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Kyocera to offer expanded solutions portfolio to channel partners

Cameron Smith, a 20-year veteran of the software solutions market, has joined Kyocera to head up the company’s new Content Services division.

Following the recent successful integration of Annodata and MCL into Kyocera UK, the company is expanding its solutions portfolio to better meet the needs of businesses. Smith, who was formerly with IT and services provider ProcessFlows, has been appointed Head of Sales – ICT & Content Services, and will lead a new team, charged with supporting channel partners in delivering a comprehensive range of solutions to their customers.

Kyocera already offers a range of managed services in its direct arm. “Our offer includes IT Services, which covers infrastructure, servers and storage systems; connectivity, ISDN and how people actually connect into the business; communications platforms including UC; there’s also mobile phone services as well as various pieces of software that sit around those offerings,” Smith explained, adding: “Our just launched Content Services offer – an umbrella term that covers the digitisation of manual processes and workflows – fits in very nicely alongside all those other offerings.”

Smith said that all services can be cloud hosted or a hybrid of cloud and on premise. “We have a very broad offering and everything is backed up by a full service delivery and platform and team. Importantly this team is all UK-based and that’s a pretty powerful message,” he said.

Content Services

Evolved from document management and more recently, enterprise content management (ECM), Content Services from Kyocera includes the use of 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.

“Content Services is an interesting term,” Smith commented. “If we were having this conversation 18 months ago we would be taking about ECM, but the market has evolved and we need to be a part of that.”

With the advent of digital transformation, allied to more flexible working patterns and new data protection legislations, businesses are faced with an increasing challenge of what to do with all the data that doesn’t reside in a database. “Businesses are driven by content – any kind of office document, emails, faxes, audio files etc. any kind of correspondence and any kind of paper, that’s part of a business transaction,” Smith said.

“Businesses typically have CRM or ERP or finance systems, however around 70 per cent of transactional data is still sitting in uncontrolled content,” Smith noted. “They’re being offered a brave new world of productivity and cost savings, but are often unable to reap the rewards due to a muddled and noisy marketplace. So our Content Services offer is about helping customers control that content and as part of that we look at the processes that surround their content.”

As an example, Smith cited the HR function and recruitment in particular. “Recruitment can be a long process if you consider steps such as the need to share CVs, ensure compliance, derive an offer and draw up a contract, then when a new starter turns up they have to be on-boarded – that’s a massive process before someone even starts in the business,” he said, adding that a content services platform will control all of the documents and the processes around handling it. “Content Services automates the process all the way through and then at any moment of time the HR director or CEO for example, could look at the system and identify how many people are in the process of employment and what stages they are at.”

Building a team

Kyocera UK has invested over £1 million into analysts, developers, engineers and pre-sales and sales staff to support the new offering. “That investment in eleven new hires was to bring new expertise and know-how into the business,” Cameron explained.

He continued: “In addition there are several people who are already in the business that have been put up for cross training and development. There are some extensive training programmes going on for the existing delivery and support teams.”

Channel expansion

Smith said that one of his objectives is to ensure that Kyocera supports its channel partners in delivering all of these services. “All of these services and platforms are available to Kyocera partners. My job is to get all of these services out to the channel, we have specialists in place and we’re going through various engagement models now.

“The power of our offering is its broadness,” he said, adding: “Customers are less inclined to do business with what they perceive to be a hardware only supplier. They are looking for partnerships and want their suppliers to not only supply the solution they need, but also to support and help them to evolve their business through thought leadership and value-add. I believe the broad Kyocera offering will allow our partners to do that.”

Bespoke configured

Kyocera’s Content Services offer is built on a partnership based approach. Every customer engagement begins with a consultation to help understand the business and its own specific needs, processes and aims. “We are very much consultancy led and what I mean by that is we don’t lead on product – we ask the customers to tell us about their business, what their problems and struggles are. That way we can deliver value and demonstrate our credentials as an ethical and trusted partner,” Smith explained.

The solutions that Kyocera would offer after consultation are made up of a broad set of technologies in its portfolio. “It’s never a case of one-size-fits-all. What the customer ends up with is not totally bespoke – we’re not building something from the ground up, but it’s also not out of the box. We use market leading technologies that are very component based, so in essence the customer experience is ‘bespoke configured’, by that I mean the solution is configured in a way they want to use it.”

Channel engagement

In terms of channel engagement, work is well underway. Kyocera has already got a channel engagement manager in place who is working alongside the marketing team to create collateral explaining the offer. “The channel managers will have all of the information about what Content Services is and how it works so they can go out and engage with their channel partners,” Smith said. “The channel managers will support partners in having new conversations with their customers. There are also three sales teams that have expertise in the various areas who will get involved in opportunities and work side by side with our channel partners,” he added.

Smith said that the strategy is to put the right subject matter expert into the right meeting, so Kyocera’s channel partners get the best possible support. “That process has already begun,” he said, adding: “We have already engaged with some partners, it’s still very early days, but we do already have some real opportunities through the channel.”

Channel accreditation

Another plan on the agenda is to establish a channel accreditation programme. “A lot of channel partners are print-centric and whilst this is a logical step for many, it’s not for all. For those keen to embrace the opportunity and earn better margin, one way to do this is to have champions in their business, committed to learning and taking the new services out to their customers,” Smith explained. “With an accreditation programme, partners who want to get on board can put forward people who will get trained and work with us. For those that don’t want to do that, then it can become a referral piece.”

Some channel businesses will be undecided whether or not they want to invest heavily in upskilling to deliver new services. Smith said that the other alternative is partnership. “But if you are going to open up your customer base to a third-party to deliver a solution you are not an expert in, then you really to need to trust that partner,” he said, adding: “One observation from my short time at Kyocera is that the company has very good relationships with their channel.”

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