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transformation

"Transformation literally means going beyond your form" - Wayne Dyer

flow

"The river is everywhere." - Hesse

beyond

"To myself I am only a child playing on the beach, while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me." - Isaac Newton

simplify the complex

"Well begun is half done." - Aristotle

vast

"In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan

the storm

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...It's about learning to dance in the rain." - Vivian Greene

the mountain

"Patience and Diligence, like faith, remove mountains." - William Penn

014: Purchasing MpS from a copier dealer? Three Things You Don't Want in Your Agreement.


There was a time in my life when I provided managed print services to customers ranging in size from as few as 10 devices to as many as 1,100.  The MpS practice was one of five different practices within a VAR.  Managed print services was not a focus - indeed, some of my engagements generated revenue that was a fraction of the rebates generated on one transaction from HP or CISCO deals.

But after crashing and burning two times, ultimately, we became profitable, cohesive and well run, if I do say so myself.

Along the way, I added years of experience to an already varied past and volumes of seemingly disparate knowledge.  Today, working with end-users more than providers, I find many of the techniques I once thought gone and forgotten, implemented with abandon.

Here's a list of three such tactics to look out for when buying managed print services.  There are many more we'll address as the days flow through 2014.
  1. Price escalations - why would you agree to allow anyone to arbitrarily raise your price?
  2. No 30 day out - things change and real managed print services programs are designed to manage the naturally occurring reduction in the number of devices and prints.  A thirty day out is not much to demand.
  3. Capital investments tied to a service agreement - Never combine a service agreement with a hardware lease/rental. 
Why are these considerations typical? Just for fun, let's look at these five points from the providers vantage point, shall we?  What does a provider expect:
  1. Price escalations - This doesn't require the firing of too many neurons.  Bid a low cost per page and get the margin back in 12 months, after the price increase.
  2. 30 day out - Again, it isn't too much of a strain to see why a provider would want to "lock you into an extended agreement.  You represent a guaranteed revenue stream
  3. Capital investments tied to a service agreement - The mother of all facts is this: you can never get out of a lease early, without paying for the remainder of term. Yes, there are provisions for government-type accounts, but for commercial businesses, getting out of any lease is near impossible. So if I, as a provider, can attach or 'roll' service charges into a equipment lease, that stream is guaranteed for the life of the lease.  No matter what.
Not every MpS practitioner utilizes these techniques and is some cases, any one of the above stipulations may make sense.  The point is to see it coming.

My MpS practice was successful and sustainable - we didn't use entrapment, we implemented real managed print services at times under a Master Service Agreement that could include RMM and Unified Communications (UC) - that was in 2009.

Not "managed toner delivery" or "CPI invoicing on printers" or simply "managed print".  

MpS Purity.  Demand it.

This is not a plant stand.  It is an optimized device from an MpS engagement.

014: The Death of The Internet

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the addressing vehicle for the internet, the "World Wide Web". The internet, as it is defined, has been around 40 years, created in 1973.  The thing is, I don't see the internet surviving another 40, let alone 10 years.

No really, I'm calling it, we are witnessing the very beginning of the Death of the Internet.

Indicators:
  1. MSFT releases iOffice - One of the largest technology hierarchies cries "Uncle!"
  2. The Snowden Effect - the internet is a centrally located sieve 
  3. The US gives up ICANN - addresses are irrelevant
  4. Bio/Nano technology - not 'smaller' technology but 'closer' technology
  5. Apple implements 'beam' and wire-less mesh for messaging...(Someday, very soon, Apple will be bigger than the internet)
Expansion and contraction are natural ways of business technology and social evolution.  For instance, the glass rooms of mainframes moved to the desktop with the PC, then to our laptops, notebooks, tablets, smartphones - smaller yet more powerful computing expanded the reach boundaries of connectivity.

Then, as contraction repeats, processing returns to the center.  Powerful workstations give way to thin and zero-client. Applications that once required a server in the closet, now run on a server farm in North Carolina as desktops die, laptops diminish and the cloud & mainframes rack up users - today, we call it the 'Cloud'.

Just as the comfort level around data in the cloud reaches a balance, the next expansion - from the cloud to the human - begins.

The odyssey of total connectivity - not up to a server, farm, cloud or off-prem data center- the Last Connection will be between you and I - person to person all around the globe.

"...Greater than the collective intelligence of every person every born in the history of the world..."
Peer-to-Peer. Back to the roots, the grass roots.

