Friday, January 26, 2018

Convenience over CO$T

What is the most valuable asset we all have in our possession? We all have the same amount of this asset everyday and can do nothing to get more of it. No matter what we do, we only have a limited amount of this precious commodity. All of us invest this in what we do, how we think and usually get results that are reflective of the decisions we make with this precious asset.

Did you guess what it was - TIME!

If our time is so limited, why do we give it away on somethings in our daily life. Amazon has made shopping easier and much more convenient, even with groceries. On line car shopping has made this process much easier and requires less time. Email and texting has changed how we communicate forever. All the conveniences of the world at at our finger tips - all we have to do is pay for these conveniences. We can have packages from Japan on our doorstep overnight - cost a ton but saves us time. We can have a meal delivered from most any restaurant but it does cost more than going to the business. The balance of time and money is one that we face everyday. In one of my prior careers, I worked closely with the parent company in Japan and the US based subsidiary. The deadlines were often tough and the balance of what was needed was even tougher. With an ever changing top priority, I came up with a rule that we all agreed to follow. Anything can be accomplished with enough time or enough money. The only thing two things that change are the quality of work and the budget. Sounds too simple but it is so true.

For over 20 years, I have been in the office technology industry. Over the years I have seen many changes that have been focused on improving efficiency, profitability, functionality, productivity, and many other aspects of our business lives. Some have been great and others have been a little sketchy. The most significant shift through the years has been to consolidate devices and lower costs. We were asked to give up convenience and in return we lowered costs both as a user and a dealer.

Think back to when a typical office had a printer on every desk and a centralized copier in a work area. This method was made possible by the proliferation of desktop printers. These devices evolved through the years to incorporate new printing methods, new technologies and many new features. At the same time, the centralized copier became easier to use and offered even more features the desktop printers could not. During the transition, we all became aware of operating costs and cost per copy realities of our office equipment. Our collective mindset was printers were expensive and copiers could lower our costs. This was true for many years.....but not now!

Most copiers and printers use the same technology to put print or copies on pages. The processes have ranged from spraying ink, melting toner, and a few other crazy methods through the years but ink and toner are the primary methods for producing pages. As technology has improved through the years, we have seen new methods for delivering printed pages emerge. Some have focused on higher quality,some lower costs, and others new features.

Recently, the major player in the printer market, HP, has developed a new way to print on pages. This new printer offers lower costs, higher speeds and full functionality of much higher end devices. Instead of offering a commercial here, I am simply pointing out that a new technology has caused me to rethink the convenience vs cost challenge.

Instead of eliminating the desktop devices, I think we can get back to convenience. Instead of wasting our resources for large departmental devices and expensive toner cartridges, we can simply print what we want when and where we need it using a new technology - Pagewide from HP.

Now I do not claim to know it all but after 20 years in the Office Equipment / Technology business, I have seen lots of trends ebb and flow. Centralization and consolidation have always been the solution to high cost but the detriment of convenience. This new technology may not work everywhere but in our schools, our businesses, and churches - I think it is time to consider a change to convenience.

Imagine a teacher having more time to interact with students in their classroom, a church staff member working with the community, or a business support staff generating revenue producing activity - all of this instead of standing in a copy room making copies on a centralized device. All of this convenience at a cost that is lower than the centralized, departmental device - truly convenience without the cost!

Worth a look, worth a thought, and definitely worth a conversation.