Saturday, August 30, 2008

Espe, other top Ikon Office execs to get big retention bonuses

From Philly.com
Friday August 29, 2008

"When Ricoh Co. Ltd. agreed to buy Ikon Office Solutions Inc. for $1.6 billion earlier this week, one thing that was clear was that Ikon management was going to stay on to run the big office equipment distribution business based in Malvern.

They have a million reasons to do so.

Under executive retention agreements, CEO Matthew J. Espe and five other senior executives would receive some hefty payments if they stay a full two years following the sealing of the deal.

The maximum Espe could receive is $8,630,400 over two years. He could stay as little as six months following the closing of the acquisition and get $1,294,560. The agreement is structured in a way that escalates payments the longer Espe stays. So $1,726,080 after 12 months, $2,157,600 after 18 months, and $3,452,160 after 24 months.

Retention bonuses are common in big deals like this, because often the last thing an acquirer wants is to be handed the keys and watch the top management wave good-bye.

According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ikon says these retention agreements replace severance pay the executives would have been entitled to receive. So they turned severance pay into incentive pay.

Here are the maximum payouts for other Ikon executives:

* Robert F. Woods, Ikon's chief financial officer, $2,122,375;

* Jeffrey Hickling, its senior vice president of operations,$1,850,625;

* David Mills, president of Ikon Europe, 906,144 pound sterling.

The retention agreements for Mark A. Hershey, Ikon's general counsel, and Mark Bottini, senior vice president of US field sales, were not attached to today's filing."
Click to email me.





Friday, August 29, 2008

Ricoh/IKON - Words from the Source on Why and How IKON will be "Integrated"

Comments made by Ricoh's President and CEO Shiro Kondo and CFO Zenji Miura regarding the acquisition.

I ran across an article from Tech-On, News - Straight from Asia written by Tomohiro Ootsuki, Nikkei Electronics.

Ricoh illustrates it's position on many aspects of the a IKON purchase - not one is surprising.

The text is derived from direct translation so I paraphrased a summary of the comments:

The purpose of the buyout -

-to strengthen the sales force in the North American market by assuming and penetrating IKON's Fortune 500 customers

-to reinforce the service business by realizing IKON's profits from its Professional Services and printing-related activities which currently accounts for 19% of the company's sales.

The reason for strengthening the service business -

Here's the direct quote:

"Ricoh has been providing merits to its customers through hardware. However, those merits are shrinking every year. In addition, customer needs are changing. They are now asking not only the useful functions of copy machines and multifunction copy machines but also advanced services such as the improvement of workflows and security.

One of the collateral evidences is the sales of our small-size multifunction copy machines that support A4 paper size. They are being used less widely than expected in developed countries, aside from emerging countries. We aim to deeply cultivate the markets in developed countries by the service business.

We will never give up the basic principle of manufacturing industry – making hardware with great care. On that premise, we want to be a company that provides software services. That's why we will put in resources to reinforce our service business"

My interpretation - Ricoh's customers and prospects are changing. IKON provides Ricoh with additional "merits". And Ricoh intends to expand services in the developed countries. Ricoh intends to utilize the PS assets of IKON to support hardware sales.

The relationship with Canon -

"Sixty percent of IKON's sales are coming from Canon Inc's products, and our products account for about 30% of the sales. We do not think that the percentage of Canon will continue to stay at that level, but we will try to keep it. For that purpose, we have to prevent IKON's top executives and customers from falling away."

Ricoh just killed most of Canon's US sales. And they are worried that executives and customers will leave IKON, but Ricoh will "try" to maintain Canon sales, top executives and customers - duh...

The earnings estimate -

"Our annual sales will increase by about ¥400 billion (US$3,669 million). In respect to the operating profit, we do not expect that IKON will turn a profit soon after it becomes part of the Ricoh Group because there will be an opportunity loss. But, for the future, we want to double IKON's operating profit posted in September 2007 to achieve an operating profit margin of 10%."

Yahoo! For those who stayed and didn't perform - you get a reprise. Expectations have just been lowered.

The integration plan -

"Though we will consolidate the back-offices (administrative departments), IKON and Ricoh Americas will continue to be independent companies. The sales figures and the number of employees of IKON are larger than those of Ricoh Americas.(see RiKon - "Really, I Knew One Name...")

We will work out an ideal structure of the companies while making consideration to IKON.

If it becomes clear in the future that it is more rational to integrate the sales and service networks of IKON and Ricoh America, we will do that."

For now, looks like business as usual. (see Words From IKON's Espe - Internal IKON Memo

The business environment for distributors -

"It is now at an inflexion point. These days, it is not easy to sell new models of copy machines and multifunction copy machines just by introducing them to the customers.

Even if a distributor has an edge over its competitors in certain geographical areas, it can lose orders because multinational companies prefer to call bids for copy machines to be used in their offices scattered around the world. So, we also have to become powerful system integrators.

Under those circumstances, independent distributors are planning new strategies, one of which is a sellout. Before our purchase of IKON, Xerox Corp bought Global Imaging Systems Inc and Konica Minolta Business Solutions USA Inc acquired Danka Office Imaging Co."

Ok, I have really no idea what is meant here, or more precisely, the above statement could mean dozens of things or nothing.

Other comments-

· "The press conference took place late at night in Japan to make the announcement in London, New Jersey and Tokyo at the same time.

· The buyout was proposed by IKON in about April 2008. At that time, Ricoh, just after finishing integrating information systems around the world in 2007, was about to go on an offensive.

· The amount of money sourced from external funds will be about ¥170 billion (approx US$1,559 million), equivalent to the amount paid for the acquisition, because the corporate bonds that we have already issued will soon mature."

Interesting that IKON approached in April(see Excerpts From Espe, July 27, 2008).

My Summary:
  1. Ricoh sees a great value in the PS and Service side of IKON to enhance their already superb manufacturing skills
  2. Ricoh will let IKON function as a separate entity - unless things go badly
  3. Ricoh knows the assimilation is huge
  4. IKON "shopped" themselves out
No surprises.

Other Words:

Ricoh to Buy IKON - Shot Heard Around the World

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

Canon Copier Profit Down 12%

Excerpts From Esp

Thursday, August 28, 2008

RiKon - "Really, I Knew One Name..."

August 27, 2008: The single largest day for this blog in terms of hits, reads and minutes on site.

I needed to take a little pause, a deep breath before writing anything of a personal nature. I think that I am somehow, uniquely positioned to add insight and reflection regarding the purchase by Ricoh of IKON.

First, an introduction: Today is August 27th, 2008 I just pulled up my resignation letter to IKON dated October 10, 2007 – it hasn’t even been a year. At that time, I knew I had left 8 months too late. The very next day, I felt relief. I will not go into all the reasons why I left – after nearly 4 years, it just wasn’t working out.

