Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Is Managed Print Services Making a Comeback?



Back in the day, about four years ago, every OEM, large dealership, consultant and training house had a managed print services program. Indeed, the big concerns tossed millions of marketing dollars at prospective MPS practices — remember the great Oki motorcycle giveaways and those Ricoh MPS roadshows? How about the Photizo conferences?

Times changed. More importantly, misaligned expectations, shortsighted hiring practices, and lack of ownership commitment killed many practices. The final blow came as OEM after OEM applied shell-game tactics, pitching themselves as services-led, but hamstringing dealers in the form of equipment quotas. How can ANY manufacturer promote a philosophy which endeavors to reduce the number of machines in the field?

So they didn’t. Instead, MPS corporate programs grew like weeds, defining optimized fleets as “machines carrying the same logo” and promising 30 percent savings

Relegated to “supplies and service” management, MPS slid to the background. Especially when the new “shiny object,” Managed Services, took center stage. But a funny thing happened on the way to the NOC — turns out, managing PCs and end users and selling to IT folks isn’t as easy as it was expected to be. Indeed, quoting, presenting and closing IT deals is downright difficult — more so than MPS. The selling is different, prospects act differently, and the infrastructure to support service agreements can be daunting. Once again, a great idea gets bogged down in the real world.

So we tried managed services, didn’t like the results, and now are looking at MPS from a different perspective.

“Maybe MPS isn’t so difficult, after all.”

Read the rest, here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Is Managed print Services experiencing "the third day..."


Yes, MpS is coming back.  I know dozens of successful MpS practices engaging clients, supporting MpS and making a profit today; it isn't that we've completely abandoned the idea.

But, I'm observing that we've left MpS to pursue the latest shinny object, managed services.  I'm not deriding that effort - worthy is the quest away of print.

And no, clients haven't fallen prey to our hypnotic social media or cold call campaigns - they've heard the "30% savings" mantra and see through the "optimized fleet" scheme.

What I see is that we've come full circle.  MpS programs, benchmarks, best practices and philosophies have rooted and everyone has logged their "10,000 hours. 

Today, we've got programs and associations:

CompTia's Managed Print Services community, Xerox PagePack, Canon MDS, Ricoh MDS, HP MPS, Toshiba Encompass, Lexmark MPS, Sharp MPS, Muratec MPS, Kyocera MDS, Okidata MPS and the grand daddy of them all, your Managed Print Services Association.

Today's software, unavailable in 2008, reads devices and spits out proposals in the blink of an eye. 


Like cities in the dark, MpS programs dot the landscape: Supplies Network, Digitec, LMI, Clover, Synnex and more provide sales training, assessment/TCO tools, and automatic toner fulfillment. 

These managed print services pillars are proven, standardized and in place.  In other words, managed print services is the status quo.

The establishment is MpS.

Consider the following:

MpS is part of a stale and complacent offering.
Is there anything more stale than copiers, printers and paper? No.  There is nothing more old-fashioned than marks on paper.  Don't believe me?  Ask your customers.

The providers are not in touch with customers.
While we've been promoting OEM specific solutions and telling prospects about our 14 new models,  businesses have been shifting from copying to scanning, relieving themselves of those big, nasty A3 copiers and going paperless - without our help.  

Think I'm wrong?  Check Xerox's earnings for the past 3 years; review HP's numbers for the same period and feel for those Lexmark CxO's, crash-coursing Mandarin.  They all lost touch years ago.

These shinny offerings are wedged into old business models.
I've had paying clients tell me, "...if it(managed services) doesn't fit into the 'blah, blah, blah', copier dealer business model,  it will never work..."  Indeed, even successful managed print services practices utilize yesteryear's example; contractual services tied to equipment placements.  What once was our strength, is now our greatest weakness.

"Complacent, out of touch, old business models"-
I challenge you to google, "How to Recognize an Industry Ready for Disruption" - you'll find that we are sitting on the bubble.  

The niche is primed for major turbulence; bigger than experienced in the beginning of MpS, and separate from current consolidations(OEM/Dealer).

I suggest that you and I are on the cusp of a Revelation and Revolution. The MpS 'third day'. Resurrection.

This time, the MpS revolution will be carried forward by in-the-field, MpS practitioners, free of stifling processes and discombobulated compensation plans...

This time, executives who've forgotten how to sell, aren't fashioning a strategy designed to secure more self space, create equipment quotas then calling it 'managed print services'...

This time, we help our clients move away from ink, away from printers, away from copiers, without the promise of 30% savings...

Who's coming with me?  

This moment will be the moment of "....something real and fun and inspiring in this God forsaken business and we will do it, together..."





Click to email me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Universal Constant: Are you the "Historic-Denier"


"Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it."
- Winston Churchill

The Earth rotates, our Moon orbits, both circle the Sun, the solar system flows within the Galaxy and the Milky Way drifts through the Universe.

Nothing stands still.

Some observe "change" in patterns - our lifecycle, ocean tides, seasons, sunrises and sunsets - there is a basic rhythm and circular order. Though seasons repeat and the Sun always rises, each Summer is unique, every Sunset, one of a kind. Flow patterns have similar signs, yet every journey is singular.

Even though we live within the turbulence, recognizing the past in our future is challenging.  The establishment doesn't like change.

"Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
- George Santayana

Business systems abide the same laws yet it's difficult to recognize the signs of change, turn of seasons.  Arguments are historically similar, the signs as prominent, examples clear, but buried in the status quo:

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." - Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation

"It’s time we wake up from the pipe-dream of the paperless office..." - Wired

"Tsk. Death of the Copier? Come on, the OEMs will be around forever and people need to make copies.  Who let this guy in?" - Some print/copier dude, Lyra, 2009.

