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Looking to 2002...And Beyond

9 Oct, 2001 By: Jeff Smith imageSource

Looking to 2002...And Beyond

my name is Jeff Smith and this month Imaging Network asked me to begin assisting
with the editorial responsibilities for imageSource.
Obviously, this was a great honor and I look forward to contributing to their
efforts to put forth meaningful articles that dealers and other industry
professionals need to read. I encourage all of my industry friends to give me a
call and let me know what we can do to deliver you the best content available on
the market.


the midst of the national crisis brought about by the cowardly acts of
terrorists, we all are seeking to get back some degree of normalcy in our lives.
Now is a good time to take stock in ourselves, to check our past year’s
performance and look toward what the near future will bring. To this end,
we’ve put together a checklist of developing trends that we expect to see
continue well into 2002 and beyond:

  • Slowing
    Placements = Greater Opportunities.
    Although the number of net new 2001
    copier installations nation-wide are running slightly below the original
    expectations of some pundits, opportunities for growth are everywhere. We
    can get depressed or we can press more flesh! Remind yourself that our
    industry is extremely resilient to economic peaks and valleys. This will get
    you juiced: think of the number of laser and ink-jet printers sold each day
    to businesses and the incredible benefits each user would have received if,
    instead, they had spent the same money and connected to one of your 35
    page-per-minute multifunctional devices! This is the year for focusing on
    higher levels of customer retention (what contact management program are you
    using?) and creative approaches to untapped vertical markets. Ask yourself:
    what are the top three reasons that a buyer would want to install connected
    units from your company as opposed to your toughest competitor?

  • User
    No longer does the user have to submit jobs via messenger
    and wait for three-day turnaround from the CRD. This is the day and age when
    all users can be connected, but
    how many in reality are? In our discussions with buyers, we find more and
    more companies not wanting to make further investments in centralized
    printing services. We believe that a renewed push in local networking and
    advertising aimed at the potential connectivity benefits gained by
    individual users will create a groundswell of awareness for your company and
    product brand names.

  • Is
    It A Production Or Office Machine?
    In the coming year, we think that
    output technologies will continue their migration from centralized units to
    decentralized ones, mirroring the computer paradigm shift from mainframes to
    LANs in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Clearly, the lines between office and
    production copying/printing equipment continue to blur. Recent Segment 5
    digital introductions from virtually all manufacturers promise a dogfight to
    see who can replace the most Xerox high-end analogs (1090s and 5100s are
    sitting ducks!). This is the largest single area of untapped volume growth
    for most distributors of copiers, particularly if you can get the unit(s)

  • Who
    Is The Customer?
    Is the MFP decision maker the director of purchasing or
    the IT/MIS manager? It’s actually a combination of both persons in most
    organizations. Although internal decision-making authority is tending to
    shift to the IT/MIS manager, other key personnel, including the director of
    purchasing, facilities manager, and print shop manager are still key
    influencers. What ongoing marketing strategies has your company employed to
    reach out to all such persons in your customer/prospect base?

  • Software
    As we all feared, when the digital revolution started,
    due to the need to interface with industry-standard platforms, the
    differences between competing boxes are subtler than ever. It’s not
    surprising, then, that manufacturers are hiring or re-assigning personnel
    whose collective task it is to differentiate through software programs and
    utilities in order to make its hardware products more desirable than the
    competition. Seamless print/copy/fax tracking tools, universal print
    drivers, true cross-platform connectivity, network scanning, forms
    management tools, electronic imaging, and streamlined network administrative
    utilities, are on their way (or here now). They can contribute to growth of
    the local dealer MIF and total clicks in 2002 provided that: (a) We know and
    understand how these utilities help us to differentiate our overall product
    mix offering; and (b) We have highly qualified messengers who can relay this
    critical information to our prospects.

  • Leveraging
    The Base.
    What is the total copy-only volume of the unconnected
    digital units in your MIF? We advise our clients to add 25% more clicks
    to the collective total volume when analog units are replaced by connected
    digitals; connecting the unconnected digitals will increase their volumes by
    15% on average, we believe, since it is likely that volumes increased by
    about 10% after the analog equipment was replaced. For the already connected
    base, what ongoing desktop user training is being provided to increase
    awareness (i.e., usage) of those devices? Decrease the learning curve and
    increase your total clicks.


year 2002 is a year of great opportunity for us all. As always, new placements
need to be creatively sought out, but leveraging your base intelligently can
bring about great rewards as well. Laser and ink-jet printers bought at retail
are proliferating at an alarming pace within most organizations. The volumes and
costs associated with these new printers are likely not even being tracked by
the organization.


bottom line is, if we don’t stay on top of what opportunities are afforded us
by our manufacturing partners, and if we don’t continually farm our local
machine base help raise customer awareness of the real
cost of alternative imaging devices, and upgrade to connectivity where we
can, someone else will. Those who have the will and the resources to succeed
will undoubtedly do so.

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