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On the Move from Commodity to Solution Selling

1 Nov, 2006 By: John Mancini imageSource

On the Move from Commodity to Solution Selling

More than ever before, documents are important to organizational
effectiveness. It is still a hybrid world of information—even in large
organizations—and will continue to be for the near future with most
organizations existing in a state of barely controlled information management
chaos. It is likely that balkanization pressures will increase rather than
decrease in the years ahead.

As organizations work to develop a strategy to deal with this chaos, one of
the first targets is often eliminating the paper that clogs and disrupts
business processes. Scanning and capture technologies are often the first means
that end users consider in changing their approach to managing documents and, in
many ways, becomes the “on-ramp” to a broader content and document management

Copier dealers and distributors stand squarely at the intersection between
documents and processes. As most are aware, there is an enormous opportunity to
expand their role in organizations from providing printing and copying services
(an increasingly commoditized business) to providing solutions to their
customers’ document processing problems.

Of course, saying that you want to move “upstream” to more of a solutions
focus and actually doing so are two different things.  What can copier dealers
and distributors learn about document management selling from the scanning and
capture channel?

First, while copier dealers and scanner resellers often see themselves as two
distinct businesses, it is increasingly clear that customers do not.  Customers
now have a choice of a continuum of potential capture devices ranging from the
individual desktop scanners (now capable of 15-20 ppm; simplex or duplex!) and
network-attached, stand-alone scanners to production scanners; even that big
copier/printer in the workroom.

AIIM surveys indicate that end users plan to exercise this choice.  Survey
respondents value the capture capabilities of both traditional scanners and the
flexibility and ease of use of copiers as capture devices. Smart copier dealers
will include scanners to their product line,increasing their offering and adding
another revenue stream.

Second, the key to success for copier dealers and distributors in becoming
document management solution providers is to understand the link between capture
(whether on a scanner or a copier) and business processes. Over the past few
years, software companies such as eCopy, DocuWare and Westbrook have greatly
simplified the scanning/process equation.  Users will not want to invest the
time and effort necessary to understand the scanning capabilities of a copier
simply to be able to scan a document into an occasional e-mail.  They value the
ease of use of the copier as an ad hoc capture device, but one that is linked up
to their overall document management strategy.  End users clearly benefit from
scanning to email, archive, print, fax, and FTP.  However, the real key to the
document management solutions market is scanning to applications and processes.

Lastly, as the copier channel moves into the document management channel, key
personnel need to become fully educated about document and content technologies.
End users need help in making the migration from manual to digital processes.
They will value those partners that can demonstrate their technical competency
and directly understand their individual industry.

One way to do the former is by certifying your key personnel as AIIM ECM
Practitioners. The AIIM Program provides training through thirteen on-line
modules designed to systemically walk copier personnel through the basics of
content management.  As an example of the commitment the document management
industry has made to this standard of training, one leading ECM provider has put
its entire workforce through the program—400+ people.  Copier companies looking
to moving upstream in the document channel would be wise to follow this lead.
Details on the program can be found at www.aiim.org/training; in addition, the
program will be offered at next year’s national ITEX Convention.

The opportunities are many as document and content technologies move into the
core infrastructure of end user organizations. And copier dealer and
distributors—because of their scale relative to the scanning channel and their
deep relationships with customers—are ideally positioned to take advantage of
this opportunity.

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