Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Things I Learned at the Asia Pacific, Managed Print Services Conference in Sydney: There Is an Unifying Theory

11/2011

What a week. First, I drove from LAX to Charlotte, NC.

After a two day rest, off to Sydney.

My flight went up to Detroit, hometown, back out to LAX, nicest night time approach view around, then out to Sydney - 14 hours away.

On a plane Friday and landing Sunday morning without knowing what time it was, let alone what day ...where in the hell did Saturday go?

That night, I hit the sheets at 6:00PM, local and slept until 6:00AM, local.

Again, what the hell?

Monday morning, sipping coffee from a way too small cup, on a saucer no less, I found myself standing in a sea of grey pinstripes - this sure wasn't LA, St. Louis, Seattle, New York, Orlando or Vegas.  This was Sydney. 14 hours, two hemispheres and one international date-line away.

Oh what fun was to be had, Down Under...

As with all conferences, the first presentation covers the basics: thanks for coming, the rest rooms are over there, we hope you get one good thing out of the next few days and here is our first keynote speaker.

It was a tough crowd for Dom as he took us along the innovation path explaining how the successes of our past can hold us back, chaining us to the old ways.

I got the jokes. But the audience was a bit cold, reserved, dubious.

This changed as one table shot out many different responses to one of his questions. That's when I knew this was going to a very good conference.



First Golden Nugget? - MpS is Universally Spoken

That's right. There is little difference between how MpS is defined down under versus here in the States or North America.

All the challenges we have experienced here, they have down there. Commission structure, toner delivery, cartridge based or CPI invoicing, DCA installations, OEM relationships, "what is MpS" questions...all of it.

Interestingly enough, the S1/S2 successes run parallel to the US and the more advanced firms are expanding into Managed Services.  But they aren't looking to "rip and replace" servers - jus sayin...

I may have expected the A/P MpS'rs would be slightly behind the U.S. on the adoption curve, but they aren't.

There is a unique set of issues, the old copier models still hang on, but the attitude, the 'can do' attitude is prevalent - palpable.  And that was refreshing.  Bold.

The best kind of Zag.

Second Nugget - MpS is open and clear

Wide open.  The players in A/P are hitting everything in sight.  From government to commercial to Education - not unusual, right?  What I got out of their exuberance was a wide eyed wonder not only geared at seeing the huge pool of prospects, but also in the wide array of MpS subjects they would talk about.  Not just toner but networks, documents, storage, workflow and business process. All this under MpS!  No really, it's true.

From the inside out, making it up as they go, not worrying about benchmarks(too much) or best practices(not too much) or their ego.

I did not hear one complaint about OEM toner pricing being too high, or any whining about how OEM so and so is encroaching into SMB.

Hard work gets results, complaining doesn't.

I have attended each North American MPS Conferences so meeting people with different definitions of MpS, infrastructure, pricing and OEM partnerships is common - from Cali to NYC, we are diverse.

There are sectors of the MpS Ecosystem inhabited by those consider themselves above the rest, better, erudite in manner - born into their position.

We all know them; the stuck up consultant, the know-it-all copier dealer, the old-skool, old-man, collector and seller of souls - destroyers of innovation.

None of that here.

Clear.  They can see a carpetbagger coming a continent away.

Another cool Zig.

Third Nugget - Even the OEMs are Runin' and Gunnin', in the Wild, Wild West...

There was a time, not long ago, when I would compare the MpS Ecosystem to the "Wild, Wild, West of Imaging" - no rules, no sheriffs, and lots of Gold. We were ALL making it up as we went.

Those days seem to be gone as the OEMs clearly define MpS as Stage One and Two, leveraged to land more equipment.

They are bringing out all sorts of heartless paraphernalia: Toner portals, shrink wrapped MpS, nameless service networks,  automatic proposal generators, MpS "Agent Fee's".

Controlled. Stifled. Boring.

But not in A/P.  I was fortunate enough to share time with Fuji/Xerox, HP, and Canon MDS folks. Each for about an hour.  What struck me was the absolute willingness to get things done by working the market not their system.  Sure, they want to land more gear, but the MpS ideas and philosophy are truly geared around a vision that works up to Stage 3/4 - they don't stop at toner and service.

There are all building teams from scratch, they are all putting together deals and infrastructure programs from scratch.

And they are flexible.  That's right, I just referred to 3 of the big OEM's as "flexible" and I could easily say, "out of the box".  Smack me in the forehead and call me dumbfounded.

What a Zag this is.

Don't...friggin...ask...
The Big Take Away - Remember to Let Go

Again, we talked about how the successes of the past can hold us back.  I mentioned how now is the time to really look at the world sideways, to be open to new partnerships.  New business models, new employment paradigms and different personal archetype for success.

I pontificated on how now is the time when power is shifting away from the big, centrally controlled entities and down to us, the folks in the trenches.

How this point in history is that unique time when technology truly allows us to control our own destinies - that is if we recognize how the "good ole days" can shackle us to the past.

To move forward, we need to let go the past.  Before we let go, we must first remember.

And that's what Australia did for me.  The people, the vibe, the way, reminded me of our past. Our MpS past.

If you can remember, now is the time to let it go, let go of our MpS past, step over the Edge and into a  future with less toner.



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