But while I was there, I met and worked with some of the most professional, caring and empathetic people in the industry. And while I was there, I worked with some of the most foolish, idiotic, numb-skulled people you would ever meet. Worse, were some of the most “over the top” procedural rules and protocols imaginable. For every sale, at least 35 “support” people needed to touch the order in some manner. For one order of mine, I tracked 62 people on one email string. We are talking a bureaucracy that rivals the Mexican or any other third world government.

While with IKON I coined the following phrases:

“On the first of the month, we all sell solutions, by the 22nd of the month, our managers convince us we move boxes.”

“For every Professional Service person I bring into the pre-selling process, I need to add 30 days to the sales cycle.”

“When the going gets tough, the management gets Micro.”

To the newly hired,
“Don’t bother telling me your last name, we aren’t going to get to know each other that well…”

While with IKON, I learned more about document management, software, and business. I enhanced my existing knowledge of how copiers and printers and software impact the business. I was given the freedom to learn all I could about each and every machine or delve into the most complex Document Management Software.

I carry not one ill feeling towards the company, and I have fond memories around the people I met and worked with there in Redlands. Don, Mike, Dawn, Karen, Katie, Monica, Nicole, Kim, Doug, Mark and all the rest…good times.

Also, I met some exceptional people from Ricoh. The Ricoh/IKON relationship was a great one, at least in SoCali, I can’t comment on anywhere else. You see, most of IKON’s business was Canon so Ricoh was always “second” – and they seemed to try a bit harder than anyone else. Ricoh spent money on IKON. Contests/Trips to Vegas, golf outings, dinners, client events – with Ricoh the answer was always, “yes, do you need more?” I do remember those times – Jerry and Frank.

---Onward ---

Ricoh Americas Corporation was established in 1961, boasts revenues of 2.8 billion yearly and utilizes Ricoh Business Solutions as the direct sales arm of Ricoh.

IKON had three basic “entities” - Hardware, Managed Services and Professional Services.

And at IKON, RBS was considered an opponent that will always be able to sell lower the us. An adversary who could provide excellent “transactional” service but being a little “thin” in areas of software expertise. The inside joke was, “RBS would win the deal, and use IKON to service the machines, because they didn’t have the coverage…”

Seriously, the main reason RBS ever won deals over IKON was price.

An RBS Sales Rep didn’t have a 15% “pack” lobbed on by corporate IKON.
----

Ok, let's see - Ricoh gets:

  • A channel of over 400 locations in North America and Europe, 24,000 employees, nearly 10,000 trained and certified technicians; certified on HP, Kyocera, Konica Minolta, Ricoh AND Canon.
  • Ricoh, will have a remanufacturing plant down in Mexico.
  • Ricoh just acquired a portfolio of On-Site Managed Services Clients. Lots with Canon gear.
  • Ricoh sliced away from Canon a additional, friendly supplies infrastructure on a Global scale.
The way I see it, the Biggest Goodies Ricoh gets are:
  1. Biggest Channel
  2. A huge list of old IKON Canon customers that are now Ricoh prospects
  3. A trained national and international service team
  4. A huge, proven, "box" oriented AND "solution" minded Sales Force
  5. But the big Gem in the deal is IKON's Professional Services team. These folks are highly trained in the art of software (relative to the industry). No other company has so many people trained and experienced in selling and implementing multiple document management software systems.
I mean, in the software realm, Xerox has Xerox specialists who only know and install Xerox - HP has external "partners", Konica Minolta has very little and is growing in this area. No other company has committed so much to so many different software partners. And when you look at what IKON has next to what RBS did not have, the difference is striking.

Fish Eats Fisherman -

IKON is more robust then RBS. And although Ricoh is plunking down the cash, the infrastructure, the value system and the sheer girth of IKON could overtake RBS in a heartbeat.
IKON did nothing wrong.

This dwarfs any and all previous acquisitions even the Xerox/Global “merger” and makes the Konica-Minolta-Danka deal look like folly. Indeed, this time next year, the IKON infrastructure may have completely engulfed RBS to such a level, that RBS exists in name only.

Make no mistake - this is a purchase, not a merger. Oh, and for current IKON employees, there could be a very silver lining.

Ricoh isn’t “rescuing” IKON. Aside from reducing management, and completing the implementing some internal software, IKON will not need to change all that much – the question is, can Ricoh handle this assimilation or will they develop a bad case of heartburn.

In 3 months, Ricoh will have the biggest and most trained selling force in the industry. And the transition for sales people could be the least painful of all.

What about the IKON employees?

As far as I am concerned, there is plenty to cut in the mid to upper management levels – but for Ricoh, the on the street, in the trenches, sales force is better trained then any out there and CAN be highly motivated when given proper vision and management. So, the selling staff has a great opportunity to lead the success of the amalgamation – if Ricoh is as smart as I think they are, they won’t get rid of too many sales people.

And as an IKON sales person, one day you will be competing head to head with…Canon. And who knows Canon better than an IKON rep?

A Canon rep, maybe?

Richard Berger, a spokesman in Tokyo for Canon, declined to comment on whether the company was in talks to buy Ikon or would submit a bid.

``We plan to accelerate our strategies that enhance our commitment to independent distributors,'' Berger said."


More likely, these new Ricoh Sales people will be going up against a small, independent, newly christened Canon dealer. The poor fellow won’t know what hit him.

So, no fear for the IKON selling professional – the people at IKON who should be shaking you their boots:
  • Executive Management
  • Upper management
  • Service Management
  • Sales Management
  • Administration
  • Order Processing
  • And anyone who upset Ricoh in the last 5 years by converting a Ricoh prospect into a Canon sale.
In the meantime



IKON/RICOH/CANON - Could there be a THIRD Shoe to Drop?




From Rueters -

"...Canon machines represent 60 percent of the products Ikon handles at the moment, with Ricoh machines accounting for 30 percent. But Ricoh said it aims to replace Canon products with its own printers and copiers in three to four years.

Analysts said the move could be a major blow for Canon in the world's largest office equipment market.

"Canon is now at risk of losing half of its copier sales in North America," UBS analyst Yoshitsugu Yamamoto wrote in a note to clients..."

Financial Times -

"...Canon has been hard-hit by consolidation within the US market for office equipment distribution, as competitors including Konica Minolta and Xerox have acquired key distributors and shaved down the network within which it can sell its products.

Shares of Ikon traded more than 9 per cent higher at mid-day on Wednesday at $16.99, below Ricoh’s $17.25 per share bid. The companies said Ricoh’s offer represeted a premium of one-third to Ikon’s average stock price over the past 60 days.

Bloomberg - Aug 28

"Canon lost 5.2 percent to close at 4,790 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the biggest decline since March 3. Ricoh added 2.9 percent to 1,777 yen, after gaining as much as 6.8 percent.

UBS AG said the acquisition may cause Canon's North America revenue to fall by as much as half, while Merrill Lynch & Co. estimates the company's overall sales would drop about 3 percent if it lost Ikon as a distributor. The purchase adds 400 sales locations for Ricoh in the U.S., Canada and Western Europe, markets that account for more than half of Canon's revenue.

