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How to manage MPS in a VUCA world 4/5

By Jean-Louis de la Salle

In this next article we come to the letter C

C = Complexity. The multiplex of forces, the confounding of issues and the chaos and confusion that surround an organization.


Modern companies face a massive set of complexities that are tough to navigate
My personal list of those is based on. BTW I would be happy to get your comments if you wish to add other topics to that list!

Consumer empowerment: the Internet has made information available so the customer knows more than the sales person. According to recent research, in BtoB environments, by surfing the web, the decision maker has taken 50 to 70% of his decision without your face-to-face people even knowing.

Peer recommendation (nick-named the death of the Institution) Very often we find that buyers believe their peers rather than the experts. Typical example of this is the Travel Industry where hotels are measured by Trip Advisor or by customer comments on the booking site. There was an institution before called a Travel guide.
In our Industry, the manufacturer, respectively the dealer, is the Institution. Danger looming ahead?

Disintermediation: a complicated word for a simple and nasty truth as old as mankind.   I cut you out of the deal. Bad Luck!
Because I get my value out of my peers (paragraph above), because I went through the research process without you (paragraph above), I do not see your value and expertise anymore so I will not buy through you…..or only very cheap! 

Technology complexity: With the emergence of the Cloud, arrays of technically great solutions claim Cloud Printing. But the objectives of these solutions are very diverse, address very different segments of the Market with differing value propositions, and I find too few people able to articulate properly which benefits a solution brings to which end users, and how potentially the Partner fits in. This is a real problem as it slows down the mass adoption of these new profitable solutions.
I could add more that pertain to the modern world (Freemium or the Capex vs. Opex challenge) and many markets but there are two specific ones to our Industry that I cannot miss within this post that I do not want to make too long.

Value add services sale:  This is the fundament of MPS if these three letters are to be the profitable future of our industry. And I get worried!
Because many have seen MPS as a way to control supplies flows, services are continuing to be given away by people who are not being held accountable of their actions. Too many companies have still not implemented financial systems that prevent salespeople from giving away for free (and often unnecessarily) valuable people’s time. It is a matter of responsibility, sound accounting practice, adequate compensation plans and competent training of their staff. Audits are a prime example of this. Too many undifferentiated low value products abound in this market and damage the market place. Like cheap coffee used to be, before Starbucks and George took over!

Charging for Electronic documents: Because MPS will eventually be commoditized and because Print is slowly fading away as the medium to exchange business documents, this is an area that is essential to unlock for our Industry. It is going to be difficult but necessary. First appreciate that some people charge for it already. Document circulation over the network (private or Internet) is charged by file size (whether on a flat fee or variable one). Document management is charged for (license plus maintenance plus services). This segment is under pressure as the SAAS and pay per use models come in.

So the industry needs to find a compelling value proposition linking their current offerings with these future ones. I can see it is a struggle but it will have to be solved and the quicker the better. There have been many acquisitions in this field, costing big amounts of money. If they have to be profitable and have some leverage, it will need a lot of cooperation, avoid silos that are prone to re-appear all too quickly, and bring cohesive and seamless offerings to customers.

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This article was written on 15 May 2014, and is filled under Managed Print Systems, VUCA.


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