Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Greg's " Deep Impacts" of 2015: HP Inc., Epson & Sunset of an Industry

"Greg, what were the biggest events or issues from last year?'
...a seasonal tradition.
This year, like last year, my initial reaction is, "Not much."  Which is soon followed by a wave of angst.

Most of the industry is insane.

OEMs keep releasing new models...which aren't all that it's 1999.  Mobile print, document management, managed print services, automatic toner replenishment, managed services and that fictitious managed network services, are all the 'rage'.  Same as last year.

The consolidation continues as dealer after dealer are gobbled up by yesterday's rival or taken over by a capital investment firm.  Same as last year.

Clients aren't making copies and office print is on the decline.  Same as last year.

But there are golden nuggets in 2015; it wasn't simply the "Year of Tears".

1.  HP Split - Jettisoning print

This was no surprise.

I believe the world of print is heading into HP's wheelhouse - smaller devices, low operating cost, and direct supplies management.

Managed print services is not complicated.  When considering the influences, especially MPS automation, there's no need for a dealer. With today's technological advances in M2M, a national company can provide toner and service more efficiently than a 'local' reseller.

Someday, HP will deliver MpS anywhere in the country - without a local service network.  No need for a middle man.

The split is good for HP, not sure if it's good for the channel.

2.  The Sunset of An Industry

Xerox is in decline and Icahn, the Master of Disaster, buys more and more.  He's going to oust Ursula then slice and dice the Big X - another Kodak moment.

Meanwhile,  Lexmark the wallflower, hikes up her skirt, beguiling suitors with promises of MpS, revenue streams.  Multiples are good, but who's going ask Lexi to dance?

HP's vision, as mentioned above,  is one of continuous transformation.  As business evolves, and technology removes the mundane components, like print, loud, hot, expensive machines designed to make marks on paper,  lose relevancy.

Consultants still place the OEMs in the upper right and tag big spenders as 'visionary' - who ever has the largest marketing budget or the nicest rooms in town, gets the best reviews and accolades.

Elsewhere, offshore concerns are marching to the 'print/copy is relevant' drum, churning out devices like crazy.

All points Terminus.  Like Childhood's End, one day, memory of a once great paper making machine will be remembered in song, not substance.

3. Epson: Shining Star, for you to See

Yes, I mocked the hell out of the 'bags of ink'.  But I poke fun at those who attract. You should consider Epson for the following reasons:

  1. De-emphasize print - I know it hurts, but print is not all that important and walk-up copy is dead(except for SLED) in the end, print is simple because fewer people print.  Why fight the trend?  You cannot win. Epson takes the complexity out of printing with this device  Just sell it.
  2. "Close and forget" mentality - Imagine a device that requires one or two touches a year and one toner delivery every three years.  Quick, do the math.  Get a good chunk of margin up front, put the device on MpS and forget about it.
  3. No technicians, no toner delivery, just monthly billing - That's all.
About this time last year, my advice to independents was to jump on the reduce-print-servers bandwagon.  I told a bunch of dealers to get with a company called PrinterLogic - they didn't.  Today, Printerlogic is banging big deals all over the world.

You could have been part of that movement.  You could have been telling your clients how to reduce the cost of print by decreasing the number of print servers.  You could have elevated the MpS discussion above and beyond toner and service calls. You could have sold a bunch of stuff, too.

But you didn't and now you've lost a bunch of accounts.

Boo, f'n, who.  If you're not retiring or selling out, get on the ink-bag train. Call Epson, now, but it might be too late.

10 Years Out - 

What is the future of print, in the year 2025?  No business print.  Little in education, more in government, healthcare will be paperless.

The internet of things will be the internet of everything - plants will talk with light bulbs which will communicate with coffee tables, the paint on your walls and your inhaled nano's .  Everything, everyone will be connected, all the time.

Information will finally move at the speed of thought.

How about in the year 2020?  Just like the computer dealers of the 1980's, copier dealers will fade into history. Few copier dealers will remain.

Eric Church - Mr. Misunderstood

Click to email me.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry Christmas! From me, Greg Walters...

That's right,


and happy Chanukah...

I'll keep saying Merry Christmas until another country celebrates "the Holidays" on the Moon; on account of the United States of America, as of this date, is the only country to have done so...pass the eggnog.


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Why I Think Franklin Planners Will 'Save Print'

Yup, that's right.

Back in the day, every single sales person worth his or her quota, carried a Franklin planner. Heck, I think HP, IBM, and Canon gave every rep a planner and the "Seven Habits..." in lieu of a PC and printer.

Instead of checking smartphones and pecking the qwerty, we'd unzip and unfold our cool, custom binders, jot down notes, check off tasks and review calendars.  And by 'jot' I mean, write down...with a pen or pencil...on paper even.
"...sometimes, reps would copy entire months, off the glass, and submit these "reports" to management..."
Scheduling the next appointment was in real-time, face to face and "...if it didn't make it in my Franklin, it didn't exist..."

Business cards were stuffed in plastic sleeves for easy access and we wrote down phone numbers.

No.  Really...we did.