We've all been here before - as a society and as the human race - today it's the internet, a century ago it was the telegraph. Today it's iPADs, yesterday it was chalk.

Chalk.

There have always been visionaries, there will always be Ludittes.  As further illustration, consider the following list discovered years ago via Fred Kemp, a professor in Texas, by way of Collins and Halverson and originally presented by Dave Thornburg and David Dwyer.  

They're describing resistance to change. I know you'll see parallels.

Fascinating:


  • From a principal's publication in 1815: "Students today depend on paper too much. They don't know how to write on a slate without getting chalk dust all over themselves. They can't clean a slate properly. What will they do when they run out of paper?"
  • From the journal of the National Association of Teachers, 1907: "Students today depend too much upon ink. They don't know how to use a pen knife to sharpen a pencil. Pen and ink will never replace the pencil."
  • From Rural American Teacher, 1928: "Students today depend upon store bought ink. They don't know how to make their own. When they run out of ink they will be unable to write words or ciphers until their next trip to the settlement. This is a sad commentary on modern education."
  • From FTA Gazette, 1941: "Students today depend on these expensive fountain pens. They can no longer write with a straight pen and nib. We parents must not allow them to wallow in such luxury to the detriment of learning how to cope in the real business world which is not so extravagant."
  • From Federal Teachers, 1950: "Ballpoint pens will be the ruin of education in our country. Students use these devices and then throw them away. The American values of thrift and frugality are being discarded. Businesses and banks will never allow such expensive luxuries."
  • From a fourth-grade teacher in Apple Classroom of Tomorrow chronicles, 1987: "If students turn in papers they did on the computer, I require them to write them over in long hand because I don't believe they do the computer work on their own."
  • From a science fair judge in Apple Classroom of Tomorrow chronicles, 1988: "Computers give students an unfair advantage. Therefore, students who used computers to analyze data or create displays will be eliminated from the science fair."

Breathtaking, isn't it? "Deniers" from 1815 to 1988.

I remember business owners back in the 90's exclaiming, “Why would I ever need a computerized accounting system?” Three years later, most of those suppliers were gone.

Do you hear similar comments? Yes, everyday.

OEM sponsored ‘studies’ reporting how office print is rising or a blog projecting paper as the preferred knowledge transfer medium appear almost daily; more signs lamenting "pen-knives" and "store bought ink".

I hope you're not telling your employees or prospects, they don't know how to "write on a slate without getting chalk dust all over themselves" or "Ballpoint pens will be the ruin of education in our country..."

Robots are replacing jobs like never before, and that's okay.

The business world is evolving away from paper - processes are quicker and more efficient when utilizing digital conveyance of information, and that's okay.

Technology will be the great equalizer, women will be paid the same as men, minimum wage may end up at $40.00/hr, but cashiers and order takers will be replaced with the aforementioned robots.  And that's okay.

Study history, recognize the signs, see the future, flow through the now.

Don't be the historic-denier.

Curious about your future?  Interested in technology as a catalyst?  Join us for a thrill-packed, riveting, web-event, "The Future of Everything", May 19, 2016.

Monday, April 11, 2016

In the Beginning: One Shade of the DOTC Story



Interview, 7/7/2011, The Imaging Channel.

I dug this up from the underground vault - archives of days gone by, reflections of the future.


Most of us know Greg Walters … or at least we know a little bit about him. We’re familiar with his blog, The Death of the Copier (DOTC), and the scantily clad ladies of said blog. We recognize his bandana and Harley Davidson. We know he’s opinionated and passionate about MPS. But we here at TIC Talk wanted to know more …

TIC: Do you have a “real” job? If so, what is it?

Greg: Yes, I have a “real” job as the MPS Practice Manager at SIGMAnet, a 25-year-old, West Coast VAR.

TIC: Do you wear a suit to this “real job,” or ever?

Greg: OK, that’s funny. Yes, 9-5, I can be found usually sporting a suit, with a tie even. Odd thing is, many days I am the only person in the office in such garb. It’s Cali, and I am originally from the Midwest.

TIC: What’s your background?

Greg: I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii – Pearl Harbor, in that great big “coral pink” hospital in 1962.
I grew up in a suburb just outside Detroit, graduating high school in 1980 – the same year of the Miracle on Ice, Mt. St. Helens’ eruption, the Olympics and Ronald Reagan accepting the Republican nomination in Detroit, at Joe Louis Arena.

After college, I worked at INACOMP, making my way through a few other dealerships and VARs over a decade or so, always proposing computerized accounting systems. Those were wild times – PS/2s, COMPAQ, Novell networks and DOS 4.0. Taking a break from technology, I worked uniform sales – ahem, I mean, “Corporate Identity Programs” – for a great company, CINTAS. They transferred me out to Ontario, California, in 1999 to help open a new plant.

I decided to get back to technology and jumped into a sales position with Océ. From there, I worked with a very nice Panasonic dealership in Anaheim, pushed on to IKON out of Redlands, and ultimately stumbled into a new thing with SIGMAnet, Managed Print Services.

We started from scratch – oh, the stories I can tell.

TIC: When did you get into MPS?

Greg: Well, I started with the MPS practice in September of 2007. But while at IKON, I exposed myself to all the EDM I could and even worked intimately on a rather large FM project – MPS before there was such a thing.

TIC: When did you create DOTC, and why?

Greg: My first post was February 20, 2008, and was about HP Edgeline. I created the blog thinking it would be a good way to put some information up regarding the benefits of Edgeline. We (SIGMAnet) were, and still are, an HP OPS Elite dealer. Edgeline was going to kill all other copiers, hence, “The Death of the Copier” – pretty simple. My second post, made on February 24, 2008, was titled “Managed Print Services, That Hot, New Thing …”

TIC: Did you ever imagine that it would grow into what DOTC has become today?

