Our virtual OEM panel responds to the first of our two bonus questions on what they see as the biggest obstacle their company is facing as they ready their businesses for the future.
In our second Virtual Panel Series of 2018 in our March issue, the OEMs offered their thoughts on the dealer of the future, challenges dealers face in preparing for the future, new opportunities, and the initiatives that have them most excited for 2018. Because of space limitations we were unable to include all of our questions to the OEMs in the print edition. Here the OEMs identify the biggest obstacle their company is facing in preparing for the future.
Participants include Doug Albregts, President & CEO, Sharp Electronics Corp. of America; Darren Cassidy, president, U.S. Channels Unit, Xerox; Jim Coriddi, vice president, Dealer Division, Ricoh Americas Corp.; Yukio Ikeda, president & CEO, Kyocera Document Solutions, Inc.; Toyotsugu Kuwamura, executive vice president and general manager, Business Imaging Solutions Group, Canon U.S.A., Inc.; David Laing, vice president and head of A3 and Services Future Product Marketing, HP, Inc.; Bill Melo, chief marketing executive, Toshiba America Business Solutions/Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions; Rick Taylor, President & CEO, Konica Minolta Business Solutions USA.
What’s the biggest obstacle your company is facing in preparing for the future?
Albregts: We share many of the same obstacles our dealers face. Transforming our strategy and culture, along with adding talent to execute against newly diverse business plans is always a challenge. However, we have what many people like to say, “good problems to have.” The depth and breadth of resources at our disposal runs so deep that it gives us multiple options for business expansion. That puts pressure on us to get it right, of course, but a good problem to have.
Cassidy: We see several healthy challenges moving forward. We want to increase our share of the A4 market, where we’ve traditionally been under-represented, but where we now have an outstanding portfolio with our VersaLink products. Part of this strategy is to continue smartly expanding our dealer sales channels to optimize our coverage—and we’re having some success in recruiting the multi-brand and IT-based dealers we’re targeting.
Another ongoing challenge is bringing our dealers up to speed on the differentiating, value-add products and services we offer, including our MFP apps, our MPS services and our production printing portfolio. And as always in this highly competitive and fast-paced market, we’re challenged every day to stay in front of industry trends to maintain and extend our market leadership.
Coriddi: Managing change not only for our dealers but Ricoh internally. We completely changed our go to market strategy last year. We feel strongly it was the right strategy and we did it for the right reasons. By the way, we saw it as a huge benefit to all of our Ricoh Family Group dealers. Change and doing things differently, a lot of times the first reaction tends to be a little more emotional. Now, all of our dealers are starting to see the benefit of being the only feet on the street Ricoh has in the SMB market in all markets. We made those changes and sold MIF in the select areas and that got a big reaction. And I don’t blame any of our dealers who didn’t get MIF, but what our dealers have come to find and what we hope will resonate throughout the network, in 100% of the market, we’re out of direct feet on the street in the mid-market. And in 100% of the cases even in those areas where we are maintaining Ricoh accounts with inside sales it’s only existing accounts. All net new throughout the United States in the mid-market is dealers.
Ikeda: Similar to our dealers, we challenge ourselves to “change the status quo” and our goal is to lead by example for our dealers. We have a successful history in our core Total Document Solutions business of hardware, software, and services. Now we have to challenge ourselves to “change the status quo” towards the future growth.
Kuwamura: We can’t be everything for everybody, meaning that Canon is taking great strides to expand our workflow solutions into different verticals, which we are accomplishing through strategic integrations with invaluable third parties. Starting with our exclusive relationships with companies like NT-ware, our dealers can provide a differentiation from their competitors when partnered with Canon. Strategic solutions partnerships with companies like Nuance help us to build upon our expertise and diversify our target audience to tap into markets, such as healthcare and legal, with greater proficiency. Finally, our partnerships with Box and mxHero are invaluable and helping our dealers have their clients take a very necessary next step in managing unstructured data in an office environment through cloud services.
Laing: With the exception of A3, HP leads the print market in every category from printing postage stamps to building wraps. HP is excited about our initial A3 success, but we recognize success here will take time and focused energy to build our partner network and get customers thinking of HP A3. PageWide has been a great differentiator for HP in A3, but HP and our partners have more opportunity to use this technology to lower costs and win new customers, margin-challenged bids, and give millennials the environmentally responsible choice they prefer.
Melo: It’s the same thing for us as it is for dealers, which is we’ve historically made our money selling MFPs and deriving the majority of our profit from the volume that comes through those MFPs. It’s an age-old business, and that business is diminishing to some degree by other means of communication. People have to transition. I had a professor in graduate school who said it’s like driving a truck across an icy bridge while people are throwing snowballs at you. The main job is still selling and servicing MFPs, but you have to transition at the same time. How well people manage that juggling act will determine their future. It’s inevitable they’re going to have to augment those MFP revenues with something else. If you don’t have the proper plan to grow non-MFP revenues and execute it well you’ll find yourself in a very compromising position five years from now. (Editor’s note: This is the same way Melo responded to the question in our print edition about the biggest challenge facing dealers in preparing for the future.)
Taylor: We’re running a big ship now, we’ve got 8,000 employees. One of the most difficult things for us inside the company and externally is to get adoption of change and doing something a different way, and getting dealers to transform with us. It’s not necessarily a new strategy, it’s just the execution. It’s getting 8,000 people rowing in the right direction and saying the right words and focusing on the right area. It’s really how to execute more so than finding the opportunity. There’s a lot of opportunity. If there were sparse opportunities with barriers to entry, that would be a bigger problem, but for us, here’s what we’re going to do and let’s execute, and execute that through every state, and Canada, and Latin America, and dealers. It’s moving as fast as we can and turning the ship as fast as we can.
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