and his brother Steven, of Barnes and Nobel believed that too much focus on perfecting their online book store would cause a distraction from their core brink and mortar business. Back then the Riggio's were too focused on their Products, not their Customer’s, and this proved to be disastrous. Amazon still to this day surprises the unimaginative in their ability to disrupt all industries which are Product Centric over Customer Centric. The difference today, from Amazon's earlier days, they have the resources to drastically speed up the disruption.  

 “You can be the vendor with the greatest relationships and loose to the new unknown competitor who delivers a better experience.” 

In Closing: Customers don’t care about products. Their emotional attachment is to the benefits of products, and today customers have just as much emotion attached in how they benefit acquiring a product as the product itself. So your product might still benefit some or many, but if your delivery method doesn’t benefit your customers, they will leave to the disrupter who delivers a beneficial change.

So, is your organization Product Centric, or Customer Centric?

“Remember Customer Centric Companies look through their current deliverable at what will replace it, and they never stop looking.”

R.J. Stasieczko

Imaging Channel, Why Should Amazon Have All The Fun?

I thought I would share a thought or two on the In-Home Tech Business. As many of you know my background is the Imaging Channel, Print/Copy equipment, and services. Obviously, this channel is desperately seeking a broader deliverable. Some in the channel have successfully transitioned. I had the opportunity to help lead the successful reinvention of a legacy print sales and services business, into that of a Managed IT/Security/ Services Firm that experience taught me many things. I look forward to helping others who are ready.

Most in the Imaging Channel still recognize the majority of their revenue from Print. Over the last couple months, I have focused my articles on thoughts of the future about different aspects of the Imaging Channels deliverable. Over the last year, I have talked and consulted with organizations both in and outside the Imaging Channel. I am committed to the realization that the Imaging Channel must transition and quickly define their avenue to replace the every declining annuity of print services. I would add those who believe there is no decline in print I cannot help and should stop reading this article. The rest explore this one opportunity with me and open the door to your imagination. There are many ways to transform it just takes collaborating with those who challenge the relevancy of status Quo.         

A few weeks back Amazon doing what Amazon does best decided to disrupt the In Home Tech Service Business. Today the largest market share goes to the Geek Squad which is owned by Best Buy. Most in the SMB to SMB Tech Services Business dismissed this; they think there’s nothing to worry about don't see a threat. Here’s why all technology service providers from all channels are wrong to dismiss Amazon.

Amazon did not start an In-Home Technology Services Company strictly to sell more T.V.s and Home Theaters. Amazon got into this business because of the increase in the number of home based workers that are not self-employed. It’s not going to go down. Regardless of recent announcements by global organizations. Any new movement which creates bold changes will move both forwards and backwards before gaining momentum. As management practices and advances in technology continue evolving. The work from home model will not only gain in traction it will redefine our work culture.

“Innovation is what you find on the other side of the horizon you find it when you can look past what’s in front of you.”

Amazon wants to be the go to for In-Home Office Workers. Amazon has and continues destroying the Office Products Resellers business model. Now they have their sites on Technology Service Providers. Amazon will provide the service to the Home worker however, Amazon will contract with the corporation that these employees work for. The question is; can the current Imaging Channel, or the Current IT Services Channel beat Amazon to the punch?

Here’s what I would do. Starting tomorrow I would call on all enterprise accounts. Here’s the question for the CEO, not the purchasing Manager. Ask them how many workers do they plan on shifting to a work from home model over the next five years? They most definitely are thinking about this and more than likely have no plan to execute a strategy. Here’s the benefit for either the printer dealer trying to move into IT Services, or the IT Services Provider in an attempt to expand their deliverable. Let’s say the organization has 500 employees and this particular organization wants to shift 10% of their work force to work from home.

OK, we all immediately see why Amazon got excited don’t we? For those who don’t yet see the opportunity. I will explain, fifty at home workers need 50 Computers, 50 Printers, 50 backup solutions, 50 users needing help desk service, 50 users' needing security patches, and 50 users requiring the occasional on-site service. My friends It’s 50 times a lot of stuff use your imagination.

Well, that’s probably too much technology for some to comprehend. Whatever this looks like it doesn’t exist today so quit getting hung up needed absolutes. Stop and imagine what Amazon is imagining and then execute, and continuously improve your In-Home Tech Service for the SMB Home worker. Ask this question of the CEO before you give away your In-Home Service. How much does each employee cost to be in house?  

So know for those of you who can’t get printers out of your mind think of this. Fifty employees in a downtown office Bldg. probably share one MFP maybe two. However, those Fifty at home workers get fifty machines. Yes, you get to ring the bell 50 times instead of once or twice.

So next time you read where the richest man in the world is buying a company or building his own don’t dismiss it learn from it. One more thought. Maybe Jeff Bezos would be interested in contracting with you to provide the In- Home Service in your market. Who knows perhaps a manufacturer already made the call?

My friends from all Channels it’s time to create the Innovation Channel and stop doing the same things, stop looking in the same places, and stop having reunions talking about the past then convincing each other the future is safe. The SMB to SMB Resellers are in the war of their life, and many don’t believe it or, are delusional. Don’t be delusional be creative. The only way to deliver the Future to the Present is first to imagine what the Future is. I have never met Jeff Bezos, but I guarantee you all this. He understands “Those who deliver the Future to the Present, are always delivering relevance, those who don’t are instead temporarily delivering their past relevance.” It is 2017 your past has expired. Those who are ready to collaborate for ways to begin delivering the Future to the Present first like this article then send me an email raystasieczko@gmail.com. Let’s create our Future not become victims of someone else’s future.

R.J.Stasieczko 

Imaging Channel, It’s also about a Lease-less Future!

