80 partners attended Kyocera’s dealer conference which took place in September at the Grand Hotel, Brighton. PITR caught up with Marketing Director Joe Doyle, to find out more about what was announced
With 80 partners gathered in one room, it was logical that Kyocera would address how successful it had been in addressing the challenges posed by its acquisition of Annodata in 2016. Whilst Kyocera is not the only OEM to acquire within its channel base, Doyle admits that at the time, the deal did cause some ripples amongst its partner base.
“There were certainly concerns from the channel, but it didn’t take long for partners to understand that it wouldn’t negatively impact their businesses. The opposite in fact, they very quickly realised that bringing Annodata into the fold presented a host of new opportunities.”
He continued: “Of course, there have been occasions where both a partner and we have engaged with the same prospect. But we always resolve these instances with transparency, very equitably and very quickly as well. The number one priority is to make sure that the end customer gets the best result.”
Kyocera’s focus has been on reaffirming its commitment to an indirect sales model and strengthening relationships with channel partners, providing them with additional support and it’s paid off, Doyle said that revenue has increased by eight per cent over the past year.
“Our financial year ends in March and we’re targeting £160 million. When you consider that the indirect channel will make up the majority of that – around £90 million – it’s clear to see why our partners are so important to us,” he said.
One of the biggest announcements made on the day was the news that Kyocera is launching a production print device. “This is a first for Kyocera and it’s been a gap in our portfolio,” Doyle explained. “With the addition of this new 150 ppm production print system, our partners will, for the first time be able to offer customers a complete end-to-end solution, from the smallest desktop device right through to production print. And that’s going to be a key advantage.”
He added: “Many customers such as a university or hospital or a large enterprise organisation, are looking for a partner who can deliver a single brand across the entire print estate. Up until now, we haven’t been able to support our partners to do that.”
Interestingly, Kyocera’s new TASKalfa production printer is inkjet as opposed to laser. Inkjet technology has been rapidly advancing in recent years and the impact is now being felt across the industry. The global inkjet market is predicted to rise at 9.4 per cent across the next five years and Kyocera believes that the production print sector will increasingly rely upon inkjet technology as demand grows and the benefits become even clearer to see. Doyle said that the company is looking to expand the production print range further and quite significantly, revealing that in Japan, R&D is currently looking at devices capable of printing up to 200 ppm.
The new launch, says Doyle was extremely well received by partners. “It’s very exciting, for the first time they can now offer customers a complete Kyocera solution. We took a number of dealers over to our production print showroom in Amsterdam, they were able to get hands-on with the device and feedback was really positive. I would say this new launch is going to be quite disruptive in the marketplace.”
One of Kyocera’s key objectives is to ensure that it supports its channel partners in delivering a wider range of services. Its offer extends far beyond the print environment, the company has expanded into unified communications, via a collaboration with Mitel; connectivity solutions delivered with HPE Aruba; as well as infrastructure solutions.
“The market is changing radically. One of the things that we really want to help our partners with is helping them transition their customers to the cloud and start to offer them a wider range of services. Because, if they don’t, then someone else will,” Doyle said.
Under its content services umbrella, Kyocera solutions include tools and technologies that capture, manage, store and distribute content, turning unstructured documents and forms into structured data. The solutions can analyse, improve and automate key business processes, increasing control and visibility, as well as improving security and compliance
“IT is an extremely competitive marketplace and margins are typically higher than a lot of print deals,” Doyle said. “Increasingly organisations are looking for economies of scale by engaging with a trusted advisor that can provide multiple solutions – hardware, software and infrastructure that enable digital transformation and which support cloud strategies. If our partners aren’t offering a wider range of products and services, then they are leaving money on the table. So what we’re going to do is support them to deliver comprehensive ICT services so that that they can start to increase the wallet share.”
He added: “One of the things that is a hugely attractive proposition for a lot of end-users is the availability of support services. We have invested £2 million in the Kyocera ICT service centre which is based in our Reading HQ and which provides our partners and their customers with a helpdesk that’s available 24/7/365.”
Around 250 people sit within Kyocera’s service function which is multilingual and provides a best in class ITIL structured service desk spanning, first, second and third line support and problem management. The centre handles between 1,200 and 1,400 tickets and calls across print and document management, ICT, cloud and UC every day.
“A lot of processes can be handled in a semi-automated way so not all of those tickets will require human interaction,” Doyle explained, adding: “Some requests are managed via email and we also have a self-healing diagnostic system, which can process some queries very quickly, but it is an impressive set-up and a valuable resource that’s available to partners and their customers.”
Connect on the go
Channel marketing has been another area where Kyocera has invested, it has appointed a channel marketing manager who acts as a conduit between partners and the OEM’s internal marketing experts. Partners can secure support across social media, events, website improvement and SEO, as well as have access to ‘campaigns in a box’, co-brandable assets such as digital banners, emails and brochures, and joint marketing planning.
“Some partners simply don’t have the resource or expertise to do marketing inhouse, so we’re making it easy for them to market themselves, by leveraging our resources,” Doyle said.
The company has also created the Kyocera connected app, which provides partners’ field-based teams with access to product and solution information, the latest news and events, resources and videos, product configurator and key presentations, at a tap of a button. There is also a browser-based version for officebased staff.
“We are very much at version one of this and there are a number of enhancements we are planning, but essentially it’s to help our partners stay connected whilst on the go. If, for example, a partner is with a customer and that customer asks for some product information, rather than having to leave and come back to them after having looked it up somewhere, now the salesperson has all of that information to hand on their mobile phone,” Doyle explained.
Partners can tap into the social media section, connect with their company’s social media and easily repost, share and like new content. “We can also send push notifications to all of our users. We’re really happy with how it has been received. We did a soft launch in July, and we’ve got over 400 active users from that. The first real push was when we announced it at the conference.”
Whilst the first iteration is aimed at sales people, Kyocera is already looking at ways that engineers can start to use it to access troubleshooting information for example or to identify any issues they may need to resolve from a product perspective.
Doyle said that signing up new partners is definitely on the agenda. “We are absolutely looking for future growth within our indirect channel, we have a £90 million target to hit. Bringing new partners on board will be integral to that, but we’re not looking to onboard at large. We’re looking for organisations that share our values and our vision. It’s about finding partners around the country that buy into the philosophy and values that we have, and to work together to help us grow market share,” he concluded.