Reinvention of the reseller
Today’s Imagetext isn’t the same company as the one formed 30 years ago.
Once a Mac reseller, the company is now much more than that. It is, says Imagetext managing director Darius Mistry no longer about selling technology, but rather helping clients grow their business through the use of technology.
The company was born out of industry change. It was founded when the original owners saw the changes being wrought on the printing industry as computers took hold, and decided to start selling Apple Macs.
“The technology was new; the industry was going through a metamorphosis from traditional typesetting to digitisation. Fonts were being introduced; colour was being introduced; because they could do things that normally would take 22 hours in two hours,” Mistry says.
The introduction of laser printers further changed the way printing and print workflows were handled, with proofs created on A3 pages rather than being typeset.
“It was a huge transformation,” says Mistry, who bought into the company in 1994.
Early on the company would become platform agnostic – driven largely by customer demand.
Apple had a chequered run with back end systems, coming out with servers, then dropping them. Imagetext’s customers were using a mix of Mac at the front-end and Windows systems at the back-end.
“Most of the corporate players we dealt with asked us to be one point of call for their IT department, so we had to very quickly specialise in the Windows side as well.
“That’s how we became quite unique in our abilities to integrate the Mac to the Windows environment.”
But the biggest changes were yet to come.
Cloud changes everything
“The biggest challenge is the changes in technology. It is constant,” Mistry says.
“But right now, the last three to four years, the whole way in which we used to make money out of the technology has changed significantly because of the cloud.”
Suddenly products, such as Adobe Creative Suite, that garnered a $2500 sale with a 10-12% margin, we available on subscription. The initial sale price was slashed. Margins dropped down accordingly.
“The last two years for us was trying to change the business from a cashflow management perspective, because the dollar values changed, the cashflow changed and we can’t all of a sudden let the team go.
“That was the biggest challenge – making sure the business made money out of small payments over a number of years, rather than one big sale every three years.”
Even though the company had seen the change coming and had planned for it, Mistry says it was still a difficult, ‘scary’, time.
Megan Holmes, Imagetext marketing/HD/HR, says early on Mistry and business partner John Preisig challenged the company to maintain its high training, customer focus and so on.
“It is expensive stuff and we had to work out how to do it moving forward,” Holmes says.
“And we are still in that metamorphosis now.”
The solution for Imagetext lay, at least in part, by selling what Mistry calls ‘business relative solutions’ to help clients improve their own business by the use of technology.
He says the company becomes deeply involved with their customers.
A client purchasing laptops for its 3000 staff noted that they had internal business issues and were concerned about the training staff might require.
Imagetext’s solution was for the computers to be preloaded with basic help information and a link to a self help portal, created by Imagetext. The dynamic knowledge base decreased internal ticket rates and relieved pressure from the client’s in-house IT team.
Another client initially just required some MacBooks for its marketing division. Then required them to be intergrated. Seeing Imagetext’s ability with Windows they asked the company to help out when an engineer left, and then to help change their accounting system.
“Now we are their incumbent IT company.”
Mistry and Holmes agree that getting to know the client better has been a key in making the transition from selling boxes to its current, sustainable, position.
Imagetext is often involved in clients’ strategic business planning sessions, advising on how IT fits with their business plan and what technologies are on the horizon that might help their business in the future.
“We get to know the client almost to the level where we know their environment and their business needs as well as they do.
“Once we understand their business it is a lot easier for us to recommend what suits their requirements from a price and efficiency perspective,” Mistry says.
“You have to work with your clients, understand what they want and provide the solutions the client wants, rather than what the industry is pushing.”
Holmes says the company is still working on a definition of what exactly the company is.
“We are now more business growth strategists, helping customers growth their business through the use of technology.
“We are at that level now where we are working in at that strategic level, really helping businesses to cleverly use technology to grow.”
Adds Mistry: “We’re selling business related solutions, rather than just technologies. Technology is just the medium to solve a business problem.
“We work with business issues, rather than IT issues. IT is just a method by which you can solve your client’s business issues.
“But until we know the pain points of our clients, we won’t be able to offer them the technology because we’ll just be pushing technology for the sake of technology. And we’ll be out of the ball game completely.”