Back in the '80s there, during the Great Networking OpSys War PC's were connected to a server and passed tokens to each other either in a star pattern(ArcNet) or around a ring (Token Ring); which ever PC held the token, had access to the files on the network.  I'm not forgetting CSMA/CD that was/is Ethernet.

Back then, there was a little known networking software called Lantastic and it allowed PCs to be connected "peer-to-peer' - it was cheaper than the rest, but really had no features, performed slow and unreliably.  The concept was sound, the technology, back then, could not support the idea.

The peer to peer model is sustainable, secure, economically viable and free of centralized, overlord-like control.  We're going to move toward this model, again.

What is interesting is that we are experiencing both a contraction and expansion - technology is miniaturizing so small allowing us to personally expand to a point where we don't require the mechanical to continue to grow.  It's like compressing a lump of coal into a diamond or smashing atoms.

Of Inhaled Devices, Smart Walls and your Kid's Inoculations -

Imagine when EVERYTHING is connected. (For you more 'enlightened' you know exactly what I mean) The next 'net will be a mesh of connected individuals - and by individuals I am referring to everything.  You and I will be connected to the smoke detector we happen to walk under.  That detector through its mesh, will be connected to the potted plant on the 54th floor - and if we want, we'll be able to 'sense' that plant's 'awareness'.

Solar powered, self-replicating, nano-bio-bots, floating through the air, absorbed by grass, trees, drywall, couches, bicycle seats, your children and jockstraps.  Yes...jockstrap connectivity will change professional sports forever. :-/

No servers or mainframes in clouds, because we're all servers - Hell, that potted plant is a server.  No more issue about privacy, because we're in control of what we let out; we maintain the open or closed ports; Individuals communicating directly (1:1) or with everything 1:ALL.

The world will be Star Trek-like Utopian or a World Without Sin.  

Either way, remember this day as the day somebody claimed the internet was dead. Your children's, children, children will know this day, because they'll be connected to everything that ever was.


###


I know its fiction.
I know it is a B movie.
And I know the movie is a spin on "Limitless", "Lawnmower Man" and "Rise of the Planet of the Apes", but this is close to what I can see as possibilities.



014: Some Stuff About Millennials is BullSh$T


A great deal of time, money and effort has been burned trying to figure out how to "work with", "hire" and "sell to" the so called Generation Y.

Explaining characteristics according to the year of birth is nothing new - its an old way of subdividing newer market/consumer niches.  An example would be The Great Generation Gap of the 1960's which illustrated the differences between the old and young sometimes lead to revolution.

Today's mystique revolves around the up and coming knowledge workers and how they use technology differently than the establishment - and the establishment is nervous as always.

There are thousands of social data points around the Millennials behavior but I'd like to focus on the differences in selling to a Millennial versus selling to that grey-haired, born in the sixties, CFO/CIO/Purchasing person.

And I'd like to use online gaming to illustrate a point.  Hang on to your crowbar.

At the turn of the century, computer games, specifically first person shooters, were an underground, world-wide phenomena that rarely received the attention of those who slept a full eight hours and did anything but IT for a living.

Imagine if you will, connecting, talking and gaming with two dozen people from the four corners of the world - it was not rare to have folks from Berlin, New York City and Mexico online attempting to rule the screens in games like Doom, Quake III, Unreal and Half-Life.

There were times when I would see millions of people online (STEAM) playing a multitude of games.  These Friday night sessions replaced the poker games of the previous generation because not only were we shooting it out, we were talking, live, in game.  Honestly, the international conversations were more hilarious and entertaining than anything I can remember.


That was back circa 2003 and although some games were team based, most were pretty much every-person-for-themselves, shoot em up matches(first person shooters, FPS).  Little cooperation and one winner.

Today, there's a new class of game based on collaborative efforts.  Sure, these digital landscapes are rife with shotguns, pistols and bad guys intent on sealing your doom.  But there is a significant difference - in addition to defeating 'others', team members must lend aid to each other along the way.  Points are given for assisting an injured player or helping another up after an attack.  If a member gets 'left behind' the entire team suffers.  If one person of the four member squad ventures away from the group, his odds of survival decrease as does the entire team's.

Which brings me to my point - there is a shift occurring on a societal level that has less to do with generation positioning and more to do with the accelerated and decentralized technological evolution.

People are in a more collaborative state of mind for ALL relationships.  Perhaps it started when we stopped keeping score at kids soccer games or decided bullying is a hate crime. Maybe it was hastened by both Iraq wars. More likely, the open and instant contact between people from different cultures, backgrounds, spots on the globe and yes even different age groups is affecting the way we see ourselves in the world.

