Monday, June 30, 2008

70 Years of Xerography -

I caught this article from The Sunday Times by Benjamin G. Defensor

- "A few weeks back, the Xerox process celebrated its 70th anniversary at the Drupa 2008..."

The author summarizes Xerox copier history fairly well.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Week In The Life of Managed Print Services

June, 2008.

One thousand miles and so far yet to go.

Day One Victorville, California

Pre-Proposal Meeting - To review an RFQ for a small (30) fleet of copiers. Imagine if you can, a room full of copier people, all of them competitors asking questions relating to a RFQ. I sat in the back of the room and bit my tongue so many times I still talk with a lisp.

I swear, the copier guys still don't get it - but unfortunately, I don't think the prospective client gets it either - so it could be a match made in heaven for someone other then me. No worries.

Day Two - Santa Barbara, California - Initial Client meeting and printer fleet survey -

Ok, this is the "eat your heart out" part.

The drive to this client takes me past the Rose Bowl - yeah, the one you see around New Year's Day when Michigan comes out here and loses. Seeing the stadium always kindles something inside me - I remember watching the Rose Bowl on TV in Michigan looking at the sun and the short sleeves and shots of the bright, warm beach. Then looking out my window at the cold, post x-mas, snow. LOL!

And then I remember the drives into Detroit or Flint in February - these cold, delayed stress inducing visions are scattered as the turn in the road reveals the shimmering sunlight dancing off the Pacific Ocean!(yeah, that Pacific Ocean).

Up the PCH to talk about Managed Print Services. 


The meeting is with all the right people - C-Level, facilities, operations.


During the meeting I was instructed to "just inventory the fleet, so I can get a handle on what we've got here". Simple.

Same Day - Onward to Diamond Bar

Stopped in to review an Edgeline install. Client is 'stuck' in a lease for a Konica - the Konica has never performed to spec, and for the last few months, prints with a "pinkish hue". Unfortunately, most of the reports printed are customer facing documents reflecting important and revenue generating information.

The lease has around 20 months on it still and of course, there is no easy way out. So the client is taking the Edgeline and moving the Konica off to the side as a back up that will act as a reminder to never do business with a copier dealer again...delicious.

Day Three - Imperial/El Centro, California. Four miles from the Mexican border.

Driving past the Windmills - you've seen them on MI:3 and many other movies and to the 86. The highway winds through the desert next to the Salton Sea. Point of fact, the Salton Sea was formed by accident; I have never seen swimmers in or boats on the Salton Sea .

I am currently engaged in a study of approximately 30 machines. This is a Mini-Assessment - a partial look at a subset of 400 copiers and nearly 100 single purpose laser units. At the first look, we may be able to save 10's thousands of dollars the first month after initiating a program.

Day Four - 210 bed Hospital - Mini Assessment

Meeting with IT director to interview and survey two departments. We end up looking at 4-5 departments and discussing strategy - the appointment takes 3 hours. Interviews with nurses uncovers volumes of issues some out of scope but influential on the overall possible Managed Print Services project.

Primary findings indicate an "over exuberance of selling prowess" in the last copier sales person's delivery. The current fleet is over spec'd and under utilized - and machines are just too big(physically).

Same Day - The Hurd Meeting
After spending time at a local Starbucks sending emails and making phone calls, I head out to Hollywood(yes, that Hollywood) to meet a colleague before he meets with Mark Hurd and one of my clients.

We decide to meet at the Beverly Hills Hotel(yes...the hotel that inspired the Eagles', Hotel California) in the bar, The Polo Lounge.

Point of Fact: The Beverly Hills Hotel was built before the city and the city was named after the hotel. The hotel is nestled in a residential area and is the heart of the city.

The Polo Lounge is world famous - with celebs sipping Martini's almost daily.
It's four o'clock in the afternoon - ordering a Martini I ask the bartender to "surprise me" - she delivers the best adult beverage I have had to date - I have no idea what is in it. Prior to walking in, I had never heard of the Polo Lounge - I am such a cad.

