(Pictured above left to right, Greg Chavers, VP North American Business Channels & SMB, Lexmark; CJ Cannata; Phil Boatman, manager alliances, Lexmark; Clark Bugg, director, North American Business Dealer Channel; and Scott Cullen.)
A recent Lexmark Webinar for press and analysts reveals that the company is still listening to its dealers.
It’s not as if Lexmark has been purposely maintaining a low profile since its acquisition by Apex Technology last year. In 2017, Lexmark hosted its partners at various sports venues, was highly visible at a host of industry events and dealer conferences, and was named Best A4 Manufacturer in The Cannata Report’s 2017 Annual Dealer Survey.
As far as hard news, the biggest news out of Lexmark this year was the return of Phil Boatman after a brief stint as president of Innovolt and the sale of its enterprise software group, which included Kofax, a company Lexmark seriously overpaid for in 2015. Can anyone say, “No return on investment.” What Lexmark didn’t do much of in 2017 was proactively engage with the press and analyst community as they have in the past. When we were invited to attend a Lexmark Webinar on Dec. 11 for an update, we seized the opportunity.
Coordinated and hosted by Phil Boatman, manager alliances, North American (NA) Business Dealer Channel, and Emily Rardin, global communications, the Dec. 11 Webinar included an organizational update, an update about the company’s strategic objectives, updates on partner initiatives and partner development, and a teaser about upcoming road shows and new product introductions for 2018. There were no major revelations, nor specifics about upcoming products other than they’re scheduled to happen sometime next year. Overall, the Lexmark executives participating in the Webinar reinforced much of what we already knew about Lexmark, which post-acquisition, was worth clarifying. This was also an opportunity to hear from a couple of new members of the Lexmark executive team who we had not heard from before in past briefings.
Besides Phil and Emily, we heard from Brock Saladin, senior VP, Chief Revenue Officer; Clark Bugg, director, NA Business Dealer Channel; Cassandra Johnson, manager partner development, NA Business Channels; and Greg Chavers, VP, NA Business Channels & SMB.
Here’s a few things that were shared during the Webinar:
- Lexmark is looking to enhance its core competencies and will continue to focus on its print devices, the security aspect of its devices, and the management of those devices.
- A4 is a great growth opportunity.
- The company may have sold its enterprise software division, but it’s not turning its back on software, particularly for targeting vertical markets such as manufacturing, banking, healthcare, insurance, government, and education. Current software partners helping Lexmark reach those verticals include Nuance, Ringdale, PaperCut, Pharos, Plus Technologies, Cirrato, and Y Soft.
- Total units are up 16% while color unit placements are up 14% for 2017.
- Lexmark continues to provide dealers with security on its devices at no extra cost to the dealer.
- The BSD channel continues to invest in partner events as a means of strengthening those relationships. Last year the company hosted 250 people from 75 different BSD channel partners at 16 sporting events.
- The focus in the coming year will be on partner development with investments made in products, programs, and people.
- Lexmark Fleet Intelligence is a big deal, especially as the company looks to help dealers achieve success with their MPS engagements.
Most interesting was the feedback Lexmark received from a recent survey of its dealer advisory board about what they view as the keys to growing their business. The most surprising revelation was that Lexmark dealers still consider MPS a growth area. That runs somewhat counter to what we’ve heard from other dealers who continue to struggle with MPS or have yet to figure out the most effective way to implement it. Are we really still talking about MPS as a growth area towards the end of 2017 after all these years? Apparently so.
Other keys to growing business revealed in the survey, not so surprisingly, include solutions, A4, reliable products, competitive costs, color products, Managed IT Services, A3 products, marketing support, face to face engagements, dealer programs, production print, and support personnel.
The other message that Boatman and company left us with is one that’s been consistent ever since we’ve been covering Lexmark. And that is the company will continue to do what they’ve always been doing—listening to dealers so that they can help them do what they do better.
We give Lexmark credit for reaching out and keeping the lines of communication with press and analysts open. Let’s hope the next Lexmark Webinar offers something truly new and noteworthy to share with our readers beyond an update on organizational changes and reaffirming the status quo, especially since readers of The Cannata Report truly value the Lexmark as a business partner and want it to succeed.
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