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Martin Fairman Kyocera Q&A with Michelle Ryder PITR Editor

Kyocera Document Solutions UK who recently appointed Martin Fairman, former UK & Ireland Managing Director and Channel Director at Lexmark, as its new Group Sales and Marketing Director, caught up with Michelle Ryder to find out more about plans to drive Kyocera’s sales and marketing strategy throughout 2021 and beyond, as the company further expands its customer and channel partner relationships

Michelle Ryder (MR): Great to catch up with you and congratulations on the new role, after 12 years at Lexmark, what attracted you to Kyocera?

Martin Fairman (MF): I’m delighted to be joining Kyocera and excited with the opportunity to bring together three of the main divisions here: marketing, our channel business which is really key to our success, and a division that we call content services – that’s outsourced IT services, and unifying that into one group. It’s a massive growth engine not just for the UK business, but also for Kyocera Japan. 

There’s a lot of focus on this area of the business, and we’re looking at how we really accelerate adoption within our partners. I have 20 plus years of experience working with the channel, I understand how it works, the nuances between the copier businesses and the IT resellers, and what they’re looking for, so I can leverage that. I’m looking forward to helping nurture and grow Kyocera’s relationships with its channel partners, using all my experience in this area to make a positive impact. Partners are, after all, integral to the success of an organisation like Kyocera, so giving them the guidance they need to succeed will be one of my key aims in this position. 

It was a really exciting opportunity to move away from where Lexmark was on their journey and where they’re going, to jump into Kyocera and drive their business moving forward. I’m just ten weeks in, but I am already relishing the challenge!

MR: Can you tell me more about your plans in terms of print channel engagement and partner relationships?

MF: We will continue to drive our business through distribution. I think it’s fair to say our business is very heavily skewed towards the copier business or traditional copier dealers, and that continues to grow, especially as we are starting to see lifting of the COVID restrictions. We’re seeing dealers bringing their sales people back, and that’s resulting in a significant increase in business from their point of view as well. 

Our traditional print business remains an area we wish to grow, and we also see opportunity for growth within the IT reseller market both from value-added resellers, as well as the online resellers. That’s in addition to production print of course.

MR: The TASKalfa Pro 15000c as featured on the cover last issue, is the first Kyocera-branded production print device, what’s the plan for growth here, will you be offering the TASKalfa Pro 15000c to your channel partners and what opportunity do you see within this new sector?

MF: Inkjet really presents a good opportunity within the historical production print sector which heavily relies on laser. The environmental messaging in terms of energy consumption is far superior – inkjet doesn’t require huge fusing temperatures as laser technology does, so from a sustainability standpoint, it’s a lot more appealing for production print houses. 

Kyocera has decades of experience in the manufacture of inkjet print technology – its technology features in many other providers’ devices, so, this is not new technology for us. The TASKalfa Pro 15000c represents our entry into this market sector, and that’s linked to Kyocera’s philosophy which is all around innovation. Coming in with a disruptive technology like inkjet we have certainly gained a significant amount of attention, not only from the print production houses, but also from very large end-user customers that have high volumes going through office laser printers. Everybody recognises inkjet is a very cost-effective way of laying an image on a piece of paper, and this high speed device really is a disruptive technology in this very laserheavy marketplace. 

We have done incredibly well in terms of demonstrations here at head office and customers really understand the value-add, there’s an ROI just on the power consumption – so it ticks a lot of boxes for customers. In settings where we have successfully placed these units, we’re seeing a lot of the traditional print being migrated over to the inkjet technology, and a lot of our clients aren’t using their laser units as much as they have been. 

We’ve already got a number of channel partners, existing clients who have production print specialists, signed up and we are looking to increase that as well. Production print does require a different skillset, of course, and as part of our channel expansion, we are finding new partners that are specialists in that space. So not only are we adding value to our existing partners, but also, we’re now attracting new partners that previously would not have considered Kyocera.

MR: What’s your main focus in terms of engaging with the IT reseller channel?

MF: For existing and new partners that may not sell print today, we have our comprehensive solutions portfolio. So we’re now engaging with customers that wouldn’t have considered Kyocera because of our hardware – purely as a solutions provider – to help them find new revenue streams, or complementing what they already have and adding value to their clients. 

We see a couple of opportunities in the market – the first being traditional hardware replacements offered as a managed print service which we can deliver on partners’ behalf. We can provide a fully managed wraparound service which they can then bill to their clients. And then the other area is to complement what they’ve got from a hardware point of view, with our wider portfolio that includes unified comms, security to cloud right through to fully outsourced services. We have already gained some outsourcing contracts via partners, and we’re maintaining them here from the UK and that really is an area that we want to significantly grow over the next 12 to 18 months.

MR: The pandemic has to some extent dramatically changed the climate for the print channel, we’ve seen mass acceleration of cloud and digital transformation – what do you think this will mean for the channel’s go to market strategy?

MF: The last year has thrown up a number of challenges for businesses operating in the print and document management space, but Kyocera has continued to deliver despite these pressures. 

The adoption of digital technology such as Teams or Zoom in the past 18 months has been much quicker. We’ve also seen a massive uptake in enterprise content management as clients look to get information quicker, and make sure it’s secure as people are working from home. So that is an area that we want to help our partners really capitalise on and secure additional revenue streams and profitability, without necessarily having to do all the upskilling. 

Partners are now having a different type of conversation with their enduser customers around cloud, ICT and ECM solutions. We are looking to further expand our product and service portfolio, offering a range of holistic solutions that cover areas such as cloud, disaster recovery, automated workflow software and full managed ICT services, so partners can quickly sell into their clients. Our solutions don’t require too much heavy lifting and we will support partners through the process.

I think we all recognise that print volumes have significantly declined as a result of the pandemic. We are seeing volumes increase now, but if you look at IDC’s predictions, output is not going to come back to pre-pandemic levels. Partners will need to evolve their business to become less reliant on historical print-based revenue streams. Kyocera is in a fantastic place to help them on that journey of transformation and support them all the way, helping partners to have a different conversation and find new revenue streams with their existing clients, and ultimately new net new clients as well. 

Printing will always be our heritage, the bit that anchors where we’ve got to today, and there’s still an opportunity to grow within this marketplace. Moving forward, I think dealers will have to change, they will have to train their salespeople maybe in a more consultative way to sell these new types of solutions. And I think that will bring a number of challenges, so it’s really important that they find a vendor like Kyocera that has the credibility and the people that can support them on their journey as they evolve their business and expand beyond their roots in traditional print.