Greg: Nope. I can still see the looks on all the faces of those copier dudes at Lyra 2009. “Death of the Copier? Just who do you think you are?” LOL!I often comment how happy I was getting just 12 views a day, and most of those from my mom. I built the blog originally as a receptacle for things I was interested in. It evolved into a spot for me to put thoughts down one day and go back to read later. I honestly do write for an audience of one: me — and I crack me up. I must say, I am honored, humbled and thankful for all the great people DOTC has introduced in my life. No plan – just making it up as I go.

TIC: What do you do in your free time?

Greg: Huh – sleep.
And hit the trails, get off the grid in my 2001 LandRover, Disco II – yes, it is a green vehicle. Metallic Forest Green, that is. Ha! By the way, new idea for a bumper sticker on a Prius: “My other car is a … car.” Get it? Sorry, that’s my Detroit showing. Anywho, I also like to get out to the paintball arenas and light up some newbs. I used to golf – had all the stuff. One day I figured I really didn’t need another reason to chase a beer-cart around all day.

TIC: Greg Walters is certainly an interesting and busy person, both personally and professionally. In addition to blogging on DOTC, working at SIGMAnet and sitting on the board of the Managed Print Services Association (he currently serves as secretary), Greg will be joining the TIC Web team as a resident blogger, contributing bimonthly blogs to The Imaging of Greg.

Be sure to check back on Monday, July 11, for his first post.

Posted by Katherine Fernelius on 07/07/2011
Click to email me.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Managed print Services Practice Managers: Whats the new, sexy, Managed print Services?



  • Is MpS the new document management tool?
  • Is it business intelligence and analytics?
  • Is managed print services the future of managed services or the other way around?
Your MpS practice incorporates many tools to satisfy your MpS contractual obligations.

For example, you may be utilizing PrintAudit for data collection, an assessment tool and supplies reporting mechanism. Some of your customers might be reporting through WebJet Admin. Once meter reads are completed through the same or additional tool, your billing system takes over, generating invoices, and collecting revenue.

Maybe you see the advantages of outsourcing the toner supply side of your practice with Great American, LMI, Supplies Network, Axess - you may engage multiple solutions.

When your MpS customer calls for service, technicians are dispatched, service parts installed or ordered and tickets closed. The same for help desk tickets and somewhere, warranties are verified to insure proper credit is received for parts exchange. Lease expiration dates, typically the responsibility of sales, are managed in a separate tool, perhaps E*Automate or SalesForce.

On top of all this, you might be able to run a separate P/L.

Consider how many functions and tools mentioned above: The DCA, help desk, service dispatch, accounting, billing, remote management, toner/supplies reporting and fulfillment - at least six separate data bases which do not talk to each other.

We complain each time we're tasked with presenting a review of the practice to the executive board.

ASCII dumps, Crystal Reports, and pivot tables digesting data from silo's of data then cut and pasted into a nice tidy report. This is both a proven process and staggering hindrance.


What’s the new, sexy Managed print Services? Full-line integration and one-touch information from Atlas.

We integrate disparate databases, present relevant data on single sheet of glass and utilize your existing tool set; no ‘rip and replace’, no expensive and time consuming monolith of programing.

With Atlas, it is possible to manage your business with existing tools and without the pain of creating spreadsheets and pivot tables.

One More Thing -

Your practice is full of silos, but imagine your customers'. Do you think they would like to see IT assets, maybe even printers, with relevant data from databases like WebJet Admin, SCCM, LanDesk, or MobileIron, on one screen?

I know they do, go ahead and ask them.

Once you’ve implemented and seen the positive impact in your business, help your customers by offering to manage their assets. Embed asset management into you managed print services agreements.

Curious? We’re hosting a web session reviewing Atlas in the managed print services niche.

Click to register and join us!

Eventbrite - Atlas - Integrate Your MPS Tools

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Is Paperless-ness a Sexy Result or a Mundane Goal?





Have you noticed an increase in "paperless" talk?

Scuttlebutt generated by folks who make a living selling print/copy devices.  Their argument goes something like, "... I've been hearing about the paperless office since 1978.  It hasn't happened yet.  It's never going to happen..."

On the other side, parties are pushing the paperless office as worthy goal. Headlines like, "...Five Reasons You Should Go Paperless..." and "Go Green, Go Paperless..." haunt news feeds and timelines across the internet.

Who will find themselves on the wrong side of history?  Will businesses start printing like it's 1999 or does digital transformation impact everything BUT print and copy?

I'm going with the folks letting go of the past, challenging the present and riding technology into the future.

The paper less office is here, now.  I've seen it in businesses across the country and in varied industries.  My view is supported by the current standing of our Big 3; Xerox, HP, Lexmark.  If the business world is so enamored  with marks on paper, why are the jewels of our industry experiencing years of decline?

  • Is it because the world suddenly realized trees are not a renewable resource?
    • No, trees have always been renewable.
  • Is it because print and copy services are expensive?
    • No, cheaper than ever.
  • Is it because managed print services illuminated decades of overselling?
    • No. Customers do not care.
Business is moving away from printers and copiers because they are utilizing technology to enhance internal business processes.  Businesses aren't going paperless to go paperless, their continuously improving processes resulting in reduced costs and less paper.

One of my axioms:
"The more paper flowing through your organization, the less efficient your processes."
The past illuminates the future - Green columnar paper.

Not that long ago, company financials were calculated on green paper.  Sales, profits, operations plans were reviewed quarterly - 90 day old data was acceptable.

Then VisaCalc, MultiPlan and Lotus changed everything as hand calculations and mechanical pencils gave way to the QWERTY and mouse.

In an instant, general ledger reports could be generated in days instead of weeks.

In less than a decade, sales of green columnar binder paper dropped off a cliff.

