Konica Minolta continued its string of M&A activity with a major announcement: the acquisition of MWA Intelligence. The MWA team of professionals will join All Covered, the IT Services division of Konica Minolta.

“Konica Minolta’s strategic vision and insight into the changing business demands to support the Workplace of the Future is paramount to success in the imaging channel. The acquisition of MWA speaks volumes to Konica Minolta’s leadership position and desire to ready the imaging channel for the Internet of Things,” noted Luis Murguia, SVP, Global Customer and Partner Operations, SAP Business One and SAP Business ByDesign. “We now have two distinguished brands, SAP and Konica Minolta, leading the imaging channel ERP change management required for continued innovation and customer satisfaction.”

“Part of our growth strategy is enabling our vision for the Workplace of the Future in the imaging channel,” said Rick Taylor, President and CEO of Konica Minolta. “The acquisition of MWA is key for delivering Konica Minolta’s corporate ambition to provide ALL dealers in the imaging channel a true ERP platform to facilitate the future of work, regardless of the product lines they support. This acquisition will help accelerate the pace of change in the market.”

It’s the latest, and perhaps the most interesting, in a long list of acquisitions for a company that has been extremely active in M&A over the last few years. Since acquiring All Covered in 2011 the firm has completed more than 30 acquisitions, including ECM providers, IT services providers, hybrid MPS and IT services providers, traditional dealers and, with its 2017 Muratec acquisition, other OEMs. The year 2017 also saw Konica enter the precision medicine and telephony markets, with its July 2017 acquisitions of Ambry Genetics and TLS.NET; Konica later expanded its medical footprint with its September 2017 acquisition of Invicro.

Konica Minolta’s list of 2018 acquisitions has been equally as diverse. In February, it acquired the assets of cybersecurity specialist VioPoint, which is now under the All Covered umbrella. March saw the addition of Techline Communications, a system integrator that will boost Konica’s ECM offerings, and just last month Macprofessionals, an Apple platform expert, came into the fold, also under the All Covered division.

The 2018 pattern of acquisitions is notable in light of the launch of the Workplace Hub in 2017. At the Berlin launch event, Shoei Yamana, CEO and president of Konica Minolta Inc., described the Workplace Hub launch as a “strategic shift” that will allow Konica Minolta to deliver more comprehensive digital transformation solutions in the future. The acquisitions since then are very much in line with that goal, and the MWA acquisition is no exception.

MWA Intelligence

Born out of a company called Automatic Dispatch Services (ADS) that provided service automation software for the office equipment industry, MWA, or Managing Workforce and Assets Intelligence, was created by President and CEO Mike Stramaglio after ADS was acquired, then divested, by EFI. Through its embedded or locally installed software solutions, MWA offers a variety of “intelligent” solutions that collect, report and deliver real-time and historical information to back-office IT systems, helping sales, service and finance work seamlessly together.

A major milestone in MWA’s company history was the launch of FORZA with SAP Business One. Marrying SAP’s Business One product with MWA’s engineering investments, dealerships for the first time were able to run their businesses on a “true” ERP, effectively eliminating all the bolt-on systems that slow growth. MWA invested significant time and resources to develop a customized system that runs on top of SAP Business One, a product in which SAP has already invested tens of millions of dollars. The result is a customized system that includes components such as meter management, service and dispatch, rentals and leasing — all specific needs of office equipment dealers.

Konica Minolta + MWA

In February 2015, Konica Minolta and MWA announced an alliance that is the precursor to today’s announcement, combining the power of MWA FORZA with Konica Minolta’s IT infrastructure to “accelerate the SAP integration and system readiness for our dealer community,” according to the press release at the time. “This all-inclusive system is designed specifically for imaging channel dealers so that they can unify, manage and control their entire business, from customers and operations, to sales and financials, on a single database business management platform.”

Stramaglio weighed in on the acquisition news, saying, “The team here at MWA is thrilled to be joining All Covered, Konica Minolta’s IT services division. The blending of IT expertise, SAP integration services and ERP knowledge from the two organizations will allow us to accelerate product development and customer deployment. The added resources and investment will enable the execution of our promise to deliver the ERP platform to the imaging channel that sets the new standard of excellence.”

Our take

The basis of the Konica Minolta/MWA partnership is the clear foundation for the acquisition — allowing dealers to implement the MWA solution with the backing of Konica Minolta. At Konica Minolta’s 2016 dealer meeting, Taylor noted that along with investing in partnering with MWA, Konica Minolta was spending $25 million to upgrade its SAP system to the SAP HANA Cloud platform, which can accommodate flexible billing for bundled services. “If we can develop capabilities that allow us to bring the customer this bundle of services with reoccurring revenue and flexibility on the customer’s part, we’ll leave the rest of the industry behind,” he stated at the meeting.

The ability to pursue new lines of business has proven difficult for many dealers due to the reliance on legacy business management systems, which were designed specifically to accommodate the break/fix service model of the traditional copier/MFP industry. Over the years, many dealers have been forced to develop workarounds to existing business software in support of additional functionality. Often, these workarounds and system bolt-ons have resulted in a convoluted system of unrelated business programs that are not well integrated and do not allow for access to data or visibility across various parts of the organizations. FORZA with SAP Business One offers a single sign-on, single-database business management platform that has been customized specifically for office automation and imaging channel resellers. Enabling Konica Minolta’s dealers and All Covered providers to leverage that system could fulfill Taylor’s 2016 prophecy. Additionally, with the acquisition, Konica Minolta will now officially become an SAP Business One OEM and Master Value Added Reseller (MVAR), cementing its relationship with the world’s most widely used ERP.

Mike Stramaglio joining the Konica Minolta team is another powerful statement. Known as a thought leader and visionary in the channel, his addition to the team will help evangelize the tech-forward position Konica Minolta is assuming in the industry.

We are rapidly moving to a fully connected office environment where intelligent devices can self-monitor, provide updates or notifications based on user preferences, stay current through automatic firmware updates and collect usage data for as long as they are installed and connected. One might even call this the “Workplace of the Future” — as Konica Minolta does. With the acquisition of MWA and its FORZA product, Konica Minolta is solidifying its investment in that future, and providing its subsidiaries and dealers the tools to do the same.