At the end of the day or week, one might review the past and plan future action items or follow up tasks.  Again, we wrote on paper.  More advanced users would apply sticky notes, and custom forms. (show-offs)

Leadership loved these things.

Old-school sales managers would surprise audit your Franklin, checking for scheduled meetings over the next couple of weeks - funnel review included handing your planner over to your manager.

Sometimes...and get this...sometimes, reps would copy entire months, off the glass, and submit these "reports" to management.  Penny a click, penny a click...

So here's my plan.

If every single HP, Lexmark, Xerox, Canon, Ricoh, Epson, Samsung, Muratec, Memjet, sales rep indeed, if every sales, branch or district manager, each VP, AVP and C-Suite employee in every manufacturer and dealer ordered a Franklin planner today, the industry would lead by example.  The industry, would save itself.

For this to work,  The 'Planner' must be the required tool for funnel reviews and account planning. Follow me here...if the industry is serious about saving itself by repeating the same mistakes over and over, it should drink it's own champagne and regress back to paper.

Move off Outlook, turn off the carphones.  Get back to alpha-numeric pagers, pink phone-message pads and overhead transparencies.  Fewer screens, more carbon paper.

Worried about productivity? Hear meetings without beeps, whistles and tweeting sounds.  No more heads buried in a keyboard checking Facebook during your copier technology roadmap presentation.


Go full tilt.  Stop "selling the cloud" and referring to yourself as a technology company - everybody knows you're just trying to make your MFD's relevant.

You want relevancy?  Move your entire ordering process back to paper.

CRM? Yeah, it's a 1-30 tickler file.  Slide deck?  Sure, it is a deck of real slides.

If the industry wants to return to the hey-days of 1986, I say, put your value prop where your toner bottle is and get rid of your digital technology.

I dare you.  I double dog, dare you.  I can't wait to see the direct reps sporting pleather binders and a return of the receptionist!

Require your professional sales people scan their Franklin at 7:00 AM and again at 5:30PM.  Penny a click, penny a click...

While your at it, bring back the original QWERTY and put the receptionist to work, typing up proposals.  And yes, make 20 copies for every meeting.  Penny a click, penny a click...

"Receptionist Wanted:  Must type 120 words per minute and be versed in grammar."

Gosh, the possibilities are endless...

Satire -

We all know nobody in the imaging industry is going to lead into the past by giving up all their paper reducing technology.

I guess the big question is, how can they expect their clients to do so?

Monday, November 9, 2015

#DOTC The Book Lives On

It's been so long, I had forgotten about this little paperback - thank the copier gods for old buddies to remind me of past lives.

I don't care if he read it, the picture is worth cases of book sales.

The book is available on iBooks, which is cool and Amazon, of course:

Believe me, I'm not retiring on this and I don't necessarily believe it is all that good.  But, the seal has been broken.  I've got enough content bouncing around to fill a large volume with funny,  real world sales and copier stunts.

The next book will be much better.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Shades of Greg: 2016. The Year of The Flood


Mergers, acquisitions, sell-outs and less paper.

2016 will see the beginning of the End.

More signs.  The tipping point is in your rearview mirror, if this is news to you, it's too late.

  • Today, Xerox may be running out of ink with quarter after quarter of declining technology business. They've also decided to scrap the wax.
  • Lexmark, after years of building a portfolio of MPS contracts is finally ready to sell out.
  • HP, the thickest of the thick, is splitting into two. HPG, (HP Inc.) can now move quicker and turn their profits into R/D for print.  Will this five billion dollar start-up be the last print vendor standing? Can the old Printelligent model work?  Mother Blue has been adding vans almost as fast as she's laid off employees.  She has an impressive array of services, and a behemoth of a team ready to take the argument to the streets - direct.
  • Samsung may gobble up Nuance, enhancing a practically non-existent MpS program.
  • The independent channel continues to shrink and evolve.  Just this week, Loffler joined the Xerox dealer channel and Marco cashes in, selling to an equity firm.
  • On top of all this, the American Forest & Paper Association released their yearly report stating, " printing-writing paper shipments were down 4% in September as compared to September 2014."  The same report a year earlier sited a 7% drop from 2013 to 2014.
Taken individually, the list has one dimension.

But observed from a distance, and just to the side, these points reveal a multi-dimensional reality: The deluge is here.

Knee deep in a receding surf for the last 18 months the final Wave is coming.  If you haven't sold or gotten out the only choice you have is to hunker down and hope for the best.

So what does it mean?

The End is just the beginning...ask yourself this one question,

"If office print disappeared tomorrow, what would I be doing the day after?"

Whatever answer you come to, you are absolutely correct.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Shades of Greg: 2015 "Top100 Summit" & The Death of Managed print Services

"Live a life less ordinary
Live a life extraordinary with me
Live a life less sedentary
Live a life evolutionary with me..."

These thoughts are my personal critique of an industry not an individual.

Weeks ago, over one hundred leading MpS providers congealed in Park City, Utah to discuss the future of MpS.  It was a great educational and entertaining event - recommended.

