Embrace survival strategies beyond coronavirus.
The first time I heard the coronavirus alarm bells go off was around mid-January while spending a couple of days in Munich to celebrate my dad’s 91st birthday. We talked about how fast it seemed to be spreading and what to do to protect ourselves. A couple of days later, I headed back to London, where most people were still treating the virus as if it were a clever propaganda coup. Little did we know.
Since then, working from home has become THE thing to save us from contracting the virus. But this is no time for digital novices.
What does survival mean for the printing industry?
The answer to that question depends on the industry segment.
- Packaging is looking good, better than ever in fact, including creating environmentally friendly, yet top of the line, hygienic ways to single/multi-pack food, pharmaceuticals, and other things.
- Textile printing is still doing okay, depending a bit on the disposable money available for textiles. However, it will find a way through this crisis.
- Production/transactional printing is doing O.K. as paper continues to reach every single household pretty much anywhere. The U.K. government is currently spending millions on printing to make sure every household gets the information they need about the pandemic without having to turn to TV and the internet because there are still a lot of people without internet access.
- 3D printing is booming. As traditional manufacturing for personal protective equipment and other essential disposable healthcare equipment falls short because of coronavirus, companies of all sizes are stepping up to help.
- Office printing is not looking good as more employees work from home. According to a survey by Keypoint Intelligence released in early April, billions of pages will never make it from the computer to the printer. While manufacturers continue releasing new devices, their reseller channels need more than just another box to keep going.
Is this the moment to embrace change?
For years we’ve been talking about managed print services, managed document services, managed everything services, digital transformation, security as a service, etc. Remote workers and telecommuters will most likely not understand why this is even a question. For a traditional commuter, their senses will have reached maximum capacity and even overload by now. What’s a home office? How do I set it up? What’s home office security? What’s conference call security?
Let’s go back to Germany, a country well known for innovation but not necessarily telecommuting. In mid-January, I was talking to a CEO of a software company who mused about the lack of digitization at his daughter’s school. At that time, it didn’t seem to be a big issue. Just three weeks later, that lack of digital preparedness became a serious issue. How do you go to school when you can’t go to school? How are mom and dad going to work when they can’t go to work? What happens to the document you used to print? It all disappeared into thin air and literally into the cloud within days. Everyone scrambled to get at least the basic hardware and software to follow social distancing and stay-at-home orders.
Were we ready?
Is this a chance for dealerships to be better partners going forward?
Going digital is not an option; it is survival. It’s not a strategy for some point in the future; it is the box you need to sell today for your own and your customers’ survival. In this box, we may well still find the original printer/MFP. But like the gift basket you hand out for achievement or an anniversary, it’s the combination that makes it enjoyable. A tiny bit of hardware, a well-selected variety of (collaboration) software, the extra pack of security, a nice collection of education, all stuffed into an attractive basket of services and wrapped in seat-based billing.
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