Over the last year or so those in the Imaging Channel or as I believe it should strive to be called “The Innovation Channel.” Have realized many shifts within the marketplace. Everyone associated with this industry realizes that printed pages are decreasing, and Printing Equipment is becoming less and less as important to those who use it. The world around Print is most definitely changing and shrinking. We all heard the “Paperless argument” some agree and some disagree. So let me say this loud and clear it’s not a Paperless Argument. It’s a coming storm called “Annuity-less” which is beginning to beat against the shores of The Imaging Channel. I base this storm alert on the soon to come - much less service intensive equipment. HP is determined to produce copiers/printers with as few as six replaceable parts. When successful all printer manufacturers will emulate, or will another manufacturer beat HP to that goal. The future of print equipment will be most definitely be less service intensive. There were once armies of T.V. Repair Technicians, Things always get better it’s a fact, and today improvement timelines are much faster than ever in history.     

Today I want to discuss another reality coming to the Imaging Channel. I call it “The Lease-Less Future. This doesn’t mean people will stop leasing printing Equipment. It means that the current circumstances of print equipment leasing will not be able to continue, and some of the smaller leasing organizations will find themselves disrupted beyond repair. That is if they don’t prepare themselves and start now.

Here are my thoughts:  

For decades around 80% of all print equipment sold through the Imaging Channel was leased. The monetary value is enormous, meaning when the market decides to stop upgrading, or simply pays cash based on the low price which will be attributed to manufacturers chasing the ever declining customers. Ok, I am not saying that everyone will stop leasing copiers and printers. What I am saying, “Is "everyone" becomes a minimal number in comparison to yesterday’s number, as the market shifts to alternate distribution and equipment acquisition methods.”

When a deliverable reduces in demand, while simultaneously the consumer is provided a different means to that deliverables achievement. The current circumstances of the old ways are destroyed. For instance, we don’t see any typewriter stores or service centers, and yet people still type, Well Tom Hanks anyway.

The storm on the horizon for the Leasing Companies in the Imaging Channel, (or as I believe it should strive to be called “The Innovation Channel.”) Is this. Customers engage in 3-5 year lease terms, and based on this fact when the innovative new way for customers to acquire, have delivered, and receive service on print/copy equipment is accepted by the market place, and- not if but when, and I would add by who knows who. The old leased customers will all be gone five years from the new ways acceptance, and with-in three years of the new ways acceptance the fallout will be enormous, and some will perish. If this disruption is sooner than I even imagine the potential for these smaller Leasing companies to sell or merge becomes challenging. Who wants to buy a book of leased assets which the majority of won’t even be renewed, and what about the back-end residual value since most leases are FMV. There won’t be any way to recover even the smallest percentage of that Fair Market Value. Small Leasing Company’s with the majority of their booked assets in Print equipment should sell now or start innovating, and if they started yesterday, it might be too late.

My friends, that company value question also applies to all the third party software companies. Those Channel Partners who sell print related software. How many of them can survive as the Manufacturers begin consolidating, and the end-users reduce their dependence on printed pages so drastically they stop caring to even count pages printed or managing its activity.

Back to leasing, HP provides In-house equipment financing, so does Dell and Xerox. So if HP, or Xerox win the battle of the last one or two standing regarding equipment that would be problematic for small leasing companies. The small Legacy Print Equipment Leasing Companies wanted too long to embrace the thousands of IT resellers. They tried to get in the IT leasing business through the Print business. This strategy failed those smaller leasing companies for the most part. Some will argue they lease IT equipment I would argue as a percentage of their print portfolio it’s less than 15%. Remember I am talking about the Small Leasing Companies.

The large global players such as DLL, Wells Fargo, US Bank, and EverBank, have enough diversification to survive. However, Wells Fargo may decide to stop providing capital to smaller leasing Companies as they compete for a shrinking market. Time will tell the fallout, and Innovation will tell us who the winners, and those less fortunate will be. In my vision, new actors enter the theater. Actors who are more technical and more open to alternative funding options. Organizations who have enormous cash reserves. Organizations who live and breathe with their Imagination to explore what could be, will always surprise those organizations who only focus on the way it is, or are obsessed in needing absolutes to even begin exploring the unknown. Today there are many threats to the Imaging Channel and those who feed off its boarders. Competition will come from places the un-imaginative did not see on their path called sameness.   

Here are a few examples: Will Apple decide to stop outsourcing Apple finance and begin funding competitive products as well, will Google Business Apps create Google Business Equipment finance, or does Amazon Cloud Services develop Amazon Cloud Finance. Many possibilities in an ever changing technology world. 

 An industry becomes unstainable to feed the engine of current circumstances. When Innovation destroys the majority of what created the environment for those current circumstances.

The Smaller Leasing organizations to the Imaging Channel must seek out new avenues for continued success. In my vision of the New “Innovation Channel.” Leasing as we know it today regarding print equipment will be obsolete. As the legacy deliverable and the legacy mentalities are defeated by innovation. The leasing companies must themselves become innovative or perish.

As Example:

Who will be the first leasing company to partner with a manufacturer or a dealer to fund a service platform with no physical assets? Who will be the first leasing company to fund Equipment for home offices, and Dispatch service Techs.? Oh, Amazon is close to doing that today. Who will be the first leasing company to have contracts for equipment based on hours used? Well Actually DLL does that today. Who will be the first leasing company to have an app its end-users can use to acquire more equipment on a coterminous contract- even if the new equipment comes from a different vendor? Who will be the first Leasing Company that will lend monies to pay for IT security classes which are bundled in a Managed IT Service offering with no equipment assets? Who will be the first Leasing Company to buy a Muti Vendor Technology Distribution Center? Who will be the first Leasing Company to fund multiple collaborative companies on the same deal? 

Last Question

Who will be the Leasing Companies’ to stop looking for absolutes so they can discover the excitement of the unknown?

There is one thing we all should know by now, and most definitely should all agree to. That is; just how stupid the saying “That will never Happen” is.   