My colleague walks in and promptly orders a water - oh 0h - I tell him,"don't feel uncomfortable with me drinking a Martini", he responds, "Please don't feel uncomfortable with me ordering water." we laugh and get down to business. We are reviewing the RFQ from our meeting four days ago.

Same Day – After 5

My client’s meeting with Hurd is concluded and as a special treat one of my peers has invited a select group to accompany him and our client to the Magic Castle. I had heard of this establishment before – lots of magic, exclusive, club members only, great food, and libation.
But before we meet for dinner, my peer inflicts upon our small convoy “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” through the Hollywood hills (Bob Seger). Just when I think all is lost, we pull off into one of those “scenic” view spots. We scramble out, jog up a few steps and BAM! The view is of the complete L.A. basin.

Starting on the left and rotating clock-wise we first see the Hollywood sign, then Madona’s old house,  Griffith Observatory recently seen in Transformers, the L.A. skyline dominated by the The US Bank Tower they blew up in Independence Day, the Capital Records building that was destroyed by tornadoes in The Day After and over to Century City and Santa Monica the areas destroyed in the movie Volcano.

And now - to the Castle. The dinner was great, the entertainment was world class and business was discussed – a good time was had by all.

and with that...another week in the life fades to black...Ho Hum…


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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

IKON and Accenture, Ltd - Huh?

Everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop. Canon looks to be the most lik ely - according to rumor - but why would a investment adviser like Revere sell a report titled, Merger and Acquisition Scenario Accenture Ltd. (ACN) and IKON Office Solutions, Inc. (IKN)


Well the site says, "...
Revere Data's Merger & Acquisition Scenario Report offers independent, objective and insightful analysis into a hypothetical combination of..."

Perhaps this is just an excersise of some sort...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

MWB, Sharp, Global, Xerox - can we fit a customer into this phone booth too?


To say the copier industry is in a "Dynamic" stage is being kind.



This press release is intended to be informational as well as promotional - but...is it?

From the release, "....MWB Business Systems, a regional core company of Global Imaging Systems, serves the southern California market from six offices in key metropolitan locations. Global companies sell and service document management systems such as printers, copiers and multifunction devices; network integration services; and electronic presentation systems. MWB and the other Global office technology dealers sell products from various suppliers including Xerox and Sharp. Xerox acquired Global Imaging in 2007 and operates it as a wholly owned subsidiary within Xerox's North American operations.

Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America, a division of Sharp Electronics Corporation, based in Mahwah, N.J., markets the advanced, color MX Series multifunctional peripheral (MFP) systems that help companies manage workflow efficiently and increase productivity..."

"...Nurse, I need a napkin, a blue pen, a black pen, and a red pen - and boil some water STAT! I need to explain this to my prospect -..." You can not make this stuff up!

"Tis the season" - for Sharp renewals-

Seems it's all over the place, and these dealers must be reading from the same "talking points", from The Earth Times -

Berney, Sharp Renew Sales Partnership for 5 Years -


MONTGOMERY, Ala. - (Business Wire) Berney Office Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of Xerox Corporation (NYSE: XRX), and Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America announced a new five-year purchasing contract...

Berney Office Solutions, a regional core company of Global Imaging Systems, focuses on small and mid-size businesses throughout Alabama and western Georgia from seven offices in key metropolitan locations. Global companies sell and service document management systems such as printers, copiers and multifunction devices; network integration services; and electronic presentation systems. Berney and the other Global office technology dealers sell products from various suppliers including Xerox and Sharp. Xerox acquired Global Imaging in 2007 and operates it as a wholly owned subsidiary within Xeroxs North American operations..."

----

My point?

First, how in the heck do you spin this as a positive to your client? If I were selling against this, the XEROX model of FUD would be applied generously.

Second, the few remaining copier dealers remind me of the T-Rex's ignoring the approaching ELE.



Thursday, June 19, 2008

Managed Print Services - Everybody Sells


Mr. I.T Director, You are now in Sales.

One of my favorites quotes(I have hundreds) is "Everybody Sells".

IF you're married, you sell a night out with the boys if you take the kids to school...

If you have kids, you sell a quiet trip to school for an ice cream at day's end...