Ask your CFO.

We weren't worried about saving trees or the Chewbacca's; new tools streamlined existing, paper based processes.

As a matter of fact,  output skyrocketed as paper-based workers printed everything from invoices to recipes, financial reports, emails and resumes sat abandoned in output trays around the globe - the salad days of office print.

The Internet of Printers? No.  The internet of Processes

Strange and wonderful things occurred over the last decade - 'clouds' support more efficient distribution of technology.  The internet generation occupy cubicles and boardrooms; continuous improvement collides with digital technology every day. Focus has shifted from faster mechanical devices to streamlined processes.

Information flows from one department to another; from human process to human process. Today, the slowest component of business processes is the conveyance of information via paper.

As technology permeates business operations, organic efficiencies eliminate paper as a mode of information transfer.   This is to say, implementing a paperless movement is not as effective as optimizing business processes when it comes to reducing paper use.  It is an 'inside-out' versus 'outside-in' approach.

The theme is simple:  instead of 'reducing paper usage' or saving trees, focus on increasing efficiency.

Have no doubt, as you eliminate redundancies, your paper, printer, copier, and supplies spend will decrease.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Selling Professional of Today



"What do you want out of life, kid?”

I remember the first time somebody asked me that question. I hesitated, a 20-something kid, trying to figure my answer and this guy’s angle. In the end, I stammered out an incoherent response; he was recruiting for A.L. Williams.

“More money.”

His answer to me was the best, “I’ll tell you what you want out of life in one word: More."

More work, love, sex, money, cars, kids, toys. More time.

More. Makes sense, in a 1980s kind of way, doesn’t it?

Let me ask you this: What do you want out of the imaging niche? More sales, more contracts, device, software, services sales, MPS, or managed services? More clicks?

Or just More?

Unlike the sustainable and always-growing pool of life insurance prospects...

Read the rest, here.

Click to email me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Don't Believe the Analysts, Articles or OEMs: Paper Is Not Relevant



There once was a clever advertisement floating around stressing the futility of going totally paperless. The example was a world without toilet paper.   When the pro-paperless character requests toilet paper, his partner slides a tablet under the door showing a picture of a roll of toilet paper.

Cute.

I'm sure a bunch of us all smiled and nodded.

My response to the metaphor is a bidet; no paper required.


The fight for paper has been raging since 2007 - around the same time managed print services started going mainstream. Over the last few months, amid the news of Lexmark selling, Xerox diverging, HP splitting, paper plant closures and the massive consolidation of the dealer channel, it's odd to see more blogs and articles with titles like:

"Print Lives"
"Paperless office remains a pipe dream for many"
"Why paper still rules the enterprise"

Article based on information from as far back as 2009, the year before the iPad.  Oddly enough, manufacturers of devices that scratch marks on paper, fund these studies.  That's right, the people yelling "paper matters" and "the death of print has been greatly exaggerated" are the same ones making money off the sale of copiers and printers. Huh.

Surveys sponsored by print OEMs are receiving press coverage like:

"According to a new, independent survey of over 3,600 European employees commissioned by Epson Europe, 64% indicated they’d prefer to read reports and brochures on printed paper, citing the ability to ‘share/handout’ (53%), ‘read’ (44%) and ‘edit/annotate’ (41%) as key factors."
-IDM,  January 29, 2015

How can a study "commissioned" by one of the largest printer concerns on the planet be promoted as 'independent'?

Does one need to draw you a picture?

Everything from green printing, security, print big data, to mobile print is getting a spike of media attention - artificial buzz created by well funded marketing departments.

My response to all this "paper is still relevant" talk is Bravo Sierra. Poppycock.  Horsefeathers.  Bollocks.

Bullshit.


I'm saying this to the copier sales folks, the managed print services practice managers and sales people, the toner crews, and everyone in the trenches - listen deeply to the noise, do not ignore the propaganda, analyze the content with a dubious eye.

Remember, your prospects DO NOT READ THESE ARTICLES.  Unfortunately, ownership and sales management are consuming this tripe like it's 1999.

Nod your head when these reports are regurgitated during your Friday evening sales meeting and smile whenever one of your colleagues exclaims with glee, "Print isn't dead."

Clients don't want to be tethered to a copier, chained to a printer or slave to toner cartridges.

"And in your heart, you know I'm right."

The dirty little secret?

Our OEMs knew this back in 2007 and have been concocting ever since.  The progressive manufacturers are reducing sales acquisition cost with a virtual channel; take a look at HP Instant Ink.  Considering most of the buying process is completed without a sales relationship, today's machines rarely require service, and the fleet of vans scurrying all over the country, how relevant is a local dealership?

Now is the time to side with your prospects - sure, sell the shortsighted ones a copier or two - but keep your eye on the horizon.  Dive into all the training you can and develop your personal brand.

The wave is coming, be ready to jump.







Click to email me.

Monday, March 14, 2016

WebJet Admin, SCCM, LanDesk - See Everything with ATLAS

As business entities, we've developed separation of duties establishing the highest level of functional efficiency possible. We specialize by purpose: Accounting, Selling, Support, Production are separate yet interlaced.

This model works. The stronger our separate functions perform the better for the organization.

Unfortunately, this strength turns into a weakness.


"ATLAS saves us hours of valuable time every week locating and tracking vehicles in our dealership..."
Amy Westlake, Office Manager

Silo’s of data evolve into formidable barriers of communications. For those of us tasked with managing the ever expanding landscape of IT assets, collecting the necessary data from all our tools can be time consuming and vulnerable to human error.

Wouldn’t it be grand if you could cross-reference databases within your organization, distilling raw data into actionable information on a single pane?

Today, you can.

Introducing ATLAS - One-Touch Asset Management. ATLAS delivers YOUR data, from multiple sources, the way you wish to see it.



