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    « Napster is to iTunes as FTP Sites are to Digital Services | Main | What Everybody Ought to Know About Market Segmenting »

    October 14, 2009

    Are You in the Right Place at the Right Time?

    I just read the book Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell.  It is a fascinating book.  The book is about how the supper successful achieved their success.  One theme in the book is that many of these people happened to be in the right place at the right time.  For example some of the most successful people in Silicon Valley - Bill Gates, Bill Joy, Vinod Khosla, Scott McNeally, and Steve Jobs were all born in 1955 or late 1954.  He shows how their age among other things created the perfect opportunity for these men.

    Gladwell also talks about how Joseph Flom, of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher and Flom, led his firm to become one of the largest law firms in the world.  He describes how Flom and his partners were doing corporate lawsuits and hostile takeovers before it was popular.  When they started their firm it was seen as uncivilized to take on this type of work and unworthy of the premier law firms.  As the market changed and corporate battles became commonplace Flom's firm was well positioned.  They had developed a deep understanding of the process and unique skills.

    As he told this story I couldn't help but think of the reprographics industry.  The reason I bought PLP was not because I saw a unique opportunity in large format printing, but rather I saw a market segment that was uniquely positioned for a much larger opportunity.  I come from the manufacturing industry where document control processes have reached maturity.  The construction industry is generally following the same path that as manufacturing companies - it is just many years behind.  Another difference is manufacturing companies set up processes and procure technology that last for years or decades.  They also purchase and deploy their own technology.  The construction industry is different in that most initiatives tend to be project based, and because of this technology needs to be deployed on a per project basis.  This also favors a pay-per-use or rental model rather than a purchase model.   Construction is also requires these services to deployed on a local basis.

    As technology becomes more commonplace in the construction industry and technology in general becomes easier to deploy, the opportunity to provide local pay-per-use technology services will grow.  Pressure to reduce costs, compress timelines, and reduce errors demands more sophisticated document distribution processes.  Many of these services will require a local presence.

    Another theme of the Gladwell's book is that besides being in the right place at the right time success of "the outliers" came from hard work.  At least 10,000 hours to be exact.  So those who have been spending a lot of time and money trying to figure things out - It's part of the journey. [An entrepreneur friend of mine just referred to this as "paying tuition"] 


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    Tom Taubenheim

    I couldn't agree more with the pay per project for the GC's. Right on point. Local is always better...if the technology is strong, easy and simple.

    Cathie Duff

    Makes me feel a lot better about the "cost" of the tuition! I also found Outliers to be a fascinating book -- made me miss the college hockey games at the University of Toronto.

    With the knowledge that a local presence will be required for these services, how can a business provide these services if they are required on a project and not long term basis? What type of business model will be required: small business, large corporation, franchise, distributor, etc? Who is uniquely positioned to offer these services? Who already has relationships with these customers and can offer these additional services?

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