``It is regrettable that Canon, which has over 450 billion yen ($4.1 billion) worth of treasury stock, chose not to acquire Ikon,'' Ryohei Takahashi, an analyst at Merrill in Tokyo with a ``buy'' rating on Tokyo-based Canon and Ricoh, wrote in a report yesterday. ``Canon looks set to lose market share.''

Richard Berger, a spokesman in Tokyo for Canon, declined to comment on whether the company was in talks to buy Ikon or would submit a bid.

``We plan to accelerate our strategies that enhance our commitment to independent distributors,'' Berger said."



And the list goes on...
-----

As "surprising" as this little announcement was, can anyone really believe that Canon didn't know it was coming. I mean, I gotta believe that BOTH Canon and Ricoh were approached by IKON; Canon probably before Ricoh.

Canon is big and can take a hit - like the one Xerox doled out with the Global deal - but TWO thumps?

Do they really think that "accelerating...strategies...to enhance...commitment to independent distributors..." is really going to work?

You can't make this stuff up, and if Canon decides to bid against Ricoh, what fun that will be to watch this fall.

Yum yum, delicious...

Look, there's more:

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

KonicaDankaIkonHP - Fallout?



Steel Partners - Dark Forces behind the IKON/Ricoh Deal

Lichtenstein Gets His Wish With Ikon Deal

Last year, Steel Partners offered IKON the opportunity to buy back all of Steele's IKON shares at a price of $17.25. At the time, IKON offered to buy the shares at $15/share, Steele declined and held on to IKON.

With yesterday's announced deal (Ricoh to Buy IKON - Shot Heard Around the World), Ricoh will purchase IKON for $17.25 per stock.

From the New York Times, Thursday August 28, 2008 -

"...The Philadelphia Inquirer noted that the activist investor’s hedge fund Steel Partners, which counts Ikon as one of its largest holdings, has been pressuring the company to boost shareholder value for some time now. Last year, Steel Partners urged Ikon to buy back share at a price of $17.25. The company declined, but offered $15 per share instead.

Steel Partners, however, decided to hang onto its holding and is now seeing its shares going for $17.25, under the terms of the deal with Japan’s Ricoh, which competes with Xerox, Canon and Konica Minolta Holdings in printers and copiers. The buyout price is a premium of 11 percent over Tuesday’s close of $15.56..."

Of course, IKON spokes-holes continue to say
that the deal was a result of the company’s “strategic planning process” and industry consolidation, and “had nothing to do with” the activist investor’s involvement.

One industry observer notes,
“This is all driven by Steel Partners. They’re one of the most aggressive hedge funds in the world,”

- Damien J. Park, owner of Philadelphia shareholder- management consultant Hedge Fund Solutions, told The Inquirer. Steel Partners owns about one-eighth of Ikon, and paid about $10.50 a share, for a $6.75-a-share profit.
----

Interesting backdrop -

November 21, 2007:
"...Ikon agreed in October to provide Steel Partners with confidential information in exchange for the New York fund's agreeing to not try to take over Ikon or its board of directors for six months. Steel said in November that it supported Ikon's $500 million buyback plan, which included a $295 million modified Dutch auction tender offer that Ikon completed in December..."
In exchange for the "confidential information" Steel Partners agreed ""to refrain from taking certain actions with respect to its investment in Ikon through May 2009, subject to completion of the pending repurchase plan."
----

Well, the "pending repurchase plan" was never completed.

March, 2008 -

"Ikon Office Solutions Inc. said Monday it no longer intends to repurchase $500 million of its stock in its 2008 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, and expects to end the year having bought back $340 million in shares. "We remain committed to completing our $500 million share repurchase program," Ikon Chairman, President and CEO Matthew J. Espe said. "However, in light of the challenging credit markets and the anticipated one-time cash and pre-tax charge ... we believe refinancing our existing debt would be significantly dilutive to our fiscal year 2008 results at this time."
The provider of copiers, related office equipment and document management services said the decision means its agreement with shareholder Steel Partners II LP probably will expire at the end of the month..."
...very interesting...

I posted this, last month:

Excerpts From Espe




Fallout - Ricoh Rises, Canon Falls

Ricoh Shares Advance on Purchase of Ikon; Canon Falls

Aug. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Ricoh Co., Japan's second-largest office-equipment maker, rose the most in more than five months in Tokyo trading on speculation acquiring Ikon Office Solutions Inc. will help the company take U.S. market share from Canon Inc.

Ricoh added 6.4 percent to 1,838 yen at 9:43 a.m. on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the biggest gain since March 19. Canon lost 4.2 percent to 4,840 yen, losing the most since July 25.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"Ikon, Unisource have similar growth plans" - 1997

Has it really been 11 years?

I ran across this article today, "
Ikon, Unisource have similar growth plans" from the Philadelphia Business Journal - by Bob Brooke

"When Alco Standard Corp. of Valley Forge split in two to form Ikon Office Solutions Inc. and Unisource Worldwide Inc. on New Year's Eve, the move culminated a long-planned move to give its two main business units much needed freedom.

And in some respects, the spinoff can be seen as simply a civilized business transaction between two gentlemen -- Ikon Chief Executive Officer John Stuart and Ray Mundt, Unisource's CEO.

For years, the giant company, built on office copiers and paper, had been replicating itself through hundreds of acquisitions across the country. Alco began to take shape in the 1960s when Tinkham Veale, a wealthy Cleveland investor, assembled dozens of firms that included companies in fertilizer, machinery, electronics, coal and ice cream. In 1984, Alco sold off its manufacturing companies and focused on distribution, including its paper business, Paper Corporation of America. "

Stuart, having worked for Ricoh Corp., IBM and Royal Business Machines, joined the company in 1985 to restructure its office-products division...
----

The article is a trip. A trip down memory lane. This one line stumbled me up,



Levi & Korsinsky, LLP Investigates IKON Office Solutions

WOW. That was fast.Like we need to give lawyers more work -

NEW YORK, Aug 27, 2008 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) -- "Levi & Korsinsky announces an investigation on the proposed acquisition of IKON Office Solutions...
Levi & Korsinsky has expertise in prosecuting investor securities litigation and extensive experience in actions involving financial fraud and represents investors throughout the nation, concentrating its practice in securities and shareholder litigation. "

LOL!

Sometimes, you don't need to hear a siren to know that somebody will be chasing ambulances.



Steel Group Rumored to Have "Forced" IKON Sale


From an article at Philly.com:

"...This is all driven by Steel Partners. They're one of the most aggressive hedge funds in the world, with $9 billion in assets under management," said Park. "They've been really public, and this is no real surprise," he added. "They're the largest shareholder. They own about 10 percent at a cost of about $10.51." Steel pushed Ikon last year to buy back shares at $17.50; Ikon balked, paying up to $15 in a limited buyback that boosted the company's debt."