The concept is simple. The deliverable is simple. The method behind the glass, sophisticated.

Join us for a brief discussion around this easy-to-use yet powerful tool designed to work with your existing tools.

Our next webinar is, March 24th.

Click here for a schedule of events.





Click to email me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Three Alternatives to ‘Clicks’


 It’s been almost a year since I’ve written about copiers here at The Imaging Channel. During that time I’ve been in the field, in the IT realm, watching office print disintegrate from the end user side of things. It isn’t 1999 out there; companies are not buying big, 11x17 copiers as they once did and end users are not printing emails or recipes by the thousands anymore. On the good side, end users don’t hate printers or copiers as much. Unfortunately, that’s because end users hardly, if ever, think about print. To them, toner on paper is approaching irrelevancy.

Can anyone deny that this niche is in the midst of historically turbulent times? We’re witness to the transformation of an industry embedded in the fabric of modern living. Every person in the business world recognizes the copier and printer as foundational tools of the trade. Our industry is all over the world, but that world is changing, transforming daily away from the mundane, away from slow processes and away from paper.

We see the results of this movement in the way our OEMs are fracturing: Xerox is splitting, HP has split, and Lexmark is disintegrating. The Big Three of American office automation are shattering into stars.

This turbulence affects the independent channel as well. Merges, acquisitions and the entry of investment groups tell the tale of a smaller, less-populated landscape. Indeed, as the manufacturers fight for their lives, how can the independent reseller manage? Should you jump into the fray, slapping a “For Sale” sign on the front door? Should you shutter the place and simply get out?

I’ve noticed a peculiar thing:

Read the rest, here.




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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Your Assets: Surrounded By Water


How much time do you commit to a physical inventory of your IT assets ?

What resources do you allocate to the task? Once the numbers and locations have been collected, how long do you sit in front of your computer, tabulating the necessary data into usable information?

Do you access multiple applications, aggregating relevant data by straining multiple streams? Are spreadsheets and pivot tables your ‘best friend’? Do ASCII dumps, report generation and saving files as “.xls” give you the chills? How about converting .PDF to .XLS?

Yeah, we know.

Contemporary IT managers have more tools available than ever before - for every type of end-point, there is an application:

  • WebJet Admin see’s your printers
  • PrinterLogic shows end-user print activities
  • SCCM tracks servers
  • MobileIron helps managed mobility
  • LanDesk aids in dispatch and support
  • Etc.

Individually, these applications are considered best in class and provide meaningful information within their specific niche. Of course, when viewed globally, these niches become silo’s - if not islands.

Read the rest, here.

Click to email me.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Of Sex, Printers and Universal Translators


Printers are about as sexy as asset management and neither get a rise out of any IT professional. But just like sex, everybody does it - albeit with varying degrees of...satisfaction. To get it just right, there's a lot take in. Different inputs from multiple angles. It would be easier to reach apex, if there was a tool that made sense of these mixed signals.

It would be cool if there were something like that for sex, too.(not for you or me, for those not as experienced as we...)

For now, what would your asset/printer management nirvana feel like?

Is understanding the condition of all the printers in your organization through WebJet Admin, good?

Is knowing the number of service calls placed for each device as reported by applications like Service Now, fulfilling ?

How about the exact operating spend for each device found on a report generated in e-automate? Would this bring you to fruition?

Consider the following data items associated with managing print devices:

  • Toner levels
  • Service alerts
  • Current meter readings
  • Geographic location
  • Number of help desk calls logged against the device
  • Past service calls on a specific device
  • Print Cue information
  • Current lease and service billing amounts Lease expiration dates
  • The list goes on...
In the above example, there are six or nine separate software tools monitoring redundant or specialized areas of the same fleet. Each application is perfect for their specific function. Yet, at the same time, isolated and silo-centric.

This how of business process efficiency is achieved. Separate divisions of competencies - service, support, dispatch, contracts, warranty, sales, marketing, accounting on and on - each perform a defined set of functions within an organization, for the common good. This ideology flows through all organizations and is reflected in the portfolio of software you use everyday - separate packages for specific uses.

Chances are, you’re using a great set of tools to get an handle on all these data flows.

How would you like to see relevant data, presented as information, from ALL you applications, on a single screen? View toner level and alerts from WJA, number of service calls, help desk tickets generated from your dispatch/service desk and the physical location - all at the click of an icon, on one screen, presented on a floor plan.

Wouldn’t that be something?

It is possible, I have a solution that doesn’t require a “rip and replace” of your existing sub-solutions.

It’s a piece of software that sits in between your applications, pulling relevant data then presenting on a single screen.

Simple.

Not just for printers - whatever you’re monitoring today - Servers, PC’s, tablets, printers, service vehicles, mobile devices, water pump controls, nurse's carts, cattle - we can distill into immediate actionable information where and when you need it.

Its not a pipe dream and this isn't an add in the back of the OC Weekly. Sound interesting? The system is installed healthcare and IT support environments today and I'd love to share more.

This is real, no faking allowed. Reach out to me.


Click to email me. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Xerox, HP, Lexmark : The Greatest Transformation of a Niche Since the 70's Auto Industry


Remember transformations of the Past -

  • The great computer dealership purges of the 1990's - Inacomp to Wal*Mart
  • The music industry - vinyl to CD to MP3 to streaming
  • The auto industry, 1970's, from V8 to 4cyl, from 400 HP to 100 horses running through front wheels
2/2016 -

Look what is happening to Sharp - the copier side of Sharp is viable and profitable - is it far fetched to see another 'spin-off' or will the imaging division continue to be a profit center for the whole?  Is an investment of $450M good money after bad ?

Lexmark has gone from the "long cool woman in a black dress" to having her parts examined separately.  Recent augmentations appear more valuable than the core.