Many changes are coming to the many actors in the theater of the Imaging Channel print, its equipment, its delivery, its services, and all those software and services which rely on prints continuous relevance. Some will take the journey in the Bus of Status Quo down the road called irrelevancy, and some will get on the Highway to the Future. A Highway I named The Innovation Channel.” and drive towards the place called continuance relevancy.

“Without imagination and a desire to look where your competitors are not, you’re doomed to the temporary mediocrity of current circumstances.

 In closing: My Passion for sharing my thoughts are reflected in my Quote below.

 “Without the ability to understand how we can be defeated, we are at the mercy of those who plan and execute our defeat.”

R.J. Stasieczko

How Far Out On the Pier Are We?

Recently I had an opportunity to speak to industry peers at the RT Imaging Summit-Americas in Cancun This article shares my thoughts of the event.

As the Summit in Cancun, Mexico got under way, my mind went to the pier across the road, right off the beach. I began thinking how far down the “pier” the imaging channel has gone over its decades-old life. Just how much longer can we walk the planks of the pier? Using this analogy, the planks are the customers of print. How many new planks, if any, will be added in the future? How many will replace those planks which the winds of change have removed and continue to remove. We find ourselves in the constant storm of technology innovation.

Those attending this second expo and summit in beautiful Cancun are all having to weather change in the print consumables industry. Some are faring better than others, judging by the comments during the vigorous panel discussions.

I was one of the speakers. As I listened to those before me, it became apparent most agree the industry we call home is in transition. However, there are conflicting timeframes for starting the changes needed for survival.

The speakers’ messages were candid as each shared how their particular area of expertise is impacting or being impacted. The most realistic members within the imaging channel do, in fact, believe print is declining, particularly in the lucrative markets of North America and Western Europe. Yet others are convinced the pier continues to expand for them. It’s this thinking in any declining industry which is most dangerous to ending the life of any organization. This thinking will kill their drive to innovate.

“The worst thing about a temporary rise in a dying business model, usually caused by those who evacuate, is the false sense of hope it gives those who hang on.”

Attendees at the summit were mostly from North and South America. The 86 exhibitors, however, came from 24 countries across the globe including Europe, the Americas, India and China. I kept hearing the visitors comment “All the important vendors are here.” To be honest, I was amazed at how many organizations are still being born for the purpose of manufacturing ink and toner cartridges. As I wandered the expo floor, the familiar theme was loud and clear: “a world without toner is not possible.” There was no despair on their faces.

All industries should be confident about their future but also take pride in assessing their relevance. Everyone knows that continued relevance is the enemy of status quo. Continuous relevance is a quest about deconstructing the past as you build the future. Most can’t do this. Which gives a head start to those who can.

The print channel has, and continues to decline: this trend will not change. No one has the power to stop the speeding train of technology advances. Customers buy outcomes, the means to achieving them will always change.

Some in the industry are replacing legacy technologies with innovative technologies. To this end many manufacturers on display at this show are not just supplying parts and components any more, but finished cartridges ready-to-go. Some of these finished products are fully remanufactured and others are new-built. Many remanufacturers have also adjusted their business model and are focusing more on selling imaging products. In this sense, this is an industry in transition.

Both suppliers and buyers have also been obsessed with lower pricing of supplies in order to gain market share. This year I noticed many on the floor shopping for quality too. But is it enough?

A hot topic in the summit and on the floor of the expo was acquisitions. On the surface this strategy seems to be a powerful way for some to disrupt the industry in order to gain market share. There are those who believe that growth through acquisition is a remarkable strategy. However, an instant increase in customers may only be temporary. During an industry decline, growth through acquisitions, without a plan to redefine your deliverable is "delusional growth."

Look at the Sears and Kmart merger in the USA for example. Here were two struggling organizations with the same dysfunctional deliverable. Neither could think, let alone operate, out of their box filled with the way it was. Both will soon find themselves on the list made up of all those companies who spent all their time thinking about how great yesterday was, and never believing tomorrow would come. What if Sears had bought a software company, or merged with a player who was bringing the future to the present. Sears thought if they had a bigger presence from the past they could miraculously make it through to the future.

Organizations who become obsessed with adding revenue by buying customers from their competitors are just positioning themselves for significant loss. Ricoh could have warned all those in the print industry about this. Growth at all cost, with no regard to cost, will cost you dearly. Ricoh had revenues of close to US$19 billion when they determined their business model was a failure and needed drastic change for their continued survival. Time will tell if they responded quickly enough.

“A company becomes obsolete when the focus on bringing the past to the future instead of bringing the future to the present.”

Many in the imaging channel think the same way as Sears and continue walking toward the end of the pier. Some will fall off, some will jump off, and some will temporarily find safety from falling off by gathering with others. We must all remember the pier is built from customers, not from what we manufacture or deliver. The pier was constructed as the means to the customers’ desired outcomes.

“No one has a crystal ball,” as one of the speakers said. However, all of us must evoke our common sense, proceed with caution as our pier shortens, and continuously look for ways to reinvent our deliverable, and no one from any industry either in decline or growth should ever forget this.

This event brought the industry together. It’s a good thing. However, if we all leave and go back to our businesses in any of the scores of countries that attended, with the intention to do business the same way as we did last year, then we have missed the point.

R.J. Stasieczko

Imaging Channel, Let's Become the Innovation Channel!!

I was getting ready to publish this article as the news broke Amazon was adding At-Home Tech support to their deliverable. This development is important to the future of commodity technologies and how they will be supported whether in the home or the office. As the print equipment becomes less and less expensive, and less and less service intensive. The buyers will be presented options. These new options were unimaginable a decade ago. Today defeat will come quicker to the unimaginative, and to those too “Suborned to Modify”

Imaging Channel I for one believe it’s time to change the Game and your Name.

Let’s Change the Name of the Imaging Channel to “The Innovation Channel” and let’s start innovating our customers and ourselves.

