Ricoh’s ConvergX 2019, held November 18-20 at the Aria in Las Vegas, was an event focused on change in more ways than one. With the spotlight on software and digital transformation with almost no hardware in sight, it was a different kind of outing for Ricoh in many ways.
For one thing, as Jim Coriddi, VP of Ricoh’s Dealer Division pointed out, ConvergX was not a sales conference. It was billed as a “national leadership forum,” and marked the first time Ricoh had kept the attendance focused on dealer principals and key executives.
“ConvergX 2019 is about collaborating for customer value,” said Coriddi in his opening presentation. “We’re going to discuss the specific drivers of why we need to change, exactly what we need to do together, and most importantly, how we’re going to work together to deliver true customer value that separates you from your competition.”
After a few rough years, Ricoh is ending the decade on a relatively high note after embarking on a revitalized growth strategy in 2017. A three-part strategy, FY 2019 marks the end of Stage 2: “Ignite.” A big part of “Ignite” is digital business, including increasing its “Digital Business, Office Services, Industrial Products, and Smart Vision” segment from 24% of its total business in 2016 to a projected 31% by 2022. Ricoh is moving toward this goal by focusing less on products and hardware and more on solutions, services, and other adjacent businesses. That was evident in its acquisition of DocuWare in July 2019 and it was also evident at ConvergX 2019, where, as mentioned, there was very little hardware and a lot of solutions, both in the presentations and in the Dealer Experience Center (DXC) — the rebranded vendor show floor.
Joji Tokunaga, who had been newly appointed president and CEO of Ricoh USA at the time of the last meeting, talked about market conditions and the competitive landscape — uncertainty caused by the tariff situation with China, the impact of Brexit discussions and political uncertainty, as well as a “messy” competitive landscape. “If you look at the world though those eyes, it’s pretty bleak,” he said, but encouraged positivity. Ricoh’s experience has been that the company that focuses on the customer first survives and thrives. “We are poised to be the one company focused on the customer,” he said.
He also noted that hardware can no longer be relied upon to take us where we need to go, and “that is why we’re talking about solutions.”
And talk they did. The breakout sessions, again geared toward principals and decision-makers, included “Optimize for Success — Growth Strategies for Today’s Customers Demands & Tomorrow’s Market Requirements,” “Preparing for Success in the Subscription Economy,” and “Sales & Service Workforce Transformation.” The last included a presentation by BPO’s Patricia Ames on sales transformation, in which she discussed some ways to redirect sales efforts in a more digital world. “People are buying in different ways,” she told the audience, who filled the room four times over two days. “It takes an average of 18 phone calls to reach a prospect, callback rates are less than 1% and only 24% of sales emails are even opened.” It takes leadership and guts to transform, she said — as well as resources. Attendees were encouraged to visit the DXC and make the most of Ricoh’s resources — everything in the DXC, said Coriddi, was designed to create action items back at the dealership with salespeople.
Patricia Ames asked, how do you feel about digital transformation? Responses varied.The commitment to solutions and resources was reiterated by everyone on the Ricoh team throughout the two-and-a-half days, with terms like “cloud,” “security,” “edge” and “workflow solutions” on heavy rotation. However, hardware wasn’t completely absent from the event – production hardware, in particular, had its place, and was perhaps the brightest note in the financials as well – production color units were up 121% in the first quarter of FY 2019, compared to 2018, with A3 color also up 112%.
And even though ConvergX wasn’t a traditional dealer conference, there was still heavy focus on the dealers — as there should be. In 2017, Coriddi noted, after changing their go-to-market strategy and establishing dealers as the primary channel for growing the SMB segment, dealers represent 48% of unit sales — more than 50% for the IM series. Ricoh recognized its dealers throughout the event, demonstrating their success and growth, as well as presenting them with its National Awards for Excellence in the closing session.
And then because in some ways ConvergX still was a traditional conference, there was some fun and entertainment, the latter in the form of musician Mark Rivera, who plays saxophone for Billy Joel (and, apparently, Joji Tokunaga).
We won’t say he should give up his day job, but there is definitely some talent here!
Ricoh says the industry is resilient. We won’t argue.
is editorial director of BPO Media’s publications Workflow and The Imaging Channel, and senior analyst for BPO Research. As a professional writer and editor, she has specialized in the office technology industry for the last 20 years. Prior to that she worked in public relations and has a master's degree in communication arts.