A fast response to change: transforming supertankers into speedboats
Graham Moore, Director, Business Development, Ricoh Europe PLC.
How quickly can your corporate clients respond to change? According to new Economist Intelligence Unit research sponsored by Ricoh, many European businesses are overconfident about the true speed at which their organisations are changing to be ready for the future. The Challenge of Speed report found business leaders are three times as likely to compare their company to a speedboat (48 per cent) than a supertanker (17 per cent), while believing the opposite of their competitors. Yet the survey’s data shows little justification for this self-perception.
Interestingly the report states that 92 per cent of respondents report that speed is part of their culture. However, three-quarters are, in fact, not reacting to changes fast enough, and just 24 per cent are able to rapidly take advantage of new opportunities or adapt to the unexpected. The reality is that progress is stalled by the triple challenges of a rapidly evolving workforce, technology-led disruption and the deployment of underlying core business processes that ensure that change is sustainable.
Where the speediest companies excel is in product and service innovation, adoption of new technology and business process change – although very few companies can check all three boxes, with only one in three (29 per cent) able to rapidly re-engineer processes to support change.
What does this mean for you? There are many ways print services providers can work with their clients to support the digital transformation that is key to their successful future. First, professional print businesses can turn their attention to the efficiency of their own organisations and the speed at which they themselves can adapt to change. A natural starting point is infrastructure and workflow. And a lean and automated system can deliver an immediate benefit in terms of flexibility and productivity while bringing down lead and turnaround times too. This means that print services providers can more rapidly adjust to changing market needs, and they can also help their clients do the same by passing along speed and productivity benefits they have achieved within their own operations.
The report points out that “companies need to find ways to unlearn the habits of the past and test what will work in the new environment.” This applies equally to the professional print production community that serves the needs of business. One means of unlearning habits and more quickly adapting to change is to lever relationships with trusted suppliers. This allows print services providers to benefit from the knowledge these suppliers can offer and also ensures that they stay current with both market trends and the availability of the new and revised solutions required to be a speedboat. For example, taking advantage of software developments can facilitate the data analysis that helps companies understand where improvements in their understanding of their customers can be made. The adoption of faster, more flexible hardware solutions helps expand service portfolios. And the use of precision marketing and cross media marketing communication for more targeted campaigns and responsive results for the benefit of the client – and the printing company as well - will generate greater return on investment for both. It is crucial that today’s print-based businesses not only offer speedy services to help clients themselves be speed boats rather than supertankers, but they must also incorporate value-added services beyond print that will help clients accelerate their business processes even more. A good example of this is precision marketing techniques that not only enable faster and more targeted communication with customers and prospects but improve the relevance and quality of those communications, boosting response rates and strengthening customer relationships.
The study also drives home the importance of examining business processes holistically, for both printers and their clients. Not only do you need to have seamless, easy-to-use customer-facing web to print mechanisms for entering jobs into your production stream, but that work must then be moved on efficiently to the rest of the production process. Companies that do not align their entire business holistically around the client and optimise processes accordingly will face the pressure of coping with a two-speed business. While a focus on the client is critical, it is not particularly effective if the print services provider’s own operation is not adapting rapidly enough to market change.
Improved business practices for both printers and their clients create immediately tangible results and increase the speed of business. This includes removal of bottlenecks and the reshaping of client relationships to ensure organisational agility for both. Collectively, these actions put speed firmly at the centre of a print services provider’s operational culture and create a more conducive environment for cultivating future change — as well as positioning them to better serve clients who are facing the same challenges.
Keep in mind that the pursuit of speed and agility for their own sake can be dangerous. But the risks are better managed by getting the basics right, not by slowing down. Slowing down presents the greatest risk of all.
For more insights into the challenge of speed facing European organisations, visit: www.ricoh-europe.com/thoughtleadership
| About the Research |
The report is based on a survey of 461 senior, Europe-based executives from a wide variety of industries. Their companies include a range of sizes. The survey sample is senior, with 49 per cent C-level or above and a further 23 per cent SVPs, VPs, or directors. In addition, the EIU conducted in-depth interviews with corporate
| About Ricoh |
Ricoh is a global technology company specialising in office imaging equipment, production print solutions, document management systems and IT services. Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group operates in about 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ending March 2013, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of 1,924 billion yen (approx. 20 billion USD).
The majority of the company's revenue comes from products, solutions and services that improve the interaction between people and information. Ricoh also produces award-winning digital cameras and specialised industrial products. It is known for the quality of its technology, the exceptional standard of its customer service and sustainability initiatives.
Under its corporate tagline, imagine. change. Ricoh helps companies transform the way they work and harness the collective imagination of their employees.
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