HP just reported,

"...Printing remained challenged in the quarter with net revenue of $4.6 billion, down 17% year-over-year as reported or 11% in constant currency, with declines in all regions."

Turning to Supplies, revenue was down 14% year-over-year in Q1 about 400 people exited the company globally as part of the restructuring activities announced in September...we are accelerating the program and now expect approximately 3,000 people will exit by the end of fiscal 2016 instead of over three years."

Last year, Q1 2015, HP reported a 14% decrease print revenue.  Two years of down numbers?  How about 4 years?

Xerox -

In an article written by Stephen Hays, the chairman of Brighton Securities, George Conboy is quoted saying Xerox...

"is steadily on a downward path, especially in its equipment business. The demand for its technology is falling by the day. Though the company may not be staring at bankruptcy in the near future it is, however, facing a situation where it is slowly moving away from maneuvering paper documents and making copies. Meaning, Xerox Corporation (NYSE: XRX) is steadily shifting away from its equipment business as there is lesser demand for its technology..."

Outside pundits see, why don't our own?

Some might say the auto industry transformation was greater in scale and scope than our copier confluence but consider this: no other segment of business, lest IT, has had more impact in the business world that printing and copying.

Nothing in history compares.

Chevy Citation, anyone?

How can Lexmark, Xerox and HP change to remain relevant?

The car of the year in 1980 was the Chevy Citation.  A front wheel drive, side mounted radio, "Accord killer".  Parts fell off, transmissions locked and a generation of customers scrambled toward Toyota.

The OEMs continue to produce more of the same:

Is ink in the office akin to front wheel drive?
Is MPS the independent channel's CD?
Is managed services the next 5.25" floppy?

Either way, slow down and consider what is unfolding before our eyes - the greatest shift in business communications since the typewriter.



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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Xerox, Lexmark, Sharp and HP: All Things Must Pass



In an article written by Stephen Hays, the chairman of Brighton Securities, George Conboy is quoted saying Xerox...

"is steadily on a downward path, especially in its equipment business. The demand for its technology is falling by the day. Though the company may not be staring at bankruptcy in the near future it is, however, facing a situation where it is slowly moving away from maneuvering paper documents and making copies. Meaning, Xerox Corporation (NYSE: XRX) is steadily shifting away from its equipment business as there is lesser demand for its technology..."

Wow.  Who woulda thunk? But who is surprised?

The vultures are circling Lexmark, HP just reported a 17% fall in print revenue, Xerox dividing and Sharp bouncing back and forth between China and Japan - all add up to the most dynamic imaging environment since the Great Rikon purchase of 2008.

2016 -

More experts are recognizing something we've been saying here on DOTC since 2008 - The Death of The Copier is upon us. They're talking bankruptcy and comparing Xerox with Kodak.

People outside of the imaging niche, folks who don't sell toner, copiers, printers, document management software, MpS, print 'big data', online marketing, dealer websites, copier sales training classes, MpS programs or save trees - articulate how the demand for copier/print technology "is falling by the day."

The wave is just over your shoulder.

Who is your biggest competitor, today?
  • The direct branch across town? No.
  • The mega-dealer over the state line? Negative.
  • The toner pirate on the other side of the tracks? Nope.
Today, your competitor is Time.



Tic Toc

It might be too late.

Smaller dealerships with lower overhead serving the SMB, may survive.

Larger companies will sell out or wash away.

The medium sized dealers, their employees and families, will take the full brunt of the on-coming wave.

After the flood, the sun will rise on a landscape full of opportunity and promise.

A new day, a new Way.  Without print.

"Printer jams, how novel. Did you know there is no paper in the future, or should I say no future in paper?"

- Matthew, Continuum, Season 2, Ep. 2, "Split Second"

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Apple, The FBI, ISIS and You - The Internet of Everyone




"The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.

This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake." - Tim Cook

This issue has implications beyond the disgusting terror attack in San Berdoo - and as much as we despise ISIS and its followers, I can't help but believe that today's request by the FBI is more slippage toward that Orwellian vision.

One of my gripes with Google is their disregard for our privacy - invasive advertising, location detection, etc., etc.  If Apple gives in, they become nothing more than a prettier Google and Google is a sieve; so is Windows.

"Dominoes Fall"




"We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. 

They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone."  -Tim Cook

Here's the point: It's obvious iPhone is one of the most secure phones in the business, not even the FBI can break in. It's what I expect from Apple.

Some argue Apple should "do the right thing" and open up for the authorities.  Of course, Apple is doing the right thing by securing our personal data.  This is foundational to digital existence.

From printers, Netflix to your phone, today's world logs your actions and is subject to outside observation.  Current generations unfamiliar with a life without the internet, accept this openness.

But there should be an island of privacy.  Apple gave us a slice with the A7/8 chip.

Assuming the unlikely event that Apple prevails, the FBI, indeed the US must find another way:
  • Patch up the holes in our immigration process.
  • Intensify anti ISIS marketing.
  • Neutralize them in their backyard.
Whichever side of the dispute you fall, remembering why we're arguing either point is most important:
  • ISIS put this in the headlines.  
  • These two murderers pushed the FBI to consider data on an iPhone.  
  • Radical belief forced Tim Cook to release a letter of explanation.
The erosion of privacy isn't a result of a heavy handed government or a weak corporation. The assault is born from ancient people who loathe your freedom.  We must defend freedom from all directions at every instance.  From the copier to your phone.
"Ideas are Bullet Proof.."

Everybody in the Gov't has a gun: The FBI, Homeland Security, Immigration, FDIC, USPS, even the IRS.  ISIS has guns, HUMVEE's and steak knives.

Apple has ideas.



In the end, Apple will probably lose this fight.