If you have a "boss", you sell your reason for being late to the 8:00 meeting(to get a boys' night out)...

If you support end users, you sell the idea that printing down the hall is much better then printing at your desk...
.
If you meet a MPS professional, and like what he/she says - get ready - you Sell!

There are only two types of people in the world.

Those who sell and those who support those who sell. Sales makes the world go around - look around you this very second and find an object that has not been sold...I dare you. You won't. Everybody Sells.

Why do I bring this up? Your I.T. contact does not and can not sell your plan as well as you can. Although they think they can. They think they know "just the right time" to approach him with the idea.

Managed Print Services is the hottest IT issue right now. If you can get in front of an IT Director and start telling him how he can save money, diminish end user complaints and reduce his "head aches" related to printing he will buy into it.

Now all you need to do is wait for your IT person to "Sell it up". Well pitch a tent and heat up the coffee, because if he is like most other IT people he hates sales people and can't stand selling, so you will be waiting a very long time.

Back to "Selling with High Intent" -

You know your programs will save this company money. Your IT contact knows this as well. If you are selling with High Intent, you know at your core that your solution is the best for the company - so how can you allow one more day to go by without screaming at the top of your lungs - "LOOK AT THIS...BUY THIS NOW!" ? How can you fail your partner by enabling him to loose money every minute of the day?

Back to "Partnership vs. Vendorship" -

What? You're afraid of "going over your contact's head"?

Are your afraid of "stepping on peoples' toes" or "going around the contact and directly to the CFO"? Yes?

Oh, ok, so you're like all the other small and insignificant Enablers we call "Vendors". Move along and sell your hot dogs to someone else, let the real business partners talk, plan, implement and get something done.


How do you forge a Partnership with your Client? -

I can not answer that in one simple post, but I can tell you forging partnerships instead of vendorships relies on these points:

Your Outlook on your client and YOU
Your Attitude
Your Wisdom
Your ability to manage your process
Your ability to disconnect from the tendency to want to manage your client

- Attract
- Solve
- Lead
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What Is Going On Over At HP?

First saw this on Jim Lyon's blog.

Stirrings at HP IPG -

Started here.

Looks like simple consolidation of some redundant areas - but HP did use the words "significant" and "cost cutting measures".

From the IdahoStatesman -

"...HP
Spokesman Ryan Donovan said the restructuring will “impact” Boise, but would not say whether layoffs are in the offing. He said the reorganization will take effect Aug. 1...

The Imaging and Printing Group has traditionally been HP’s most profitable, largely because all of the money that the division makes from selling printer ink.

In the first six months of HP’s current fiscal year, the division earned $2.38 billion on revenue of $14.9 billion. But the operating profit improved only 6 percent compared to last year, a pace lagging other HP divisions Hurd has already reorganized.

Donovan said the restructuring will move HP from strictly a printer company to global provider of hardware, software and printer services.

The three new business units will:

• Specialize in offering Ink jet hardware, supplies and services to individual consumer and small businesses.

• Offer printers, supplies, management software and counseling services to large corporate customers.

• Provide large graphic printing products, supplies and services for everything from architectural blueprints to outdoor signs."



Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Single Most Important Tool In Managed Print Services

6/15/08

- A Game of Six Inches –

And by “Six Inches” I mean the space between your ears.

Anyone can take a set of pre-written interview questions, read them out and write down the response. Anybody can get meter reads and divide by total months in the field and get an average monthly volume. And anybody can attend one of a plethora of newly created “How to sell/implement/create/invest in/market/make a profit in Managed Print Services” courses.

And I recommend every single course. As a matter of fact, I recommend that all my competitors take continuous courses, read thousands of articles, plan, strategize, forge partnerships with vendors and distributors, test all the meter reading tools, attend all the manufactures’ “How To” seminars, develop hundred page spreadsheets to determine CPC – please, by all means, you can never learn too much. You study, I'll "do".

All the books, all the courses, all the Power point presentations in the world will only give you “book smarts” and as Springsteen says, “…we learned more from a three minute record then we ever did is school…”

It isn’t all about facts and numbers, it’s about people. It’s not about first copy out time or the fact that duplexing can save trees and the chewbacca's , it’s about the CEO’s assistant not needing to baby sit the color copier on a Saturday afternoon, missing her kid’s ballet recital.

