(Pictured above: Joseph Bradley presenting at the ECS event in Scottsdale, AZ.)
Many times you see the same presenters at events, presenting the same topics. Yet there is nothing more refreshing than hearing the perspectives of an outsider. Even more so, I am inspired by a highly relevant message and the potential change in mindset it can bring to a mature industry, such as the office imaging industry. Last week, that’s exactly what happened to me—I was inspired by Joseph Bradley, President of Business Ventures of Uptake, and his visionary insights.
Joseph shared five observations of today’s business environment at the 2017 Executive Connection Summit in Scottsdale, AZ. His principles are not specific to the imaging channel, but let’s examine how we can adopt his concepts and apply them to the industry we know and love.
Real-time is too late
On the surface, this seems silly…how can you get more current information than real-time? But that’s the point! By definition, real-time is capturing what has already happened. We need to be thinking about what is going to happen in the future, and more importantly, what should we be doing to either prevent or capitalize on events before they happen. This could mean proactively changing a part that is about to fail because there have been too many paper jams or making an early sales call because a customer requested a copy of their lease agreement. Independently, neither action would necessarily warrant that specific action, but by analyzing the data, showing a correlation may allow you to take advantage of new opportunities.
When you can't win, change the rules of the game
This is an easy concept when looking at Joseph’s example of Hilton Hotels vs. Airbnb and taxis vs. Uber, however, how can we relate this to our industry? The model that worked for us in the past may no longer work for us going forward. Don’t be afraid to look at your business in a new way—rather than making minor tweaks, is there a fundamental shift that will set you apart from your competitors? Look for new ways to keep score that make you a winner.
Platform is the dominant source of value
Intuitively, this one is harder to understand. However, Joseph summarized it nicely. Stop trying to figure out what your customer wants—because they don't always know. Enable them to do something that they want to do and they will be drawn to it. Give them an experience and they will want more of it. We are so often worried about what bells and whistles we are providing our customers that we sometimes lose the reason we are trying to provide it and most importantly, the problem we are trying to solve. Focus on the ‘why’ and ‘when’ you do; the ‘what’ and ‘how’ will be a secondary discussion.
Context is king
Understanding your customer is an example of something that is easy to say, but hard to actually do. Recognizing the situation and putting their needs in context is even harder. There could be two identical customer profiles, but the way to satisfy their requests may dramatically differ. For example, a business that has just been impacted by ransomware and has to pay thousands of dollars to get their data back likely would be less price sensitive regarding a backup and disaster recovery solution than a similar business that hasn’t even heard of that danger.
Insight is the currency of the 21st century
Our industry has no shortage of data; however, having data does not mean you have insight. This is probably one of the most valuable lessons we can use to improve our businesses. The key is how we translate the massive amounts of data into meaningful actions that should be taken. You need to understand what problem you are trying to solve, identify the data you need to solve it and look for the correlations to drive behavior.
Joseph Bradley’s highly engaging presentation was a reminder that some of the best ideas are those that originate from other industries, but by applying them to our own world, can cause us to think differently and challenge our current approach. Tomorrow is a different day—start having those different conversations!
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