by Robert Palmer | 9/23/15
Samsung’s National Dealer Summit, held September 15–17 at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel, was a testament to just how far the firm has come in just a short period of time. Samsung used the event to showcase its recently announced MX7 series A3 platform along with a plethora of solutions and technologies to reinforce its vision for the connected office of the future. Specifically, Samsung believes that mobility and technology integration will be key to meeting future business demands, and it sees the connected office MFP as the hub for enabling a mobile-focused workforce.
Samsung used the event to showcase its recently announced MX7 series A3 platform.
Like most partner events, Samsung’s Dealer Summit featured a mix of general sessions and deep-dive workshops, along with a technology showcase that allowed attendees to interact with new products and solutions. There were approximately 300 attendees at this year’s event, including more than 180 dealers and 30+ ISV partners. This demonstrates just how quickly Samsung has risen to become a major player in the imaging channel. The notion that Samsung could attract that many office equipment dealers to a partner event would have seemed almost unimaginable just a few short years ago.
Workforce transformation is clearly the key component behind Samsung’s strategy when it comes to the office printing market. Most of its messaging during the event centered on issues such as millennials, mobility, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Without question, Samsung is banking heavily on its Smart UX platform as the key differentiator in what is already a crowded hardware market. “There is a paradigm shift happening and we are leading that with the tablet interface and enabling solutions,” said Samsung VP of Printing Solutions Matt Smith.
“There is a paradigm shift happening and we are leading that with the tablet interface and enabling solutions,” said Samsung VP of Printing Solutions Matt Smith.
Connected Solutions Growth Phase
Although no new hardware was announced, Samsung did unveil several programs, solutions, and even executives during the event. The National Dealer Summit served as the venue for Samsung to introduce Kevin Gilroy as its new executive vice president. Gilroy has a long and storied history with several high profile IT firms, including long stints with Hewlett-Packard and more recently with SAP. Gilroy brings a wealth of experience to Samsung and his background in global channels and SMB should prove particularly valuable.
Gilroy stated that we have reached an inflexion point in our industry and economy, which he believes represents great opportunities but also significant danger. He said the imaging business has passed through two significant growth phases: Analog to Digital and Design/Technology. The market has already entered the third growth phase, Connected Solutions, which Gilroy believes is poised for explosive growth through 2017 and beyond.
Nevertheless, Gilroy cautions that there will be casualties along the way. “We know that only 20 percent of us — dealers and suppliers — will catch this rising curve,” he proclaims. Meanwhile, 40 percent of current market players will manage to hang on by catering to old business models and shoring up legacy businesses. Then, there is the remaining 40 percent, which he says will completely miss the curve and either be swallowed up by others or exit the market entirely.
Samsung believes that it is not only well positioned to take advantage of the Connected Solutions growth phase, but that the channel will play an integral role in its overall success. When you look at the many overlapping business/technology segments, the opportunities are simply enormous. According to Gilroy, the combined Total Addressable Market (TAM) for Samsung is $72 billion, including printers and solutions, commercial displays, hospitality TVs, monitors, memory, mobile computing, set-top boxes, wearables, tablets, and smartphones.
Of course, dealers might view many of these segments as unreachable, but Samsung’s point is that technology intersection and integration is key to the office of the future. Samsung is not only investing and leading in many of these categories, it is developing solutions to bring everything together in a mobile ecosystem that will make it much simpler for businesses to manage. More importantly, Samsung understands that the channel will play an integral role in delivering these solutions to the market. “This is a powerful strategy, but the most important part is that it is partner led,” Gilroy says.
Building a Portfolio
While Samsung is clearly focused on future growth opportunities, the firm is quick to point out that it has also dedicated resources to the core business of printing. According to Matt Smith, Samsung spent the past 12 months completing its hardware lineup and addressing portfolio gaps that were key to channel enablement. “We have been working hard to get you the right pieces of hardware,” he says. “I think we are caught up now, and what we are most excited about is we can go from the desktop low-end device all the way up to our high-end machines to meet the needs of the enterprise.”
For many in attendance, the Dealer Summit represented the first opportunity to see Samsung’s new A3 MX7 series MFPs in action. With speeds up to 60 ppm, the MX7 MFPs are workhorse machines that offer everything needed for the dealer channel in terms of functionality, paper handling, and serviceability. Samsung boasts that every single component used in the MX7 series was developed and manufactured by Samsung, including the chip components and integrated circuitry. This is unique to Samsung, and it speaks to the depth and breadth of its technical expertise and manufacturing prowess.
Samsung also points out that technology leveraged from other business units have been integrated into the MX7 platform. For example, image-processing technology originally developed for TVs and interactive displays has been ported into the firm’s new MFPs to improve image quality and print speeds. But it is the Smart UX and tablet interface that Samsung believes set its printing products apart from the competition. “We now have the opportunity to have one platform and one user experience across the board,” says Smith. “We have the same user interface across the product portfolio, and you will also able to take a tablet or smartphone and match that interface exactly to drive any of the devices.”
Smith says that the BTA channel has been a big investment for Samsung over the past couple years, and results of these efforts are beginning to show. Samsung reported strong growth in every category of the A4 market—triple digit growth in most segments. Meanwhile, sell-through for Samsung’s A3 business is up 9 percent from 2014 to 2015, and it is projecting 20 percent growth by the end of this year. That is impressive considering that state of the overall hardware market. At the same time, Samsung has set some lofty goals for its hardware business; with expectations to achieve number five in market share in three years, and to reach number three in just five years.
