Last June I declared the A4 Revolution at the Lexmark Roadshow in Boston. It has been a year and every day we hear more and more talk in the market of the A4 movement. Every manufactures' hardware growth was in A4, yet still, the industry as a whole is holding back on becoming Customer-Centric as they continue overselling A3 equipment.
The reason the industry continues to oversell its customers is a mindset. The print/equipment industry built from its invention believes it's still upgrading. When copiers first entered the market, its customers were welcoming the technology. Sales were booming. Think about making 20 calls a day, and 19 of those you called on did not have what you were selling.
Oh, the opportunities. The market was one of growth the growth came as its customer's needs grew. Customers in those days would buy a copier and each new year they produced more volume. The industry had a term when they sold a current customer a new machine. That term was called "The upgrade."
The industry sold and repeatedly upgraded its customers. All segments of machine types would follow this path. The lowest volume users would move into the middle volume, and the highest volume users would grow into even higher volumes. The industry was built and managed based on its end-users growing in their needs.
Now decades later as its end-users decline in their needs. Many in the industry have not reinvented its deliverable to benefit from the decline. In fact, the industry still calls selling customers upgrades. It's in this mindset the industry attempts to continue upgrading customers by overselling A3 equipment. I would venture to say that the actual upgrades based on growth present a very very small portion of the marketplace.
The legacy way is no longer the right way, and product-centric thinking will cost many their customer relationships to the innovators better experience. As the print equipment and services industry continues declining the industry must plan and execute a strategy that benefits by its users declining in their needs. It's time the industry admits its customers are really "Down Grading." Only accepting this will allow a forward movement to capitalize on the decline. People will print for the foreseeable future however, they will print less and less.
The reason I am a fan of Lexmark is straightforward; they are focused on delivering products built on market realities. Lexmark is one of the only manufacturers who is positioning itself to win as a vast majority of the legacy A3 equipment is replaced by A4. All manufacturers will face a day of reckoning as A3 placements are second to those of the A4. The features and advancements in A4 equipment can more than service over 80% of the current A3 end-users.
Innovative processes will come to the channel and capitalize on the A4 potential. Innovation occurs when innovators recognize something the old way is doing that isn't beneficial to its customers. Then the innovator plans a strategy to educate the old way's customer on their better way.
Too many current dealers believe only they control the innovation so, they can continue selling based on their old ways, and continue being product-centric. I warn the industry that history always proves that those who deliver based on customer-centric strategies win over those based on a product-centric strategy.
"A company becomes obsolete when they focus on delivering the past to the future instead of delivering the future to the present."
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