A few weeks ago I attended the Epson partner conference in Palm Springs, CA. The keynote speaker was futurist/forecaster Daniel Burrus (www.burrus.com) who spoke a lot about technology trends shaping the future. He had three great thoughts in his presentation that are applicable to the reseller community.
First, he spoke about how everyone is busy. Heck, as I’m writing this column I’m thinking about the next thing I need to get done and the 20 other things I’d like to get done — or should get done. I have to believe that you’re in the same boat. As I’ve interviewed readers over the years, it’s clear that a lot of you wear many hats.
While you’re striving to win today’s sale, you might also have an HR problem, owe financials to your accountant, have a handful of calls to return, including one from an irate customer, and you need to get your car in the shop. Nevermind leading your company into the future by evaluating the landscape of current and future technologies, as well as figuring out how to compete in an ever-competitive world. With all that on your plate, why are you reading this article?
I hope the answer is that you use articles like this to challenge or confirm your thinking. In short, you care about your business and want to improve it. Burrus pointed out that we’re all busy, and putting important things off isn’t going to make life easier down the road. He rhetorically asked if the heads of major companies that went out of business were busy while their companies began their downward spiral. Absolutely. “You can ‘busy’ yourself right out of business,” he said. The moral of the story is to build time into your routine to ensure that you’re spending time on your company’s future, not just putting out fires in the present. This is important enough to take the place of other things you spend time on. We visit the doctor regularly to proactively ensure that we’re healthy and catch any illness sooner rather than later. What are you doing to ensure your company stays healthy?
Burrus also talked about what will happen if you don’t pay attention to the future. While he didn’t mention the tablet/cloud POS phenomenon specifically, it’s a great example of what can happen. His quote: “If it can be done, it will be done. If you don’t do it, someone else will.”
The retail world is currently being flooded with POS apps — some of which are pretty poor in terms of features and functionality. Others aren’t bad. Regardless, all these new apps have lowered price expectations from retailers and have created hundreds, if not thousands, of new competitors for resellers in that market. Advances in mobile technology and rock-bottom prices created the grounds for mobile POS. Many POS dealers have watched in shock as their businesses are whittled away by these new competitors. If you don’t offer tablet-based POS, someone else will.
Lastly, Burrus urged attendees at the conference “Don’t compete! Change the rules.” I’ll tie this one back to the first point about making time for your company’s future. I don’t know the capabilities of your company or employees. You have to figure out how to offer your customers a unique solution, something your competition cannot offer. To my earlier example of tablet-based POS, most dealers cannot compete with those offerings — at least on price. In fact, to compete would spell certain death for those dealers used to making thousands of dollars on POS installs.
However, could these dealers offer customers a more robust mobile POS experience using the fully-featured software of an established software company, integrate video surveillance, digital signage, loyalty, payments, and so on, and then bundle that solution and charge their customers a monthly fee rather than one lump sum? The tablet software developers selling on the iTunes store cannot compete with such an integrated solution.
Maybe that’s a bad example for you. Maybe your situation is different. The idea still stands, but it will require you to take the time to plan for the future. Change the rules.