This event was one of the best I've attended in years - only the MWAi show from last year, stands above.  West put together a great agenda and was able to recruit a diverse set of industry luminaries.

Here's a quick list of observations from The Top 100 - "MpS is Changing" conference:

  • The venue: Superb.
  • Event organization: Stellar.
  • Promotion: Unparalleled.
  • Presenters: Both gargantuan and irrelevant.
  • Content: Both significant and forgettable.
  • Off-line conversations: The best in over a decade.
For a detailed tracking of the event, talks and feedback, see Ken's, Art's, West's and Andy's most accurate reports.

The video, recorded, edited, and presented on-site, nearly live, is one of the best promotional pieces in the niche.  It was organic and fun. See it here.

Enough of us patting each other on the back, like we’re all bud’s.  Here's a two word summary of the show:

"Points Missed."  

It has been said our niche moves at the speed of an HP Series II - I don't agree with that 100% of the time, but after this conference, I'm having second thoughts.

I've stewed on this for what seems years - why do so many still believe in the old models?  Why don't they see what others see?

In a juxtaposition with the best content I've witnessed,  the audience comments were befuddling.  I sat there, shaking my head, not at the presenters(mostly) but frustrated over the 1970 mentality of the audience. Still!

Here it is.  A list of call outs from my perspective:

"Automatic Toner Fulfillment": 2007 called...

"If you sell hammers, everything looks like a nail" so, if you sell re-man toner, all the world is an empty printer, right?


Getting toner to the right desk at the right time is something we've cut our teeth on, back in 2007. Staples delivers more toner to more desks, on-time, "automatically" than anybody else and they use people. Automation for automation sake is not visionary.

The fact that we are looking at ATF as a new advantage, in 2015, is trite - Client's expect every MpS program can 'get toner to the user' as a mundane function.

There is no such thing as "MNS": Really. 

This irks me on a personal basis.  Nobody in real IT refers to anything as managed network services; it is simply managed services. Whenever we say "MNS", we look like wanna-be, IT knuckleheads. If you're IT contacts don't flinch or roll their eyes every time you say "MNS" they are being polite.

Stop it.

Epson Bags of Ink: Not disruption, turbulence.

This is the BIG miss of the show.

When the Epson dude referred to his ink bags as "disruptive", I think most in the room assumed it was we doing the disrupting.

Immediately, calls of, "how can I make money the old fashion way, when I sell the machine and lifetime ink all up front?"

The answer is, "you can't make money the old fashioned way..."

But here's the miss: we won't be using ink-bags to disrupt, this disrupts Managed print Services.

It's the other way around: bags-o-ink AND "Instant Ink"(DOTC, 2011) will move the channel closer to irrelevancy.  Not because wet-toner is better than dry-toner - the iceberg here is "Lifetime Supply".  Buy a printer and never purchase toner or ink again.  All the cost, revenue and profit are up front.  An offering, so simple a monkey could sell it.

The 'lifetime' model will remove MpS from the lexicon because there is no need for a relationship.

Those MPS consultants who and OEM programs which stress toner as "the most important component" of MpS have led us down the primrose path.

This one issue, redefined as "MpS" is slipping from the dealer channel into the hands of surviving mother-ships.

"Toner" is not a relationship and the biggest reason OEMs say they need an independent dealer channel is to maintain the relationship.  Well. The relationship is getting thinner every month.

Think about it, the 'lifetime ink' business model eliminates:

  • Meter reads  - no billing
  • Monthly billings - see above
  • Deliveries - UPS
  • Phone orders - machines phone home
  • Service calls - these things don't break
  • Quarterly reviews - why?
  • Contracts
  • Independent Dealers
  • Etc.
If I were getting into managed print services today, I would become an Epson reseller and push those guys to start releasing model after model, ASAP, before HP kicks their super-duper, closed loop MpS machine into gear.

I mentioned this during the Q&A, and nobody understood what I was saying.



Watch Epson.  Watch HP MPS.

In The End: It's Not Me, It's You

I've seen great things in our niche.  I've seen companies make the leap, shun the old ways and thrive.

I've also seen organizations espouse the future, make cosmetic changes and fail - the road back to 1991 is littered with used up MPS Directors.  Settling into the old ways of selling copiers, hiring sales managers from yesterday's enterprise, 'trapping customers', paying sales people a pittance yet expecting them to be professionals, and forcing equipment quotas on their customers - is the easy thing to do.

These types fade away or get swallowed by a bigger dealer.

I've been ringing the bell for years - "MPS is the gateway to something bigger than toner and copiers...".  I evangelized the new ways only to see big equipment manufacturers hijack and kill innovation, searching for more shelf space and stickier schemes.

It is the way of things.

But it doesn't need to be your way.  Many have made the shift, pivoting off the copier and into fertile markets.  It isn't easy to break free the ordinary ways, but it's got to be done.

Conferences which break the mold, separate the future from the past are few and far between - this Top 100 is one of the less ordinary get togethers.  If you were there, you are one of the less ordinary people and now days, the Life Less Ordinary is the life evolutionary...

Let's go.

Click to email me.