SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Office Depot Takes First Step in Strategic Transformation to Become Business Services Platform with Acquisition of CompuCom

Adding Market-Leading Provider of World-Class IT Services with Approximately $1.1 Billion in Sales to Create a Powerful Omnichannel Tech Services Platform

Combines CompuCom’s Broad Set of Managed Technology Services with Access to Office Depot’s Extensive Customer Base and Last-Mile Advantage to Generate Substantial Growth Opportunities

Expects Over $40 Million in Estimated Annual Cost Synergies within Two Years; Acquisition to be Accretive in Year One

Attractive Free Cash Flow and Significant Financial Flexibility to Implement Office Depot’s New Strategy to Grow Recurring Business Services Revenue

Office Max

Corporate/Financial News, Products and Services News
Tuesday, October 3, 2017 4:35 pm EDT
BOCA RATON, Fla.

NASDAQ:
ODP
US6762201068

BOCA RATON, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Office Depot, Inc. ("Office Depot” or the “company”) (NASDAQ:ODP) today announced it is pivoting the company from a traditional office products retailer to a broader business services and technology products platform. As the first step in this new strategic direction, the company has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire CompuCom Systems, Inc. (“CompuCom”), a market-leading provider of award-winning IT services, products and solutions that enable the digital workplace for enterprise, small and midsize businesses. The company also provided a preliminary estimate of third-quarter financial results and a lowered outlook for Office Depot’s stand-alone business for 2017.

“Technology is the office supply of the future,” said Gerry Smith, chief executive officer of Office Depot. “Today marks a significant milestone as we move to provide a unique business services platform for our current and future customers. Acquiring CompuCom is the first step in this new strategic direction. The combination of CompuCom’s enterprise IT services with our millions of customers and approximately 1,400 distribution points gives us the credibility and scale to build a sustainable platform and stand apart from the competition. The company will create value for shareholders from a diversified revenue base with a clear opportunity to grow higher value services and business-to-business revenues.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Office Depot will acquire CompuCom from Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. ("THL"), a premier private equity firm, for a total consideration of approximately $1 billion, which includes the repayment of CompuCom debt and issuance of new Office Depot shares. Following the transaction, THL will hold an equity position in Office Depot of approximately 8% of total shares outstanding.

Founded in 1987, CompuCom provides highly-rated managed IT services to businesses with over 5.1 million unique end users. CompuCom’s team of approximately 6,000 licensed technicians is the largest employee field technician workforce in North America, providing remote and onsite technology support. CompuCom procures, installs and manages the lifecycle of hardware and software for businesses, and offers IT support services including remote help desk, data centers and on-site IT professionals. CompuCom was positioned in the Leaders quadrant of Gartner's® most recently released Magic Quadrant® for Managed Workplace Services, North America. CompuCom has established long-term relationships with hundreds of blue chip customers, including six of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies, and many small- and medium-sized businesses, including local franchises of national brands.

Compelling Market Opportunity

The combination represents a unique opportunity to bring world-class IT support services to all of Office Depot’s customers, particularly underserved small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

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The Challenges of Internationalising a Startup

Working on creating a successful startup is challenging at the best of times. However, once you’ve set up your website, your business model, your products and your services, there’s still the biggest problem to face. Expansion.

Today, we’ll explore some of the most common challenges that startups like yours face when trying to boom into the global market and how you can overcome them.

Not Starting Early

One of the biggest mistakes that start-up companies make when trying to secure their position on the global Mapnetwork is leaving it too late. Every decision you make needs to consider the fact that you’re planning to globalize in the future.

Even down to a basic level of choosing the name of your brand. You may have come up with a really awesome name for your startup but have you considered how well received it will be in other countries. In some cases, it might even be offensive, in which case you’ll need to adapt and move forward.

Overcoming the Language Barrier

Let’s face it, not everybody in the world speaks English. Or at least fluently enough for them to understand your website. To overcome the language barrier, you’re going to need to think about translating your pages in the near future. If you want your startup to definitely be a global entity, you’ll need to start thinking of this early on in your development.

Unfortunately, you can’t simply copy and paste your content into Google Translate. Although this will do the basics, it won’t be able to translate full sentences and thousands of words accurately. Instead, you’ll need to use a professional translator who’s fluent in the languages. Fortunately, there are several sites that can carry out this process on your behalf such as UK top writers and Best Australian writers. Simply find which one best suits you.

Ensuring Expansion is Right for You

Sometimes, startup companies will move to the international markets simply because they don’t have enough business in their domestic market. However, this is not always the best decision, and the chances are that you aren’t’ receiving business in your domestic market because of your business model.

However, this can be a critical error and will possibly result in your breaking your business due to huge expenditures that won’t pay off. Unless you’re originally planning to operate in another country, always try to conquer your domestic market first before expanding.

Consider Your Communication Methods

Whether you’re operating an online service or selling your products to the world, you’ll need to pay attention to how you’re communicating with your customers and the methods you’re using. For example, you may be using social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, but are these the primary source of communication in certain countries?

Lean Dole, a marketing expert at Viawriting, explains, “You’ll need to explore other options. You could invest in multiple, dedicated email addresses. You may need to think about dedicated country phone support lines. You may even need to consider what prefix you’re going to use on your domain name, such as France (.fr), Spain (.es) etc.”

Increasing Global Credibility

Not only will you need to adapt and customize your content for your online users, but you’ll also want to adapt and personalise your user-generated content. For example, customer reviews and feedback are vital aspects that will contribute to your success. So, you may be highlighting reviews from your own country, but what about promoting the views of others?

