“Digitisation as a Service”


Part 1: The Subscription Model

About 6 years ago as I was writing my first book, Rest In Print: from office printing to the rise of managed services. I started to pen what I saw as the first and early form of digital transformation across the office printing/document imaging industry.

However due to either a reluctance for change. Or maybe just a blinked view of “just keep doing what we have always done”, and everything will be alright. Many of the old guard office equipment manufactures did not change. As they say “it’s easier to do nothing” than make the change required.

Brave Leaders

As we know it is a brave leader who tells their business leadership, their executives, their boards, shareholders, and investors – we will have to change our business extensively and due to this we will have to take a sizable hit to our revenue numbers and profitability.

It is going to be very painful period for everyone involved. Our shareholders will have to take a bath in the short to medium terms. For us to make the change we require we must take the medicine now while we reshape and rebuild our business model and our go to market.

All the while our competitors will keep doing what they have always done.

Who really wants to navigate their business down this path? Why don’t we just keep doing what we have always done and hopefully something miraculously will occur. Or maybe we keep doing what we are doing and hopefully when the problem gets really bad – it may be someone else’s problem to fix.

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Well that was the dilemma facing many of the OEM leaders over the last decade. Some could act, some didn’t want to act, or some wanted to innovate around their existing business – “just tinker at the edge”. At least that looks like they are doing something.

However, innovating using the same lens or frame of reference, rarely provides the catalyst for change.

Rest in Print:

So back in 2014 when I published my book Rest In Print, I was fortunate to be able to present this as-a-service model to a large audience in Louisville, Kentucky USA.

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However, what struck me at the time, was one side of the audience were OEM print vendors and the other side of the room were IT Service companies. The IT services company got digitalisation (more specifically digitisation-as-a-service) in the broader concept where the physical world could be digitised (i.e. documents) including workflow process automation.

However, the traditional OEM’s were in somewhat of a denial that print was going away. More concerning is that they did not think that a subscription model could ever fit into the print industry as someone has to pay for a physical asset over either a 4 or 5 year period.

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Why a subscription model isn’t adopted

Unfortunately, many industry players are fixated on someone paying for the “box”. The device must be capitalised. The risk of the asset essentially transfers to the customer over a period (e.g. 3, 4 or 5 years generally) through a finance mechanism. Alternatively, it can be through an outright purchase of the asset.

Regardless for many in the office imaging industry, they just do not believe they can offer a different financial model such as a subscription model.

Some would say they are not ready or the customer doesn’t want to buy that way – however the sad thing was that many IT services businesses at the time were selling under some form of subscription service – either via a perpetual license model or a full monthly on/off subscription platform.

The customer usually in the form of a Chief Information Officer, a Chief Financial Officer were already educated and mature on how to buy or acquire subscription-based services.

They understood the benefits and were asking for in – unfortunately, it fell on death ears.

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Six years later – is the office imaging industry listening???

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