Friday, March 13, 2009

Ricoh/IBM: Not the Print Output Network. The Printernet.

In the Printernet, like the Internet before it, sales "channels" become sales nets. In a user network, the resiliency comes from robust activity at the edges, not value creation at the middle or the top. The real competition for Ricoh/IBM, HP, Xerox, KM, Oce, Canon, etc. is not from each other. It is from independent networks on the ground.

They talk with the minimum of spin. The talk is amplified through the internet. What I just heard about Ricoh should be fixed sooner rather than later.

This conversation is happening over at MFD's, MFP's Printers and Copiers. The opening post is titled Are Ricoh’s employees paying for the Ikon aquistion? a snippet follows.
It sounds like Ricoh is trying to balance their budget on the backs of the rank & file workers. Does Ricoh really think that they will keep there best & brightest people with this plan? I think not! Especially with the Large Independent Canon Dealers & CBS growing like crazy. Hey guys (& girls) come on over the water is fine over here.

We, the Independent dealers have continued to be fiscally responsible. We don’t buy our market share, we earn it. As a result we are growing and we are hiring. In this economy that’s a certifiable miracle!

And then some selections from the ensuing thread. Note the time stamps.

March 12, 2009 at 12:50 pm
Oh by the way, Ricoh cost cutting moves did NOT apply to IKON employees, only ‘Ricoh’ workers
March 12, 2009 at 1:32 pm
Mr Anonymous,
Isn’t that a slap in the face to the loyal Ricoh employees? Many of whom stuck with the company through the Savin & Lanier mergers. It does seem to me that Ricoh treats the people at the companies that they buy better than the people whom work for them directly. I worked for Ricoh after the Savin merger and up until just after the Lanier merger. It surprised me that Ricoh would purchase a failed company (Lanier) for pennies on the dollar and then take a large number of the people who ran that company into the ground and put them in charge of a large part of the Ricoh operation. I think that you will see the same thing when they integrate the Ikon personnel into the Ricoh organization. Let’s hope that these same people who ran Lanier & Ikon into the ground will do the same for Ricoh.

I think you are starting to see “merger fatigue” at Ricoh. With these new cuts I think that you will begin to see a “talent exodus” from Ricoh. The smart ones already have their resumes polished up and circulating. I bet that the On Demand show will be a great place for all that Ricoh talent to start looking for their next soft place to land.
March 12, 2009 at 6:25 pm
There has indeed been a “talent exodus” occurring at Ricoh, for some fortunate people such as myself, who had other available options in this tough economy. My concern is also for the Savin / Lanier / Ricoh Independent dealerships that are now being treated as badly as the Ricoh employees. In the words of Nori (a former Lanier guy) to one large Dealer, “I won’t need you in fours years.” That was two years ago, by the way. Get ready for competing with IKON who will offer 3 years of free service to upgrade IKON Canon machines to Ricoh products. Keep on growing, my friend!
Solution shops, value chain, facilitated user networks
"The Print Output Network" sounds like a value chain industry. Printernet better captures a facilitated user network business. Google has learned how to monetize a facilitated user network. AOL, Yahoo didn't get it. They thought they could own the network. The users own the network. The facilitator makes it easier for them to use it.

The reality is that whoever tries to own the network, loses. Ask Microsoft.

Clay Cristennsen in Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns writes that
"the three business types (are) solution shops,value chains, and facilitated user networks. Disruption can occur within each of these types of business models. When the disruption entails solution shops giving way to value chains and value chains giving way to user networks, however, the change in the industry is more profound."
Print shops on the ground have been moving from solution shops to value chains. From the dying business of employing "experienced, intuitvely trained experts whose job is to diagnose problems and recommend solutions" to the growing businesses that "bring inputs of materials into one end of their premises, transform them by adding value, and deliver higher-value products to their customer at the other end."

But many vendors have yet to take advantage of the transition from value chain to facilitated user network. They are still trying to "control the message" and "manage the channels." Undertandably they are having a hard time reorganizing a business that has produced nice predictable profits for many years. The lessons of the internet and Lehman Brothers are hard to integrate.

What might be the effect two years out, of the following:
2009 Managed Print Services Conference
This is the first conference dedicated to Managed Print Services (MPS). The objective for this conference is to provide MPS decision makers, dealers, and vendors the opportunity to share experience, insights, and war stories regarding the in's and out's of MPS engagements. The conference features case studies, panels, and interactive sessions which will highlight experiences and learnings from actual MPS engagements
Sunday, April 26, 2009
San Antonio, Texas 78205

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