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Solutions Summit – Strategy, Connections, Market Insight

4 Nov, 2013 By: David C Ramos

Solutions Summit, Questex Media’s annual event was held at the prestigious PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, FL.  This annual event is positioned to connect channel players from across the country with industry leading companies that can assist them in dealing with today’s business and market challenges. 

For a supplier/vendor partner the advantage of this intimate event is you can literally fit a months’ worth of meetings into 2.5 days through pre-scheduled meetings with the correct level decision makers within the independent companies in attendance.  From a dealer or independent services company perspective, the benefits are gaining insights into market trends and exchange views and best practices with your peers.

Key Takeaways from Solutions Summit 2013

The imaging industry is a mature market and from an output device/unit standpoint it is a market in decline.  Nothing earth shattering or breaking news worthy about this statement.  However, organizations that survive this vicious phase of the business cycle face new challenges as market growth deteriorates then declines. As a market matures, sales volumes stabilize; replacement purchases rather than first-time buyers account for all of your sales volume. From a unit standpoint the sales cycle is completely dependent on the lease contract length or product lifecycle of the devices.  The byproduct of this scenario is that players in mature markets simply focus on maintaining their existing customers. As for the decline phase, changing demographics and development of product substitutes result in declining demand for most all technologies; this is not unique to our industry.  Consider the causes relative to output devices.

  • Customers are increasingly favoring digital alternatives over printed materials
  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is here to stay
    • Tablets impact on output is measurable by as much as 46%
  • CIOs are looking to cut print related spending by as much as 34%, IT budgets are tight
  • The new worker (Millennial’s) value flexibility, telecommuting, mobility and are on the cutting edge of technology utilization
    • I have a son who is a millennial and he mocks me for using email…no, I’m not joking.

To sustain a competitive advantage that will help ensure growth companies need to analyze trends and market indicators to help you transition and succeed.  I am not a doomsdayer and saying print will disappear tomorrow or ever for that matter.  But let me use an example to make my point regarding necessity for change.

  • Christopher Latham Sholes invented the first typewriter, and in 1868, it was patented. He had the help of his partners S. W. Soule and G. Glidden.
  • In the 1910s, a unique typewriter was introduced called an Oliver Visible typewriter. It was a down-strike model that was sold into the 1920s and 30s.
  • The Telegraphic typewriter was invented in 1945. This was a typewriter that included a special keyboard and paper roll attachment.
  • During the 60’s, the look of the typewriter changed completely. They started using them even more in offices and they transformed how workers did their jobs.
  • In 1964 the MT/ST was introduced, while the Selectric Typewriter had already been invented, the new magnetic tape was the first reusable storage device that allowed corrections to be made without the entire work requiring re-typing. This was when the idea for Word Processing came about.
  • You can still buy typewriter’s today on Amazon…but I bet you don’t build your business plan around selling or servicing them.

Jon Reardon, Group Director, Office/Enterprise Document Technologies InfoTrends delivered the State of the Industry Address with a message on strategies for business diversification and expansion in the early stages of a Great Restructuring as it relates to our industry, markets and economy.  Randy Dazo, Senior Director, Office Document Technologies Solutions and Services InfoTrends delivered a session on The Next BIG Opportunities in Services and how each of these new market trends are evolving, the solutions involved in each of these areas as well as the infrastructure requirements, both personnel and equipment, needed to get into these new markets.

Representation from sponsors who are focused on facilitating this change and improving operational efficiencies to allow for investment in new initiatives was strong from players like DocuWare, GreatAmerica, Innovolt, AVG, LEAF, Xerox and OKI to name a few.  As you research the market for new methods, products and partnerships to fuel growth, Solutions Summit provides the perfect forum.  I hope to see you at the 2014 event.

About the Author: David C Ramos

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