After five years as President, Hironao Katsukura is returning to Japan to assume a senior corporate role with Kyocera Document Solutions, Inc. Rod Tonna-Barthet spoke to PrintIT Reseller about life at Kyocera post the Annodata acquisition, and how he is looking forward to taking the helm at the UK business
The Annodata acquisition has been good for business. Kyocera has doubled in size and now employs 508 staff across the UK. Just under 50% of revenue comes from its direct operation and just over half from its indirect operation. Kyocera’s indirect channel encompasses the servicing and dealer channel – 80% of the business it does in this sector is with dealerships like Annodata, it also has a distribution business with partners including Westcoast and Exertis and works with a number of systems integrators.
The 2016 deal added significant capabilities to Kyocera’s overall proposition for the channel, not least of which was bringing in senior execs from the channel organisation including its CEO Tonna-Barthet. “As one of Annodata’s largest print suppliers, we built a relationship with Kyocera over many years, so we had a really good idea about what the business of Kyocera was all about and in particular, the alignment with the culture and philosophy of the organisation, which I think is a real competitive differentiator in what is a pretty crowded market,” Tonna-Barthet said.
The state of play
Commenting on the current state of play within the channel, Tonna-Barthet said: “We’re seeing an increasingly polarised indirect market. Companies are either deciding they don’t wish to invest in the organisation and therefore want an exit strategy, or they want to grow and are looking to benefit from the fact that there is an appetite for acquisitions.”
He continued: “We have a fundamental understanding of what the print market is actually experiencing and the challenges within it. We know full well the issues around maintaining existing customers, the pressures on margins, where pressure points are etc. Plus, we’ve got a very good understanding of what the rest of the market is like from a competitor perspective. We have dealt with a lot those companies and their customers, so we know their strengths and weaknesses and that means we can bring real value to helping our dealer partners to provide other services to their customers.”
One of the advantages of bringing Annodata into the fold was the fact that it had developed its offer and was successfully delivering ICT services. “We can really help partners that are predominately only selling print to be able to sell other IT services and solutions to end-users,” Tonna-Barthet explained, adding: “They’ve done the hard work. They’ve built up good businesses that have now acquired lots of customers, our value is about helping them to leverage the relationships with those customers and add more value to them. You do that by increasing the services you provide.”
Wide range of services
Kyocera has migrated all of Annodata’s skillset and expertise into the business. The leadership team encompasses the whole organisation. Its Reading-based head office features a full network operation centre and call centre that services all incoming calls, from direct customers as well as those who have third-party service provision with Kyocera, as well as centralised problem management, IT and professional services support. “If a customer or a vendor need support for any one of the range of services – that could be infrastructure IT, communications or content management, they come to Kyocera, they don’t go to Kyocera IT or Kyocera Print, it’s all centralised,” Tonna-Barthet said.
He continued: “I don’t think anyone else in the marketplace can offer the range of services that we provide to our dealer partners from a single source. There are other OEMs that do IT etc. but they seem to service the channel through a completely different organisation.”
Looking to the future
Speaking about his new role at the helm of the UK business, Tonna-Barthet said that his main focus is on continued growth.
“Kyocera has grown by just over ten per cent this year largely due to the fact that we have moved away from a hardware-led break-fix infrastructure type customer relationship to a much more process-led services-based dialogue. “We are much more engaged with the customer on an IT strategy level rather than simply fulfilment of hardware.
“In the A3 colour space we’ve seen over 20% growth in market share in a market that’s only grown by four per cent – I don’t think any other manufacturer can boast that,” he said, adding: “Two of our products in the A3 colour space are in first and fourth place for market share that’s because we are producing some terrific products right now and because we are partnering with the right sort of vendor partners.”
Tonna-Barthet sees a lot of opportunity to work with existing partners, to attract new partners into the Kyocera fold and to build on its success within the distribution channel where the company has almost doubled business over last two years.
“Future success will come from a combination of organic growth in the Annodata business by continuing to focus on the non-print strategy and in the indirect space, from growing our services and dealer channel, continuing to work with distribution partners and working differently with our SI partners,” he said.
“On the indirect side we want to work with our partners to help them sell IT services. What we will do is be much more of a partner with our vendors, they all have a legacy of very good and very talented print sales people and they’ve now got to start selling to a different audience within a customers’ organisation. We’re investing heavily in people that can assist them to start contracting different types of revenue into their organisations. And we have terrific direct sales experience that we are able to leverage to help SIs win more print business that they are increasingly looking to secure.”
Under Hiro Katsukura’s leadership, Kyocera has been transformed with the acquisition and subsequent integration of both MCL and Annodata’s direct print, ICT, UC and mobile business, and in doing so has seen the organisation grow from £78m to £144m. “Hiro has done a fantastic job here in the UK he has led a business that has doubled in size and fundamentally transformed from an indirect dealer only market to a direct, indirect, distribution and SI business. He’s been inspirational and a great mentor to me and the entire leadership team,” Tonna-Barthet said.
“I am delighted that Kyocera Corp have confidence in the management team we have developed here, that they don’t feel that they need to fly anybody in to be able to direct. It is a great honour to be leading the group. I look forward to continuing with our mission to build on our philosophy and core values and significantly increase the innovative service proposition that our partners and direct clients have come to know us for. We have a strong leadership team made up of senior team members from both organisations, we have worked really hard to get the right balance and we are now able to really drive the business forward. I’m really looking forward to the next few years,” he concluded.