It is more important now than ever in the history of the Imaging Channel. For its members to seek out that which allows them a Future. It’s time to embrace the reality that the sweeping changes to our current circumstances have begun. The Imaging Channel must become “The Innovation Channel”. The independent dealers, and the manufactures throughout the world have built great businesses. Their customers can benefit from many things outside of print, and transitioning while there are still assets from print only makes sense.

The Innovation Channel must look in places the Imaging Channel refused, or ignored.

Today technologies involving things like: Artificial intelligence, who will be the first dealer to sell, deliver, and support IBM Watson for small business? Who will be the first dealer, or manufacturer to partner with Amazon, UberTech? (Well UberTech doesn’t exists yet) Who will be the first dealer or manufacturer to add home office support to their deliverable? Who will be the Manufacturer, or dealer that forms a partnership with Google fiber, or any ISP carrier? Can you imagine the possibilities that would bring the Imaging Channel excuse me “The Innovation Channel”? I can, from what I learned selling managed IT Services. As we all look ahead we must without hesitation use our imaginations. For all those who need help awaking their Imagination just give me a call.

Here are my thoughts on what is as I see it, and what could be as we enter the second half of 2017.

Last year in Boston HP, promised they would disrupt the 55 Billion dollar Industry, Today Konica Minolta gets “IT” and is reinventing their deliverable, Ricoh disrupted or as some say “destroyed themselves” Toshiba is running from their parent, Sharp is at the mercy of Foxconn, Kyocera is ringing the bell as they grow in market share, but the market isn’t growing. Canon after dating HP for years is wondering why HP married Samsung, Lexmark lost in court and now lives in China. Xerox introduced more models than people buy. So yes the Print Copy Channel is changing.

Ricoh their recent big news was to return control of their distribution back to dealers (a desperate decision, or a strategy). Is Ricoh just shredding legacy sales and service liabilities while they consider alternatives to both delivery and service? Would Ricoh ever by-pass the Imaging Channel if Innovation afforded them the opportunity? Of course they would.

Kyocera seems to be gaining momentum, of course, they are just replacing the Dealers customer base as dealers turn to them - while they unravel old manufacturer relationships and begin new ones. I don’t think I need to say this, but I will. “The industry of print and copy is not growing it is just shifting to those who can perform the functions of selling, delivering, and servicing at the lowest cost.”

Toshiba is struggling under the massive weight of bad decisions by their parents, declining print markets, and depending on the outcome of their parents’ financial crisis they could easily become a victim of market consolidation. Maybe Toshiba will be the first Manufacturer to sell to an organization outside the world of Print. After all if E-Commerce Software companies are buying Grocery chains, and movie studios, and Car manufactures are flying rocket ships isn’t anything possible. Yes it is for those who can imagine what can be from what is.

Sharp’s Printer/copier division accounts for less than two percent of Foxconn’s total revenue. Foxconn’s plans for Sharp Print/Copy could change quickly, as Foxconn’s priorities to its core businesses take more precedent than temporarily propping up a division with-in a subsidiary which represents a declining market space. Foxconn may see more value in an exit strategy from print rather than a growth strategy in the way Samsung did.      

Konica Ok I admit to everyone I like Konica here’s why. They are the only print manufacturer who can imagine themselves void of print, they understand that in declining markets you can buy your competitors, but only if you continue looking for substitutions to replace what will become irrelevant. Rick Taylor, Konica Minolta’s CEO is the one Leader with-in the print channels direct operations who can give a speech and never mention print. I believe Rick understands Konica’s continuous success will not be about delivering the past to the future, it will be a result of bringing the future to the present, and doing it while everyone else stays lost in the glory of what was. Just this week we all heard the news of Konica Minolta acquiring U.S. Based Ambry Genetics in a Billion dollar deal. I don’t know of any Print Clicks in Genetics. It will be interesting to watch as Konica continues looking where most of its competition is not.

‘When you stop looking for absolutes is when you discover the excitement of the unknown.”

HP’s CEO Dion Weisler last year in Boston was excited to talk about the HP vision. A vision which would shake up a decade's old sales-and-support model, which believe it or not many are still in denial of the vulnerability of this decades old business model. Some members of the Imaging Channel believe growth through acquisition will be what allows them to prosper in a dying industry, however, without a change to your deliverable you're only buying more of what’s dying. I call this “The Sears Kmart Syndrome”, two dying deliverables becoming one who eventually without reinvention just dies bigger. The distribution model of direct sales or via dealer sales is mature. The only change will be how distribution changes. These changes will be caused by both manufacturers and dealers exiting the industry through acquisitions or liquidations. A new approach to Printer/Copier Sales, their Delivery, and Support - most definitely will arrive, and in the minds of some imaginative people and organizations they already have arrived.  

 “Industries do not grow during their decline in consumer acceptance; they merely shift from one actor to another until the market has choked out all but a few temporary survivors.”   

As HP announced its intentions to acquire Samsung, the industry began immediately to discuss how HP would fail. How HP would never gain traction distributing through the dealers of imaging channel. You could hear the echoes of the phrase, “remember the Moper.” HP’s failed attempt at delivering an MFP during the early 90’s, and yes I did sell one. 

HP is a different company than it was before the split. Today HP is once again the printer company who intends to disrupt the marketplace entirely, and they are easily the best poised to accomplish exactly that. Of course if the Dealers and other manufactures disrupt their deliverable and transition while they still have the resources it won’t matter to their business if HP wins the race to the bottom. Some should be congratulated on beginning their transitions, so if your organization can visualize more than print sales and their services congratulations. For those who can't visualize this, you should immediately drive to an abandon Blockbuster stores parking lot, and reflect on the causes of a “Stubbornness to modify.”