The sad news is this – I am talking about wisdom and true wisdom comes over time, not on slide 82 of 150. And fortunately for some, we’ve been in the business long enough to remember the look on people’s face when they saw the very first letter printed on a laser printer – and we were witness to all the changes in business due to technology.

And if you have always been selling with high intent, doing what is best for your customers and yourself, learning about each businesses you have been fortunate to visit - taking all that in over the years then you are in a very fortunate position. Celebrating the successes and learn from the failures.

If you are one of those, you know this Wisdom is Platinum, and it is acumen that corporate leaders will pay greatly to be in the company of. All that needs to be done is effectively communicate the results of your study through the prism of your wisdom. (I hope somebody is writing this down, these are priceless drops of gold)

If you are new to MPS or to sales or to helping customers solve problems, let not your heart be troubled, start today. Start engaging your prospects to learn more about their business, their personal challenges, their ups and their downs - talk and learn more then just CPC, FCOT, fuser, toner, supplies and jams.

That's right - Six Inches.



Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Second Most Important Tool in Managed Print Services

MPS is all I talk about...I have been performing MPS assessments pretty heavily over the past few weeks and I find that although we have a great deal of tools, I am still making things up as I go along. After reading Ken’s post I knew I had to complete my current article. Ken’s post resonated with me regarding the Tools of MPS.----

Current MPS tools consist of spreadsheets, interview forms,
data collection sheets, automated data collection devices/software, supplies cost matrixes, etc. All geared around collecting the Technical data, i.e. volumes, lease end dates, lease payments, overages, 11x17, first copy out speed, duplex...blah blah blah...this data is mundane and acquiring it is fatiguing, but necessary.

The collected data is one dimensional and any “monkey” can collect it. Unfortunately to some providers and many customers this is the extent of the information used in the analysis.

The Second Most Important MPS Tool: The Interview -

When interviewing, many issues are exposed, some that may not at first seem to be MPS related.

The idea here is simple - the End User interview, the Director interview, and the C-Level interview are all treasure laden conversations. Corporate directives, cultural issues, political hurdles, and decision making processes all become apparent as progression is made through the organization.

As an example, I am currently working 3 separate assessments for 3 clients - one is what I call a "Mini-Assessment"; which means we are only looking at 25 devices out of a fleet of 220. The idea is to analyze these units for fiscal '08, get the refresh approved, and continue the study into year's end for fiscal '09 upgrades. The goal of this study is to form a Standard Requirements List for all future hardware/copier acquisitions.

In this particular case, the overall organizational goals are:
  1. Reduce operational costs by 5% without “Reductions In Field”
  2. Increase employee job satisfaction
  3. Improve Customer Service
Now, the above three goals are not revealed when you plug in your "non obtrusive" Print Audit tool into a USB port, are they? Nor do these three goals fall out of the bottom of a spreadsheet after entering all the machine types, volume levels and power consumption, do they? No no no.

Ask the questions.

Talk to everyone, make it your process - if your contact doesn't allow you access - fire them.

Covering All the Bases – Strategic Approach

When interviewing the questions asked are important but the people you ask are much more important. This is my personal application of a strategic approach. I see four types of interviewee’s:

  1. Your Coach
  2. The Technicals
  3. The End User
  4. Project’s Economic Influencer
  • Your Coach
    • This person is convinced that MPS is the way to go. And he wants to see the project (and you) succeed. And your success is tied to his perception within the organization. You must make him look great, if you fail, he loses credibility.
  • The Technicals
    • These folks hold “go/no go” over the final recommendations. Their perspective is on the functional issues of the program. They are focused on issues like network compatibility, end-user support functions, invoicing and billing procedures, and maybe all the way down to duplex capabilities of the hardware.
  • The End User
    • The End User must be satisfied. When interviewing and speaking with the End User you must have a clear idea of what direction the organization wants to move. For instance, if one of the basic goals is to reduce all the locally connected, desktop inkjet printers, check with IT to insure how they want to approach the subject.
    • The End User has a wealth of “everyday issues” that cause workflow bottlenecks. Their visibility into the organization is restricted but on at the local level the information obtained can be very illuminating.
  • Economic Influencer(s)
    • This entity releases the funds necessary to move forward with the project. Interested in cost reduction and R.O.I.
    • These interviews are most likely the C-Level players. I do not recommend asking the CEO if “duplexing is important…”
Every successful project includes covering ALL these bases with relevant (from their perspective) questions.

