My conversation with Luke Goldberg and Ian Elliot

EDITOR’S NOTE: In order to survive in today's ever-changing market environment, it's critical to know when it’s time to adapt by modifying both the way in which we think and behave. This transition within a business setting, however, is so much easier to talk about than to implement. Our Conversation Corner aims to provide a dialogue with industry seniors from successful business entities to understand their thinking, logic and culture, as well as their new practices, in order to provide guidance to those businesses in need of transition. Having said that, below is our conversation with Luke Goldberg and Ian Elliot, who have generously shared their insightful thoughts on our industry changes and the necessary steps to implement changes if our own in an effort to adapt.

Business Model: from a Transactional to Contractual one. What does this tell you – device-as-a-service?
Our business model from the past ten years feels like a fixture of a simple buy-and-sell transaction process. I trust most of you feel rightly so. In today's market environment, the simple transactional business model is no longer practical or sufficient enough to sustain our business, while all the big data, artificial intelligence, and IoT, or Amazon- nation of things are playing a major role in the selling and purchasing processes. We need to change to be able to continue our growth or even to survive, calling for the survival of the fittest, to the new environment.
Our printing market has changed and is sure to continue its fast pace of change. One true, unfortunate fact is that printing supplies and collections have become such plentiful commodities that the margins have become razor-thin, and the current business model becomes difficult to sustain.

The question comes to what will be a workable, sustainable model? I had an opportunity to catch up with Mr. Luke Goldberg, EVP Global Sales and Marketing for Clover Imaging Group, and Mr. Ian Elliot, Founder and CEO of E&S Solutions. I share with you their insights on the challenges and opportunities (still) in the aftermarket industry.It goes without saying, following a successful example is a smart route to travel. Thus, it is prudent to understand the successful model tested and practiced by CIG.

A contractual business model means value added service or additional business channels for growth.
CIG - the leading company of the aftermarket industry is transitioning from a transactional business model to a contractual business model. It means that more services are provided to the dealers and channel providers. The goal is to empower them with more tools to be more successful. CIG’s philosophy is that dealers’ success will be our success, and it is a win-win game.

People say only a good strategy navigates a successful business, and the ultimate success comes is demonstrated by how your business reacts to the current market environment and adapts to its changes. The marketplace we live in changes at a fast and constant pace. As the nature of business changes, so does the way of thinking and attitudes toward them. Even OEMs, like Konica Minolta, do not see themselves as a print company, but a technology one. One CEO from a major airline does not project the company as one operating an airplane with wings, but a technology company with wings. Change your thinking logic; a new approach is the first step and key in transiting a business model to one that adapts to the marketplace.

How can you transform your business with limited resources?
We spoke a lot about the transformation though it seems to be easier talking about it than actually implementing it. There are two reasons: one is our habitual behavior. We tend to think or go with our familiar path. Our brain is hard-wired toward a certain familiar path. We need to change that. Secondly, we need new talent pools for changes. People are the key, and the success of the enterprise depends on talented people who create the products that meet the market needs.

Social Media Outlets or E-commerce platform
With the changes of the internet and connectivity we have today, social media holds much more power in terms of promoting your products and your business. However, what would be the most effective way to do this, with limited resources, skills and knowledge? The answer is a completely different skill set needed to accomplish this goal. For the traditional industry like ours, it will be challenging. Rest assured, however, it is achievable with more learning.

Compete at a different level, on a different playing field.

With the world continuously changing, so are the business practices and the playing field we are in; and changes have become a business norm. How to quickly adjust and absorb the knowledge and required skills will be the key, and deemed to be a lifelong project. That is how we human beings have evolved and advanced, to where we are today. And we can rest assured that the process will continue indefinitely.
Speaking of lifelong learning and the new market environment that has offered us new opportunities--we must take an advantage of it, and do so immediately! The option is either that you become like the disrupters in the changed new marketplace or you maintain the status quo and become the one to be disrupted. To become the first option will allow you to be ahead of the game.

Like any industry, when the market reaches maturity it calls for changes, as outdated business models or business approaches no longer operate well in the changed marketplace. An organization must have a strategic vision. Investing and allocating resources in a new infrastructure will be rewarded with winning, especially in times of technology disruptions.
To any transformation of an organization, the human side of the equation--changing ways of working, mindsets and behaviors--is critical to the success of the transformation. As for the printing industry, Mr. Goldberg believes that for the next 20 years print still matters, and printing supplies still have ample space to grow. Growth, however, will be within the space of "contractual" vs. "transactional" business models: in the workflow processes, managed print services, or even the IT sector or print security. Listen to your customers and put corresponding action plans in motion. Next, get set and go.
Let’s explore together and find our key to unlock the doors to success!

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