There we were a decade or more ago, minding our own business, just getting to grips with the idea of our photocopiers becoming multi-functional devices. Still mildly surprised when they swallowed sheets of paper magically transforming them into clever computer pictures like the TV-ray from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. A tap on the door and there stands a shiny-suited software developer telling us they have software to do ‘stuff’ with these images. They can do ‘things’ with digital files. Most importantly we need to do this stuff and these things with them as the world is going to hate paper and it is the way of the future.
Many of us invested, drank the Kool-Aid if you will. It was supposed to be the next big thing…then it wasn’t.
The truth of it was that the average Managed Print Reseller engages deeply with SMB/SME businesses. While the Stuff and Things the software could do were very clever, the cost was disproportionate to the benefits they offered. SME businesses at that time simply didn’t have the market forces that made the results valuable enough. We realised quickly that to follow this dream meant a complete change of business structure. Some made the leap and subsequently made successes of the endeavour, most learned from their customers that it was a leap that the small-to-medium company wasn’t ready for.
A key point was the lack of those outside forces. Back then at the time of Doc Management 1.0, there wasn’t legislation such as GDPR. There wasn’t the sheer speed of transaction that we see now. Mobility meant the ability to walk unaided and had nothing to do with working from any square inch of the planet from any gadget you fancied.
The shiny software guys moved on and left the managed print world alone. Sure, many resellers kept a token product, ready to answer any enquires they couldn’t avoid. The software guys shouldered the burdens of selling their Stuff and Things, rapidly having to increase costs and project size to remain viable. Meaning that while the larger customers with a justifiable need moved on, Mr and Mrs SME were largely ignored.
The problem is the shiny software guy doesn’t have the method to transact with them. All that time in the big offices and ivory towers has left a legacy of complex solutions and costly interactions. In light of this, Mr and Mrs SMB are picking up the telephone (or keyboard, it’s a digital world after all) to the humble Managed Print resellers. Some because those resellers market themselves as Document Solutions businesses despite a large percentage of their revenues still coming from printed pages. More are calling because they still run on paper processes.
In a Scooby Doo style blur of time, we land in the here and now. GDPR is a thing. SMB customers are transacting with global organisations simply to move their products, small ventures reaching the market via the massive animals of the Amazon Market Place or eBay. Block Chain is a digital beast cresting the horizon as businesses like Ford begin to form strategies into which the endless small component and service suppliers will need to fit. It’s a brave and exciting world. A world where those small businesses need some clever stuff and things.
Most businesses running on paper with a need to become less reliant on those pages simply want a digital version of the process that they run their businesses on. They also want to talk to a real person who knows about the paper and they want financial tools to fund the transformation. All things the resellers still have, while software companies have gone all remote and Webinar.
According to Quocirca, the uptake of digital processes in SME and SMB customers is set to increase by 47% in the next 5 years*. The best-placed organisations to deliver on this are the humble MPS partners. All they need is a simple product portfolio designed to bring broad strokes of efficiency at reasonable investment and to avoid a million unusable features that simply make the delivery of a project too complicated and expensive. The reality is that both reseller and customers are looking for tools that can actually be implemented and show a return on investments quickly and easily.
Products like Square 9 Softworks Global Capture that locks documents into pre-defined workflows regardless of their source; or Foldr with its simple ability to search document content wherever it resides, including any cloud service or local storage, and to share it with people easily, even if they are from outside their own organisation.
By creating simple solutions that don’t add business steps, huge increases in efficiency can be delivered cost-effectively. Of course, a totally tailored, bespoke solution could deliver a more encompassing solution, but do the cost and disruption justify the choice of a complex project over the 80% efficiency of a simple one? More to the point, bespoke solutions require the level of skill and knowledge that place their sale in the hands of suppliers with high overheads and costs. After all, how many of us buy our clothes from bespoke tailors rather than off the peg? Reality is that a bespoke suit fits perfectly while a good off-the-peg offering may not have the that totally made to measure feel…but you’re still warm, comfy and you bought it and wore it quickly and efficiently. If we can trust our attire to production units, why not our business processes?