Following the launch of Samsung’s new enterprise class A3 MFP (see box), PrintIT Reseller caught up with Mark Ash, Head of Print,
Samsung UK & Ireland, to fid out how Samsung fared last year and what its plans are for 2015.
Ash was in an ebullient mood. “2014was by far and away the best year we have ever had,” he said. “We exited the year with substantial growth. Our hardware business grew 37% last year and we delivered our best performance in our 24-year history. When you delve below the surface the A3 growth was phenomenal.
Overall, we quadrupled our A3 business.
We were the fastest growing vendor and the only vendor that showed quarter-onquarter growth throughout the year. That’s really exciting for us.”
Much of the credit for this, must go to the channel. “In the offie automation (OA) business area, our trading accounts grew from 26 to 87 and, again, on A3, the unit performance was something like 387% growth,” he said.
Ash attributes Samsung’s success to three things – people, process, technology.
“We have employed the right people. We have got what’s acknowledged by others in the industry as the strongest management team and we’ve got a number of talented people with a great work ethic in the right places. We’ve put in the business basics and processes you would expect in an organisation such as this. And now the technology is really starting to catch up. The innovation is starting to come through with the MX4 series, with its Android interface, and now the MX7 series. We’ve got the holy trinity now – people, process, technology.”
Ash says that the effects of these developments are starting to be seen in increased market share for Samsung products.
“The market is declining at a headline level, though the decline is predominantly in A4 at the lower page per minute level i.e. Segment 1. The A3 market is growing, and it’s there that we are increasing our market share. The full year (2014) fiures aren’t out yet, but YTD we’ve moved to number 8 in the market. If you look at the addressable market we play in, we have moved to seventh. Cast your mind back 12 months and we were 12th or 13th in that market.”
Ash says that much of the growth is being driven by the IT reseller and OA channels and that they are likely to grow in importance as Samsung continues to draw on its expertise in other areas, such as mobility and displays.
“We focus our resources on B2B sales, and growth really is in the IT reseller and OA channels. That’s not by accident; that’s where we are focusing our resource and it’s a key growth area for Samsung as we launch new products, innovate, bring new technology to market and leverage cross-platform support i.e. mobility, display etc. We are anticipating signifiant growth there again this year. We are planning to double that business again this year.”
He added that the Android platform on the MX4 and MX7 gives channel partners a great opportunity to develop new sources of revenue.
“We will be launching new apps for our customers in a dedicated app store in March. We will develop apps and we are encouraging our partners to develop their own and use them as a differentiator or as a revenue-generating opportunity,” he said.
As an example of a Samsung app, Ash highlights the Smart Service app, which enables a partner’s service department to view real-time service information by connecting a smartphone or other smart device to an MX4 or MX7 by cable or NFC. If there is an error code, the app will play a video demonstrating what’s wrong and how to put it right. This, it is claimed, signifiantly speeds up device management and servicing.
Third party apps are still under development or in the beta-testing phase, but Ash is excited by the possibilities they offer, especially in specifi vertical
“What’s really exciting is when we look at the vertical sectors in which [customers developing] apps operate. We have High Street retailers who are developing apps that enable them to use the display on the device as a kiosk, so someone can walk in, access the retailer’s website and pull off content. We are also working with some well known DIY chains in the UK and it’s incredibly exciting looking at what they plan to do with it.”
Ash says that these sorts of capabilities, and Samsung’s IT expertise in general, are very helpful in bringing Samsung to the attention of enterprise customers, where Samsung needs to grow its business.
“We have two types of customer; the SMB and the enterprise. Within SMB, Samsung is already very strong. For a long time, we’ve been number 1, 2 or 3 in the A4 market space, depending on the month, quarter or year. People know us very well there; we are tried and trusted. In the large enterprise space, what’s fascinating for us in the journey Samsung is on.
