Leveraging Hardware Investments with Software Differentiation

This is the third of a three part data series from Roger Serrette, Ricoh Customer Experience Center Director, Commercial Printing Business. Don’t miss his other posts: Robust Workflow Assessments Start with Questions and Unbiased Data Collection and How to Intentionally Use Your Data

Everybody who buys the same machine as you – has the same machine as you.

Hardware is necessary, data collection is wonderful, and workflow is critical. But the lynch pin to your investments in production is not your data alone, or your workflow alone, or the hardware investment alone. It isn’t really the combination of those elements either. Instead, it is the differentiation you layer on to the foundation or combination. It is the investment you make into the software that gives you efficiencies and advantages over your competitors and makes your customer relationships stickier.

Take your smart device. WOW! Critical device for both your business and your personal life. Perhaps it is your Waze app that has reduced your number of speeding tickets to zero and decreased your commute by 15% daily. Or perhaps it is your Nike Run app that lets you get world class coaching coupled with your personalized playlist on an afternoon 5K run. Or maybe it is how you now order groceries and have them delivered to the house so you can maximize a few minutes at the end of the day just playing with the kids versus wandering the grocery store wondering why agave isn’t next to the honey in the baking aisle anymore. And as an aside.. who puts snacks, chips, and ice cream across from each other – don’t they have an app for how to layout a grocery store to make shopping sense to the average consumer?

Now take a moment and decide which apps you are going to delete right now. In fact, imagine for a moment all your apps off the phone and all it can do is take pictures, text, take a phone call, and act as an alarm clock. Not so impressive anymore. The smart device is no longer so smart. In fact, 2007 is starting to look anemic based upon 2021.

When you make a $1.4M investment into a large commercial inkjet press, you are absolutely moving forward on a technology that hands down has abilities that can increase productivity and ROI the moment it is powered up. But guess what? Your competition made the same or similar investment. Which means – they have the same potential as you do now.

The differentiation isn’t the device itself – that is just a platform of untapped potential. You have to turn that into kinetic energy by investing in software – and not just software that you think might help, but software that falls into some specific categories to maximize the hardware investment.

Ask yourself these questions when evaluating what software you should pursue:

  • Is the software scalable?
  • Does the software address print shop productivity?
  • Does the solution come from a vendor that handles more than your print segment?
  • Does the provider work to incorporate existing workflows and pocket investments that you have already implemented?
  • Can the software expand to incorporate more of your customer needs?
  • Does it take advantage of the data arenas that already exist in-house?
  • Does this software help you with your anchor applications but also provide the ability to craft and deliver on emerging areas within your market or business?
  • Is the providing team personable, knowledgeable, and have a track record of successful delivery?

Your smart phone doesn’t come with 100 apps, and most likely the apps you have create the most robust device personalized for your needs. It helps with your productivity, your ability to meet needs, and to function at your best by leveraging personal things about you and your uniqueness. And your device does come with one thing for sure – and that is the need to customize and leverage your investment with further incremental investment. Same with your print business. Differentiation just might be the one element that makes your hardware in your production shop more than the hardware in your production shop.

Be sure to connect and reach out to Roger if you have any questions.

Meet the Author

Based in Boulder, CO, Roger is a development engineer turned customer experience director focused on building partnerships, long-term client relationships, technical contributions and thought leadership in the communication-delivery ecosystem. His team leader specialization is in interdisciplinary engineering, centering on reliability and quality/customer communication from concept to delivery, to help Ricoh’s clients and partners in the industry deliver results more efficiently and effectively.

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