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R.J. Stasieczko

M&A, Alarming Warning Sign for The Document Imaging Channel!

What are the 535, 2020 M&A's in the IT services sector telling the Print Services Sector?

The list of M&A activity and Private Equity investments within the IT Services Sector from January 2020 through December 2020 was unprecedented. Here's the list compiled by Channele2e

The questions all my friends in the Document Imaging Channel must ask are tough.

Has Private Equity given up on the Document Imaging Channel?

Has the thinking that the document channel's large customer bases would provide great opportunities for diversified equipment and services finally been proven as fantasy?

Will investors believe that the IT Services Sector will capitalize on prints decline by delivering print equipment and its services closer to market realities then the document imaging channel.

Over the last year, the document imaging channel found itself for the first time in its history, seriously questioning the value of its core deliverable of print. That questioning was also apparent in private equity. However, more importantly, the industry's end-users are also questioning their future investments in print equipment.

2021 has started with even more M&A activity in the IT sector. So, far in just the first 10 days, there have been over 20. So, With all this M&A activity outside the document imaging channel. Why are the channel's actors not doing more to speed up their diversification into IT services? Or, why are those who have IT services still struggling with actually delivering these services in order to increase revenues and profits?

It seems as the dealers and the manufactures with direct operations are still print-focused and did not really use the last year to broaden their mindset to appreciate the realities of IT services enough to cause them the boldness in leadership needed to transition.

We still witness the industry not challenging itself outside print. Instead, the challenges of print have consumed the industry to double down on saving or advancing outdated strategies.

We are still witnessing the obsession to continue in outdated leasing and overselling A3 strategies. Still, we hear the insanity of home print management. Too many of the industry's advisors seem to be stuck in 2000 trying to prolong a print-focused outcome over a true broader technology services outcome for the end-users they serve.

Are the investors finally realizing that the IT services community is a better investment? Do the investors realize as print needs continue to decline, so will the value of the imaging channel's sales and service infrastructure.

We have all heard the saying as more and more try to exit, the lower the price paid. On the other hand, when the buyers are lining up to buy, the price goes up. What 2020 and now 2021 are screaming. Is the once perception of great diversification opportunities in print dealers' massive customer bases has proven to be not a reality?

Investors are flocking to those organizations at the heart of the customer's digitization, and those industries and organizations outside that digitization are not the best investment. Unfortunately, The investors have awakened to the reality that great relationships do not equate to an ability to transition.   

The channel has proven that building diversification business models to match the business models of overselling A3. Models based on the over selling of products instead of capturing services have not worked and never will.

The document imaging channel is not going to diversify just because of a relationship. Those organizations outside the core deliverable of print attempting to deliver through the channel. Must not allow their great intentions of helping the channel diversify to be hijacked by those from within the channel attempting to help the outsiders who believe relationships will guarantee their transition. This strategy has failed miserably over the last decade.

Dealers must listen to those who successfully delivered the diversification. Instead of those attempting to fit the diversified deliverable into the print services deliverable model, they must deliver the diversification as intended and stop trying to circumvent what others do successfully because it's more comfortable to remain fooled by those too afraid to challenge this insanity. 

My friends' your transition to IT services is not a suggestion from your customer base, your investors, and your balance sheet it's a demand. Those who continue ignoring all the indications of the rapid decline in the value of a print equipment and its services infrastructure will soon realize the value of what they spent their lives building is nowhere near as valuable as they perceived.

The document imaging channel can transition; it simply takes boldness and the ability to lead based on reality.

Transition is not automatic, it takes a deliberate process, and without discipline, in that process, it will not come. 

Those wishing to help the document imaging channel transition. Must stop allowing the channel's actors or print-focused consultants. To hijack your good intentions by substituting the harshness of the needed coaching with an appeasing approach unmeasured caused by the misunderstanding or an incompetence of the transition's realties.

Over the last decade, transition attempts hijacked by appeasers were somewhat hidden as print's core deliverable was still sufficient in concealing mismanagement. Obviously, with the recognition of prints decline, there's no more room to manage or receive consultation-based on appeasement.

In Closing: When investors believe what they hoped for is not a reality, they cash out. The print equipment and services industry has to diversify and quick.

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

If not already Let's connect here on Linkedin

Ray Stasieczko

CEO/Founder TEASRA,The Innovation Channel and Host of The End of The Day With Ray!

Document Imaging Channel, What's different besides PPE?

Every year the industry has its dealer recognitions, and it's an excellent time for the channel's actors to check out what their peers are doing, how they are improving, and what new exciting things they are up to. This year I was looking forward to the ENX publication which profiles many of the channel's dealers. I was very interested in what the dealer community would share about the worst year in the industry's history.