Over the last decade plus Managed Print Services took its toll on HP’s aftermarket supply business. HP was being challenged, and this challenge was reflected in their financials. The razor-and-blade model stops providing benefits when the consumer uses someone else’s blades. Those who found success in managed print services understood it was never about the hardware; it was about controlling and capitalizing the service, and the supply annuity. The successes in MPS were a result of disrupting HP’s dominance. Competitive manufacturers and their dealers had the serviceability advantage over HP. HP wasn’t a service-support model it was a Razor-and-Blade model. If HP had the vision twenty years ago to lower their supply cost and built a service network, they would have more than likely stopped the momentum of their competitors print management programs, and there would have been no reason for the birth of the many toner remanufacturers. Today as the Managed Print Service deliverable continuous being commoditized along with the decline in print itself we are witnessing much consolidation in aftermarket companies as well.

The big question will HP learn from the past? And can they comprehend delivering their blades at a price the end-user can accept? Or will the Lexmark Apex relationship allow Lexmark the ability to provide OEM Supplies at remanufactured prices,(think about that for a second) This strategy is much easier to except when the end-users volumes are decreasing, rather than increasing like they were the 1980’s and 90’s. Whoever intends on being the biggest last one standing will have to change their thinking it’s not 1990 anymore. We are quickly approaching the reality that the race to be the top print equipment provider, can only be won by winning the race to the bottom price.     

So today we are fifteen years or so from the birth of managed print. The imaging channel is going through consolidation. Some manufacturers who distribute both directly and through dealers are bleeding profits in their attempt to continue without change.

 ‘When you stop looking for absolutes is when you discover the excitement of the unknown.”

HP, when discussing one's vision of the future, imagination is required. So let’s imagine how HP can accomplish Dion Weisler disruption. Imagine Xerox as a tool for HP’s distribution. Yes if HP bought a controlling interest in Xerox they would ultimately disrupt, and change the decades-old status quo of the Imaging Channel. Since both Xerox, and HP split from their services business units, this acquisition strategy is feasible it only takes fifty one percent to get control, and HP has the resources. Think of the synergies, here’s a couple: Both HP and Xerox live in the big annuity revenue world of enterprise print shops. Xerox with their Docutech, I- Gens, and HP with their Indigo. Both HP and Xerox will continue developing and perfecting this vertical market. Together they would be a force for disruption. Xerox would also gain access to the HP Computer and IT peripheral portfolio. This would allow Xerox a broader Managed IT Services Deliverable. The combined total revenue of the two organizations would most definitely make them the highest line on the revenue graphs the industry likes to monitor. Of course we don’t see too many Profit charts I guess everyone knows why.  

Global Imaging, HP needs distribution through the Imaging Channel Global Imaging footprint gives them what they seek. Of course, they would also be getting the thousands of agents and Xerox dealers across the world. So I guess before anyone counts out HP they should just use their imagination, and everyone in the Imaging Channel should always refrain from saying this “That will never happen” especially without exploring how it could happen. If HP took control of Xerox, HP would DISRUPT AND COMPLETELY CHANGE the Imaging Channel, forever!  and not in the way its unprepared members would appreciate.

So I agree with Dion Weisler, HP can completely disrupt a decade's old deliverable its Dealers, and the remaining Manufacturers, along with all those who support the legacy model. Leasing Companies, Software Companies, and Supply Companies. Many things would change, and everyone should be ready. Disruption is caused when imaginations and fortitude collide. Oh and HP isn't the only one that wants to disrupt the Imaging Channel. Who are the others? well use your imagination.

In closing: “Without the ability to understand how we could be defeated we are at the mercy of those who plan and execute our defeat.”

R.J. Stasieczko   

Are we Lying to Ourselves?

Do you ever wonder why, during a dying industry, or the collapse of a deliverable many continue selling themselves on their relevancy while their evacuating customers define them as irrelevant?

Think about this. Innovative organizations understand the importance in selling relevant products, while dying organizations stay obsessed with selling the relevancy of their soon obsolete products’.

Look at Sears, just one of the many brick and mortar retail organizations which continue the delusion of their relevance over the reality of their impending death. Look at the Copy/Print industry as they continue believing more on the value of printed pages than that of their customers, or examine the Cable industry as they continue living in denial of the power of Facebook, Amazon, Google, or Netflix, their competitors who are rapidly replacing them with a better experience. We could add many to the list. No one wants to admit they are becoming irrelevant, or discuss how they could be defeated? Well, that is unless they are innovative, and appreciate the power of customer experiences over customer relationships. Relationship obsession must balance with understanding the relevance of what feeds the relationship. Many customers had a great relationship with Blockbuster they left for the better experience of Netflix. Don’t fool yourself into the monetary value of a business relationship.   

“You can be the vendor with the greatest relationships and lose to the unknown vendor who delivers a better experience.”

Those who remain relevant. Understand there are no sacred parts, people, or processes to their business, and they are willing to replace anything needed to stay relevant. Truly innovative companies understand how to eliminate what was to create what it should be. Truly innovative companies understand the dysfunction of a stubbornness to modify.

“In the distance between the business plan and the business failure is where you find Stubbornness to modify.”

A sure sign your industry is threatened by innovation is when it’s thought leaders spend most of their time discussing why they are relevant. As an example, the Cable industry leaders justifying declining numbers by acquiring competitors then ignoring the massive unplugging, or the Print industry believing growth through acquisition means the industry’s growing and ignoring the evaporation of print volumes, or the reductions in the manufacturing of print devices.

Who are they fooling? Are they lying to themselves? How many articles on the demise of Sears, which always include a sentence or two of hope? Does anyone believe that Sears will make it? They waited too long, had too many managers in too short of time. They should have brought in an innovative leader.  Disrupted Industries can't manage their way out of obsolesces they must be led out of it. The only change at Sears is the date of their bankruptcy. I am sure soon we will read an article saying average store revenue is up 50 % over last year. Of course, they would have closed 80% of their stores. It’s only when Leaders of declining industries can destroy what made them relevant yesterday that they then can create the new. They do this by leaving behind the baggage of the way it was as they take the train to the way it will be.