We are one people and designed to collaborate just as much, maybe even more, as we are skewed to make war.  This is not some 'airy-fairy', pie in the sky, hippie-commune, Utopian fantasy - it is happening right now.

So, instead figuring out "How to Sell To Millennials"  maybe you should be collaborating with your prospects figuring "How To Sell WITH Millennials".

This is most difficult for the sales people trained in the dark arts of sales: those who know how to find the pain and twist and front empathy.  Old school, establishment techniques plied to move a prospect into a 'close' are institutions that will not go quietly - but go they will.

The Flip Side -

Intensifying this state, if not out right enabling it, is the number of consumers who still purchase services on the "I must win" theory, throwing up gates, lying to potential partners and grinding for the lowest price - at any cost.

So, instead of figuring out "How to Buy From Millennials"  maybe you should be collaborating with your vendors figuring out "How to Buy WITH Millennials".

Again, we train our purchasers to distrust and manipulate providers, therefore all providers are untrustworthy and conniving - not a great foundation to build a collaborative relationship.

The Zombies will win.


014: Three Tips for Finding a Good Managed Services(print) Program


Today, there are as many managed service providers as there are customers and if you're "in the market" to outsource anything from help desk to print services, the journey can be daunting.  The experience has gotten more complicated as copier dealers and manufacturers have "full backed" their way into the timid waters of managed services(IT).

Once the sparring partner of materials management/purchasing, this breed of "relationship-building-hunters" cut their teeth on cold calls, getting around 'gate keepers' and team/gang selling.  Most IT professionals are averse to "selling" anything - not that there's anything wrong with that - but this mentality creates blind spots ("where there is mystery, there is margin") in the decision making process.

Let's explore, shall we?

The universe contains thousands of sales training courses, seminars, webinars and field courses designed to help providers of managed services sell you - no class agenda is geared around actually solving your problems.  At best, students are coached on how to bond and rapport their way into becoming your trusted advisor, cajoling your pain into their solution.  As the saying goes, "When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

Of course there are many true and honest providers who look at the world differently - they are the ones who don't scream about their past,  talk speeds and feeds or focus on expanding their share of your wallet.  The trick is, how do you, the consumer, sift through these plethora of marketing campaigns and value propositions?

The considerations are endless, here are three simple ideas to ponder:
  1. Define your managed services (print)
  2. Set goals
  3. Should you do it yourself ?
DEFINE -

As a company looking to reduce costs and thinking you might be over invested in printing and copying, what is your definition of managed services (print)?

We run with this as a good definition:

"...the active management and optimization of document output devices and related business processes..."

Your variation is more accurate than anyone else's, so define, write it down and measure offerings against it.

GOALS -

There should be two basic goals: Cost reduction and/or convenience.  You must know (and share) your existing costs and the processes involved with the care and feeding of your fleet, no matter the size.

DIY or DIFM(Do It For Me) -

Once you've defined your MpS and set a base set of goals, consider the options of doing it yourself vs. engaging a dealer.  Beware, this should not be a simple hard cost TCO/ROI decision look at who is doing what and if they enjoy the process.  Convenience is a big factor and as difficult as it is to measure and quantify, it should be done.  Nobody said running a business was all spreadsheets.

For instance:

If what you want is an automated toner delivery system, then do just that.  Place the call to Staples and get them to help you easily order toner cartridges - done deal.

Suppose you're looking to manage your naturally occurring reduction in print, you can get a bit more cosmopolitan and pull together an internal team(could be of 1) charged with presenting x percentage cost reduction.

Look, this isn't a 4-day, $2000.00/hr session - every business owner/manager/office administrator can put the above points together in about 45 minutes.  Time well spent on your part and never expected by the many managed services (print) suitors, plying their wears and lining up at your door.

Just do it.

But if you would like help, if you understand your blind spots in navigating the waters of outsourcing vs. insourcing, if you're a bit chaffed from sales pitch after sales pitch camouflaged as information designed to 'help you make a more informed' decision from a 'trusted adviser' - drop us an email:  ws@waltersshutwell.com.

BONUS - Yippee!

The Tool -

Service providers exist in all shapes, all sizes, at every level of operational maturity.  Below is a tool we use with clients when matching outsourced resources to internal requirements.  Initially, we ask each client to position themselves along the continuum and then plot their existing suppliers/vendors.



What about Workflow?

It is our belief that workflow falls under the definition of managed services(print) many providers do not share this view; they see 'workflow' synonymous with software.  Regardless, when your definition of Managed Services(print) is remotely visionary, you'll recognize that most of your high costs are related to a archaic workflow or process - clogged by paper.