Wow, what a surprise when the magazine hit the streets. (I will discuss how all the industry's magazines' lack digital capabilities in another article.)

If I had not actually been handed the magazine by the mailman last week. I would have thought I was reading last year's issue. Other than the occasional pictures of people wearing a mask and the mentioning of PPE. There seems to be a trend in ignoring some critical realities of a quickly changing marketplace.

I was expecting to read how dealers are innovating their customer interactions to include e-commerce. A reality still not discussed.

One would have thought we would hear how dealers began to pivot in order to address customers' realities in wanting to buy through digital landscape.

Obviously, I am not suggesting that dealers compete with Amazon. I continue to suggest that dealers have platforms in place, allowing their customers to engage in commerce without the intervention of human annoyance. Sometimes and sometimes is growing fast, customers prefer it that way.

As I read about the dealers who loaded up on PPE, I thought it would have been so awesome if their customers knew where they could go and select PPE from a trusted source and click buy now. Dealers selling PPE with push economy processess seems so dysfunctional. Customers don't need demos and in person meetings to buy mask, hand sanitizer, and yes even the printer and its supplies for their house.

The dealers must get past their enormous egos, believing that without holding their customers' hands their customers are doomed.

The capabilities of e-commerce are much more than what the naysayers continue chatting or the ridiculous stories some recite about how a customer bought a printer online and now has to pay a dollar a page or some other insane description of a one-off.

My friends' one-offs don't drive an industry's success or its failures. One-offs are the distractions which those fighting change always seek to reinforce their procrastination in moving towards progress. 

The document imaging channel is going through the most significant challenge to its pre covid existence, a challenge that will cause massive consolidation and unprecedented changes to all aspects of the industry's core deliverable print.

Yet, according to nearly every dealer profiled, things are just great MPS, and production print has a great future. Do the industry's actors really believe MPS, production print, and overselling A3 delivered as it was in 1990 will maintain them in the comforts of that 1990 business model? I sure as hell hope not! 

I have become accustomed to the ignoring of realties from many in the industry. However, when the car runs off the road because the driver ignored the warning signs to prevent the crash. I would say, "They got what they saw coming because they ignored what they saw."

Over the last ten months, the digital world consumed what was left of the analog world. The tremendous growth of innovative companies is unprecedented. Organizations such as Zoom, DocuSign, Shopify, Microsoft 365, all other cloud platforms, and yes, even our friends at Amazon blew away all expectations. In contrast, the print sector has found itself needing to continue lowering the expectations of its stakeholders.

Over the last year, there have been over 500 acquisitions in the IT space. The document imaging channel has had basically zero acquisition activity. Keeping in mind asset sales are not an indication of investment excitement.

Now we see private equity both building on and exiting the investment in the IT sector, taking their assets public, or selling them off to an end game. The document imaging channel must prepare for some of the possible acquisitions as private equity folks like Thoma Bravo seek to exit some of the many investments they have made. Also, keep in mind the acquisition activity of behemoths like Salesforce and Google.

In a recent The End Of The Day With Ray! episode I discuss Google acquisition of Actifio and the SalesForce recent acquisitions. Here's the link.

Within Thoma Bravo's portfolio are organizations that could impact the aspirations of many dealers. Especially those who continue NOT taking MIT (Managed IT Services) seriously or are mismanaging their MIT service deliverables.

It was refreshing to hear that many dealers have grown in MIT. However, percentage growths can be deceiving; after all, in many cases, the dealer had nearly any MIT activity in past years.

I would suggest that dealers focus on the percentage of both revenue and operating profit your MIT services contributes to the organization's whole. It can be distracting listening to some of the grand declarations of MIT's success without reality applied.

My friends, the industry is going to consolidate, the OEMs are going to realign their distribution. Unfortunately, this realignment will not fair well for smaller dealers and those dealers who cause a competitive threat to the realigned OEM or the OEMs' new distribution partner.

It's time for dealers to stop investing in the business model of overselling A3, chasing the insanity of production print, prematurely upgrading leases, and fighting the realities of office print declines.

Dealers must look around, and without prejudice, to what, they find sacred and adjust to the truths they see.

"When an industry seeks its own comfort over that of those they serve, they will succumb to obsolescence."

The opportunities dealers had as little as five years ago have already changed. Dealers must stop procrastinating, the broadening of their deliverable, and manage those diversifications as if their survival depends on it - because it does. 

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

If not already Let's connect here on Linkedin

Ray Stasieczko