And off of the author's blog -

"
As of June 30, 2008, Steel owned 12,456,300 shares at an average cost of $10.51/share.

Assuming the deal goes through, Steel will realize a hefty $84M gain on their four year investment.

Steel began pressuring IKN in June 2007 to do a $850M share buyback at $17.50/share. After Steel announced their intention to obtain board representation, IKN announced (in November 2007) a $500M buyback - which included a $295M dutch auction between $13 and $15/share and the balance to be purchased on the open market over the next year or so. As a result, Steel signed a standstill agreement and agreed not to seek board representation through 2009..."

My previous post on Steele:

IKON and Steel Partners - How IKON Will Be Sold




IKON, Ricoh - with the possibility of ANOTHER BIDDER?

there is an "undertone" out there - is there another bidder willing to go after IKON?

From Dividends.com, "...This acquisition continues a trend we have been seeing, in which office equipment makers have been acquiring distributors to strengthen their sales channels and product offerings. Ikon has 400 sales and services mainly in Europe and the U.S. Ricoh had recently acquired the European operations of copier service and supply company Danka Business Systems.

This is a solid offer in place, but we have added the shares of Ikon Office Solutions to our recommended list, as the possibility of another bidder jumping into the fray is a possibility. The company has a dividend yield of 1.03%, based on Tuesday's closing stock price of $15.56..."

In addition to this being the biggest move in the industry - ever - it could get even more delicious.

Words From IKON's Espe - Internal IKON Memo

Memo to the crew, from Espe...

"Today we announced the exciting news that IKON is to be acquired by Ricoh Company, Ltd., subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions. A copy of the press release we issued is attached for your information. As you know, Ricoh has been one of our valued equipment partners for many years and we are thrilled that we will now be joining forces with them to create a stronger global office solutions competitor.

Let me explain why we chose to take this important step. As our Board and management looked at the future of our company, we focused on how going forward we could best meet our customers’ needs, deliver value to our shareholders and create opportunities for our employees. We decided that, like many of our competitors, we would be better able to achieve these goals as part of a larger organization that was able to offer a full range of end-to-end office solutions and services to more customers across the globe.

We believe that as part of a combined company in the highly competitive and evolving office equipment industry, we can leverage our sales, service and marketing depth with Ricoh’s engineering and manufacturing expertise to better understand and more rapidly respond to the needs of our customers. In addition, we anticipate that this transaction will create new opportunities for our employees, as you will be working for a larger organization with enhanced growth prospects.

The unmatched expertise and strong skills of IKON’s people were a significant reason why Ricoh wanted to acquire IKON and they are very much looking forward to working with our team.

Following the completion of the transaction, Ricoh intends to operate IKON as an independent subsidiary and has no immediate plans to merge or consolidate the organizations or to make any changes as a result of this transaction. Of course, we will remain committed to serving all our customers and we have every intention of continuing to provide them with world-class service and support, regardless of the equipment they use.

While we are very excited about today’s news, it is important for you to know that it will take several months to complete this transaction. In the meantime, it will be business as usual for us. We anticipate that the transaction will close before the end of calendar year 2008. From now until then, it is critical that we all stay focused on selling, servicing and meeting the needs of our customers, and achieving our objectives to finish the fiscal year strong...

...I’d like to end by thanking you for your continued hard work and dedication to IKON. It is your contributions that have made our company an attractive partner for Ricoh and I am confident that if we all can continue to focus on what we do best, we will all have a very bright future to look forward to as part of the new Ricoh.

Matt"

Here is the Press Release.

The Death of the Copier Dealer - Rise of the "Hybrid"

The Death of The Copier Sales Person

The Death of The Copier Dealer

Break Into Pharmaceutical Sales By Selling Copiers?

A Return to Selling




Ricoh to Buy IKON - Shot Heard Around the World

The other shoe has dropped.

In an announcement today, Ricoh stated that they have "reached a diffenative statement to purchase IKON through it's wholly owned U.S. distribution subsidiary, Ricoh Americas Corporation."

"IKON has terrific strength in areas that complement RICOH's growth strategy," said Shiro Kondo, President and CEO of Ricoh Company, Ltd. "IKON has advanced Professional Services capabilities with a long list of satisfied large customers. IKON is respected as well for its production print sales and service expertise. We are excited to add the very experienced IKON management team and the thousands of skilled and dedicated IKON employees to the RICOH family."

IKON Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Matthew J. Espe, said, "Following an extensive review of our strategic opportunities, our Board conducted a formal process to evaluate alternatives for the Company, and has approved this attractive transaction for our shareholders, customers and employees. The offer represents a 33% premium over IKON's trailing 60-day average stock price as of market close on August 26th. In addition, combining with RICOH, one of the world's most respected and innovative companies, will enable us to strengthen our offerings to customers and create new opportunities for our employees."

Espe concluded, "We remain fully committed to providing the highest quality of support and service to all our customers."

WOW! This is BIG.

33% premium? Try $1.6 billion! That's it. Was it a fire sale?

A missed opportunity for HP. A bargain price for huge channel for copiers and printers - 14 billion they spend on EDS.

So now, one question answered and oh so many more are asked.

What about ALL of the IKON Canon customers? Will it be a feeding frenzy as competitors start picking away at Canon, Kyocera and Konica Minolta installs?

My oh my...

"Ikon eliminated about 350 jobs in January to trim costs after first-quarter profit fell 45 percent. The company has also reduced executive bonuses as sales fell for 11 straight periods through the third quarter of 2007.

Canon Inc., the largest Japanese office equipment maker, has lost about 50 percent of its U.S. distribution network as the distributors have been bought by printer makers. Xerox Corp. bought Global Imaging Systems for $1.67 billion last May to expand its small- and mid-sized business sales. Konica Minolta Holdings Inc. bought London-based Danka's U.S. unit for $240 million in June.

``The biggest question is what Canon's response will be,'' said Cross. ``Does another bidder emerge?'' Canon spokeswoman Patricia Hall declined to comment.

Ikon, the largest U.S. distributor of Canon and Ricoh copiers, is being advised by Goldman, Sachs & Co., while Morgan Stanley is advising Ricoh." - Bloomberg

"Canon machines represent 60 percent of the products Ikon handles at the moment, with Ricoh machines accounting for 30 percent.

But Ricoh aims to replace Canon products with its own printers and copiers in three to four years, Chief Financial Officer Zenji Miura said."

Yikes - "another bidder"? This could get oh so much more interesting...


more to follow...

RICOH to Acquire IKON Office Solutions, Inc.

Ricoh in $1.6B deal for Ikon



My Older Posts:

Excerpts From Espe

I Know One Name - Canon

Should HP Purchase IKON's PS Division? - Delicious!!

IKON Introduces New Printer Line

Ricoh - A great, American Company? - Great ? yes, American? sorta...



