A Conversation with Sharp’s New Vice President of Marketing
Earlier this month Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America (SIICA) announced that Bob Madaio had joined the organization as its new vice president of marketing. Madaio, who reports to SIICA President and CEO Mike Marusic, is responsible for the organization’s B2B marketing efforts for its multifunctional printers, professional displays, and smart office and IT solutions business.
Madaio began his career at EMC, now Dell EMC as part of Dell Technologies and was there for nearly 15 years, serving in various roles, including market intelligence and solution marketing. He also spent a few years overseeing Dell’s corporate relationship with Microsoft. After that he worked for Hitachi for six years in product marketing, focusing on business segments like storage and converged infrastructure, and software.
Two weeks after he started at SIICA, and a few days after we met him for the first time at our 33rd Annual Awards Dinner, Madaio took time to chat with us about his new position and what impact it might have on the Sharp dealer community. What follows is an edited version of that conversation.
What have you been up to so far?
Madaio: I’ve been learning and asking a lot of questions, like why do we do this instead of that?
How foreign is this channel to you?
Madaio: At a high level, the dealer world is a new space for me. Dealers have a lot of similarities with other industry channels that try to bring their customers the right products at the right price, but the way they are structured and the relationships they have with the OEMs and vendors, is unique compared to anything I’ve dealt with before. I’m still in “learn mode” and it was great to meet many important Sharp dealers at The Cannata dinner. You could sense the quality of this organization by the relationships it has built with dealers. I already have some follow-up I’m doing with a number of dealers and I am looking forward to that.
Why was Sharp an appealing opportunity?
Madaio: The quality of the Sharp people I met with stood out across the board. There are a lot of people in this building in Montvale who have a lot to teach me because they’ve been in the industry a long time. They know their business, they know their products, and they know their dealers. I also really liked the idea of full-stop ownership from a marketing perspective. And I really wanted a step curve in learning a new market. I have been around IT infrastructure-centered technologies for 20+ years. I could have jumped to a new IT systems company, but I wanted to really put myself out of my comfort zone.
Your IT background fits perfectly with what Sharp is doing.
Madaio: Totally agree. One of Sharp’s strategies is to introduce new products to add to what we offer on the MFP side, this way, we can remain relevant in a changing market and offer dealers additional revenue streams. I’m also bringing some of my IT knowledge into things we’re doing on the display side. We’ve been out there publicly on the collaboration devices with companies like Microsoft and what we’re doing with Amazon Alexa in the MFP space. Those are IT-related areas where I expect to add some value.
And the good news is this industry in general, I’m here to ask the questions that challenge what is taken for granted. Maybe there are some different things to try. That’s kind of my role, blending proven good ideas while trying new ones – all while never taking the MFP space for granted.
What do you see as the biggest challenge you’ll be facing in this position?
Madaio: Simplifying the way we speak to our partners in the market and our dealers. What I’ve seen in the market and even with dealers, is an expectation for a certain level of complexity, and I believe there’s an opportunity to fix that. But that’s a long conversation and takes time getting people out of a comfort zone to do things differently. The good news is everyone seems open to change, despite Sharp being the only MFP vendor growing share. It’s a unique conversation that’s required to explain why change is needed while you are growing.
How will you help dealers embrace and sell Smart Office Suite, a product that fits into your IT wheelhouse?
Madaio: I spent the last six years of my career focusing on data, storing it and processing it. Smart offices are about connecting people with data in new ways. It’s like Google. Google doesn’t tell you what to search for, you still need people to figure out what the strategy is. Google just gives you the data or answers. That’s what happens in smart offices and where all these smart people are working to make business decisions. What I love is it’s all about the importance of data and making the right decisions for business, regardless if it’s printed, scanned, shared or displayed.
Will you be traveling a lot in this position and interacting much with the dealer channel?
Madaio: I need to understand what our dealer partners need from us. I have my own view on what seems to be working and what we might do differently. But my view and the dealer view may be very different, so I need to talk to them. I have trips scheduled with MFP dealers and AV distributors in December. One of my big to-dos is making sure the Sharp overall business story is clearly articulated and resonates. But if I don’t test that message with people who go to end user customers, it doesn’t mean much.
What do you think is important for the dealer channel to know about you?
Madaio: Sharp marketing is still very interested in what they need and that I hope to challenge them just as much as we’re challenging ourselves within the company to do things differently. I want to see what innovative practices we can bring that offer new growth, and dealers need to lead the way for us because they’re the ones speaking to the end user customers.
There’s a lot of new opportunities available to Sharp and our dealers. The hard part is: how do we find the right value-added solutions and what the Foxconn technology treasure chest can we leverage? Some could be distractions, but many will be value add and that’s one of the reasons I am excited about this role.
A year from now when we talk, what would you have liked to accomplish by then?
Madaio: I certainly hope to have a very clear message around what Sharp is doing and what we’re driving in the marketplace. The other focus, from a thematic standpoint, is simplification. As I mentioned, there’s also work we can do on communication, simplifying how we talk to our channel and engage with them, and also making sure we’re building programs and messages for scale.
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