In today’s Business climate it’s the constant birth of something new where the reward of survival is determined.  

So if your industry is becoming irrelevant and its leaders are hoping they retire before the customers leave them, be concerned. If your industry consultants are more concerned about telling their customers what they want to hear, instead of the truth, be concerned, or if your industry leaders brag about growth through acquisition rather than customer acceptance, be concerned. It takes a group of determined collaborators fearless of change to win against the death associated with the way it was. Challenge yourself to look for and listen to opposing views apply common sense, and create the needed change. Stop the survival game and begin the thriving game.

Most importantly remember this.

“A Company becomes obsolete when they focus on bringing the past to the future instead of bringing the future to the present.”

R.J. Stasieczko  

When your Deliverable doesn’t excite your Customers’ then it’s time to Innovate or even change that Deliverable.

The continuing evaporation of customer excitement concerning copy and print is further driving its commoditization. Some in the “The Imaging Channel” will continue justifying a declining market in the same way other industries in decline do. They question the skill sets of their sales department, they question the new generation’s skills at management, and some will question their manufacturer's pricing, support, and strategies. Independent dealers must focus now more than ever on their own survival and stop believing that their manufacturers will protect them against a collapsing market. It seems many still take directions and believe their manufacturers are as loyal as they once were. Remember this; a manufacturer who sells direct, or through dealers will always put the needs of the Manufacturing plant before the needs of the sales engine, and yes that is backwards. Any loyalty they appear to have will not survive their desperation. Ask the Ricoh, or Lanier, dealers who were not invited to the Ricoh Direct going out of business sale.  

The disaster at Ricoh should alarm other manufacturers and those large dealer organizations who continue buying print bases. Ricoh proved you can’t buy customers in a declining market “without a plan to reinvent your relevance”. Ricoh believed their continued relevance would be a by-product of winning every deal at all cost, regardless of cost, and this approach cost them dearly. Ricoh taught us all a powerful lesson, and now their future is questionable. They’ve gone from the largest direct distribution manufacturer, back to distribution through dealers, of which most are muti-line. Ricoh gave up control to survive. The sad part is Ricoh used to thrive.   

Today’s progressive dealers are selling Managed IT Services, Managed Communication Services, and Managed Security Services. Progressive dealers will continue to reinvent themselves as they understand the importance of replacing the declining profit and revenue of print. Sadly we see dealers, manufacturers, leasing companies, and some support software companies refusing to acknowledge there’s even a problem. When those in the industry can visualize themselves not dependent on print, by default they will be thinking innovatively. Innovative organizations will collaborate with those unrecognizable to those remaining status quo.

Today many in the Imaging Channel are growing based on acquisitions. No industry can buy itself relevancy when its customers are determined to use and value their products less and less. Kmart did not help Sears. If you were a taxi company would you buy another taxi company, or would you purchase a software, or app development company? Customers only want outcomes the means to achieve them will never win over the outcome. Imagine the taxi organization who bought up all the medallions in NYC. He was the biggest, he was the richest, and he had the most assets. He also lost the most when UBER was born. Customers only want outcomes. So if your goal is buying customers, you better have a plan when your industry’s UBER is born.

The imaging Channel must face the reality that large customer bases will not save them from obsolescence. As the industry goes through the transition the dealers, the manufacturers, the leasing partners, the consultants, and the analysts must change their thinking. Instead of looking for deliverables which complement print, look for deliverables void of print, and I am not talking about water.

The good news for the truly innovative actors, most won’t do this, giving those who do a great advantage. Sadly most legacy organizations who refuse to innovate, perish during disruptions. When was the last time you shopped at Sears? If you hurry you can make their liquidation sale? Imaging Channel! Don't be Sears. Imaging Channel don’t be the taxi company holding the most Medallion’s.

In-Closing: it’s not about the world going paperless, it’s about the customers declining value of print, and manufactures lowering the cost of equipment and simplifying the services. These two facts will not allow the survival of the current circumstances. 

R.J.Stasieczko       

The Future and the Past: A Tale of Two Meetings

Seat Based Billing is a concept bringing the future to the present.

Last week I attended Print Audit’s Seat Based Billing Roadshow. The Roadshow was held the day before the BTA meeting in Kansas City. I decided to attend both. The SBB roadshow was informative. It is always refreshing when I see organizations bringing the future to the present.

A company becomes obsolete when it focuses on bringing the past to the future instead of bringing the future to the present.

For that, I give Print Audit, John Maclnnes, West McDonald, their team, and the vendors who supported them a big thumbs-up. Seat Based Billing is a common practice in the Managed IT Sector, and it’s time the copier industry adds the method to their deliverable. It will be interesting to see how the print manufacturers, the IT sector resellers, and those who manage print service vendors will adapt to the SBB print services model. I believe Print Audit has many opportunities with their software. They are pioneering the transformation of a much-needed change to Managed Print Services, a decades-old deliverable. It will be exciting times ahead as Print Audit continues focusing their deliverables on the future.    

Next was the BTA Meeting, a reunion of the past.   

 About three years ago I decided, after spending over twenty-five years in the copy/print industry, that it was time to shift my attention from those who insist on bringing the past to the future, and instead focus on those bringing the future to the present. I spent this time living in and learning from the IT sector. My time at ImageQuest, where I helped lead the transition of a legacy Print provider to a Managed Services and Security firm, taught me many things. The most valuable lesson: transitioning to something new is easier with the revenue from the legacy deliverables still intact.

Many will wait too long and die of thirst as their wells dry up. This week reminded me that except for a small minority of players the Imaging Channel is still in the past. When you attend their meetings, it’s like going to a reunion. Reunions bring us up to date on the past. You laugh and joke about the good old days; you reminisce on what was; you run from the controversy of what could be, and you bask in a safe-zone where the truth is translated to what you want to hear by those who won't challenge you for fear of economic reprisal.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Imaging Channel, it is past the time for continuous reunions. The Imaging Channel must seek out the future, and even welcome those future competitors to the party. It’s time to look in new places and welcome new ideas. It’s time to run toward your future relevancy, jumping over your past.