“The growth we have experienced in the Samsung B2B and Samsung Business Enterprise Teams has been phenomenal, and it is largely driven by the prowess we have shown in our consumer business. We now find ourselves around the board table with C-suite executives, typically CIOs who already use Samsung technology in their personal lives, talking about how print is integrated in their business. With the acquisition by Samsung of Smart Things (an Internet of Things company) in August 2014, we are extending that conversation further. We are moving away from smart devices that work well together to actually automating the experience altogether. That’s the strength of Samsung” he said.
NFC & mobility
Samsung’s early integration of NFC into its devices is another example of how the company uses technology to start conversations with enterprises and position print in the context of broader, strategic discussions, such as enterprise mobility.
“Enterprises look at NFC as part of their mobility strategy. The new product has got NFC and Bluetooth LTE – a low energy variant of Bluetooth – which has implications for how you authenticate yourself at a device, confiure the device personally to your requirements and also release jobs. NFC is defiitely part of the mobility strategy of many businesses,” he said.
“We’ve got a differentiator in the fact that we’ve got the KNOX secure platform. I’ve yet to fid a CIO who says ‘Mark, I’ve got a burning desire to talk to you about print’. But they will talk to you about mobility. When they learn that once you are inside the secure KNOX platform you can click one button to print they become very interested. If you then talk to them about print security, you can say wouldn’t it be good if your phone could authenticate print release or personalise the device you are using?”
Line of the Year
All this doesn’t mean that Samsung hasn’t been perfecting the basics, the actual print hardware. It recently won the Buyers Lab Inc. Monochrome Printer/MFP Line of the Year Award for the second year in a row on the basis of its devices’ superior performance, energy-effiiency, ecofriendliness and ease-of-use – all qualities to be found on the new MX7, Samsung’s most powerful offering to date.
“We manufacture some great products, but there are certain types of vertical market that take on higher end products – professional services, legal services – and to date we have not had a product that catered for every single requirement,” explained Ash. “The MX7 takes us into 93% of the addressable market and it gives us a powerful proposition to really compete in those markets. The differentiators, the very mundane things, mean a lot, like 300gsm paper handling, SRA3, 200gsm duplex capacity, a 240 image per minute scanner. We are putting a hell of a lot of productivity into the hands of the workforce now, along with the Android interface and award-winning mobility.”
The complete solution
The MultiXpress 7 (MX7) A3 colour multi-function printer (MFP) has been specially designed to meet the needs of enterprises and SMBs with a requirement for smarter, more productive print devices.
Offering print speeds of up to 60 pages per minute, the MX7 is the only A3 MFP on the market powered by a Quadcore CPU for faster operation. It takes just 18 seconds to boot and 12 seconds to wake up from sleep mode. The fist page out time is only 3 seconds for a mono page and 4.5 seconds for colour prints. Print quality is 1200 dpi even when running at full speed.
A major attraction for paper-intensive businesses is the high speed scanner offering an industry-leading scan speed of up to 120 pages per minute or 240 images per minute on two-sided documents.
Other productivity enhancements include an 802.11ac-capable network chip, which is three times faster than the older 802.11n standard, and Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity, which gives users ‘always-on’ connectivity when in close proximity to the device.
The MX7 features a 10.1-inch Android-powered display running Samsung Smart UX 2.0. Users can pivot the Smart UX Center display to get true document views and customise the experience with apps that can be downloaded from Samsung’s printer app store.
The Smart UX Center also has a Workspace Cloud feature that lets users view and edit stored documents on any device. SCP Pro is supported, and there are over 20 ISV solutions that deliver seamless integration into existing offie cloud and server networks.
Another interesting feature of the MX7 is an electronic Tray Locking Kit that prevents letterhead or specialist paper from being removed.
The MX7 is capable of printing up to 300,000 pages a month and comes with an optional large toner cartridge with a capacity of 30,000 (C,M,Y) or 45,000 (K) pages. Other options include an automated document stapler capable of stapling 60 sheets or an 80-page A4 booklet.