Sunday, November 14, 2010

How about some Pulp with that ePaper?

Nooooo! Don't Do It!
Dunder Mifflin's stock continues to rise despite an all-out assault by the entire ECM industry.  Are we going to continue to furnish paper executives' offices with rich, burled walnut, or will we finally wake up?  

AIIM says it doesn't look too promising:

- We now print 1 trillion pages annually
- 115 Billion of those pages are printed from personal computers
- Printing of web content is expected to triple
- Fastest growing devices initiating print: mobile devices - huh?

What in the world is going on here?  Are the Dunder Mifflins out there out-marketing everybody else?  Are paper printing and postage costs unexpectedly dropping?

Doubtful.  Our perspective on this is that it's generational.  Are Boomers to blame?  We Boomers built solid eDelivery frameworks, but the end result is merely an electronic copy of paper.  We call it ePaper.  Turn all your paper into a searchable, hyperlinked PDF, and guess what users do with it?  Print it.  We were in Best Buy last night, and some of us thought the coolest product was an iPhone printer which can wirelessly print photos.  Stop and think about this!  After spending small fortunes to develop 960x640 color displays on mobile devices, all we want to do is print photos at half the resolution!   

In order to break the Dunder Mifflin stranglehold, AIIM has some tips like "focus not on 'paperless' but instead on less paper.  "Focus on the the business process".  We agree, but there will have to be some paradigm-busters the break the hold, and we think we smell some on the horizon.

1. Proliferation of tablet computers.  When asked why users print ePaper, many responded that they could not easily view the information on their mobile phone and using even a laptop is too cumbersome.  Enter the Apple iPad, Amazon Kindle, and a raft of new entrants and we suddenly have ubiquitous instant-on delivery platforms for compelling information.

2. Interactivity.  ePaper will literally melt away if users are presented with a more interactive experience that THEY customize to their preferences.  The folks in finance don't want the boring AR Aging Report, they want the color chart that shows who is delinquent, past due and on-time with payments. 

3. Loss of opposable thumbs.  OK, not likely to happen but it would seriously reduce our need to get the paper in our hot little paws.

For more on this topic, please check out our upcoming webinar Wednesday, November 17th at 11:30AM.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Secret to Dunder Mifflin's Success

We hope you’ve all been enjoying the latest posts on the convergence of ECM and Business Intelligence, but we have a unique opportunity this week.  We had the great fortune to run into Mr. Michael Scott of Dunder Mifflin, and Michael agreed to an exclusive interview, just for ECM Trends From the Field.  Michael is one of the most successful regional managers in the paper business with an impressive resume delivering results, and building a talented field organization.

First some background.  You probably know of Dunder Mifflin from the wildly successful reality TV show on NBC which follows the daily, sometimes embarrassing interactions of the Scranton branch of one of the fastest growing paper products companies in the U.S.

Despite compelling newer technologies, Dunder, founded in 1949, continues to thrive by selling more and more paper to corporate America.  In 2009, even though Michael had several near-mutinies, he was able to grow sales by over 30% with smaller headcount than in 2008.

ECM: So Michael, thanks very much for agreeing to this interview.  We are hearing about your company’s success because our industry, ECM, claims to be reducing paper usage, and yet there you are growing sales by 30%.  What do you attribute this success to?

Michael: Well, let me first say that my office is much more spacious and luxurious than this dump.  I’m even thinking about some walnut paneling, just because, you know, I’m kind of a big deal.

ECM:  Er, well of course, but our readers are very keen to know why so many of your customers continue to pay for vast quantities of paper while they are at the same time investing significantly to drive content to the web?

Michael: Maybe they’ve realized that by using paper they perpetuate the whole circle of life thing.  Check out our website, buddy.  For each and every metric ton of paper we ship, we plant a little tree:

ECM: Yeah, and we love the tagline: Dunder Mifflin, Green as We Have To Be. 

Michael: You bet, that was my touch.   

ECM: So, can you also tell us a little about any competitive pressures you are feeling either from other paper companies, or from disruptive technologies like online reporting or eStatement delivery?

Michael: Doug, it is our expert opinion that paper is a treasure handed down from the Greeks, and that sure, you can present the information online, but there will always be customers that demand to have the good old papyrus, just because, you know, it’s in their DNA.

ECM:  I think we’ll leave that one alone, but we do agree that even though online information delivery is exploding, financial institutions in particular are loathe to take anything away from a profitable customer, even charging $2 per month for paper is not worth it to some banks – they are afraid of a backlash.

Michael: Speaking of backlash, I’m still waiting for the question, Doug.  My limo downstairs is burning high octane…

ECM: Of course, well, just one more question then.  As Gen Y starts to earn the big bucks, don’t you think paper will go the way of the transistor or microfiche?  I mean, what’s your exit plan?

Michael:  Well, I don’t want to give away any secrets here, but first, the show has made us all stars.  Did you know that the paparaz have started showing up at the branch lately?  And, as for the paper biz, I think if I were you, I’d buy more stock, symbol MIFF.  We are a micro cap and we are kicking butt.

ECM: Thanks very much Michael, it has been a pleasure interviewing you and learning some of your thoughts, but just one more question, just for fun? 

Michael: Always here for the fans – what do you got?

Paper Tiger - Michael Scott

ECM: You are the epitome of THE boss in contemporary business. And yet, nobody is perfect.  Could you share some of your faults?

Michael:  Faults?  Sure, I’ve got faults.  I sing in the shower sometimes.  Sometimes I spend too much time volunteering – that really gets on people’s nerves.  And, sometimes I hit people with my car, so sue me.

ECM: On that note, we’d like to say, again, thanks to Michael Scott, Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin, Inc, leading provider of paper products in the U.S.