The time has come for the forward thinking thought leaders of the Imaging Channel to throw a huge retirement party. They should invite all those who are betting that their retirement from their business will come before their irrelevance in business. This retirement party should not just be for Dealers. Invite manufacturers, software providers, consultants, and peer groups. Invite everyone who is holding back the future.

Far too often, I hear industry leaders say, “I’ll retire before I need to change." The copier industry is not immune from obsolescence, and without the ability to discuss how they can be defeated they are at the mercy of those who will defeat them.

It is not about Paperless

The threat to the Imaging Channel is not a paperless society; it’s an “Annuityless” business model. Yes, I made up that word. Ring the bell and remember this. It’s “Annuityless” that will destroy the Imaging Channel's decade's old reoccurring revenue model. As the manufacturers continue reducing complexity, expanding yields, and eliminating screws, the service model will evolve. If you think the pain of 0.003 is bad, wait until it is 0.0000, and is replaced by the Amazon website where the user simply adds the needed parts and supplies to their shopping cart. Wait until the service tech is replaced by the end-user or a freelancer from Field Nation.

Those in the Imaging Channel must repurpose themselves and start looking where they’ve never looked, start inviting their imaginations to their board rooms, start collaborating with those on the outside of their circles and quit believing that improvement will win-out over reinvention in a declining market. The Imaging Channel Dealers and the vendors who support them must stop fighting for continuous improvement, and begin fighting for continuous relevance. Diversifying a deliverable or completely changing your deliverable is always better when the current circumstances of the old way can support the transition. The time to benefit from the present circumstances is quickly running out. So my friends, stop going to reunions and start collaborating with those outside your norm. Start looking past what’s just in front of you, and stop denying yourself the thoughts of a different future.

No business is exempt from becoming irrelevant; however, all business leaders have the choice to change. By constantly surrounding ourselves with the cheerleaders for Status Quo, we will soon perish. Think about this; when the speakers at these reunions have to begin their conversations by justifying the relevance of what those attending do, who are they trying to sell on status quo? You or themselves? No one can guarantee the future, but as the leaders of your companies, you must not let the emotions tied to the way it was, highjack what your common sense tells you is the way it must be.

R.J. Stasieczko 

A Customers’ Experience is what determines their Satisfaction.

The old days of vendor complacency based on relationships are over. Today customers put more value on their Experiences, not only from the things they buy but those they engage to buy them. In a fast moving digital world, our customers can determine what they want, or believe they need long before they engage with those who deliver it. Organizations must learn how to monetize their Customers’ Experience, and then put the structure in place to exceed in providing a better experience than that of their competitor. The competitor who relies on relationship selling. Too many organizations focus on the things they deliver and their perception of the derived benefits along with their long status quo relationships.  Successful companies make the deliverable about the Experience. Think of this. When a potential customer is deciding on one vendor over another, the process becomes commodity driven. However, when prospects are introduced to satisfying experiences they then shop for the better experience. Exceptional Experiences are never a commodity, and Exceptional Experiences always challenge the arrogance of those banking only on their relationships.   

Some organizations are confusing the importance of balancing the scales between their “Internal Customers Experience” and “External Customers Experience” this out of balance is weighing heavy against customer service, and customer experience. I recently read a comment on LinkedIn where the commenter suggested that customer experiences where over rated and organizations should focus more on employee experience. Well, most logical business professionals would immediately realize if unbalanced how stupid that thinking is. Without the customer, it matters nothing on how well everyone on the team gets along, or how happy they are in their unchallenging existence. These organizations who put their employee experience ahead of their customer's experience will be defeated. Their defeat will come from the competitors who understand a business exists for its External Customers; they understand rewards for internal customers are paid by the External Customers, and they understand the reward amount is determined by the Experience their External Customers receive. In 2017 your customer relationships will not win over your customers’ desired experience.  

“You can be the vendor with the greatest relationships and quickly lose to the new unknown competitor who delivers a better experience.” 

 So next time you evaluate your vendors, ask yourself these questions. Whose “Experience Satisfaction” is more valuable to you? Is it yours or the vendor you hired? Do you care more about the perks your vendor gives its employees or the service and support they give you? Does the vendor tell you how great they are, or do you tell them? Does the vendor ever help grow your business even if they may sacrifice from that growth? Does the self-proclaimed great vendor charge more based on the words of their greatness, or the actions from their greatness?

Keep in mind you may not be asking these questions of your vendors, but I wouldn’t bet on your customers not asking these questions of you.

Today I believe the vendor who hollers the loudest about their Great Relationships should be the vendor its customer's audit first. Today customers are looking for solutions to problems or are presented products or services that capture their imagination. Today customers want to benefit from an Experience, today’s customer will determine their relationship to be second to their experience. Organizations who sacrifice customer experience based on their defined relationship will soon perish. Customers do not search for companies who put their internal customers over their external customers. Customers do respect the balance of happiness between both internal and external customers, well as long as the scale tips just a little more toward them.

"A business is rewarded by its customers, the size of the reward is determined by the experience they receive."  

R.J. Stasieczko    

Managed IT Services: The Imaging Channel vs. A Lack of Confidence

The Imaging Channel, the home of printer sales and services, is waking up to the reality of transition. Over the last five-plus years, the talk of transition has outweighed the action in transitioning. It seems there are more statistics on what could be than any actual real statistics about what is. The talkers and their good intentions have hijacked the Imaging Channel. It seems that the longer the channel struggles, the more desperate they are to learn. It is in this desperation that these great organizations, built upon foundations of the entrepreneurial leadership of great men and women, are allowing the confusion spread by Master Service Providers to influence or confuse their entrepreneurial instincts. Over the last few years, as I participated in actually delivering Managed IT Services, I quickly learned that with leadership and a team void of the “need of buy-in,” you can transform successfully. Providing IT Services is a business, not a mystery understood only by Master Service Providers or their paid consultants. 

