Printers and electronic document delivery specialists - a match made in email
There is some debate on who first said “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer” – it was possibly Sun Tzu around 400BC, or more likely Michael Corleone in the Godfather Part II in 1974. Either way, this phrase popped into my head as I recently signed Striata’s latest partnership agreement. Not because some fiendish Machiavellian plan had just come to fruition, but because I realized just how different perceptions are now, compared to even just a few years ago.
Who is the enemy?
When I joined Striata a few years ago, there was already a vibrant partnership program in place – and we worked with systems integrators, payment services providers, consultants and similar companies. This extended our reach into the market, and added breadth to these companies’ product portfolios. Together we would take our eBilling or eStatement solutions to the prospect and fight the competition, which in many cases was an outsource printer or mail-house processing the company’s documents.
And the competition was tough – here were incumbent suppliers with years of experience providing services that, at a fundamental level, met the company and their customers’ requirements just fine. Some even provided basic eBilling by sending flat PDFs out, attached to plain text emails.
Competition or Collaboration?
Things started to change a few years ago, when a number of factors came into play:
- The need for cost-savings started to put real pressure on the print/post delivery model. Postage rate increases became more common and often arrived with longer delivery times.
- Eco-concerns painted paper bills and statements as environmentally-unfriendly options, and customers started to demand alternatives.
This all put serious pressure on printers, as they saw their bulk mail volumes – the core of their business models – start to reduce for the first time ever, while third party costs ate into their already slim margins.
At the same time, terms like ‘frenemy’ and ‘coopetition’ became mainstream and the lines between competitors and partners started to blur.
A win, win, win situation
We started to actively engage printers and mail-houses, creating partnerships to help resolve these issues, with benefits all round:
- With the continued rise of electronic document delivery, printers could actively promote it, rather than try to turn the tide like some modern-day King Canute with reduced fees and hence, reduced margins. Using a specialist email partner, printers could offer competitive, secure electronic delivery services, rather than lose the revenue stream to companies like ours, or to simple, ineffective, in-house developed solutions.
- We could leverage the strong relationships that printers had with the banks and other organizations, allowing us to get our foot-in-the-door, where previously we couldn’t.
- These businesses could now access a world-class electronic delivery solution,while still sending their data to a trusted secure data-centre. In many cases, this required only a new annex to an existing Master Services Agreement, facilitating technical integration and the procurement process.
Best Friends Forever
Today, we have collaborated with some of the largest printers around the world, including Hong Kong, Australia, Jordan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, UK, Brazil, the USA and Canada. To this list, we are now very happy to add Bahrain.
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