‘Shopping spree' raises questions for county

When questioned, Skeans and Foust both admitted they "didn't know anything about it" and even went so far as to say they "never use a color copier."

What... did the Earth just go through the tail of a comet?

What is with all the "goofy" copier related stories? again, fact is funnier then fiction.

From the local news in the The Wabash Plain Dealer Online, an article by By SHEILA RHOADES-

"In a move that could be perceived as reckless government spending, the Wabash County Health Department has committed $13,725 in Homeland Security grant funds to more office equipment..."

It seems that the local health department down there had received some money from Homeland Security and "...only had one day to spend it...".

So of course, they went on a "shopping spree" - it's the American way.

And along this way, they seemed to have purchased a "...used photocopier machine..." for $9,000.00.

Huh?

"When questioned, Skeans and Foust both admitted they "didn't know anything about it" and even went so far as to say they "never use a color copier."

"Do you know what that costs for ink for that? And it would cost about 65 cents a copy," Commissioner Lester Templin said. "And you're not even going to use half of the things that are on there (copy machine). And it says on this paper that this is a 'repo unit'," he added."


OMG!

Seriously, this is funny.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Beware of DLL, a business nightmare..."

Bad Leasing Story part Trios...or is it quatre It's gotta be bad if the very first line in the article is, "The following is a fictitious account of a business nightmare."

And it must be true if the names HAVE NOT BEEN changed, to protect the innocent.

This article from a paper in Philly, written by
John F. McKenna an attorney with MacElree Harvey of West Chester, goes on to describe a bad experience with DLL.

"About DLL

Based in the Netherlands, DLL is a global provider of leasing, business and consumer finance solutions. They are listed as a Michigan corporation with United States headquarters in Wayne.

DLL never guarantees the performance of the equipment; it merely provides the financing. You are responsible for the payments regardless of the performance of the equipment, even if it never works."

I have a copy of their contract, and it is "standard" but is very one sided - as the article states :

"The standard contract states that you cannot have a jury trial. You further agree, that in the event of default, DLL can declare the entire balance of the unpaid lease payments for the full term immediately due and payable."

"payments for the full term immediately due and payable" - you gotta love that too.

His last two sentences sum up nicely,

"
Sometimes you just have to take a risk when you lease equipment. Clarifying upfront what your duties and obligations are is always a good course of action."


I notice in the comments this guy takes some pretty good hits, but the overall information is valid.

Leasing is tough all over.

Bad Experiences with Leasing - Toshiba, IKON, Canon, Saxon

Again With The "Leasing"! Enough!





Citigroup Limits Meetings, Pares Color Photocopies

LOL!!! A little too little, a little too late...fact is funnier than fiction.

It seems that Citigroup has got to have one of the worst PR firms working for them.

"...Under the new policy, employee meetings must be held within Citigroup offices and client events will require approval, the memo said. Color photocopiers will be removed from some locations and their use will be limited to client presentations. The memo didn't say how much money the new rules will save."

How in the world is "returning color photocopies" and "limiting color use to client presentations..." going to help in any way shape of form?

I see a great deal of "Reductions In Field" in their future.

But if they are serious about reducing costs associated with printing, they should drop me a line.

Here is the article.

Citigroup cuts down on office waste

Posted Aug 26th 2008 5:20PM by Zac Bissonnette
Filed under: Citigroup Inc. (C)

"If you recently sent your CEO packing in the wake of $17.4 billion in writedowns, you need to do something to stop the outflow of cash.

For some that might mean eliminating the dividend or cutting back on out-sized executive pay. For Citigroup (NYSE: C), that apparently means cutting back on color copying and BlackBerry use.

The Associated Press reports that John Havens, the head of the company's institutional clients group, sent a note to employees admonishing them that "color copying and printing should only be used for client presentations," and "presentations should be printed double-sided to reduce unnecessary paper usage."

That's right:

when you're pulling that stunt that involves sitting on the copier and printing 20 shots of your derriere, use the black and white machine, thank you very much.

BlackBerry use will also be more closely monitored, and there will also be a cutback on outside management consultants and training, and functions held outside of the company's offices.

Of course the savings from measures like this are a pebble in the sand of hideously bad mortgage investments, but it's good to see that the company is clamping down on the waste of shareholder resources.

But doesn't it seem a bit, I don't know, hypocritical to be yelling at employees about wasting paper when the failed CEO left the company with a 9-digit parting gift?"


...I am still laughing...

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Death of the Copier Dealer - Rise of the "Hybrid"

2008

Things ain't what they use to be...

I was reading Ed's post over at the Imaging Industry News site about "Hybrid Dealers".

Ed states, "...No longer is it acceptable for the dealer to only provide the stellar technical insight of an IT VAR or Reseller, or conversely, only the stellar service and traditional click charge based financing options of the copier dealer.

Now the end user expects the dealer to be able to provide the best of both worlds, the technical excellence of an IT reseller and the service excellence of a copier dealer..."

Ed and his group are right on with this observation - I see the need everyday; I see the prospect changing too.

I would venture a guess that larger companies are experiencing this change and the need for a Hybrid Dealer a Partner. Your typical small company does not have an IT and Facilities staff - sometimes, one person will fill both requirements. And this is why most smaller companies have embraced the MFP and it's full function.

On the "dealer" side, I have been in the presence of the owners of successful Copier Dealers - they do not see "MPS" as a major interest from their customers. Interesting. They see MPS programs as another "arrow in the quiver" - arrows to be shot at the prospect. (Another interesting metaphor/cliche.) In the same light as duplexing, color, or scan to file. Just another "add".

"Hybrid" - according to Dictionary.com, "... anything derived from heterogeneous sources, or composed of elements of different or incongruous kinds: a hybrid of the academic and business worlds..."

So, yes, I would agree that a VAR/Dealer/Reseller "composed of elements of different or incrongruous kinds" is a reasonable, Darwinian, expectation. The result would be an entity that takes "the best of both worlds" - CPC and IT knowledge.

My question is, "Can today's dealer change on its own or will the Hybrid be grown from the ground up?"

Time will tell - meanwhile, I need to take my computer in to the nearest Inacomp, ComputerLand, MicroAge - oh wait...they all changed their name to Best Buy, didn't they?

Check these out:

The Death of The Copier Dealer

The Death of The Copier Sales Person

Leading Edge and Bleeding Edge

Managed Print Services - Everybody Sells





Click to email me.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

New Report Delivers Definitive Analysis of the Managed Print Services Market

Managed Print Services - A New Study Released

An interesting announcement recently from a firm in Ireland. The report costs 16,000 Euros, but the summary announcement had a few tidbits and even a quote from our friends at The Photizo Group.

From the announcement, " ...we have ‘evolved’ to 2008 where there are a myriad of MPS offerings and services. The question now becomes what is meant when someone says MPS. The Photizo Group defines MPS as ‘outsourcing’ the hard and/or softcopy document management functions.

The key market dynamics have come together to help create the need for managed print services.

