Catching up with OKI Data Americas: A4 and More Bringing Success

oki-americas-buildingLast week, we joined OKI Data Americas in an online Webinar in which OKI executives took a candid look at its current and emerging position in the office MFP/copier and printer industry. As we’ve reported previously, OKI has been reporting very strong financial results, with, for instance, parent company OKI Electric of Tokyo last month raising its forecast for both sales and net income for its fiscal half-year. OKI raised its forecast for net income from 1.0 billion to 5.0 billion yen, with the firm explaining that the upward revision was due in part to its much-improved MFP/printer business.

Prior to that, last May, OKI Electric reported very strong results for its fiscal year, with net income of 27.4 billion yen, a 101.2-percent increase versus the previous fiscal year. Net sales for OKI printers and MFPs for the year were 31,2  billion yen, while operating income improved by 4.2 billion yen year-over-year versus the loss reported for the previous fiscal year.

A great part of OKI’s success in its MFP business has been its very successful transition from printers to copier-based MFPs equipped with print, copy, scan, and fax, as well as equipped with OKI’s smart Extendable Platform for adding solutions (about 30 are available now) for cost-accounting, document management (such as integration with DocuWare), advanced scan and document capture, fax-server integration, and more.

Today, printer/MFPs make up 25.8 percent of OKI’s net sales, and 70 percent of all net sales are in Japan, followed by Europe (11.1 percent), China (10.5 percent), and North America (4.5 percent). In North America, OKI Data Americas shipped 16 million-plus over the life of the company – with a product mix consisting of color and black-and-white digital printers, color and black-and-white MFPs, dot-matrix impact printers, label and point-of-sale (POS) printers, and graphic-arts and commercial printers.

Within the United States in its latest fiscal year, OKI has seen the greatest growth in its color MFP business – with revenue for its color MFPs up 29 percent versus the previous year.

This year, OKI expects to focus on office MFPs, and on production printers, including printers that can print on labels, magnets, and heavyweight stock – such as its C941dn, which is part of OKI’s new Multimedia Production Platform. Virtually all of its printers and MFPs (except for dot-matrix printers) are based on the company’s patented LED (light emitting diode) printing, a toner-based printing technology that instead of a laser, uses an array of LEDs to image on media – and a technology that OKI says provides superior image quality compared to laser-printing.

According to Carl Taylor, Vice President of Marketing for OKI Data Americas, one of OKI’s key advantages is its hardware and software configurability and its vertical market experience – experience in solutions for retail, healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, financial services, education, and government. Along with this is OKI’s very broad printer product portfolio. “We have arguably the most diverse product portfolio of any vendor,” says Taylor, “from label printers to office, to graphics printing. We serve everything from the front counter, to the office, to the back office and more.” These other solutions include the Multimedia Production printers (shown below) that can print on everything from magnets and labels, and in clear and white toner for striking graphics-arts printing.

Taylor, also notes that OKI is continuing to increase its solution portfolio, noting, “Hardware solutions typically don’t win sales alone, they need to be supported by solutions.” He notes that most of OKI’s growth is occurring in the BTA channel, where OKI’s A4 products are attracting dealers who require an A4 product line.  “Many large dealers are coming to us because of our A4 products.” While these dealers have A3 products in place, OKI can also sell its A3 products, which have the same platform and user interface as its A3 products, says Taylor, noting. “The larger dealers we’re engaging with have A3 – we’re providing them with A4, giving us an opportunity to steal market share from larger players. Then we can also offer our A3, noting that it’s the same interface as OKI A4.”

c900-output

Part of OKI’s Multimedia Production Platform, the C931dn and C911dn can print on a broad range of media substrates, and, in addition to CYMK toner colors, can also print using clear or white toner.

es 9465

OKI’s new Executive Series ES9465/ES9475 color A3  office MFPs, which print at up to 50 ppm.

Overall, OKI – whose parent company has been in business since 1881 (that’s not a typo) – appears to be carving out a unique and successful niche for itself in the printer/MFP world, using its hard-earned expertise, vertical-market experience, expansive product lineup, and just plain resourcefulness,  to compete successfully in the challenging printer/MFP industry. In fiscal 2013, OKI launched over 28 new products, and three more this year, with more planned for fiscal 2016. Stay tuned for more, as OKI quietly – and not so quietly – continues to shake things up.

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