by Amy Weiss
Here’s a fact: You’re not going to attend a dealer meeting and hear doom and gloom, negative stories and “we are not launching any new products this year.” Dealer meetings are, by nature, positive, exciting, and full of new ideas and product launches that will pump up the dealers and create enthusiasm over the year to come.
Kyocera Document Solutions America (KDA) did just that at its annual dealer meeting May 16-18 in Orlando, and the enthusiasm certainly seemed contagious — even a spectacular demonstration of Central Florida’s summer thunderstorms didn’t put a damper on the celebration, as the Springsteen cover band “B Street Band” played for a captive audience. (The Boss was a continuing theme for the New Jersey-based KDA — the event kicked off with speed painter Tim Decker’s creation of a Bruce Springsteen portrait that was later auctioned off for charity).
There was more to the event than music and weather, however. The conference theme was “Accelerate” and SVP of Sales Ed Bialecki launched into that theme immediately, comparing the business to a Formula One race car, “a meticulously engineered vehicle that keeps breaking speed records,” and the dealer meeting as a pit stop, “a chance to pull off the track for a few seconds, change the tires, and refuel.”
The pit stop was also a chance to share positive financial news — specifically that FY 2016 marked the seventh consecutive year of growth in the Americas, and the fifth consecutive year of record-breaking results for the KDA group. Specifically, said Bialecki, “we grew our revenue in the U.S. by 9.6 percent over FY 15. In the Americas as a whole we grew by 3.4 percent,” he said, thanking partners in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Chile.
The event was also a launching point for Yukio Ikeda, who joined KDA as president and CEO April 1 after two years in Italy, as outgoing President and CEO Norihiko Ina returns to Japan to take on the role of senior general manager, Corporate Sales Division. Ikeda previewed the conference highlights, including the upcoming launch of 31 new devices over the course of the year as well as the continued Total Document Solutions (TDS) certification approach, now in its fourth year, designed to take Kyocera dealers beyond hardware.
The TDS approach may well be the crux of most dealer strategies we have seen lately, and it is summed up perfectly with trends noted by Peter Hendrick, VP of Corporate Marketing and Business Services Division. Hendrick shared some of IDC’s top 10 predictions for 2016, beginning with “Many organizations are expanding the use of MFPs by leveraging the solutions architecture of the devices” and ending with “Suppliers and providers are delivering new capabilities to their customers designed to lower operations costs while boosting workers’ productivity.”
With this in mind, KDA announced a slew of solutions that should enable its dealers to do just that: sell beyond hardware with solutions leveraged through the devices, and enable users to improve productivity through electronic workflow systems. Included in the long list of solutions either available or launching soon was:
DMConnect Pro, powered by Nuance and building on the company’s existing DM Connect with more robust workflows, allowing for intelligent form recognition, capturing and extracting essential information and then exporting it enterprise-wide. Another new feature is the ability to validate OCR data directly on the MFP panel after scanning, which helps eliminate errors.
Dropbox and Google Drive connections. The latter is part of Google Connector, which already existed but now allows a user full access to Google Drive, Gmail and Calendar with a single sign-on — particularly useful in education environments where Chromebooks are increasingly common and the Google suite of applications, as well as Google Print, is an essential tool.
Square 9 Connector. In the preliminary stage, this is an application that allows seamless integration with Square 9’s Global Search product, giving users of HyPAS-enabled devices full access to indexing, navigation and search across scanned and stored documents.
PinPoint Scan 3, the latest version of what Kyocera says is its most popular application. It offers a new streamlined interface, support for numerous file formats, and integration with Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive. It is also, according to Kyocera reps, very easy to bundle due to its simplicity and capabilities at its price point, and therefore serves as a door-opener for dealers to talk about more advanced applications — PaperCut, CentraQ Pro, SharePoint, Enhanced OnBase Connector, AccuSender Fax, to name just a handful.
This gets back to Kyocera’s TDS certification, designed to teach dealers to be partners rather than just selling apps or hardware. According to Kyocera, TDS has grown, with fewer dealers disavowing the idea that applications are part of the total solution. There are now about 270 TDS-certified dealers who must maintain certain standards on the post-sale side, including being a certified Service Solution Provider (SSP) to keep the certification.
The applications, of course, must be bundled with something, and in this case, as mentioned previously, there are 31 new devices to bundle those applications with. Rolling out throughout the summer and into the fall, the devices are a combination of A3 and A4, color and mono, MFP and SFP; they range in speed from 25 ppm to 80 ppm; and offer features such as true 1,200 dpi, Wi-Fi, NFC and dual-scan document feeders on select models. It is a significant difference from last year, when the firm launched no A3 devices, and should lead to even better performance in FY 17, say Kyocera reps.
Ultimately, the trend at Kyocera echoes what we are seeing throughout the industry: bundling applications is the new black. Solutions may not be a revenue driver on their own yet, but to be successful today’s dealers must be aware of their customers’ total workflow, understand their needs, and provide them with comprehensive solutions. That awareness was fully evident at Kyocera’s event, and should bode well for the dealers who pay attention.