Sunday, September 23, 2012
The Transition of the Copier Industry "Part 2"
When digital copiers first arrived on the scene, we were all happy that copiers were now capable of network printing, network scanning and faxing. In the early days the biggest benefit to the end users was that if the copier jammed (and they all did), during a copy or print job, you would be able to clear the jam, then reset the system and the copier remembered what page was not copied or printed and you would be able to continue with the job. When this happened with analog systems you pretty much had to trash the entire copy job and start all over, what a drag that was especially if it happened with a demonstration.
For those of us that were in the industry with the emergence of digital copiers we saw the benefit of having one system that would replace three systems, the existing analog copier, the printer and the fax machine. The cost per page of fax machines and stand alone printers always and still have a higher cost per page. I can remember in the late nineties compiling my own cost per analysis for each device and it wasn't easy. You had to access specs from brochures, get cartridge prices and yields from industry published copier, printer and fax spec check books. It was an easy sale when you could present an immediate ROI for most customers to replace three systems with one. Traditionally analog copiers and digital copiers always had a lower cost per page than laser printers and fax machines. I'm thinking copier dealers started the managed print/copy trend by offering an all inclusive cost per page contracts with the digital systems and we didn't even know it.
We did have our issues! We were copier service and sales companies now trying to offer support and solutions for print/fax and scan environments. Many of the early network copies never printed as fast as they were advertised, print drivers were awkward and it seemed we always had some type of issues with installing print drivers, and addressing print issues. But, we moved forward as an industry with improved technology from the manufacturers and other third party suppliers. I believe the service model for copiers and the planned obsolescence of supplies and parts always kept us in tune and in front of the customer.
At sometime in the late nineties and early 2,000's we started to see third party hardware and software solutions from companies like eCopy, and Equitrac. I'm sure there were more however I can't remember any of the other players. Companies like Ecopy and Equitrac allowed copier dealers to move into selling software, supporting software and also presented opportunities for professional services. Within a few years there were many other companies that emerged with additional solutions. All of these third party providers added value to the digital copier. Thus salespeople had more opportunities to sell solutions in many different vertical markets and larger companies as well. The once ridiculed copier that took the butt of all the office jokes emerged as the central hub in the office for processing information on paper.
The digital copier industry of today is changing again and companies like Xerox, Ricoh, KonicaMinolta and Canon are making the transition to service led companies. These companies will be the sole provider for documents whether they are created electronically or printed, they want to help customers with print stream management, forms, email, archiving of documents (electronic and paper), they also want to provide consulting to help businesses increase efficiencies, provide easier work flows and reduce your costs.
more to come with Part 3