Executive Connection Summit Drives Innovation Forward

The first Executive Connection Summit hosted by Technology United, titled “Driving Innovation Forward,” was held at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Ariz., from January 21-24. Throughout the course of the Summit, strategies, education sessions and networking events were provided with the goal of just that: driving innovation forward.

Mike Stramaglio

Mike Stramaglio, president and CEO of MWA Intelligence, welcomes the crowd to the first Executive Connection Summit hosted by Technology United.

The event was kicked off by none other than Rick Taylor, president and COO of Konica Minolta. When thinking about companies that have transformed with the evolution of the industry, there probably isn’t a better example than Konica Minolta.

“For 25 years, we were doing the same thing: MFP hardware sales and break-fix service – sell more hardware, get more clicks. It’s not a bad business model, and it’s still important today. But eventually, we got smart, and we attacked the IT department.”

Since then, Konica Minolta has not only implemented an aggressive acquisition strategy in order to help transform itself into a services-led business, but it has also changed its business approach.

“Our enterprise service strategy includes four areas of business that we’re trying to grow. Those include managed print services, managed IT services, services and solutions, and commercial print management. We think these will be new business opportunities for us,” Taylor said. “They will bring new revenue, new profit, new margin and enhance our business.”

Rick Taylor, Konica Minolta

Rick Talyor, president and COO of Konica Minolta, kicks off the event with his keynote “The Next Generation.”

Today, Konica Minolta offers a comprehensive managed print solution that includes fleet assessments, fleet optimization, monitoring and management, technology deployment, business process automation and a host of other services. KMBS also offers a workflow solution that includes cost accounting, security and compliance, mobile applications, document management, enterprise content management (ECM), variable data workflow automation and data conversion.

Although Konica Minolta has a strong, services-led strategy in place, Taylor explained that it will not give up on its core. Even in the faltering economy, Konica Minolta has seen growth in both machines in the field and page volumes. “Our hardware hasn’t really changed over the years, but our support, our customer service and the way we are selling has changed dramatically. It’s really because of what we’re offering around the box.”

“We are no longer trying to be experts on our products. We’re trying to be experts on our customers,” Taylor explained. “We want to know more about our customers’ workflows and how they do business than they do. We want to be able to walk into a manufacturer or a finance company and know as much about their workflow as they do. Then we can bring technology to them that solves problems and, more importantly, that people for pay for. This approach decommoditizes the business.”

Taylor’s presentation set the stage for the rest of the summit, and many of his themes were echoed by the presentations that followed.

A big part of the industry’s transformation is tied into how business is done today. In MWAi President and CEO Mike Stramaglio’s presentation”Was There a Baby in the Bathwater,” Stramaglio talked about what the new normal should look like. Gone are the days of hardware-centric services, single-location environments and static data. The new normal includes actionable data, automated processes, virtual environments and a mobile workforce. This is the future; the question is, are dealers and vendors tailoring their offerings to this environment?

Because of the new normal office environment, the imaging channel can no longer depend on the printed document. “We can deny that we are moving into a paperless world, but you can’t deny that we are living in a less-paper world,” said Robert Newry, co-founder of NewField IT. “And if we are going to be in a less-paper world, what are we going to focus on?” Good data is Newry’s answer. Assessments are typically looked at as a means to collect data, but they need to transform into process analytics. “We can’t just collect how much end users are printing. In the less-paper world, we can’t focus on the device; we need to focus on the end user.

With office environments and workers moving away from the printed page, diversifying services becomes necessary for the imaging channel’s survival, and throughout the two-and-a-half-day summit, members of Technology United had the opportunity to talk to the dealers, resellers and IT VARs in attendance about their some of their unique product offerings.

Steve Galloway of Electronic Systems Protection (ESP) presented “Have You Taken Your Pulse? Expand Your Business With Energy Intelligence,” where he talked about the cost savings in energy management solutions. Did you know that office equipment is typically responsible for 20 to 40 percent of a company’s energy use? Imagine being able to save customers money on one of their most expensive utilities.   

LMI’s Aaron Dyck talked about supply chain issues in “Blue Angels or Three Stooges: Supply Chain Optimization and the Missing Links.” LMI is another company that is a great example of successful transformation in the industry. It started as a remanufacturer of toner and inkjet cartridges, and while it has remained focused on its core of producing high-quality cartridges, it also branched out and started successfully offering MPS. While we are living in a less-paper world, the printed document is still a prevalent part of business, especially in certain verticals. Looking into remanufactured cartridges can help lower business costs for end users while raising dealers’ margins.

Aaron Dyck Gary Willert

LMI’s Gary Willert and Aaron Dyck present “Blue Angels or Three Stooges: Supply Chain Optimization and the Missing Links.”

BJ Santiago, president and CEO of Intellinetics, dived even deeper into services, talking about workflow and ECM. “The old normal is nonintuitive MPS,” he said. “The new normal is ECM and document services. Your business has to get there.”

In “Is Your Head in the Clouds?” Bret Costelow of Intel talked about the growing importance of and interest in cloud services. “SMBs have security concerns when it comes to the cloud, and they are worried that they will lose control of their data when it’s put in the cloud,” Costelow explained. But with Intel’s Hybrid Cloud Platform, SMBs are able to have cloudlike flexibility mixed with on-site hardware, “which eliminates some of your customers’ concerns.”

Everything from security offerings to managed services and the cloud was covered. And knowing that as dealers’ businesses expand, details have a way of falling through the cracks, MWAi talked about its new SAP Business One ERP solution, which helps dealers streamline their businesses as they become service providers. “SAP Business One is a complete, integrated business management solution that provides transparency and instant visibility into operations,” said Gavin Williams, vice president of sales and marketing at MWAi. Being able to look at your warehousing, finance, sales, CRM, purchasing and operations departments all in one software solution helps companies “unify, manage and control their entire business, while eliminating redundancies and errors at the same time,” Williams said. SAP is one of the largest software companies in the world, so its integration in the imaging channel is big news for the industry.

These are the areas in which the channel is moving: IT, cloud and ECM. And with that evolution comes an increasing need for more security solutions, quality supplies, a diversified services offering and “an array of tools in your toolbox. You have to be the holistic provider,” said Jim Burns, vice president and general manager of GreatAmerica’s Collabrance. And in order to be the holistic provider, not only do you need to be able to provide the services, you have to consider the changing needs of your customers and transform your business model from a product-based model to a services-based and customer-driven model.

“Your clients should see you as an extended part of their company,” said Simon Vermooten, executive vice president of solutions at Auxilio. “You have to be willing to do things that you never thought you’d do before.”   

Des Plaines Office Equipment, based in the greater Chicago area, is a perfect example of a dealership that takes care of customer needs. “We didn’t think we’d be doing cloud computing, now we’re doing cloud computing. We didn’t think we’d be hosting websites, now we’re hosting websites. When your customers ask you ‘What can you do for me?’ you end up managing everything,” said Chip Miceli, sales manager of Des Plaines Office Equipment.

The transformation in the way business is done today is drastically impacting the imaging channel, but there are still plenty of opportunities to stay in the game. Recognizing the changes in the office environment, diversifying your service offerings and knowing more about your customers than they know about themselves were the key pieces of advice from the Executive Connection Summit.

“If you’re a dealer in the market and you don’t think you should do this, be prepared to sell against it,” Taylor warned. “You don’t have to get in if you don’t want to, but be prepared to buck up. This is a great solution for virtually every business out there, especially in the SMB space. It’s a home run!