One of the most intriguing aspects of the company’s latest introductions is a subscription-based model for its new Cloud Workflow Solutions.
(Pictured above: The home screen of the new Ricoh IM C Series MFPs.)
At an analyst briefing in New York City on January 17, Ricoh previewed a new line of intelligent MFPs, Cloud Workflow Solutions, service tools, and most notably a subscription-based model for marketing its Cloud Workflow Solutions. These new products were officially introduced today.
The Ricoh IM C Series is part of Ricoh’s new Dynamic Workplace Intelligence approach to deliver continual improvements and ensure technical capabilities evolve in parallel with customer requirements. According to Ricoh, this new approach will change how customers interact with and receive value from Ricoh devices, enabling customers to work smarter. This is driven in large part by what Ricoh calls “Always Current Technology” as well as Ricoh Cloud Workflow Solutions powered by the Ricoh Smart Integration platform.
“This is an approach that will forever change the relationship with our customers because we are going to enhance their abilities to ultimately change workflows and improve and enhance the relationships they have with their employees and their marketplaces, as well as with their customers,” noted Glenn Laverty, president & CEO at Ricoh Canada, and SVP marketing, Ricoh Americas Corp., during the analyst briefing.
Laverty further explained that Dynamic Workplace Intelligence is designed to help customers and businesses build work environments and workflows that will foster greater productivity, enhance efficiencies, and ultimately connect them with their customers in a different way.
“While we think about traditional printing capabilities being commoditized in the past, the reality is this new realm we’ll be working in connects hardware with smart software and scalable technology and sophisticated applications,” added Laverty. “Which work environment doesn’t necessarily change work processes within the life cycle of the device? Almost everybody does. How do we keep pace with the customer’s environment in a fashion that allows the device to change along with what they need to do?”
Keeping Things Current
The Cannata Report first learned about Ricoh’s Always Current Technology during last year’s visit to Ricoh in Japan and then again at Ricoh’s dealer meeting in June. Always Current Technology makes regular updates to firmware and other applications available to customers on demand, and as needed. Customers can download and install new features, applications, and upgrades directly to their device as they become available. This capability empowers digital workplaces to scale their capabilities based on evolving needs, while also keeping security features and software up to date. Additionally, it enables the purchase of premium upgrades as they hit the market, eliminating the need to wait for new models with these capabilities to become available.
According to Steve Burger, vice president/general manager, International Business, Imaging Systems Business Center, this announcement has the potential to change the way Ricoh does business.
“We are focused from a global standpoint on empowering our customer’s digital workplace and [our] Dynamic Workplace Intelligence approach is a bunch of technology enablers that are allowing us to do that.”
He referenced the current technology life cycle as it relates to the typical four-year contract a customer may have on a device.
“With Always Current Technology, the capabilities of the device can be upgraded throughout the lifecycle of the product,” stated Burger. “We see this as innovative because it’s not just focused on the IM Series, it’s focused on the workflow and whatever happens with the IM Series and beyond, we’re going to be able to connect to and offer more value.”
Cloud Workflow Solutions
Ricoh’s Cloud Workflow Solutions are a collection of cloud-based technologies that will provide streamlined simplicity in what the company described as affordable, scalable, subscription-based offerings. The portfolio consists of cloud connectors, which are predefined workflows to streamline processes; cloud workflows, which deliver specifically tailored, advanced features such as multi-destination scanning; and cloud services, which are sophisticated workflows and applications with a variety of uses, such as extracting content from documents, integrating with cloud-based line of business applications and creating multiple data routes to support the most complex requirements.
During the briefing, Burger reported that these cloud workflow solutions are ideal for SMBs that don’t have the capital budget to buy servers or enterprise software, for example. This offers customers a different model for acquiring workflow software or building a workflow.
“If I could offer workflow without a server, without an IT specialist, customers can click somewhere and the workflow appears and I can charge them a nominal fee a month instead of this big initial investment,” explained Burger.
Filling In the Subscription Model
Subscription models are the wave of the future, if not the present. The Cannata Report originally heard about this model for selling the Ricoh Cloud Workflow Solutions during our 2018 trip to Japan, and again at Ricoh’s dealer meeting in June of 2018. Now it’s here and Ricoh is about to find out if dealers, beyond those who have been beta testing these cloud-based workflow apps with, are ready to embrace it. We think they are. No one thinks twice anymore about paying for a Netflix subscription or subscription to music services, or even software for home and business use. That thinking isn’t going to be foreign to decision makers in SMBs and even the dealerships who will be marketing these apps and hardware under the subscription model. What will be foreign is a somewhat new business model for the dealership although one can certainly argue that MPS and CPC contracts can loosely be defined as subscription models as well.
