Above: Jim Roberts discusses how document management provides dealers with a recurring revenue stream in an era of declining print volumes during a press briefing at the DocuWorld 2023 conference.
In too many years of going to every sort of trade event imaginable, it was a true pleasure to spend a few days at DocuWare’s annual DocuWorld 2023 conference May 4-5 in Orlando, Florida. Many similar events are geared to sell print engines and software. In contrast, this one was for helping dealers become more effective by showing them ways of helping customers maximize their investments in DocuWare’s powerful document management/ECM software.
One part was celebrating the success of the company, which has seen a 20% annual sales increase, including more than 9% in new business. Some attendees were part of that success as salespeople and support teams at office technology dealerships. All realized that document management software will help drive businesses of all types forward and be the foundation of success.
In talking with dealership owners, salespeople, and DocuWare executives, what I thought was most compelling was that the customers adopting document management/ECM software span all types and sizes of businesses. This is a trend that cannot be ignored.
Copiers, MFPs, printers, and scanners become more reliable and capable every year. They don’t need much attention and often run well long after the lease expires. Software, on the other hand, is equally reliable and can be upgraded, so is better able to meet the rapidly changing requirements of customers around the world.
This enables software to meet the range of needs an end-user may encounter and, in the case of DocuWare, have the support of a trusted dealer that understands a customer’s needs and can often quickly address a need or concern.
A prime message at the DocuWorld 2023 conference was that consultative selling is not dead. The notion that it is more productive to beat a prospect into submission has unfortunately pervaded the world of sales, even as the products and services sold have become increasingly complex and require nuanced attention to specific needs.
Jim Roberts, president of DocuWare’s North American operations, noted that people selling DocuWare are really educators who listen to a customer’s needs and concerns. That comes first.
Then, with an understanding of what keeps a customer awake at night, a document management solution can be crafted that addresses those concerns. It is a far cry from the speeds and feeds of selling copiers and MFPs.
With a mere two- to three-month sales cycle, any dealership not offering document management services is not only leaving money on the table, but it is also opening the door for competitors that see the value in providing these services for all types of customers.
DocuWorld 2023 Underscores DocuWare’s Shift to the Cloud
One of the interesting points in the past year was the shift in what DocuWare calls on-premises installations of its software to cloud-based access. In short, more DocuWare users are increasingly opting for the always-on, accessible-from-anywhere capability offered by the cloud. This is a logical result of the surge in remote work and also in keeping with the ways consumers and businesspeople use technology. As you might expect, technology resides in one’s pocket.
According to Pew Research, some 97% of Americans own a cellphone of some kind, and about 85% own a smartphone, up from 35% in 2011. This has made access to cloud-based software a compelling way of getting work done from almost any location. Such pervasive access is helping DocuWare succeed.
Dr. Michael Berger, president of DocuWare, noted that in the last month, customers in 182 countries and territories tapped into DocuWare’s cloud to use the software.
A Vision of the Future at DocuWorld 2023
To make such access as easy as possible, the company’s software is steadily upgraded to make it more capable and easier to use. The company seems to see the future in the way more technology companies should. Or at least it is more vocal about taking steps to lead rather than just being a player.
Dr. Berger cited seven key cloud-related trends to which DocuWare is paying attention—because they are all opportunities.
- An increase in remote work.
- The need to protect and secure content.
- The decline of paper and printing.
- Fast realization of results at lower costs.
- Online trials and customer usage behavior.
- Emerging technologies such as remote collaboration and AI.
- Increased multi-modal content such as e-billing and payments.
DocuWare Lays Out Its Game Plan at DocuWorld 2023
Berger also acknowledged the challenges of competition, the need to scale the size of the company, having the right people in the right places, and the ongoing efforts related to the economic climate, both regionally and globally.
What struck me as especially interesting was Roberts’ comment that all sizes and types of dealers, and all sizes and types of end-customers are adopting document management in their businesses. Again, this was a key takeaway for me. It’s easy to think of the customers who use software like DocuWare as larger firms, but this is not necessarily true.
The scalability of its products certainly provides DocuWare with larger companies as customers, but numerous smaller businesses have the same challenges, albeit on a smaller scale. They have remote workers, seek ways of protecting and securing content, want to enable multi-modal content, and look towards taking advantage of AI in ways that fit business needs.
Something for Everybody at DocuWorld 2023
What made the DocuWorld 2023 conference so compelling to me was the actual selling and supporting of what can be seen as complex software. I sat in on a session that walked salespeople through key steps in selling an ECM (Enterprise Content Management) solution. Even I, very much a non-sales guy, fully grasped the process.
While not all office technology salespeople will be comfortable selling software, many can make the leap. This can happen in two ways. First, they are trained in DocuWare products and the value proposition it offers customers. Second, DocuWare has their backs, supporting sales efforts. A similar thing happens once a product reaches a customer.
While a dealer’s astute IT or tech support team can help get a new DocuWare customer onboard and up to speed they are not alone. DocuWare has teams that provide the support a dealer’s IT or tech people need to help the customer.
Before attending the DocuWorld 2023 conference, I thought of document management and ECM as a complex sell to a relatively select size and type of company. But because there is, by design, no one-size-fits-all offering, chances are most customers of most dealers can take advantage of some level of DocuWare’s cloud-based offerings.
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