Click to email me.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Nothing New in ManagedPrintServices: Except Seat Based Billing


Top 100 Summit Executive Council Creates SBB Business Model for Managed Print
February 16, 2016

Calgary, AB - February 16, 2016 - Print Audit®, along with 29 dealer and distribution partners, has completed a 12 week Executive Council for the development of a viable Seat Based Billing (SBB) model for Managed Print. SBB for MPS has been designed as an alternative to the highly commoditized CPP billing method currently employed by the industry. SBB offers stronger protection of dealer profits while at the same time delivering additional savings for customers through efficiency improvements.


One of Print Audit’s key missions is to “Save the office equipment industry” and SBB will help to deliver on this. Declining pages per user, fracturing OEM stability, increased competitive pressures and the commoditization of the traditional CPP model are forcing the office equipment industry to develop a new business model for the future of Managed Print. The SBB Executive Council has come up with a model that will drive a new era of MPS.

“The existing CPP model for MPS has been around for over 15 years and dealers have been looking for new ways to grow their businesses in challenging times.” stated West McDonald, Vice President of Business Development for Print Audit. “SBB will give office equipment dealers a way to increase their total profits while shutting out less advanced competitors. We are all very excited to have completed a viable SBB model so that progressive dealers can start taking advantage of SBB today.”

Seat Based Billing comes with a host of benefits for both dealers and end-users alike:

- 100% budgetable printing costs: No more counting. A fixed monthly fee per user for managed print.
- Cost reduction through workflow improvements: Delivers customer savings while increasing dealer total profits.
- Unified billing: The same billing model for MPS, Managed IT Services, and DMS.
- Improved security: User-based accounting and print tracking.

The SBB Executive Council was created at the Top 100 Summit. The Top 100 Summit is an event where dealer principals gather to build and refine the business model of the future. To learn more about SBB and to see if you are eligible to attend the exclusive Top 100 Summit, visit http://www.printaudit.com/top100

###

My take on this -

SBB isn't going to save the industry, but it might help "re-invent this business".


Click to email me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Who Designs Your Print Policy: Copier or IT Folks?


I am a proponent of Print Policies:

“A Print Policy is the documented outline of procedures, illustrating the organization’s current output related decision making processes. This policy is endorsed at the highest level of executive management, contains milestones and supports the organization’s business goals.”

I've seen implementations streamline work processes, enforce SLA's and reduce costs by millions.

I'm a believer.

It's obvious the best Print Policies are created when working with outside experts.

But who?

On one side stands the copier/printer specialists, mavens of the printed document, leasing, and deal crafting.

Residing across the hall, masters of storage, operating systems, PC's, mobile devices and even printers, hang their shingle.

That leaves you,  the "IT Guy" responsible for endpoints, Windows upgrades, and those pesky copiers and printers, stuck in the middle - again.

Should you place a call to your IT VAR or copier dealer? Yes.
"The fewer prints you generate,  the less they get paid - simple math."
Long ago, I felt the most qualified managers of output devices came from the office printing/copier side.  In some cases, this is still true.

Here's the rub: a copier dealer, indeed, any business surviving or thriving on the amount of prints you generate, cannot in good conscience, help you manage away the mystery and reduce output.

Why would a copier/printer company train sales people to reduce revenue?  It's an obvious question. One you should ask those "MpS" providers still promising "30% savings".

My recommendation is to work with the group that doesn't survive on your print volume.

No matter who you choose, your partner in Print Policy development should:

Be neutral about printers
The first qualification is to regard each printer as an end-point inside life cycle services. Sure, printers can be dirty and require physical intervention.  Yes, they jam and run out of toner right before a big print project. And yes, as much as 60% of help desk calls are print related.  Yet successful management of assets originate from a position of neutrality.

Neutrality - your output devices represent zero revenue and hold no negative emotional attachment to either contributing party.

Have a holistic view
Your provider must consider the entire output and input fleet, including copiers, printers, print servers, print cues, label printers, fax machines, fax servers, scanners and yes, even dual monitors.

Endpoints are the beginning; every vendor, provider and partner relationship is to be documented, holding all accountable.

Once the points and processes are determined - from assessment to retirement - everything is diagramed.

The result is a large flowchart.  Imagine.

Think of your Print Policy as the Vanguard for your IT Policy
As the decision and support process for print and copy fall into the IT realm, covering output devices, conducting end-user assessments, and documenting workflow can be labor intensive.
A Print Policy requires time, expertise and end user interface.  But when the process is complete, establishing the same for a comprehensive IT Policy is easier.

Utilizing the process of generating a Print Policy can be replicated in determining your organization's entire IT policy.

Don't waste the opportunity.

There are more considerations, but these three are significant. If you're interested in a deeper understanding, reach out to me, greg@grwalters.com.

"Why join the Navy when you can be a Pirate?"

-Steve Jobs





Local band.  Eau Claire, Wi.  Good Stuff.





Click to email me.

ODC expands distribution with the addition of CCG, Collaborative Consultant Group in the US

Collaborative Consultant Group LLC to begin marketing DOCassess & MPS in a tablet to the BTA Dealer Channel.

TORONTO, Ontario – January 28, 2016. Office Document Consulting Inc., a global leader in simplifying the MPS approach and automation of print assessments, today announced the addition of Collaborative Consultant Group to its Global Distribution Team.

“We began focusing on a distribution model in early 2015 and I am very pleased to announce the addition of CCG, Collaborative Consultant Group as our newest distributor.” said Mike Lamothe, President of Office Document Consulting, Inc. “with increased demand of our flagship product DOCassess we began looking for a partner in the United States.” CCG has an established consulting practice supporting dealers and channel partners making a transition into managed print. “it made perfect sense to me, Mike has done a great job building his practice and with the additions of DOCassess and our other solutions CCG will be in a strong position to help their customers succeed”

“Collaborative Consultant Group has been working with our dealers using a “ground up” approach. Providing sales reps the ability to make decisions based on actionable data we see as the real silver bullet. We are excited to join forces with Office Document Consulting and combine world class solutions with real world experience to help our clients achieve growth and drive margins that can be predicted and effectively managed” said Mike Lecak, President of Collaborative Consultant Group, LLC.