The key dynamics are:

-- Adoption of MFP technology – MFP’s have become ubiquitous in corporate America by bridging the gap between copier and printer technology. In addition, MPS-based products have become the on/off ramp enabler for new workflow applications which are the foundation of many potential business process optimization efforts.

-- Changing customers – Decision-making is being consolidated into a single organization, either IT or Facilities/Purchasing.

-- Shifting channels – IT and copier dealers are competing for the same customers and the result is declining margins. It is no longer feasible to be a ‘box pusher’ any longer, and as a result firms see offering MPS programs as a way to improve profitability and to capture market share. Customers now have a wide variety of options for implementing MPS programs, including utilizing local or national dealers or by utilizing a hardcopy vendors' direct MPS program..."

---

I like the "Shifting channels" comment and agree that box moving is becoming more undesirable - yet I do recognize there will ALWAYS be a place for "transactional" sales.

And customers always change. But, I am seeing the decision being made by BOTH Facilities and IT - in the same room, at the same time - opposed to Facilities handing off the decision completely to the technology group. This makes for an interesting dynamic.



Like this? Check this:

I.T. and Facilities and Your Copier



HP Financial News - UP 11%

An excerpt from :

Wall Street Beat: Salesforce, HP, M&A in the Spotlight

Marc Ferranti, IDG News Service

"...HP, which reported quarterly results Tuesday, continues to be a market darling. A speedbump in printing earnings and the prospects of absorbing services company EDS -- bound to be a complex undertaking -- does not seem to bother investors at all. HP shares jumped $2.47 to close at $46.16 Wednesday and continued to rise Thursday.


Revenue for the July quarter rose 10 percent to $28 billion in the quarter, while net income increased 20 percent to $2.5 billion, or $0.80 per share. Income and sales beat analyst forecasts.

Though revenue growth from its key printing division was slow -- up only 3 percent for the quarter -- and commercial printer sales were down 5 percent, sales for its software unit were up 29 percent. Software has traditionally been a weak spot for HP. A fast-growing software division combined with a strengthened services arm will only serve to reinforce HP's position as the largest tech vendor in the world.

Despite concerns about the U.S. downturn, however, the slowdown does not appear to be affecting the tech sector as badly as other areas of the economy. "The U.S.-led economic downturn shows no sign of causing a recession in IT spending," said Jim Tully, vice president at Gartner, in a forecast issued this week.

"Emerging regions, replacement of obsolete systems and some technology shifts are driving growth," Tully said.

----

Interesting, and relevant to what is being observed in the field.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Three Months of Managed Print Studies - A Summary

Aug, 2008 -

Interesting observations and conclusions.

My weeks have been filled with lots of “windshield time” traveling from client to client surveying output fleets and provide business analysis. 



To date, these examinations encompass over 1800 machines and thousands of users.

Without getting into details here are some interesting points derived from looking at ALL the studies as one-

The Numbers:

  • The number of printers to copiers has been 8.2:1. In only one case, the ratio was 3.8:1.
  • In a fleet of nearly 1,000 machines, the average monthly volume is 4,809 images/month/machine.
  • Average Cost Per Copy, using equipment cost only, is 0.021919 for copiers
  • Average Cost Per Copy, when combining copiers with printers is 0.0409
The Purchase or Lease:

  • Most lease terms are 60 months with a sub-majority of leases having “strange” terms; 44 months, 42 months, etc.
  • Lease details are unknown. It is difficult to obtain original leases and often, multiple lease agreements with unique termination dates exist.
  • Although my numbers do not reflect laser printers, as a normal business practice, the laser printer fleet has been purchased and the copiers leased.
Organizational Impact – The copiers are either “invisible” or perceived as a negative influence

  • In nearly every organization, the output devices, to the end user, have become “transparent”. They perform effortlessly and without failure.
  • Common through all organizations is the interest level regarding change – positive interest. Indeed, when interviewed, most users are quite happy with their existing system, yet they express positive feedback when presented with the option of getting new equipment. This is expected; people like “new stuff”. But when delving deeper, the expected level of satisfaction relating to the copier is not high. The “bar” is set low. As an example, end users become familiar with “Broken Again” sign taped to the ADF. Or employees accept the fact that one of their peers is proudly known as the “copier guy” – the one who can always fix jams, avoiding placing a service call with the copier company.
Examples can go on and on – the underlying theme is - People don’t expect much from the copier; they do expect to have jams, the do expect to have challenges with copiers, with printing, with losing output, with having the unit down for days at a time.

Equipment Miss-Match, lease end, invoicing and meter reads
  • There is no surprise that once actual volumes are compared to the recommended volume bands of each machine, clients’ experience shock, awe and then general frustration at having paid for capacity they never utilized.
  • Add to this the ultimate frustration of trying to terminate a lease, even at lease end, and the complete experience is a nightmare.
  • Invoicing, incorrect meter reads, service call management all contribute to a disdain for clients’ current position – all this beyond the costs.
Please note, that these are my personal observations on a small pool of studies. My opinions are based on my interpretation of the data and interviews.

Also, HP studies revealed years ago what I am finding today – for every copier, there are 8 printing devices and average monthly output per device is less than 10,000 images.

No surprises for me, plenty for the client – and now we get to see how responsive to change some will be – stay tuned.



Click to email me.




Hurd to Be Available To Partners

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) is offering its partners the prospect of a date with Mark Hurd.

One of my customers met with Hurd a couple of months ago. The meeting went very well.

HP, to me, has never been known as a "supreme" marketer. Well, let's just say that their marketing is no equal to their engineering prowess. They are very good engineers and creators of product(unlike Dell).

Hurd's attitude seems to be, "get out there and sell...!" which is refreshing and exciting at the same time...

More from the article by Craig Zarley, ChannelWeb


6:54 PM EDT Thu. Aug. 21, 2008
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) is offering its partners the prospect of a date with Mark Hurd.

The company is now formalizing a process to set up face-to-face meetings between solution providers, their customers and top HP executives, including chairman and CEO Hurd.

The strategy underscores Hurd's push to use the channel to extend HP's reach into the midmarket using the channel as an extension of HP's sales force. What's more, Hurd seems bent on using himself and his top lieutenants to help the channel win more business for HP.

Called ExecConnect, the plan allows solution providers to log onto HP's Website and submit a request to meet with Hurd or members of his executive team, said Tom LaRocca, HP's vice president of partner development and programs. "We are giving a structure and a formalization to our executive engagement program," said LaRocca. "In the last 12 months Mark [Hurd] has met face to face with over 100 partners."...

...LaRocca noted that HP now has a person dedicated to setting up the logistics of meetings between Hurd or his executive staff, including heads of the companies three business units: Ann Livermore at Technology Solutions Group, Vyomesh Joshi at Imaging and Printing Group, and Todd Bradley at Personal Systems Group.

"We want to continue to put partners in front of our executives and we want to give them a way to come into this program," he said.