To provide credibility and validate the subscription model, Ricoh brought in a guest speaker to the briefing—Amy Konary, vice president of customer business innovation for Zuora, Inc., an enterprise software company that creates and provides software for businesses to launch and manage their subscription-based services. As Konary, noted, the subscription model is an enabler for building long-term relationships with customers.
“It is one way of effectively making sure you can sign people up, price and package, track usage and consumption, create an invoice, and recognize revenue,” she said. “Technology is important but it’s not enough. Customers are looking for these ongoing experiences that get better over time. As a provider you have to think about how do I tap into that growth and how do I meet those customer expectations and how do I create opportunities to get into new markets and new types of customers. The subscription model is an enabler for a lot of that.”
Security and Uptime
Another element of Ricoh’s vision for empowering digital workplaces is making information reliably secured and accessible. In addition to IEEE 2600 security certification, the intelligent MFPs will also be equipped with Ricoh Intelligent Support, a collection of tools, apps and services that help businesses stay productive with continuous support, ultimately delivering better results by driving higher device uptime. This includes the ability to allow Ricoh service experts to remote into a device’s Smart Operation Panel for fast troubleshooting, automatic firmware updates to resolve known issues before they affect a device, and provide proactive, detailed email notifications to service technicians when a problem occurs to help provide a faster, better targeted response.
“We’re going to change the way we approach our customers with maintenance,” observed Burger. “If we can increase the uptime and the performance, they can start doing different things with workflow that make it more important to their business.”
Ricoh’s intelligent MFPs leverage onboard encryption, and those equipped with hard drives include as standard, Ricoh’s DataOverWriteSecurity System (DOSS) to help protect information passed through Ricoh’s intelligent devices.
Ease-of-use and Customization
To further aid streamlining and ease of use, features and settings can be standardized across an organization or within cloud-hosted user profiles. These profiles can allow individual users or departments to access tailored experiences that prioritize and support unique needs, such as Accounts Payable departments’ invoicing and documentation requirements that may require multiple, specific scanning destinations and approvals. The same collection of apps workflows and settings can be rolled over from one device to another when a piece of hardware reaches its end of life.
Improved Smart Operation Panel
Ricoh also unveiled a new and enhanced Smart Operation Panel, equipped with an upgraded processor that reportedly provides faster transitions between applications and a smooth, responsive touch screen. The new, customizable panel delivers a streamlined, familiar look, building on the foundation of the classic gray tiles long-time users will recognize. The interface can be tailored to better adapt to and serve unique workplaces, workflows and needs, according to Ricoh.
Ricoh’s Dynamic Workplace Intelligence is included in six new intelligent MFPs, the RICOH IM C2000, IM C2500, IM C3000, IM C3500, IM C4500 and IM C6000, which print at 20, 25, 30, 35, 45 and 60 pages per minute (ppm), respectively. They deliver printing, scanning, copying, finishing and faxing support for output sizes up to 11” x 17”, and standard mobile printing support.
The IM C4500, one of the new intelligent MFPs from Ricoh that the company expects to empower digital workplaces.
The IM C2000 and IM C2500 also have a 100-sheet automatic reversing document feeder. The IM C3000, IM C3500, IM C4500, and IM C6000 boast a variety of additional features to meet modern business needs. Their standard single-pass document feeder (SPDF) reportedly streamlines information sharing, empowering digital workplaces to more seamlessly collaborate. This SPDF also offers optional double-feed detection capabilities to help prevent missed pages or jams while still delivering the fastest scanning speeds on the market at 240 images per minute. An integrated small document scanner can accommodate checks, receipts, note cards, and other small documents that can be difficult to load correctly into a standard-sized scanner. The new MFPs can also be equipped with an intuitive, efficient internal multi-folding unit.
There was a lot to digest at the analyst briefing along with the information presented here in today’s press announcement. Summing things up, we believe Ricoh is onto something with these new offerings, particularly the Cloud Workflow Applications and the subscription model. We doubt there will be much pushback from the channel as this is rolled out and we expect similar business models to be adopted over time by other OEMs. It’s a bold move that we ultimately see paying huge dividends for Ricoh and its dealer channel.
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