If the science of evolution has proven anything, it’s not just the strong that survive but also those that best adjust to the changing environment. Adapting to changes, especially in the rapidly evolving office technology market, can be challenging. Still, it is crucial for staying competitive and efficient.

When I first started in what was then the “office copier” marketplace, the future looked like growth as far as the eye could see; product lives were 5 to 10 years, and technology changed, but it was a slow, methodical, analog world. We saw ourselves as the replacement for carbon paper; we didn’t know we were becoming part of the workflow and one of the essential sources of unstructured data. How things have changed! Lately, all we in the office imaging space hear is that we need to meet and overcome the challenges that irrevocably change the nature of our industry and the opportunities, or lack thereof. These warnings are often more like screams in the wilderness, void of any answers or rays of hope, yet some are worthwhile attempts to get us to see the challenges ahead. The methodical analog pace has been replaced with the screamingly rapid pace of digital transformation; even Moore’s Law looks leisurely now. The truth is that as we have moved from an almost unlimited growth market to a mature one, so new challenges exist. The noise has got me thinking about change, not so much what is changing but meeting and overcoming the many challenges that come with it. Some even suggest we “get out” of this market for greener fields. On this, I beg to differ. 

The only thing consistent in life is change, good or bad; nothing stays the same. I have heard some say that they are uneasy with change and the challenges it creates. Frankly, it’s what makes life and business interesting and fun. Overcoming the challenge of adapting and evolving is exciting. At the recent Sharp dealer meeting, President Mike Marusic addressed how they adapt to change. He said they are “adjusting the sails on their ship, not building an airplane.” Reinvention is so much more productive than revolution. 

Let’s look at some strategies for navigating and overcoming change challenges.

Understanding

The first step to conquering any challenge is to understand it. You need to identify the root cause of the problem and understand the factors contributing to it. Can you change the elements or adjust how you do things to remain effective? For example, print volumes continue to decline. You will not change this fact, so you must understand why they are falling and the trend in these areas. Don’t just settle on one obvious answer. Look deep and consider as much as you can visualize. If you are going to adjust your sails, it’s a good idea to know which way the wind is blowing. Once you have identified the problem, you can start working on a solution. Understanding the challenge also helps you develop a positive attitude toward it. When you know what you are up against, you can prepare yourself mentally and emotionally.

Continuous learning

A commitment to lifelong learning is the key to adaptation in any technology-driven field. Encourage employees to seek out and engage in ongoing training opportunities, whether in-house training, online courses, seminars, or professional development programs.

Stay updated

Subscribe to industry publications, join related professional associations, follow relevant blogs, and attend industry conferences or webinars. This will help you stay aware of the latest trends and changes in office technology. Networking with peers and experts in the industry introduces you to new ideas and approaches. Only some ideas may fit your company, but there is always something to learn in every conversation. You may even learn about missteps others have made and avoid those pitfalls for yourself.

Invest in new technology

Sometimes, adjusting to changes means investing in the new technology itself. Suppose a new software or hardware could increase productivity, reduce costs, or otherwise benefit your business. In that case, it may be worth the investment. When I hear the phrase, “We’ve done it that way for years,” I know that is the spot that needs to be changed. If a system has been in place for over ten years, it must be updated. Ten years could represent at least five technological advances. Holding on to old methods is usually continued by throwing more people at the growth of our business. We must develop systems that allow us to grow while maintaining our existing employee structure and headcount.

Flexible policies

As new technology is adopted, company policies or procedures may need to be changed. Be flexible and willing to revise policies to adapt to new technology. The temptation to hold onto policies and procedures is a surefire way to hold your company back. New technology adaptation goes hand in hand with adjusting the policies to extract the full benefit of the technological move.

Experimentation 

Not all new technologies or trends will fit every business well. Experiment with new tools on a small scale before fully integrating them into your business operations. Also, stay close to your core competency. Dramatic shifts in business models can harm your core business and create a distraction. Study the new technologies so that you can find the best utilization. Make sure we are improving our employees’ ease of doing their job. Our guide should always be the ease of operation that leads to a better customer experience. Focus on your customer and their behavior and adjust yours to be aligned. We used to call this being fashionable.

Stay positive

A positive attitude can go a long way in helping you conquer challenges. When facing a difficult situation, feeling overwhelmed and losing hope is easy. However, a positive attitude can help you stay motivated and focused on finding a solution. One way to stay positive is to focus on the good things in your life. Take a moment to appreciate the people and things that make you happy. This focus and appreciation can help you maintain a positive outlook even when things get tough.

Set realistic goals

Setting realistic goals is essential when you are trying to overcome a challenge. When you set your goals too high, you may feel disappointed and demotivated when you don’t achieve them. On the other hand, setting goals too low can make you complacent and prevent you from achieving your full potential. To set realistic goals, you need to assess your strengths and weaknesses. This will help you identify what you can realistically achieve. Once you have placed your goals, break them down into smaller, manageable tasks. 

Develop a plan

Having a plan can make it easier to conquer a challenge. An outline helps you stay organized and focused on your goals. When developing a plan, break down the challenge into smaller, more manageable steps. Planning can make the challenge less daunting and help you stay motivated. Make sure you prioritize the most critical tasks and set deadlines for yourself. This can help you stay on track and avoid procrastination.

Get support

Getting support from others can help in dealing with a challenge. Surrounding yourself with people who believe in you and support your goals is vital. When facing a challenge, engaging an expert can help you navigate the changes and strategic decisions about which steps to adopt and how to implement those changes. Support can provide you with valuable insights and advice. Feel free to ask for help when you need it. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It shows that you are committed to finding a solution.

Stay motivated

Staying motivated can be difficult when you are facing a challenge. It is easy to feel discouraged and lose hope. However, staying motivated is essential if you want to conquer a challenge. One way to stay motivated is to track your progress.

Take action

Taking action is the most crucial step in conquering a challenge. It is easy to get stuck in planning and preparation mode and never actually take any action. However, with effort, your plans and goals are meaningful. When taking action, focus on the most critical tasks first. This can help you make progress and stay motivated. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are a part of the learning process and can help you improve your approach.

There is no finish line

Technology and customer expectations constantly evolve; to stay current, we need to develop a culture of adapting. Change must become our way of life. We must never consider that we reached the end. Keeping pace with the changes around us, whether in behavior, practices, technologies, or expectations, should become the way of life, and all employees must adopt this mantra: “There is no finish line.” 

Ed Mclaughlin has 40 years of experience in the information and imaging industries. He is co-founder of Predictive InSight.