Managed IT Services is like any business, and it must start with a business plan, not a marketing plan. The Imaging Channel has weathered many storms. Moreover, so many of the leaders within the channel have prospered. So why is it that when they hear Managed Services, they lose their confidence and believe without a Master Service Provider babysitting them they will fail? Why do they believe outsourcing their SLA makes any sense at all? None of the founders of these companies, or those at the helm today, would have ever considered outsourcing their print services, would they? 

The reason many consider partnering with Master Service Providers is likely because they have no confidence or because they have bought into the statistics based on those who failed versus those who prospered delivering Managed Services. I recently saw a statistic published by a Master Service Provider that voiced if you did not outsource your Helpdesk and NOC you would lose 1.5 million dollars building a 7.7 million dollar Managed Service business in 6 years. That is insane! There are over fifty thousand IT services providers in the United States. Do you think even a fraction of those companies could afford to lose 1.5 million dollars building their companies? Averages are only relevant if you are average. My friends, the owners of and the companies within the imaging Channel are far from average. Most of these organizations are many times larger than the average IT company.

Perhaps the most ironic part of this discussion is the fact that the Master Service Providers, whom themselves are not cash-flowing profitably, are doing everything they can to convince the Imaging Channel business owners that without them they will be doomed to failure or massive financial losses. I am betting the V.C. investors will be forced to face reality sooner or later.  

I suggest that those within the Imaging Channel reach out to the organizations who are successful, both inside the Imaging Channel and within the traditional IT services channel. If you do, you will recognize a commonality among them. Most are not using Master Service Providers; rather they figured out how to deliver Managed Services themselves – successfully and profitably. All good business leaders should seek to learn what they do not know. It takes leadership to transition. Don’t let the need for education become a crutch to surrender control to others. Successful organizations are those who understand the facts and put more confidence in themselves versus allowing others to hijack it.

Obviously, as you build a new business deliverable, there is investment cost, and losses are expected, but should not be long-term. The benefit the Imaging Channel has is their leadership and their bandwidth to bring on new product and service lines. I participated in and witnessed first-hand the successful delivery of Managed IT Services. Don’t believe the industry noise about failure, but instead listen to your business instincts. Put together a business plan and learn the best approach to delivering from those who deliver.

I guess those who do not agree should consider this. It has been at least five years of the Master Service Providers trying to develop momentum within the Imaging Channel. To what end? Signing up dealers and putting them on their helpdesk is not helping them build successful Managed Service platforms and is not leading to lasting partnerships. My friends in the Imaging Channel, believe in yourself, build a plan, and execute as you do better than any other business segment. If you want advice, seek it out. However, if you need another company to do all the work you are probably not ready. Confidence is the key that opens the door to possibilities, and your determination is the catalyst to realizing success. The Imaging Channel has never been an institution which outsourced what it could deliver itself.

Managed IT Services is a complex deliverable, but you can deliver it successfully and profitably with leadership and discipline. There are no short-cuts, and there is no success without leadership. It is time those in the Imaging Channel wake up and surround themselves with the doers instead of the talkers.

R.J. Stasieczko     

Doesn’t Buy-in And Accepting Change Reinforce Status Quo?

It seems many leaders get stuck waiting on buy-in during times of disruption. A term I define as a fearful leader’s excuse to remain status quo. Leaders who always chase buy-in have the wrong team or don’t understand the importance of job descriptions. It seems that many organizations pride themselves on simply doing common sense things. They are excited by simply doing what is expected, rather than creating the unexpected. Is accepting change anything special? Or does that saying breed mediocrity? In today’s business climate everyone has to accept change, it’s a basic job description, not any great accomplishment.

“Accepting Change is nothing special, get excited about creating change.”

 Would it not be better to promote the ability to Create Change? If we simply focus on accepting change, we are then admitting this. Our organization will remain status quo until someone else creates needed changed. Then we will be eager to implement. Of course only if we get buy-in. When your organization voices loudly they accept change what they are voicing is this. “Our organization is reactive”. 

Don’t let buzz words cripple innovation. Words have power they create a mindset. Too many organizations are outlining and defining common sense accomplishments and then adopting this commonality as their keys to successes. In reality, they are merely the keys to status quo.

 Exceptional organizations filled with extraordinary people. Will create exceptional customer experiences and are driven to increase their remarkability. Exceptional organizations understand that their remarkability is more important than their marketing.

 Exceptional organizations don’t fool themselves into complacency by believing their customer relationships will survive a competitor’s better experience.

 Exceptional Organizations understand the value and importance of the phrase “Currently this is how we do it”.

 Exceptional Organizations look where others don’t. They collaborate with innovative thinkers and doers who create change.    

Exceptional Organizations understand the importance of building teams that challenge one another over teams that focus on pacifying one another. These Exceptional Organizations do not build corporate cultures based on internal customers, their culture is based on providing exceptional experiences to their external customers.

It seems that many organizations have allowed the needs of their teams to determine the needs of their customers. Obviously, organizations must provide exceptional work environments, and when the people in the organization can sacrifice their needs to ensure their customers’ needs are delivered, and delivered with an exceptional experience. It is only then they become an exceptional organization.

“The pain associated with improvement is only appreciated by those who are determined to improve.

Improvement only comes from accountability and when accountability is put on hold waiting for buy-in, creating great customer experiences will suffer by default. Exceptional organizations will deliver exceptional customer experiences. Status quo companies will always believe their customer relationships are more important than their customers’ experience. This is the reason why that new vendor no one saw coming who delivers exceptional experiences. Defeat incumbents who believed their long relationships allowed them the comfort of complacency.

In closing; “Imagination, ingenuity, and fortitude will never be friends with complacency.”

R.J. Stasieczko       

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