LaRocca said partners can log onto the HP partner portal and submit requests or get more information on setting up meetings with HP executives."



Thursday, August 14, 2008

Kearns Business Solutions Achieves a Monthly ROI of $8000 with Print Audit's Facilities Manager

Every single day, somebody can save thousands...

"Facilities Manager continually came out ahead with a lower overall cost of operation than a self-hosted solution," said Ken Stewart, the Director of Technology at Kearns. "Facilities Manager's hosted architecture is working extremely well for us."

Kearns' overall experiences with the Facilities Manager software have been released by Print Audit in a two-page case study, available for download from their site.

Before using Facilities Manager, Kearns was spending an excessive amount of time and resources on collecting meter reads and using out-of-date methods such as phone calls and faxed meter requests. All in all, the company wasn't accounting for approximately 10% of meter traffic due to inefficient processes and dated technology.

After working with Print Audit, the case study shows that Facilities Manager has reduced personnel time for meter collection by over 2500 hours per year and now yields an $8,000 return on investment. Kearns also rediscovered 200 printers previously thought to be decommissioned.


See the complete release.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Death of The Copier Sales Person

Some feel the current model is broken. Now what?

Over at Ken's, a new contributor penned an article regarding the current state of copier sales people.

Are Your Solutions Sales Stalled? We’ve Been Expecting You. - it is a good read.

I am going to borrow Max's definition of Solution Sales -

"so· lu· tion /

[suh-loo-shuh n]

–noun

Anything you sell other than just copiers. My copier proposal was half the price and I still got crushed! They said that even though we have been their copier vendor for the last 10 years, going forward it was in their best interest to give their business to a more knowledgeable company that can provide more than just copy machines but actual solutions to their business objectives.

—Related forms

so·lu·tion·al,

—Synonyms key, resolution."

I like "Anything you sell other than just copiers..." - my adjustment would be anything you sell in addition to the copier.

Semantics is all.

And then there is my article, Selling and U of M Football where I am waxing on in a veiled manner about dealing with the competition. And the comment left by DocuNagurski struck me between the eyes.

So much so, I feel the need to paraphrase it - so here it is -

"Great analogous approach to selling...comparing sales to a pounding grind for 3 yards forward in off-center fashion. Wow, those were the days in the copier biz...hmmmm...."

I can remember like it was yesterday: Makin calls, movin biz forward...methodically, but successfully. Down the field we would go, not deviating much from our gameplan of pounding our message until the customer gave in...wow, I miss those days!...

...much like the gridiron, we are tasked with the long solution-selling that demands great execution but requires the kind of hail-mary that even Doug Flutie would envy. Yes, once was a day in Ann Arbor lore that you could return a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown (i.e. Seth Smith) and even though you were the new kid that never really complied to the ethical or managerial standards set forth by Sarbanes or Oxley, people would talk about your moves long after your poor revenue numbers garnered you a promotion to a coveted training gig...hmmm!

... you could reference to your future clients and wax poetically about how many product placements you had just on that street alone. I mean, not only do you have the most wins in your territory...but you have the highest winning percentage...history as well, and I'm not even going to tell you about my penetration rate...Nope, today its the 2-minute offense that requires the relationship sale, its the off-campus mistake that only the service manager can fix, its the overtime victory that nobody remembers because the CPC was so aggressive that we dont even want to take a meter read from you.

Yep, those were the days of 3 yards and a cloud of dust...the days of solid and expected revenue from a well-executed plan...oh, thanks for the memories...you put it all in perspective for me.

This being said, I still think Red Grange would have been a great copier rep!"
***

Now, his post may be dripping with sarcasm, it may not - and that is the beauty.

In my post I was talking about working against competitors not clients. His take on my article was different - and I think it comes down to perspective.

In the copier industry, and in most "commodity" based selling, the customer IS the competition. - let that sink in...

That is to say, ALL vendors in the industry are trying to jam products into the End Zone and get the poor schmo of a customer to "sign on the line which is dotted!" So it is quite natural for somebody from that slant to see my ideas as "anti-client" - after all, that is their world and all is seen through their prism of perspective.

But, it is not singularly the world of the copier rep - it's our world in MPS as well.

Customers and future clients see things in this sense as well - it does not matter that they may have you pegged wrong, a customer is always on the defensive, on a "goal line stand". The art in relationship building is to regain trust.

How do we do this?

That is the question.

If you liked this, try these:

The Death of The Copier Dealer

A Return to Selling

Managed Print Services - Everybody Sells

The Single Most Important Tool In Managed Print Services

Should HP Purchase IKON's PS Division? - Delicious!!


Click to email me.





HP Channel Execs: We'll Fund Small Solution Providers Too

Wow, I guess whining doesn't happen exclusively in the printer channel...

Looks like HP is opening the "wallet" for some HP partners as it has at CDW.

From an article at CRN - "Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) channel executives said Monday that they are willing to fund SMB initiatives for small solution providers, including co-funding employee salaries, in an effort to capture more market share..."

This announced after a little ruckus occurred following HP's announcement to work with CDW.

But as Adrian Jones, HP's vice president and general manager, Americas Solution Partners Organization said, "...give us your ideas. Give us your proposals about how we can work together to co-fund and co-invest in that [SMB] segment and we will gladly listen and gladly work with you. ... we've invested in large partners. We've invested in small partners. And we are going to continue to invest in the SMB market. If we've got partners that feel that they can help us reach the SMB space, please give us a call."

***

I know this to be true. I know partners who work with HP in this capacity.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Is HP Doing What IKON Does?

HP Broadens Portfolio of Imaging and Printing Solutions for Enterprise Customers


HP today announced five new printing solutions – ranging from check printing security to document capture – to address the security and manageability needs of its enterprise customers.

Troy, Captaris, Standard Register, SafeCom, Kofax, OmTool and ReadSoft are a few of the existing HP partners.


With all this - perhaps HP CAN compete with IKON. The next move could be HP picking up some Ricohs MP9000's or iMageRunner 7105s' to fill the gaps in the product line, eh?

Friday, August 8, 2008

HP Funds New CDW Effort To Target SMB Accounts

Looks like HP is still trying to get a "big Channel" - Yet, is it in printing...

According to a memo "leaked" or obtained by Everything Channel, HP is co-funding "...110 new HP-only CDW sales people selling HP products into accounts with 499 or fewer employees..."

The list will be created by comparing D&B's customer list against existing HP Direct, HP channel partners and CDW customers resulting in more than "500,000 net new customers for CDW to target..."

According to a memo from CDW Executive Vice President Jim Shanks the alliance is set move forward next month and running full-out by year's end.

"We are taking our HP partnership to the next level with a new CDW-HP Alliance team. CDW plans to add 110 salespeople who will specialize in selling HP servers, storage, notebooks, desktops, printing and imaging."- Jim Shanks, Executive Vice President, CDW.

**

I don't know how or even if this will influence the Managed Print Service(IPG) side.

