Selling Typewriters to Selling Copiers was not a business transition; don’t fool yourself.
I recently read an article where some in the document industry discussed that the industry’s actors could easily transition to IT services because the industry used to sell typewriters. WTF! Was my response.
In November, I spoke at the BTA meeting in Asheville, NC. The topic, transitioning from a print-centric deliverable to an IT services deliverable. In this presentation, I went through some highlights of ImageQuest LLC, an IT Security and Services Firm headquartered in Nashville, Tn.
ImageQuest successfully transitioned from a print-centric business. Today ImageQuest LLC revenues exceed 10 million with a customer base of less than 80 customers; yes eighty customers. ImageQuest LLC is a shining example of what selling upscale IT services looks like.
I consider myself fortunate to have once worked with Milton Bartley as ImageQuest transitioned. IT can be done however, IT won’t be accomplished through delusion.
During that presentation, I shared with the audience the below graphic.
The purpose was to highlight that the so-called transition from typewriters to copiers was not a transition at all. It was merely a product change that easily fit into the typewriter dealer’s business processes. Witnessing that some in our industry still don’t understand the realities is disturbing. Let me explain.
The typewriter is a product (A-BOX) that requires a supply and physical service. The business processes for selling supplying and servicing typewriters are nearly identical to those for selling, supplying, and servicing copiers.
The owner of the typewriter dealership went outside and replaced the sign that said Bob’s Typewriters with the new sign saying Bob’s Copiers. Once the owner did that, their business was transformed.
Unfortunately, those believing that simply putting IT services in their name and running around selling IT services within the processes of a print services company have defined the failure of the IT services transition.
After over a decade, very few print dealers can prove that at least 40% of their recurring services revenue is derived from IT services. Please understand that I do NOT recognize IT services as DocuWare or any Print Management Software. It’s not
When I hear this crazy comparison, it immediately defines the reality that many in the document imaging channel are entirely out of alignment with what transitioning from print to IT services entails.
What’s worse is the so-called consultants attempting to help the dealers who are utterly clueless to what the foundation and processess of the core deliverable of print consists of.
Without this understanding, the consultants are allowing the dealers to define for themselves how they will merge the print deliverable with the IT services deliverable.
Unfortunately, how many in the print services industry have attempted to define this transition has completely distracted them from proper accountability towards a successful transition.
This deflection from reality has to change as everyone logically will conclude that the landscape of business print, its supplies, and its services is being disrupted with warp speed. The pandemic has taught the world that print is unnecessary in many business applications, and continuous technology advances allow more business information to be consumed behind glass.
IT services will require an entirely new business mindset and business processes. IT services are complex, and navigating through that complexity will take entrepreneurship and discipline.
When typewriter dealers became copier dealers, yes, all the typewriter customers were, in fact, copier prospects. However, those telling print service providers that all their print customers are IT service prospects are entirely delusional.
IT services delivered to the SMB space based on 2k a month service engagements were the business model 15 years ago. It amazes me to hear some consultants still using the same talk tracks they used 15 years ago.
IT services providers must move upscale and build businesses based on 10k a month contracts ignoring the commodity of those 2k a month service contracts. In the way, no print dealer would accept selling segment one print devices as a core print deliverable.
Does anyone ever question that most of the organizations/consultants teaching print dealers IT services have a client portfolio of IT service providers who are 1-2-million-dollar IT services companies?
I do not believe that the document imaging channel’s leaders want to trade in their 5-10-25-50, or100 million-dollar dealership for a 2-million-dollar IT services business based on a 15-year-old IT services deliverable. Who Agrees???
Dealers, please stop listening to unsubstantiated success stories and, more importantly, question the reality of anyone telling you that transitioning from typewriters to copiers is proof that the industry can transition from print to IT.
This topic is complex, and obviously, an 800-word article is not a road map. However, what I discuss in this article should highlight the reality that the industry needs to ask more questions of its consultants. Stay tuned to “The End Of The Day With Ray!” I will discuss this topic in more detail.
When navigating a complete business transition, there will be no easy paths, no automatics based on past success, and logic tells us - that when navigating from old maps, remember that old maps do not account for changes in the landscape.
“Status quo is the killer of all that will be invented.”