Presentations by Business Ventures, HP, and Xerox were three of the highlights at this year’s conference.
Five years ago, Mike Stramaglio, CEO of MWA Intelligence, invited us to attend the first Executive Connection Summit (ECS). The sponsor of the event was Technology United, a collection of 10 companies that shared a different technology orientation for OEMs and the dealer channel.
We were much impressed by what Mike had initiated in conjunction with his partners. In our first review we stated that this meeting was very worthwhile. As for dealers, it is a vendor/machine agnostic event that one seldom finds today. ECS represents an opportunity for dealers irrespective of what hardware lines they represent. In addition, the emphasis is on the soft side of the business.
Mike, aided by his lovely daughter Jenna, have labored greatly to make this an event beneficial to everyone. CJ, Carol and I were happy to attend again this this year and we learned a great deal.
Big Data Points
The heart of the meeting was on Monday May 7 when we had the opportunity to listen to three presenters from some of the leading companies in our industry. The first was Joseph Bradley, president of Business Ventures, and formerly of Cisco. His topic was Big Data. His message was organizations that have Big Data analytics at their disposal and utilize them are able to separate themselves from the rest of the marketplace. Bradley challenged the audience by saying, “Can you handle Big Data?” He then proceeded to tell us why this was so important, noting that data storage is growing at 42% per year.
He then identified five points why Big Data is critical:
5. Real time is too late
4. When you can’t win you change the rules of the game
3. Context is king
2. The platform is the dominant source of value
1. Insight is the currency of the 21st Century – How do I make it valuable?
Bradley summed it up by stating that Big Data reduces the risk in our decision making. This is followed by knowing what questions (must be) asked. The reason for this is that all the answers are known.
It was a compelling presentation and those of us fortunate to be there profited a great deal from this one session alone.
The Changing Nature of Work
Mike Feldman, president of Xerox North America, shared the message, “Work is changing.” We are moving beyond digital transformation to transformational experiences. These experiences take shape through constantly reimagining how companies and people communicate, connect, and work.
Entrepreneurs, who recognize today’s opportunity and embrace these market trends will be tomorrow’s most successful businesses, according to Feldman. They will be able to offer their customers a truly differentiated experience, thereby unleashing growth potential, improving retention, and growing new business.
Feldman cut right to the chase. For Xerox and dealers it is all about capturing greater share in the SMB space. This means they must accelerate their efforts in the A4 MFP area and gain share in production color.
Xerox recognizes that if the object of the exercise is to better penetrate the SMB segment of the market, this will require dealers. The targeted dealers will be selected on a criterion of market location and those who have greater revenue. Based on our dealer survey, Xerox is making some inroads with bringing on dealers although they are of the smaller variety. Reporting to Mike and leading this dealer effort is Jim Morrisey who has experience with Ricoh and IKON in his résumé. He believes Xerox has a compelling story to tell the dealers. We agree. However, Xerox has long struggled in the dealer space and has not understood what the independent dealer is all about and that it must be a two-way conversation between Xerox and the dealer.
That may change. The “New” Xerox is ably led by Jeff Jacobson, and Feldman has an impressive bio with 24 years at HP. The bottom line is if it were not for Global Xerox would be in a much more difficult position. Why do I say that? Last year the old Xerox represented an $18 billion corporation. Out of that $2 billion came from Global and produced 50% of the profit. That is absolutely based on highly credible sources outside of Global.
Global is now part of the $11 billion imaging space and if that performance holds they will produce 70% of the profit in 2017. We reported last Friday (5/12/17) that Global had acquired MT Business in Mansfield Ohio, a $75 million Ricoh dealership. The owners Carl and John Fernyak are now totally out of the picture and the company will be led by Chuck Rounds. We know Chuck and we know he is very capable. We make this prediction: as a core company in Global, MT Business will be one of the top producers in both revenue and profit. That is an excellent team of people who will be reporting to Chuck.
Hackers and Millennials
Filling out the morning’s program was Dave Prezzano, VP and general manager of HP’s Americas Service Organization. The core of his presentation was cybersecurity. The danger that hackers and malicious malware pose can be devastating and frankly scares the hell out of me. The industry is at a critical juncture where the necessities of survival must include the proper security measures to ward off the wolves the channel faces.
If there is any company that can help us combat the dangers being posed in the cybersecurity area today HP is one of them. Four years ago when Meg Whitman was CEO of Hewlett Packard (prior to the split), she categorically stated that Big Data and security were two of the most important areas challenging businesses. We have to believe that HP has not been asleep in finding answers for those challenges.
Dave gave us something else to think about, noting that 75% of all employees will be millennials in 2025. Our challenge is to educate these young people that in the work environment it is not about them, but about the company they are employed by and what they can contribute towards making it as successful as it can be.
Everybody wants to know about the HP/Samsung relationship. For the next couple of years, they will be competitors with the same machine. Although Prezzano maintains the HP versions are very different. CJ and I have spent a great deal of time with HP the past eight months and we can tell you that HP is committed.
We have given them ample warning of the problems they face due to prior failures with the dealer channel. We worked together with the introductions of both the Mopier and Edgeline. Most HP people we have met this time around don’t know about the Mopier, but they are aware of Edgeline.
Like Xerox they have a good story to tell. They are also a company that has always worked through channels, albeit with national distribution. From conversations with Dave and others at HP, it seems that they understand the problems caused by the past and they verbalize a very strong message. Their challenge is to deliver on their promise or they will fail. This is something we have shared with them.
So Much More
There was so much more to ECS, but frankly I thought what these three gentlemen had to say was the most compelling of what is going on today. Mike and Jenna Stramaglio along with the rest of the MWAi team are to be congratulated for putting on an informative event. We look forward to next year and hope that many more dealers will find their way to Scottsdale for ECS 2018. The Cannata’s will be there.
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