About CCG Collaborative Consultant Group LLC.

Located in San Diego, California, CCG is a comprehensive consulting firm within the office imaging and technology industry focused on providing a hands-on approach with its clients delivering proven strategies that positively impact bottom line results. Mike Lecak is a 32 + year veteran of the industry and brings a unique perspective to business planning and execution most critical to owners and senior leaders interested in employing the latest in best practices. To learn more about Collaborative Consultant Group please visit: Collaborativeconsultantgroup.com or call 480-335-7210.
About Office Document Consulting, Inc.

Office Document Consulting Inc. is one of the global leaders in print assessment software and continues to provide innovative solutions to further automate the assessment process. With the launch of DOCassess Platinum and Mobile Mapping App V2 ODC continues to simplify and automate the entire assessment process. To learn more about all of ODC’s software solutions visit www.officedocumentconsulting.com or book a webinar
email info@docassess.com or call 647 389 5048

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Future of The Imaging Industry Isn't Print


"Please State the Nature of The Medical Emergency"

About a year ago,  the owner of an office equipment dealership rang me up asking for advice.

His largest "managed print services" (toner) account was being threatened by an IT company offering a full range of IT services including supplies and service delivery on 'his' printers.

He was in a panic.

Like dozens before him, he wanted somebody to say it was going to be okay; that what he was doing today, "building long and deep relationships with his customers", providing "the best service at the lowest price", was enough to save the patient - his 20 year old, $5 Million, family owned business.

I told him to change.

I told him hope resided in a future with fewer technicians and reduced overhead.  I repeated the "change your business model" mantra, begged him to exit toner delivery and get into the IT side of the world.  I offered contact information at Collabrance; urged him to reach out to a little know company called PrinterLogic and talk to his customer about reducing costs by eliminating print servers.

He fought me.

Of course I proposed taking a quick look at his operation, give some basic recommendations and make the necessary connections for him to explore - all for a poultry $2,500.00.  No warranty or money back guarantee, but for the price of a trip to ITEX, he could have gained a fresh perspective and possibly made some profitable connections.

He didn't.

I have no idea if his business still feeds families or drifts on the waters of denial.

Here we are on the edge of 2016.  The copier industry insists on fooling itself into relevancy as small dealers are gobbled up and bigger ones sell out to investment groups.  The OEMs?  Splitsville.

Today, if you were to ask, "Greg...what the hell can I do now?  I've social media'd up my company, I'm first in google search, but MpS flopped, managed IT services is not working and the only people buying copiers are schools, churches and the government!"

  • You've tried digital signage
  • You've looked at water service
  • You're not sure about managed services
  • Your managed print services program is not delivering 42% GP
  • 3D Printing looks cute, but you can't seem to get your head around a profit model

Now what?

One word, kid - "TeleHealth"

I'll let you do the googlitizing.  The fastest growing area for technology and monthly recurring revenue is the healthcare arena and has nothing to do with printers or copiers.  I'd think about assembling and supporting connected, healthcare devices.

Not heart monitors - think bigger.  Think about this:



It's connected, contains technology components, requires assembly, and clients might pay for 24/7 monitoring and service.  Relevant. Expanding. Service based.

Curious?

greg@grwalters.com


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Xerox Jettisoning Hardware 8 QTRs of Decline:The Death of the Copier


Like those forgotten print jobs, the WSJ reports Xerox will leave their hardware business in the exit tray.

Are you seeing double?  One business for hardware, one for services.  Didn't Xerox just buy their services division a few years ago?

Not only this, but Icahn will be given the seats on the board of the company holding Xerox's services business, the Journal reported.

Tell me again, how the copier is still relevant?

Two of the largest technology companies in the world have now split in two.

From the Xerox announcement:

"Today’s market realities require greater agility and flexibility, the ability to innovate and adapt technology to address clients’ fast-evolving needs, and a more focused and efficient approach to operations and capital allocation.

As a result, it has become increasingly clear that the Document Technology and BPO businesses serve distinct client needs, have different growth drivers, and require customized operating models and capital structures. Thus, the separation of the two businesses will enhance their competitive positions and create significant value creation opportunities, including:

Enhanced strategic and operational focus. Each company will leverage its areas of strength and differentiation to address distinct market trends and opportunities. The Document Technology company will invest selectively in growth areas while ensuring continued operational discipline and capturing transformative productivity. The BPO company will focus on leadership in attractive market segments to deliver differentiated solutions to its clients and drive profitable revenue growth.

Simplification of organizational structure and resources. Each company will be able to adapt faster to clients’ changing needs, address specific market dynamics, target innovation and investments in select growth areas and accelerate decision making processes.

Distinct and clear financial profiles. The separation will enable each company to leverage its distinct growth profile and cash flow characteristics to optimize its capital structure and capital allocation strategy.

Compelling equity investment cases. As standalone companies, both companies will offer distinct and compelling investment propositions with differentiated financial profiles, growth drivers and business prospects."

Xerox also announced today a three year strategic transformation program targeting a cumulative $2.4 billion savings across all segments. The program is inclusive of ongoing activities and $600 million of incremental transformation initiatives. The company expects $700 million in annualized savings in 2016.

Take a look at the graph.



What could this mean? Icahn is satiated for a bit. The hardware business, once separated, may be easier to sell.

The Death of the Copier is, once again, substantiated.