Above: Docuware U.S.A. President Jim Roberts addresses partners and users during the DocuWorld General Session on May 18.
There’s a first time for everything and this was my first time attending DocuWare’s DocuWorld conference. The sold-out conference, with its theme of Adapt, Automate, Innovate, took place from May 16 through May 18 in Orlando, Florida, and was attended either in person or virtually by more than 1,000 customers and partners. The conference featured two tracks, a user track, and a partner track. The user program took place on May 16th and 17th and the partner program on May 17th and 18th. The General Session on the morning of the 17th was aimed at customers and partners.
Upon my arrival in Orlando, I met with Jim Roberts, president of DocuWare U.S.A. and Max Ertl, global president sales & marketing for DocuWare to learn what to expect at the conference and a preview of the agenda. Roberts explained that users come to DocuWorld because they want to see what’s coming in the future and how they can better leverage it. “Their goals are generally to optimize the usage of DocuWare,” said Roberts. “We try to help them accomplish that and provide a forum for collaboration with other customers.”
Partners such as vendors and dealers are also there to learn more about the products and many also use the software in their own organizations. “But their main function is to sell it, so as a sales organization they want to know what’s coming and how to increase sales,” said Roberts. “We provide a lot of education throughout the week for the partners to improve and maintain skills for DocuWare and for delivering value to the market.”
Above: Max Ertl
Much of that education as well as the training that takes place outside of the conference is focused on solutions selling. “We know that changing from product selling to solution selling is quite a step,” acknowledged Ertl. “There is no other ECM vendor in the world that has a more advanced program than us. I’m always saying when you sign with DocuWare it’s a little bit like a franchise. You not only get the product, but you also get a change program where we help you go from product selling to solution selling.”
DocuWare’s field sales are key to the company’s partners’ success. “They know how to ask the right questions, prepare the product for presentation, present the product, handle objections, know how to close, write the proposal, and then when a new partner goes with us, they receive the world’s best training.”
The company has been on a tear signing up new partners, adding 100 last year alone. Many are choosing DocuWare as their entry point into ECM. But not just anybody can be a DocuWare partner. “We are picky, we cannot partner with you if you are not willing to invest,” said Ertl.
Although the past few years have been a challenge for many companies, DocuWare has grown 62% during this time, adding 2,962 new customers worldwide. New customers for the cloud version of the software have increased by 75% while new customers for the on-premise version have increased by 35%.
According to Ertl, the document imaging channel is a strategic channel for DocuWare because dealers are close to documents. He described DocuWare as an excellent diversification opportunity that provides an annual recurring revenue stream in an era of declining clicks and hardware sales. It doesn’t matter the size of the dealer that DocuWare partners with as long as they are willing to invest and are committed to selling the solution. “To this day we still have partners who are just a couple of people,” revealed Roberts. “The recipe to be successful isn’t mass, it’s more knowledge, skill, drive, and activity level.”
No doubt being acquired by Ricoh has accelerated the addition of new partners. “Ricoh is a great partner in this case since the acquisition, especially in the U.S. has been quite focused on growing the DocuWare business and have opened some doors for us to create new relationships where we definitely find value,” noted Roberts.
The company continues to find new partners outside of the Ricoh ecosystem as well. Asked if they receive much pushback from potential partners about the relationship with Ricoh, Roberts said that’s a common question. “When we were acquired 2+ years ago we made a commitment to the marketplace that it would be business as usual and even though we were owned by Ricoh we weren’t going to create favoritism for Ricoh, so everyone in our existing ecosystem had a chance to compete fairly. We’ve kept that promise and Ricoh has kept that promise, and we’ve continued to grow and successfully grow both within the Ricoh organization and beyond.”
The next day during the General Session, DocuWare executives, including Dr. Michael Berger, president of DocuWare Group, reported on the company’s successes as well as product development strategies, including a deep dive into the latest version of DocuWare, Version 7.6. The new version will launch later this year and include new capabilities that optimize the solution, including support of unstructured documents through an AI partnership with appliedAI, functional extensions of core modules such as consistent use of table fields, and select lists, and seamless integration into business applications.
A significant portion of the General Session focused on the latest cloud version of DocuWare, which provides more direct and secure access to the cloud and provides users with greater flexibility for scanning and storing documents. Unlike competitive products that are offered in multiple versions with different functionality, DocuWare only has one version. “We don’t put small companies at a disadvantage, so even if you start with the smallest package, you get all the same features and functions and can do everything the big companies do,” said Ertl.
Asked about the message DocuWare wanted users and partners to take home with them, Ertl said, “There are huge opportunities out there and we have the right product with the right pricing at the right time because the cloud is what you need today. Take the opportunity because if you don’t do it now, maybe you’ll miss the opportunity of your lifetime.”