Solutions & Services
With its hardware reaching some level of parity with the rest of the market, Samsung is now placing increased emphasis on software and solutions. “We have to help you guys get into non-print environments,” Smith admitted. To do that, Samsung is pursing a twofold strategy: embedding specific solutions capabilities into the firmware of the hardware itself, and enabling partners to develop and deliver new solutions based on the Smart UX platform.
On the embedded side, Samsung announced a couple of interesting developments at the Dealer Summit. First, it embedded its PrinterOn technology into printer firmware. The PrinterOn solution, which Samsung acquired last year, is a cloud-based mobile printing solution that allows users to print from any mobile device to the device they choose. By embedding the software into the firmware of the printer, Samsung has made it simple and easy for users to locate compatible devices. A new PrinterOn app is available from the Samsung app store, which users can download and use to locate compatible devices through a location-based map service. Samsung says it is also embedding PrinterOn technology into smart TVs and other devices as part of its overall strategy for the connected office.
In addition, Samsung has partnered with PrintFleet to embed its data collection agent into specific XOA printer models aimed exclusively at the BTA channel. “This will be a game changer for the industry,” says Smith. With a compatible device installed, dealers are no longer required to install the PrintFleet agent on a dedicated Windows server. Instead, the agent embedded in the device will collect meter reads and other information from all other machines installed on the network, regardless of brand. Dealers simply install a compatible device and activate the agent, which can be done prior to installation or even remotely. After that, dealers simply log in to begin pulling data, which can be pushed to PrintFleet’s various cloud services or integrated with other third-party applications.
The partnership is designed to make MPS more standardized and repeatable for the channel. Samsung has re-launched its Print+ MPS program built around a distributed A4 strategy and the PrintFleet partnership. Smith says that Samsung has signed 11 MPS dealers to date and the firm has a target of signing 50 dealers in the program by the end of the year. “I call this the basic building blocks of MPS,” he says. “It is not revolutionary but it is base blocking and tackling and we have made it extremely easy with great pricing, service, and fulfillment.”
Without question, Samsung’s Smart UX platform is the key component in its overall solutions strategy. Citing trends related to IoT, Samsung says that there are 5 billion connected devices today, a number that is projected to balloon to 25 billion by 2019. “It has been a long journey getting ready for the paradigm shift,” Smith says. “There is no question we are revolutionizing the printing industry with the Android tablet interface.” Samsung is happy to see its competitors introducing tablet-based interfaces because it validates the overall strategy. “People love the smart interface, and there is no way that any competitor can touch Samsung when it comes to the tablet interface,” Smith proclaims.
Samsung will rely heavily on the Smart UX platform to provide dealers with a simple yet elegant way to introduce new solutions and applications. The firm showcased a number of these solutions during the event, from smart widgets designed to improve the user experience to full-blown process automation apps that make creating new workflows a breeze using simple drag-and-drop procedures—all of which can be performed either on a separate tablet or at the printing device itself.
For example, Samsung showcased a solution rolled out by ImageNet, a Samsung dealer that is also now one of its top-tier ISVs. Using the Smart UX SDK, ImageNet developed a solution that allows users to easily report meter reads and schedule service calls, among other capabilities. ImageNet is not only leveraging the solution to improve its own service delivery, it is selling the solution to other dealers through the Samsung app store, creating a secondary revenue stream through additional software sales.
Samsung says that its solutions strategy is designed to help dealers drive alternative revenue streams by improving process and service efficiencies. Customers will see process efficiencies through solutions and applications that improve workflow and make it easier to deal with information. At the same time, dealers will see reduced service costs through capabilities such as remote diagnostics and service automation.
Overall, Samsung’s Dealer Summit was an impressive event. The firm has done all it can to endear itself to the imaging channel — from expanding its hardware portfolio to improving its service and support infrastructure. Samsung’s technology is certainly a differentiator, as are its deep pockets and ability to leverage assets across the entire spectrum of the Samsung technology portfolio. Nevertheless, it will take more than great products and technology for Samsung to achieve its lofty goals.
Samsung is late to the game in almost every area of the printing business. From a hardware perspective, this meant that it had to focus on core A4 segments to gain share and build credibility — at least until it could introduce products that would appeal more to the high-value channel. For the most part, the strategy has proven successful. Samsung has become a major player in SMB with its A4 products, fueled mostly by success in transactional sales through the IT channel. Even so, Samsung is still viewed as a secondary line for most office equipment dealers.
Meanwhile, being late to solutions presents a whole new set of problems for Samsung. The firm simply is not viewed by many as an expert in areas such as document management, information management, content management, workflow, or process automation. Developing and nurturing the right set of partners will be key for Samsung if it is to catch up or perhaps even leapfrog its competitors in the solutions space. This is no doubt why Samsung is putting so much emphasis on the XOA platform and the Smart UX interface as the path to solutions enablement and profitability.
Time will tell whether Samsung’s expanded portfolio and increased solutions focus will help drive further penetration in the imaging channel. The firm has proven that it has the financial backing and overall staying power to become an even stronger contender in the office printing market. Going forward, Samsung will need to execute on a strategy that goes beyond hardware into areas where the high-value channel will be imperative if it is to maximize on future growth potential.
Robert Palmer is chief analyst and a managing partner for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Palmer has more than 25 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors for prominent market research firms such as Lyra Research and InfoTrends. Palmer is a popular speaker and he presents regularly at industry conferences and trade events in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. He is also active in a variety of imaging industry forums and currently serves on the board of directors for the Managed Print Services Association (MPSA). Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.