Are we meeting for Relevance or, Remembrance?

 

During the disruption, those being disrupted have only two choices. Attempt fate and stay in the past or, transition to the future relevance. It is easy to see which choice the actors take. Just show up at their meetings.

I attend many meetings in the technology sector, and I wanted to share some thoughts regarding what I believe to be a severe threat to my friends in the Imaging Channel. That threat is an obsession to make everyone comfortable. As I attend the industry's events, it seems as the painful discussion associated with growth are anesthetized by the comforts related to what I describe as complacency talk. The conversations void of addressing challenges.

The channel is choking itself by continuing in past business models, and past meeting models. Let’s face it what’s changed in the meeting format regarding the presenters, the locations, or the material? The industry is still promoting the 20 year old print management concepts, and many in the industry still denying the overselling of A3. The gatherings discuss the need to diversifying yet the industry's diversification still represents less than 10% of the deliverable. Of course no one discusses diversification as a percentage. Maybe if the industry did it actors would react to the realities.

Too much whitewashing in hopes that discussing market realities can be avoided.

Why do most who speak at industry events spend the first 25% of their presentation telling the audience how relevant print is. The speaker will ramble on about the potential growth in print management. More than likely these speakers will throw out some miscalculated number derived from a past fantasy. Explaining what managed print services will bill in the year 2025. I concluded in 2025 it won't even be called MPS. It will be DaaS or Device as a Service or, something delivered through an innovative platform. Also in reality what ever number the experts say is irrelevant to the realities of a declining deliverable. Even if the whole world has a print management agreement. From the day they sign it they will print less everyday forward.

During the disruption of any industry, the time to gather and have cheerleading sessions for the past must end. The gatherings must be about the future, and the speakers educating on the future must not care of the past’s relevance, and the audience must be willing to listen to that which scares them. Quite frankly, during disruptive times, the listers should fear the talk of complacency’s comfort, more than the perceived threats of an uncomfortable future.

 “Leaving the comfort of complacency can be exasperating to those attempting to abandon yesterday’s relevance.”

These safe havens of yesterday’s relevance will continue to stifle all the good intentions for progress if not challenged. So, I am challenging my friends in the Imaging Channel. To challenge the industry to stop propelling the past to the future.

"A company becomes obsolete when they focus on delivering the past to the future instead of delivering the future to the present."

I recently heard a comment from an executive outside the industry which echoed something I and many others believed for over a decade.

His comment was. “It seems Most of The Imaging Channel’s analysis is propaganda” I would add to that; it seems as our industry’s information always brings the past to the future and hardly ever discusses the future injecting itself into the present. The analyst seem to always see more of the same in the future and never account for any innovative disruptions. As we all know the future deliverable of this industry will be most upsetting to its present one. Unfortunately ignoring it or whitewashing its threats will prove to be way more upsetting to the industry's future. 

When did the Imaging Channel tell its advisors to tell them what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear? Or, was it the advisors insecurities, which led to this insanity?  

My friends, our industry will not survive as it once was, we all know this. So, I will ask some questions that no one else seems to be asking.

 1)  Is our industry willing to stop its obsession in making everyone comfortable in status quo? Next time you are with a group of peers listen for the arguments of change and if those arguments are silenced by complacency, stand up and argue for change.

 2)  Will the Imaging Channel continue managing to comfort or lead for innovative growth? All entrepreneurial leaders welcome the pain of growth. Unfortunately, managers rarely ever do. So, today, the industry must stop attempting to manage their innovation and begin leading it. The industry’s managers need a big shot of entrepreneurialism.   

 3)  Can the channel move past yesterday’s alliances if those alliances are counterproductive to innovation? This question is fundamental. The products we currently use and those relationships can never outweigh your customers’ current and future needs. As industries consolidate, many relationships will be strained, and unfortunately many of the subjects will indeed take things personally. Remember we are in business to serve our customers first, then our vendors, but only if those vendors are relevant to today’s market realities.

 4)  Will the boards which govern the industry’s associations ever resemble the future the industry hopes to reach? The Imaging Channel, like other reseller channels, is converging and our boards are not. As long as those who guide are the same, the guidance will, in fact, reflect them. Nothing new can ever be discovered if all those who are looking came from the same place and refuse to look in new places. 

Who agrees?  

Those who agree must stop sitting in silence. Niccolo Machiavelli described Lukewarm defenders of innovation as a significant threat to continued relevance. My friends, I say that Lukewarm defenders stifle what could be, based on what should be. The industry pacifism is killing the desires for change. In the next year or two, the imaging Channel will have decided their fate. In a fast approaching future, the Imaging Channel will meet either for relevance or remembrance. I intend to show up for relevance. Do you? 

 Those wishing for relevance lets connect and together make that happen.

 “Status Quo is the killer of all that will be invented.”

 Ray Stasieczko

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