Sharp recently hosted 58 of its top tier partners at the Elevate 2022 partner conference and product showcase at Old Thorns, Liphook in Hampshire.
Elevate 2022 was Sharp’s first in-person partner conference for a few years. It was clear from the atmosphere in the room, interest in the products on show, and the constant flow of conversation, that the opportunity to meet face to face was welcomed by all attendees.
Following a welcome from Dealer Sales Director Paul Leach, guests were invited to watch a live broadcast, streamed simultaneously across Europe, where Sharp Europe’s senior executive team explained how the company’s products and services release the potential of people and how, with its partners, Sharp can help businesses to build for the future workplace.
Rob Tung, President Sharp Europe, said that the company had invested in research to explore what customers need and how they work. “Technology made hybrid working possible and the pandemic made it necessary,” he said, adding: “63 per cent of people said that technology makes them more effective outside the office.”
Tung explained how Sharp’s ecosystem of smart office devices and services can help businesses to build for the future workplace. The company is established as a credible IT services provider and is committed to support partners looking to extend their offering in this area. He spoke about recent acquisitions and investment in the European Technology Support Centre which provides 24/7 support and hinted at more acquisitions to come. He also announced the company was pushing forward with a new e-commerce platform, as well as replacing the Sharp Academy with a new cloud learning platform for partners.
Continued investment in print
Next up on the live stream was Alexander Hermann, President of Sharp Information Systems. 50 years on from its first copier launch, Hermann confirmed that the MFP will continue to play a significant role in Sharp’s future. “The future workplace will still require print and we will continue investing in this area,” he said.
Sharp previewed its new future workplace A3 MFP Series at Elevate 2022. The fifteen-strong range delivers speeds of 26 ppm to 65 ppm, offers users effortless connectivity and state-of-the-art security, without compromising commitment to sustainability.
In a world-first, the new models feature a native Microsoft Teams connector, meaning employees can easily print from and scan documents to their Teams channels and folders. In addition, the Synappx Go mobile app enables contactless print, copy and scan with smartphones and integration to popular cloud storage platforms. For even greater flexibility, users can wirelessly print from any Wi-Fi enabled laptop, tablet or smartphone natively without the need to set up a wireless LAN.
As well as offering a stylish modern look, the new MFPs also provide a range of time saving functions and intuitive ease-of-use. The customisable 10.1-inch tiltable LCD touchscreen control panel offers a consistent user interface common across Sharp’s current range, enhancing the user experience and enabling those already familiar with Sharp devices to be ready to work right away. Designed to be future-proof, the application portal provides software updates and cloud connector apps to ensure users’ MFPs are always up-to-date.
The new models feature state-of-the-art security to protect each device – and the data it processes. BIOS-based security instantly prevents the device from starting if errors are found, while pre-installed root certificates prevent any unauthorised use of devices. The new devices also integrate with broader security strategies and include BitDefender anti-malware support – making it much easier for IT teams to keep data, devices and networks secure.
Sharp’s new MFPs also provide significant environmental benefits, with up to 27 per cent more energy saving compared with previous generations. In addition, smart diagnostics and minimised waste features help to strengthen businesses’ eco-friendly credentials by delivering a superior performance across the full range of environmental concerns.
“The hybrid world of work demands greater connectivity and better security – without compromising on environmental goals,” Hermann continued. “This is why we focused on delivering on all of these points with our new MFP range and are committed to developing these for the entire Sharp ecosystem.”
Hermann also said that Sharp has and will continue to invest in A4 to complete its line-up, and he also said that the company is prepared to increase that investment if demand is there.
Towards the end of 2020, Sharp acquired the majority share in NEC Display Solutions to create a new entity – Sharp NEC Display Solutions. The combined business, which according to Tung, has delivered a 500 per cent increase in display business, made its debut as one company at ISE in May.
Bernd Eberhardt, President and CEO Sharp NEC Display Solutions Europe spoke about the synergies between the two brands and the opportunity for partners. “The combined strengths of Sharp and NEC brings significant value to customers and partners through an enhanced portfolio of products and professional services,” he said, adding: “The visual solutions market is growing, strong and profitable. We have a wide portfolio available to channel partners that doesn’t require deep AV knowledge and we also offer installation services that are available to buy.”
Eberhardt said that the company is at an exciting stage of its evolution and used ISE as a springboard to launch to the market. The company showcased its range of meeting and collaboration technologies; flexible large format displays with integrated computing options; dvLED solutions for use in retail signage and for the transportation sector; projectors; and high-end innovation in 8K that enables users to present content in precise detail.
Synappx Collaboration Hub
One of the most innovative announcements made on the day was the launch of the Synappx Collaboration Hub, a smart subscription service that aims to simplify the meeting experience, addressing the changing needs and challenges of hybrid meetings.
Using the power of the cloud, Synappx provides users with an easy to use and consistent interface to run any type of meeting, providing streamlined access to shared documents via web platforms and meeting solutions.
Hybrid meetings often use a variety of video conferencing equipment and cloud services to connect and share information which can often lead to long set up times. Synappx Collaboration Hub delivers a consistent user experience whether using a personal or in-room device, removing user concerns when using unknown equipment and services, to ensure meetings start on time. Documents are also easily accessed and shared thanks to consistent processes and menu options when accessing data from various cloud database services.
The Synappx Collaboration Hub helps users to work effectively and efficiently in any meeting space by removing complexity. Whether meeting from a huddle space or operating a sophisticated in-room video conference equipment, users can automatically start a video conference and easily access their documents from a personal PC or smartphone, ensuring participants’ focus always remains on the content and meeting objectives.
The Synappx Go app provides full touchless control of all meeting processes directly from a smartphone. Users can take full control of all meeting activities, easy meeting launch and the ability to simply retrieve and present content stored in multiple cloud storage services onto a display.
IT products and services
Partners also heard from Colin Blumenthal, VP IT Services at Sharp Europe and Damien Jaune dynabook President Europe, who spoke about the opportunity to expand their offerings to meet customers needs across cloud, mobility and security.
Blumenthal said that Sharp is looking to support its partners in building their expertise in IT and is looking to manage training via its local teams to help partners understand the technologies that Sharp can offer.
“We will provide what is needed to help our partners maximise the IT sales opportunity,” he said, adding that the goto-market strategy is still being refined. “We will consult with partners to ensure that we deliver this in the right way, with more information to follow.”
dynabook, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sharp offers a broad range of business laptops that complements its range of office and business solutions and partners can now purchase these directly from Sharp. Jaune announced that the company will be further strengthening the roadmap and portfolio and will run workshops to help partners leverage the margin opportunity that lies in the PC-as-a-service concept.
For partners, the key takeaway from Elevate 2022 is that Sharp is committed to helping them ‘elevate’ their sales and meet changing market demands. The company is building a business to power the future workplace and is investing in an integrated range of products and services as well as training to empower its partners to capture new opportunities within visual solutions, IT services and cyber security.