…Business Unit Leader (Partner Channel) at Konica Minolta Business Systems UK picks the tools he uses every day and couldn’t do his job without
1 Video conferencing tools
Nothing can beat the social aspects of meeting face-to-face; however, video conferencing tools like Microsoft Teams or Zoom have become invaluable for me this year. Being able to connect using these tools has helped us to build and maintain the excellent working relationship we have with our partners.
What’s more, not being able to travel has made us all more productive, speaking to more partners more often. Prior to the lockdown, a typical week would involve spending three hours per day commuting to the office and a lot of time on the road travelling to meetings. That is precious time we have all reclaimed, reducing our carbon footprint in the process.
Many of our partners and their customers are focused on print, whether professional, industrial or office. However, Konica Minolta has an expansive solutions portfolio that encompasses a wide range of IT services. A big part of our role is helping to educate our partners about how they can take advantage of these, and webinars are vital to achieving this.
Throughout the summer we hosted a wide-ranging series of webinars, giving our partners a ‘behind the curtain’ look at what we can offer them and ultimately their customer base today. Topics and technologies include how to manage documents remotely, effective customer contact and improving content workflow through intelligent capture, and cloud-based print management. These were understandably very popular given the current circumstances.
The print industry needs to adapt and evolve at a pace far quicker than anyone would have predicted. Being able to help our partners to diversify and grow their offering, to better support their print customers and introduce profitable new revenue streams, is a very exciting prospect. In fact, a number of partners have asked us to continue the series to help educate their sales teams. COVID-19 has accelerated the need for change.
3 E-Biz 2 online ordering portal
I am particularly proud of the new online ordering portal (E-Biz 2) that we have recently launched, that makes it quicker and easier for all of our channel partners to place orders, from the entire range of Konica Minolta’s hardware and consumables. The new system is fully automated and much slicker than our previous email-based ordering system. The response from our channel partners has been extremely positive, as they are able to get products out to their customers faster. It is great for us as we are spending less time fulfilling orders and more time working on other initiatives to support our partners. Self-service reduces errors and makes us easier to do business with.
4 Distribution partnership
In addition to the new portal, we have also partnered with Westcoast, who ship products directly to our partners’ customers. This new partnership has been transformative for us as a business, as we have been able to grow our consumables business substantially within our partner base. It has also added a lot of value to our partners as overnight we have eliminated the burden of logistics for them. We have been working with Westcoast since early this year and this has been game-changing for Konica Minolta.
5 Our entrepreneurial partner community
Konica Minolta is transforming as an IT services business and our product portfolio continues to develop. Today print continues to be core and is in many ways a barometer of the wider economy and right now the signals are that there is a real revival with industry coming back strongly. This is thanks in no small part to the entrepreneurial spirit of our channel partners.
I have had the pleasure of working in the print world for many years and it is an industry that has always made its own luck. I am constantly humbled, but never surprised, by how versatile and agile our partners are in the face of adversity and opportunity. My role is to develop and facilitate Konica Minolta’s indirect strategy, something I could not do without the close relationships we have with all our partners, small and large, old and new.