Imagine – when you contact ALL the above types - your picture of the organization’s output fleet would be detailed to the nth degree. You would be aware of the business culture and how it will react to change. And hopefully, this insight will allow to make a solid, agreeable recommendation proven to positively impact the organization’s overall goals.

Which brings me to the most important tool in the MPS shed - to be found in a latter post.






Friday, June 6, 2008

Konica over Océ, could this be the next big acquisition?

AMSTERDAM (Thomson Financial) - Oce N.V. shares rose in late morning trade amid speculation Konica Minolta Holdings Inc. is interested in building up a stake in the company, if their recent technology partnership bears fruit. Article here.

At 11.37 a.m., Oce was up 2.43 percent to 9.28 while the AEX was trading 1.41 percent lower to 478.69.

Abn Amro Wim Gille said that if Konica buys a stake in Oce, the move will trigger further speculation of a full take over of the Dutch company.

T
he analyst said a combination between the two is 'very logical' and would be able to challenge Xerox head on in all of its markets.

I am not sure how the Dutch government plays into all this but it doesn't sound like the government will be an impedement to some sort of deal.

IKON "...you're Stock is Rising..."

The stock has recovered 82.8% from its recent low price of 6.73 which occurred March 5, 2008

This from Yahoo, "IKON ... said after the market closed Thursday that it will redeem for cash the remaining $100 million of its senior unsecured floating rate notes due 2012.

The Malvern, Pa., company said the redemption price will be 100 percent of the principal amount plus accrued and unpaid interest up to the redemption date, which is June 30.

The redemption plus a redemption of $50 million of the notes on May 7 will cause Ikon (NYSE:IKN) to post a $5.7 million loss from the early extinguishment of debt in its fiscal third quarter, which ends June 30..."

Interesting...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Inaugural issue of MPS Insights Hits The Streets

Best Practices, Print Audit, MPS Metrics and much much more... I have just received and am in the process of reading and digesting the first issue of MPS Insights from the PHOTIZO Group.

Ed Crowley, CEO Photizo Group -"...we believe MPS is finally coming of age! After almost 8 years of vendors touting the benefits of MPS, we are now actually seeing implementations that are working..."

This mirrors what Joshi said last year in Phoenix, "...Printing...is now sexy!"

Also, Ken Stewart - Kearns Business Solutions, Director of Technology, on MPS as an opportunity that may pass you by, "... We have come to the conclusion that taking care of the customers is the way to do business;it is not an opportunity to go out there and rob your customers blind..." Sell with High Intent.

Check out the site, get the free newsletter.

Share with you friends, share with your family over the dinner table - er...ok, maybe not over the dinner table.



Monday, June 2, 2008

So Really. What is the Big Deal about "Ink Jet"??

A very astute question, from a smart guy. Who happens to read my blog.

What is the big deal about ink anyway? According to HP, 90% of all the print in the world is in ink, not toner. And just look around, look at all the items in your office or home that have printing - my favorite DVD covers, my Michael Crichton Novel, the coffee can from Trader Joe's, the labels on the Mondavi bottles, my copy of FaceFull all ink.

The question isn't what is the big deal with ink, it should be what has been taking so long! Ink is everywhere - not toner.

To start with, ink systems like Edgeline have less moving parts then the xerographic brethren. Less heat no static. Heat being the biggest difference. 266 degrees to be somewhat exact is the temperature needed to melt the toner (see The Fundamentals of Xerography). Heat wears on materials like plastic, or motors or delicate optics; have you ever heard of somebody burning their fingers when trying to clear a jam? The answer is "yes".

