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From Transform to Transcend: Photizo Moves Forward

1 Jul, 2012 imageSource

At the recent Photizo Transform 2012 event, held in Orlando, FL, founder and CEO, Ed Crowley, graciously “talked shop” with imagesource magazine on how Photizo’s original MPS Conference has transformed into a channel-centric event, the impact of their recent acquisition of research firm Lyra, expected growth potential for them, and the industry as it stands today.Transform 2012 Image

I have seen the speed at which things are changing; it is accelerating.From Transform to Transcend:

Photizo Moves Forward    

When Photizo began in 2006, they first focused on managed print services (MPS) and found innovators in the channel, including Print intelligence and Laser Networks, who had begun to innovate and lead the channel in MPS to some degree. Crowley admits that the channel sometimes is perceived as “followers “but in reality, is made up of lots of innovative, inventive people.

“As we built our MPS practice and continued to go deeper into this area, we used some services targeted at the reseller. We created our Hybrid Provider Index,” explains Crowley, who wanted to examine the very “best in class.” He says new measures of success are important and that Photizo’s new program currently has 13 companies undergoing what he refers to as the “best in class” group. “They are measured on more than 145 different metrics, including financials, the different type services, how they transition to market; a very broad scope is covered.” He finds that this group not only has transitioned but has actually “transformed” their business. The findings from this group have been published in Photizo’s Hybrid Provider Index, creating a set of benchmarks for other providers to measure their success by.

A Changing Channel

Crowley says there is now a new channel emerging. “We believe the hybrid providers and service providers represent a ‘new’ type of channel. Let me describe one of these guys to you. For example, there is one in the South Central U.S. at about $40 million in revenue who does server virtualization, managed services, managed desktops, systems integration, electronic content services, business process optimization, and yes, MPS. Yet if I asked you what kind of heritage do they come from, what would you think?” Crowley says most say IT or systems integrator, but he reveals they were a Canon dealership. He sees this type of transformation happening with other companies that once held a traditional manufacturing perspective.Hybrid Provider Development Model

“The point is, if you look at the channel where guys are innovating to a services-led model, there is a profile that emerges that is kind of unique; it’s not really a systems integrator, it’s not really a copier dealer, it’s not an office
products provider, it’s this ‘new beast’ - and I think that this is the model that is going to be successful.”

A short-term measure may be to partner with other providers, MSPs, VARS, etc., but Crowley believes the reality is if a provider is really good at changing the customer’s environment, and delivering truly transformative business process solutions, whether it’s document-related, systems-related, or workflow-related, that “I think what happens is, this group really ends up owning the customer relationship. And more than at just an IT level, but engaged firmly at the C-Level (CEO, CTO, CIO, CFO),” says Crowley. “I ultimately think it comes down to service partners; business process service providers. Because these are the guys that are actually helping change the business. And they have much more of a consultative role, and there aren’t
many of them but they’re the people who are winning contracts. The channel needs to get more involved.”

“What is interesting, is that I have seen the speed at which things are changing; it is accelerating, and though I dislike to generalize it seems it’s falling into two camps: the owners/principals or leaders of the business who are either embracing it, saying okay here we go regardless they don’t know exactly where they’re going to change yet but will so are getting committed and investing to a point – or those who say ‘you know what, I’m going to dig in and not change but find customers who will still buy my products, regardless.’ Unfortunately, things can seem stable for a while but when the shift begins to happen noticeably, it will occur very fast. The challenge is,” says Crowley, “when you start losing customers, it’s almost too late. If you lose that customer and your momentum; are losing profits, etc., you then can’t afford to reinvest in your business. It becomes a Catch 22.” Adds Crowley, “Without question, change is scary; the cloud, apps, mobile delivery, etc. Many fear what they don’t know and isn’t tangible.”

However, good examples, including OEMs ‘transforming’ are cited by Crowley, including IBM who shifted the focus from product to services, standing today at 60% in services, and Xerox, where 50% is now directed towards services. They had the vision to build a strategy around services. And yes, some channel providers have done this. It’s possible to do it; and do it well, “the trick is, how do you do it before it gets to be a crisis?” says Crowley. “Kodak waited too long. A lot had to do with ‘corporate culture.’ When you define yourself based on a technology, and the market shifts, and the demand for that technology goes away – then your business goes away. If you decide to define yourself based on how you serve customers, how you solve their problems; that never goes away.”

Transforming Business

While Crowley is excited to discuss all the transformation projects currently underway with the industry, he says “Photizo is ultimately about transforming business, ours included.” The Lyra acquisition earlier this year was a move to provide a broader perspective and understanding of imaging supplies and the hardware, giving a 360-degree view of the market.” This expansion, according to Crowley, has given Photizo the bandwidth to develop new services, like the Digital Workflow Transformation Advisory Services, which is focused on how the technology in the digital age, like smartphones and tablets, are affecting the industry.

Photizo is set up to be a ‘transformation organization’ - their job is to help their clients go through the aforementioned transformation steps, in order to thrive. Crowley says “You have to look to the future to first know just what to transform to, and not for change sake alone.”

Crowley truly believes the transformation of the industry is helped greatly by those who are developing it through and around the community itself. Examples include the early innovators and visionaries, and organizations like the MPSA, while information from industry publications, print and digital, invaluable research shared from analysts and consultants, let alone educational events like Transform, will help lead the way.

This is the challenge for the channel – how will they– or you - define yourself today?

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