“A house must be built on solid foundations if it is to last.” – Sai Baba
Foundations are important. The tenure and durability of buildings, relationships and businesses depend upon them. Take a house, for example. Start with a weak physical foundation, and you’re going to be building it again in 15 years (yes, I’m talking about you, entire state of Florida). On the other hand, sturdy foundations on solid ground you can’t dig through (at least not easily and affordably) to build a basement in, such as is in Las Vegas – site of Konica Minolta’s “Shape the Future” dealer meeting Nov. 17-20 – present the promise of decades of stability.
And if the words spoken by its leadership at this dealer meeting are any indication, Konica Minolta recognizes that solid foundations – both in its product lineup as well as its dealer relationships – are essential in order to create a bright destiny.
A captivated audience fills the Venetian Theater for the 2014 Konica Minolta dealer event.
Konica Minolta already has a solid product and solutions portfolio in the print space, and it will continue to leverage this first and foremost at this point in time. “I think staying close to the box gives us credibility,” said Rick Taylor, president and COO of Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A, Inc. “If we decide to start a completely new … business, we might be competing against global services, and I’m not sure how we’d do that. But if we stay in the area that we have some credibility (in) first to build that practice, I think we have a chance to really do well. … Long-term, I think anything’s possible, but we’ve got to (crawl before we) walk.”
Konica does recognize the need to move beyond the printed page, however. “We are committed to print and see a strong future in print,” said Masatoshi Matsuzaki, president and CEO of Konica Minolta. “But the … environment for print is changing – not just in terms of trends like … other devices, … but in the role that print devices play in the current ecosystem. In the office, the ability to integrate with or design a customer’s workflow to solve their biggest issue is often as important as the product itself.”
Beyond the predictable workflow solutions most OEMs are developing and delivering, though, Konica Minolta is also stepping outside the box (pun intended) at this time, heading into newer segments such as 3-D printing and managed marketing services as well as continuing to build upon its All Covered business. “The one thing that we have to point out is our strategy around cloud and monthly recurring revenue,” said Sam Errigo, senior vice president of Business Intelligence Services at Konica Minolta. “We’re changing our model. Today – close to the box. But everything that we’re trying to develop moving forward? Cloud-based. Anything that we can move to the cloud, we want to leverage our investment with All Covered (to move). … (Then) you can start to stretch, (go) beyond the box. … At some point in time, that monthly recurring revenue will outpace our hardware sales. That’s our long-term strategy. By virtue of having vertical markets, by virtue of moving applications to the cloud, we’re building this recurring revenue stream.”
Most importantly, though, Konica Minolta stressed how critical it is to the company that a foundation of trust with its dealers – now 52 percent versus its 48 percent direct sales – is cemented so this expansive vision of the future can ultimately be realized. “If we’re to have the type of close-knit relationship between us that I envision in the future, the type of relationship that allows us to join forces to deliver the best customer experience, the best value and the most unique solutions, then we have to have complete trust in our relationship,” Taylor said.
Rick Taylor, president and COO of Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A, Inc., indicated a strong relationship between Konica Minolta and its dealers would be essential to the success of the company’s future strategies.
Konica Minolta intends to build trust through free education, addressing legal matters and allowing dealers to take advantage of other corporate perks. The OEM believes education engages partners and employees, so it will be extending both Harvard Business School courses currently available to its staff as well as the EDGE leadership program Bluepoint (the company responsible for training GE, Microsoft and American Express execs, to name a few) designed for it.
Konica will also be having Bob Goldberg, the BTA’s general counsel, review all the legal agreements the company currently has with its dealers. “We’re going to make sure that our documents … give you complete confidence in our relationship, has complete fairness and really represents the spirit of our relationship,” Taylor said. “You’re going to have a safety net in our company.”
Finally, in the first quarter of 2014, Konica will be launching a new VIP program that will allow dealers to woo corporate customers with all the posh and pizzazz the OEM can offer clients directly. “We want you to look like us and us to look like you when you have large customers in,” said Kevin Kern, senior vice president of marketing at Konica Minolta. “(We’ll make) that customer visit a perfect end-to-end experience. We’ve found that if we can get customers (in this environment), we can get eight out of 10 of them signed, and we want you guys to all participate in that as well.”
All in all, it appears that the future Konica talked about at this dealer meeting will shape up to be quite strong. We’ll have to wait until next year to know for sure, but considering the company continues to employ the strategy of investing heavily into both people and technologies, it’s hard to imagine it going anywhere but up.
Posted by Raegen Pietrucha on 12/02/2013