I am not referring to the Ink Jets you may have at home - you know the ones, the printer costs 39 bucks after rebate, and the ink costs $69.00! (Gotcha!). I am talking about business machines. I am talking about replacing all those hot, dry toner boxes in corporate America with cooler, energy efficient, robust and reliable machines. Machines that in the end do the same thing as the hot-boxes, put color marks on paper.

This was bound to happen. All things change and get better - DOS moved to Windows, MultiPlan gave way to LOTUS 123 which in turn gave it up to Excel. It is the natural order of things. The time has come to begin to move the mundane function of printing into it's next evolutionary stage.

This is not about technology it's about innovation. It isn't about marketing hardware advancement as much as it is about a advancing a philosophy.

Xerox is not putting any more money into "photocopiers". HP invested 1.3billion in a new technology (Edgeline) not in improving an older technology(xerographic).

Xerox and HP - two Great American companies - innovating into newer and more reliable printing. Innovations like the color television, the radio, the automobile, refrigerators, micro-waves...It won't be long until the copy-cats of the far east jump on the "ink-jet" band wagon.

---------
So to summarize - What is so good about ink vs toner?

- cooler temperatures
- less moving parts
- color control
- more consistent and reliable
- less energy use
- more environmental/green

Surround the above with:

- Easy to use
- Easy to maintain and remove mis feeds
- Native to the network/connectivity(print, scan)

You you have a heck of a package - not just an "inkjet"

Again With The "Leasing"! Enough!

"GET THEM TO SIGN ON THE LINE WHICH IS DOTTED!!!!"I have proposed and had signed 1,000's of agreements: purchase agreements, uniform rental agreements, equipment lease, computer hardware service, copier service, printers service software support agreements.

But today, I had the unfortunate experience to witness one of my prospect's (and hopefully new client) pain over a HUGE buyout figure on one of his machines. This machine is a Konica Minolta BizHub C500. My client prints large( 400-500 page) monthly reports. Each report has some colored text sprinkled about. There are no hi-res pictures and no detailed, color schematics - just text and maybe a pie chart. Oh, and these reports are customer facing, revenue generating documents.

The lease has 26 months left on a 60 month agreement.

The service payment is combined into the monthly lease payment.

For the past 11 months, copy quality has dropped immensely, at last report, each page had a "pinkish hue", which I guess technically is a color.

The front of the lease clearly states, "...your payment obligations are absolute and unconditional and are not subject to cancellation, reduction or set off for any reason whatsoever. Both parties waive their rights to a jury trial..."

I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.

I can go one - and I will - but for now, check these posts out and if you are selling equipment on a lease, do WHAT IS BEST FOR YOUR CLIENT.

Here is the press release for this unit's roll out and from that release, "
...Pricing and Availability. The bizhub 500 and bizhub 420 are available through Konica Minolta's North American direct sales, authorized dealer and value-added reseller channels. The manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for the bizhub 500 is $12,300..."

This blog post is pretty close to a normal "pre-sale" experience with leasing from the stand point of a School no less - oh but wait there is more. Check this post out - from a church!




***The information included in this post is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Xerox is NOT Afraid of Edgeline...

Anne Mulcahy - From InsuranceNewsNet.com, Xerox Corporation at JPMorgan. A question posed to A. Mulchay ask what Xerox thought of regarding Edgeline.

The response - "...On HP and Edgeline, I think for all of you who followed it, I think there certainly was a lot of fanfare about Edgeline really being the entry with inkjet into the office marketplace for HP.

I think it would be fair to say that it has been extremely quiet. That any information available would suggest that it has had very little impact right now on the marketplace in total.

I think the challenges are ones that are inherent in liquid inkjet, which really doesn't allow you a lot of media flexibility with high quality, and that is I'm sure something that HP is working on.

We chose solid ink as a technology in that part of the market because of the advantages of quality and media flexibility. We're pretty excited about the prospects for solid ink going forward, and that is a proprietary technology for Xerox. So I would say we have not seen much from Edgeline.

We never take for granted the fact that competitors get better; but right now I think we have been able to compete very favorably against Edgeline in the marketplace.