Another thing you’ll want to think about is adapting this content to suit the country that you’re promoting in. Every country is different and will have its own mindset, its own culture and its own ideas. It is better to outsource such work to professionals like Academadvisor or Write my essay. You will need to address these if you want your startup business to succeed.

Don’t Risk Poor Customer Experience


Let’s imagine you’re based in the US, and you’ve got an increasing number of customers in China, none of which speak English. Then, let’s say there was a problem with your product or service. Maybe the parcel wasn’t delivered, or your product was faulty. The individual then attempts to contact your company, you answer the phone, but neither of you understands each other.

This is going to seriously harm the reputation, credibility and trustworthiness of your business and it may be extremely difficult to claw back these brownie points. Before you launch your service into another country, it’s vital that you set up the right customer support teams that can handle any queries or complaints.

Not Playing the Long Game

Moving into the international markets is a long game, and many startups will be extremely eager to make the biggest impression that they can, causing them to overlook this consideration.
Instead of trying to steal your competition’s market share in one huge strike, it’s much more effective, and budget-friendly, to chip away at it slowly and gain ground and traction.

Brenda Berg is a professional with over 15 years of experience in business management, marketing and entrepreneurship. Consultant and tutor for college students and entrepreneurs. She believes that constant learning is the only way to success. You can visit her personal blog at Letsgoandlearn.com

 

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Microsoft is releasing Office 2019 next year

 
 
Microsoft Office 2019
 

Microsoft is announcing its next major release of Office today at Ignite in Orlando, with a planned release for next year. Office 2019 (arriving in the second half of 2018) will include the usual Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook client apps, alongside server versions of Exchange, SharePoint, and Skype for Business. Microsoft is planning to release preview copies of Office 2019 in the middle of 2018, and the software is primarily designed for organizations that aren’t using the cloud Office 365 versions.

Office 2019 will include better IT capabilities for businesses that aren’t using Office 365, and new ink features like pressure sensitivity, tilt effects, and ink replay. Excel will also include new formulas and charts for data analysis, and PowerPoint will pick up the morph and zoom animation features that Office 365 customers are currently taking advantage of.

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The Need for Speed

GoDaddy published the results of a study looking at page load speeds across four website builders: GoDaddy’s GoCentral, Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace.

Fast page load speed is crucial for business owners when it comes to capturing online sales. A recent study shows that websites taking longer than three seconds to load could potentially lose nearly half of the site’s visitors. Additionally, up to 79% of customers who are dissatisfied with a website's performance say they're less likely to buy from the same site again.

GoDaddy’s test of the top four website builders showed that GoCentral’s websites loaded faster than the three other builders, and more than 3x faster than the slowest competitor.

 

Need for Speed

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Smartsheet – Not Your Parent’s Project Management System

I have a dog in this fight. In graduate school my MBA concentration was in project management from a construction industry vantage point (fortunately my skills easily transferred to IT and the rest is history). So when Smartsheet announced its first ever user conference, I marked it as a must do. It was time well spent and, yes, I’ll yelp that I will repeat. Heck 1,000 attendees can’t be wrong (note this was an IT Pro audience with 55% self-selecting as super users).

Smartsheet

Fig 1: Hangin’ with Smartsheet CEO Mark Mader at the September 2017 conference.

What is Smartsheet?

Historically I’ve framed up Smartsheet as online project management on steroids. Growing from a residential house (in Bellevue, WA) in 2005, Smartsheet currently has over 400-employees heading to 800+ within the next 12-months. Today Smartsheet is all about positioning itself as a SaaS application for collaboration and work management using an intuitive spreadsheet-like interface. As the name would imply, the product is a series of “smartsheets” based on the underlying project management paradigm to assign tasks, track project progress, manage calendars, share documents and manage other work. The underlying mission pillars for company transparency, practicality, effectiveness and accountability has resulted in an “…ethos that brought people together in the old yellow house to help companies achieve more...uplifting how we work.” According the CEO Mark Mader in his inaugural keynote address. “We love surveys. We found that you spend 11-hours per week on repetitive tasks and routines. We grossly underestimated how changing the way we work would be disruptive…the web…how expectations had changed, etc.” Loosely translated, Mader is saying, Smartsheet is trying to change work culture. I’d offer it’s trying to do it in far less than one generation (for context, read this interesting article on how a reformed Poland took a 20-year generation to change its culture. http://www.modernsurvey.com/blog/20-years-for-cultural-change) “When Smartsheet was established, we sought to establish a new language for work.” Mader said.

Ease of Use

Clearly the Smartsheet asset is its ease of use. “Smartsheet is about self-help and not taxing IT to work with a SaaS-based collaborative solution.” Mader added.

Will a Robot Take My Job?

Mader’s mission is automation. He hit the Robot fear factor head-on in his keynote. “People are receptive to automation - enables you without coding, to execute, etc. We believe the automation released today will take you to the next level.” Mader is referring to the “Smartsheet Report: Automation in the Workplace 2017” which is survey results released at the conference. Two nuggets are:

65% of workers use some type of automation in their day-to-day work.

78% say automation will allow them to spend more time on the interesting and rewarding aspects of their job.

Bottom line

While the conference as customer facing with IT pros (e.g. Alaska Airlines employee), I can appreciate that spot opportunities for MSPs and partners exist. That’s my next blog!

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