Big Picture - August 2019 - 15

Because of this struggle, we again revisited the topic of
disruptive technologies and realized selling signage and
graphics online was, in fact, a technology platform we needed
to embrace. Due to the forward thinking of one of my business
partners, 20 years ago we had seized the opportunity to
purchase the domain name On the strength of that
name, we hired the right people, spent the necessary capital to
develop the website, and in 2012, launched into the world of
selling signs online. We're now in our eighth full year of
e-commerce and have experienced good success in this part
of our business.
But here is where the story gets interesting. For the past
few years, we've struggled in our attempts to manage two
very different businesses. The traditional Ferrari Color side
has more than 30 years of history and an impressive list of
legacy retail clients. The online segment has very
high growth rates and thousands of customers per month
spending small dollar amounts on banners, lawn signs,
aluminum signage, and other sorts of graphics. (Interestingly,
many of these buyers may not return to the website to
purchase another sign for months, or years, or perhaps ever.)
After many difficult discussions and a very emotional
decision, in late 2018 we decided to exit our legacy business
completely and sell off Ferrari Color. We structured a deal
with a company scheduled for early 2019. Unfortunately, due
to a variety of factors, the sale fell apart in early spring and we
found ourselves facing an even more difficult decision. A few
months earlier, we had been prepared to exit our traditional
trade and move forward in a new way. But now we had no buyer.
Do we just go back to the way things had been before and try our
best to figure it out, or do we try something much more dramatic?

One of the most important points from The Innovator's
Dilemma is that it can be very damaging to your business to
rely too much on what your customers want. While that may
sound very strange, the point the author makes is that your
largest and most important clients may not be innovative in
their thinking at all. They could, in fact, be very happy with
the products and/or services you currently offer them, and as
a result, aren't really looking for any additional implementation of technologies or systems that could create efficiencies
and cost savings to them.
In our case, for example, none of our top 50 - or even 100
- customers were asking Ferrari Color to provide them with
online business management. If you choose to ignore
emerging or disruptive technologies, I can assure you some of
your competitors are not. While you may be secure in
retaining your current business because of your quality,
pricing, and service, imagine what might happen when a
competitor offers the same quality, pricing, and service,
combined with technologies to make your customer's life
much easier. You will likely lose them as a client.
An example of the shifting landscape of the signage customer
base is the change we've noticed in recent years in buying habits.
As the "old school" buyers move out of some of your clients'
organizations, they're being replaced by a new generation of
buyers who embrace, rather than avoid, technology.
New buyers don't really want to talk to your sales reps
anymore. "Don't come to visit me - just send me an email or a
text" is the popular response with this generation. (It actually
feels like the way my children now communicate with me.
Seems like they only call me on my phone when they need
money. But I digress.) You can be annoyed by these changes,
or you can embrace them. Even though your customers may
not be specifically requesting you to adjust your interactions
with them in a more innovative way, they're already implementing and utilizing disruptive technologies on a regular
basis. Eventually, and probably sooner rather than later, your
clients will be adapting new technologies into their policies
and procedures with or without you.
To be fair, the Ferrari Color/ story is a rather
dramatic example of a complete shift in an approach to
adopting and implementing a technology platform. I'm
certainly not recommending that everyone in our industry
completely exit the traditional graphics business and move
entirely to an e-commerce solution.
The point I want to drive home is you have some choices
to make as you move into the future of your business. You can
ignore the disruptive technology changes occurring in the world
of signage and graphics, or you can identify those relevant to
your business and embrace them. These decisions will lay the
foundation for the success of your business as you continue to
navigate the existing and future changes in technology - which
are certain to continue to disrupt the industry.


Based on the foundational concepts of disruptive technologies
we felt had significantly affected our traditional company,
we came to the extremely hard and emotionally painful
choice of exiting our core business we had managed for more
than 30 years and focusing only on As a result of
this decision, we parted ways with our sales team, project
managers, customer service division, installation department,
estimators, and a few other positions that had supported the
traditional business. We were able to offer generous severance
packages and fortunately, within three weeks, all of our former
Ferrari Color employees were able to secure new positions
with new companies.
I apologize for the lengthy narrative describing the course
of events during the past six months. However, the details are
necessary to help explain how challenging the decision was
for us - and can be for you - when confronting the significant
changes occurring within our industry.
Whether you can admit it or not, you're facing similar
dilemmas regarding the future of your business. Disruptive
technologies are certainly not limited to the example of online
signage I've described. It could be the changes in the focus of
traditional (static) signage to digital signage. Perhaps it's
within the manufacturing processes and the rapidly changing
environment there. It might be the transformations happening
in the area of delivery and logistics.

My point is if you aren't identifying and communicating
changes in the world of technology and how it will affect your
business in the coming years, you may just be operating with
your head in the proverbial sand.

15 http://www.BIGPICTURE.NET

Big Picture - August 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Big Picture - August 2019

Big Picture - August 2019
Wide Angle
Business + Management
Out-of-the-Box Out of Home
Print Buying: An Inside Look
Job Log
Big Picture - August 2019 - Intro
Big Picture - August 2019 - Big Picture - August 2019
Big Picture - August 2019 - Cover2
Big Picture - August 2019 - Contents
Big Picture - August 2019 - Insight
Big Picture - August 2019 - 3
Big Picture - August 2019 - Wide Angle
Big Picture - August 2019 - 5
Big Picture - August 2019 - Upfront
Big Picture - August 2019 - 7
Big Picture - August 2019 - 8
Big Picture - August 2019 - 9
Big Picture - August 2019 - 10
Big Picture - August 2019 - 11
Big Picture - August 2019 - 12
Big Picture - August 2019 - 13
Big Picture - August 2019 - Business + Management
Big Picture - August 2019 - 15
Big Picture - August 2019 - Out-of-the-Box Out of Home
Big Picture - August 2019 - 17
Big Picture - August 2019 - 18
Big Picture - August 2019 - 19
Big Picture - August 2019 - 20
Big Picture - August 2019 - 21
Big Picture - August 2019 - 22
Big Picture - August 2019 - 23
Big Picture - August 2019 - 24
Big Picture - August 2019 - 25
Big Picture - August 2019 - 26
Big Picture - August 2019 - 27
Big Picture - August 2019 - Print Buying: An Inside Look
Big Picture - August 2019 - 29
Big Picture - August 2019 - R+D
Big Picture - August 2019 - 31
Big Picture - August 2019 - 32
Big Picture - August 2019 - 33
Big Picture - August 2019 - 34
Big Picture - August 2019 - 35
Big Picture - August 2019 - Job Log
Big Picture - August 2019 - Cover3
Big Picture - August 2019 - Cover4