The impact of existing and emerging technologies on the next generation of dealers.
Let me start this column with an anecdote.
As we all do, I recently downloaded a report from a dealership’s website. Of course, to download this report, I had to leave my contact details. As expected, a follow-up email from a sales rep arrived in my inbox a couple of days later. The sales rep politely asked about my well-being, offered to arrange a call to discuss our hardware situation, and ended with season’s greetings. After the holidays, I politely replied to his email, telling him that I work for a digital company and there’s no paper involved in pretty much anything, and if paper arrives by mail, we scan the document, file it, and destroy the paper copy.
This was a couple of weeks ago now. So yes, if you were guessing, nobody ever followed up again on my reply. Impolite? No, I wouldn’t call it that. I would call it a dealer with no future.
I have a very clear vision of what I want the future of office imaging to look like, and how I would like to see a dealership support me. We’ll get to that in a moment.
To find facts and inspiration for this column on the internet, I started by searching for “dealer of the future.” To my disappointment and surprise, the search engines came back with a large number of suggestions for car dealerships but nothing on office equipment dealers. I slightly modified my search to “office imaging dealer of the future,” and yes, suddenly there was a hint of a future: talk of the office of the future, being a partner rather than a reseller, X completes acquisition of Y, partnerships, and advanced solutions for the office. However, no headlines or slogans like the auto industry has of speaking of automation, technical revolution, or customer experience, to name only a few that stuck in my mind.
A Future Driven by Politics
However, there’s another aspect to the dealer of the future I considered: the future of the British dealer after Brexit. I worked with three major assumptions, hoping for everyone affected to still have a prosperous future.
- No Brexit and everything stays as is, that is keeping business, M&As, and all the other procedures as business as usual.
- Challenged Brexit and everything changes, focused on the U.K. market only with businesses either excelling or remaining at their status quo for an unknown length of time.
- Orderly Brexit and everything gets a good kick of motivation to show that yes, we can: We can be part of the club, and we can prove that we are innovative and accelerate what we offer and how we do business.
Over the long run, everyone hopefully joins us for the real future of technology.
A Technology-Driven Future
The most exciting part of exploring the future and a vision of that future, of course, is looking at existing and emerging technologies and imagining how they find their way into the office and office imaging industry. Let me share some of the things my social media marketing, inbound marketing, and business development company 3 Across The Sea has already embraced or is exploring both for us and our customers:
- Digital Transformation. This isn’t just a slogan; we live it. There are no paper documents going out, any incoming paper is digitized and stored in the cloud, collaboration tools are in place and actively used, document collaboration is used rather than sending attachments back and forth, and digital sign-off processes are employed.
- Intelligent Solutions. These solutions are either suggested and implemented by someone who cares or by an intelligent solution, powered by an algorithm, keeping our solutions stack up-to-date at any time.
- Extended Reality (XR). This allows technology to bring us closer to each other, and enables technology providers to gradually transition their customers from a status quo to a future state, providing support, training, and ongoing improvements remotely, yet visibly, close to us.
So, where will we find dealerships supporting us to adopt these technical extravagances?
Online, it’s all become a pool of experts joined by one global portal, suggesting and delivering state-of-the-art software, and where still required, hardware. We have access to this world of innovation, training, and support via XR. After all, we still want to maintain the human touch of business transactions”¯to experience what we’re getting ourselves into and with whom.
Besides, and this goes without saying, we’ll be looking for XAAS (everything-as-a-service), as we need it, when, we need it, where we need it, and a financial model that reminds us of SBB (seat-based billing).
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