It looks interesting - HP has been denied a larger channel(IKON, Global, and Danka) so they may "partner" up with a big Box-Mover in Distribution - Squeezing the smaller printing VAR.

I imagine that the better VAR's would not see this as a real threat - HP can fund and train "500" sales reps, it won't make a difference.

How can you sell Value (the "V" in "VAR") on your butt, over the phone?

Things are changing.

What next? An across the board, 5% price increase in supplies?


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Managed Print Services and The Corporate Culture



2008

"No Way are you taking MY LaserJet...no way"

Change - "They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself." - Andy Worhol

Over the past few weeks I have visited many differentbusinesses looking at all sorts of different copier fleets and business situations.

Some common threads with all of the studies are:

1. The requirements of the users are far under the capacity of the machines they are using.

2. Facilities and I.T. are working together, opposed to shifting to one unique department.

3.
Corporate culture: End User response is very favorable to "new" ideas and specifically, new equipment - yet they still attached to their "personal" output devices.

Point one is a no-brainer; except for true, high volume applications, general business departments, are using "more machine then needed".

Point two is a more of a revelation. I expect most print/MFP fleet decisions to be made uniquely by the I.T. department. In some cases this is true. But I have been surprised to see Both Facilities(or purchasing) and I.T. working together on the Pre-Implementation. This is not a bad thing.

This has been quite refreshing, and at the same time, very dynamic. When I see this, it tells me that the client has thought through the basic issues surrounding print management and somehow recognizes the importance of have both influences at the table.

Point three is an "oldie but a goody" - if end users have a printer in their office or cube, they do not want to see it go away. This is a challenging aspect for employers and is dealt with in a variety of ways, depending on the culture of the company.

Just a little information from the field, HMHO...

You might like these:

Managed Print Services - Everybody Sells

I.T. and Facilities and Your Copier

The Second Most Important Tool in Managed Print Services






Saturday, August 2, 2008

What risks do I have if I mention my employer on my blog?

I posed this question on my LinkedIn...

What risks do I have if I mention my employer on my blog?

I blog within the industry I work. In my profile I mention my employer and in some posts I mention what it is that I do for my company.

Are there Taboo's that shouldn't be mentioned? And if I submit a post on another blog and in my signature I mention my employer, do I need the employer to review first?



The responses have been excellent.

"Greg,

If you are worried about the risks, you are most probably not a risk taker. Simply don't."

- Pieter Dorsman

-----

"Greg, I struggled with this concept for some time and sought counsel from some of my friends. I came to a similar conclusions as everyone else here.

1) I have a disclaimer on my site.
2) I do not name names of internal associates, share financial information, or anything that would be considered "sacred".
3) I notified my company's President regarding the site as both notice for consent as well as exposure to new media options.
4) I am very proud of my company, and have purposefully aligned myself with this company due to their cultural outlook being very similar to my own.

These lead to very productive information, I feel, being present in my posts from 1) real world experience, and 2) true passion and belief.

Like Corey said, if you don't have anything positive to say - don't say it if you are skeptical. I like what Nick said also.

-Ken Stewart

-----

"I would say that if you have nothing good to say, don't say it. They can't come after you if you say something on your personal time and personal web property if you don't mention their name or even allude to them.

They'll never say anything about your efforts if you are positive about them.

I think that if your employer requires a review of all that you do then you are working for the wrong employer.

Let me ask this... if you are in front of a customer talking, do you first consult with your boss about what you are saying to them?"

-Corey Smith

-----


Friday, August 1, 2008

The Death of The Copier Dealer



8/2008

I was reading and responding to a post by Ed Crowley about Managed Print Services when it hit me ...wasn't there a time when computer dealerships where like Starbucks; on every corner of every city, town and village? 

I'm not nuts, right? I do remember correctly, don't I? Of course I do, because I worked at an Inacomp and competed with ComputerLands while working at MicroAge. My first computerized accounting system was installed on a IBM PS/2 Model 60 running Novell severing two workstations. 

 So, yes, there was a time when you could open a phone book and the computer section would contain a dozen pages of dealers, software houses, VARs, computer service locations. 

Check out a phone book now - that is if you can find one - and see how many computer dealers are out there; then go to "C" for "copier dealers". 

 Back to the Post - In one of the responses to Ed’s post, this caught my eye - 
 "...the Vendor is about making money and moving their products and services. ... a customer needs to look for a vendor that is well versed in both industries(Copier and Printer) and that is going to focus on a STRATEGIC partnership, not just focused on moving a “box” whether it be some sort of imaging device (Printer, Scanner, Fax, Copier, etc), a service contract, or supplies...

 Agreed - and based on this, I would suggest a RADICAL shift in Paradigm.

Vendors should become "Partners". Remember, vendors push carts full of hotdogs down the street. I also recognize that pulling the "hardware" element out of the existing copier dealer model is impossible. Not because a new model can't make money, rather, the new model is too difficult for "old school" merchants to comprehend. 

I wrote a bit about Matt Espe's quarterly conference call last week. One, small, seemingly innocuous comment stuck with me, Espe said, "...the very low end office black and white continues to go to the retail channel and continues to go from copier technology to printer technology… you're seeing actually some improvement in functionalities clearly at much lower price points by the tier two guys. 

And you are seeing that kind of shift from copier distribution to retail. We don't play there..." From “copier distribution to retail”. It's deja-vu all over again. We use to joke, while at MicroAge, that Wal*Mart would someday sell High-End PC's; we laughed at the possibility and we were wrong. Additionally, "from copier to printer technology..." isn't that the HP model? And guess what, for me, on a daily basis, I see copiers in places where "printer based MFPs" should be - about 90% of the time the copier that was sold to the customer has capabilities well above everyday usage and function requirements. 

For example, in the last two weeks, I have surveyed fleets totaling 107 copiers. All but seven are 55 page per minute units, most with 3-hole punch. The average monthly volume on each machine is no greater the 11,300. This average is by machine over the life of the 60 month lease. The manufacture’s published volume per month is up to 200,000 images. Oh, and the punch unit is never used. As a matter of fact, in a department that did need 3-hole punch, the copier DID NOT have a punch and they ran pre-drilled paper through the machine. 

Let all this sink in. 

In the past 6 months(2008), in every single one of my of surveys, 99% of the machine specifications are well over the real world usage – as a matter of fact, I have found, when looking at all the surveys as one, the average volume per machine is 10,234 images each month. Isn’t that the number HP came up with when the did a study of all the printers in their world? (It was around 10k/unit, you can look it up) 

And chew on this – If the above machines are capable of 200,000 images per month, it has been priced accordingly – you’re...paying...for... too... much.... capacity. 





 It’s kind of like that scene in Indiana Jones, when Indy and his friend realize the Germans “are digging in the wrong place” isn’t it? This is just one facet of the Copier Model- interesting, no?



- perhaps, we are witnessing the beginning of The Death of The Copier Dealer...?