Konica Minolta Dealer Meeting Overview: Revenues Up; Dealers Rule; 3D Printers; New A4 Line; More
Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A. held its annual North American dealer meeting November 17-20 in Las Vegas, an event attended by its dealers, as well as the press and analysts. Some of the biggest news was the company’s announcement that it’s entering the 3D printing market, an initiative well-received by many dealers, as well as a new A4 MFP family with A3 bizhub-compatibility.
Held at the Palazzo Resort and Casino (above), the event itself was top-class. The complex is huge, as it encompasses the Palazzo, the Venetian, and the Sands facilities. This made it somewhat difficult to find our way around during the early stages, and involved quite a few long back-and-forth treks in order to attend the numerous events (click here to view the Agenda & Schedule). Nevertheless, the facilities had everything you could possibly ask for and the rooms in the Palazzo were very comfortable.
The Coolest Execs in the Industry
A lot of fun was had by all, including Konica Minolta executives. Jun Haraguchi, senior executive officer and general manager of Sales at Konica Minolta Business Solutions Inc. was belting them out at the Tao Nighclub event on the last evening, and was later joined by guitarist Kevin Kern, senior vice president of marketing for Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A.
Back to Business…
Rick Taylor (first photo), president and COO of Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A. (KMBS) kicked off the event with financial details for fiscal year 2012, all of which were looking up:
- Total revenue is up 6 percent.
- Unit sales are up 9 percent.
- Software-solutions revenue is up 44 percent.
- IT services revenue is up 59 percent.
- Dealers earned 52 percent of revenue, while direct branches earned 48 percent of revenue.
However, with the number of printed pages down some 16 percent, Taylor noted it’s imperative for dealers to adjust, and expand from printing to other revenue streams, such as by managing customers’ IT infrastructure (managed IT services), as well as by driving printing through production and 3D printing, and managing customers’ print/MFP fleets with Konica Minolta’s managed print services program, Optimized Print Services (OPS). (OPS Enterprise Edition provides meter and alert reporting, device management and reporting, as well as a new Web site portal for OPS.) Taylor also announced the opening of three new business innovation centers in the United States, United Kingdom, and Japan that will help showcase Konica Minolta technology.
Taylor also noted that KMBS now has some 324 dealers, and observed that while another vendor boasted of having some 850 dealers within 300 territories, that’s actually disadvantageous for competitive dealers, since they end up `competing with each other. One new initiative from KMBS that should be welcomed by dealers is a program under which the legal department of the Business Technology Association (BTA) will review KMBS dealer-related legal documents for fairness and viability.
3D Printing: Beyond the Document
One surprise was an ad-hoc meeting on 3D printing that was added onto the very end of the agenda, right before the final shindig at the Tao nightclub. Although details were limited due to time constraints, Konica Minolta announced an agreement with 3D Systems for selling 3D printers, with a marketing specialist from Konica Minolta delivering a 3D printing primer and a representative from 3D Systems discussing costs and benefits of the 3D Systems’ product line. Konica Minolta pointed out that it’s established infrastructure will provide an important advantage over other 3D printer vendors. Dealers seemed to react very favorably, with a packed seminar on the subject.
For 3D printers, KMBS anticipates a revenue mix that’ll consist of 35.5 percent of 3D printer units, 39.5 percent for build materials (such as plastic filament to create objects), and 25 percent for maintenance and services. Based on data from Gartner, compound annual growth for enterprise-level 3D printers is estimated at 90 percent, at 96 percent for low-priced SOHO 3D printers, at 75 percent for mid-priced small-business 3D printers and 80 percent for high-priced enterprise 3D printers.
3D Systems’ markets a range of 3D printers, from personal, to professional, to production. It also recently its first consumer 3D scanner, the Sense 3D scanner.
New Monochrome A4 Desktop MFPs
Konica Minolta previewed a new A4 platform line for its dealer channel, including four new desktop A4 MFPs (shown above at the product showroom). These MFPs are sourced from Lexmark, but are based on Konica Minolta Emperon controller technology, and feature Konica Minolta control panels and touch screens. They’re compatible with Konica Minolta’s PageScope suite and Universal Print Driver. Options include wireless printing, and support for IPDS cards, and forms and barcode printing. What’s key is that some are equipped with a touch screen design that’s virtually the same as the company’s A3 bizhub MFPs (although the A4 MFPs’ touch screens will be slightly smaller at 7″ versus the A3 MFPs’ touch screen at 9″). The same IWS (Internal Web Service) and API open architecture is built into the A4 MFPs, for consistency across Konica Minolta A4 and A3 MFPs.
For upcoming standalone A4 printers, Konica Minolta also previewed a standalone control panel with touch screen – this connects to the printer through a network port and provides a touch screen for printers so that users can take advantage of more advanced features such as secure print and printing documents stored in cloud-based document repositories.
New A4 monochrome MFPs include:
- The bizhub 4020 and bizhub 3320, which are rated at 42 and 35 ppm respectively, and scan in both color and black-and-white. The bizhub 4020’s control panel/touch screen can be customized, and has a USB port for printing from USB memory drives. Standard capabilities are print, copy, scan, and Super Group 3 fax.
- Scanning is rated 43 (mono)/19 (color) originals per minute.
- Both units have a standard 250-sheet paper capacity, expandable with either a 550- or 250-sheet paper tray option. The bizhub’s 4020’s maximum paper capacity is 2,000 sheets, while bizhub 3320’s maximum paper capacity is 850 sheets. The former has a 100-sheet bypass tray, while the latter has a 50-sheet bypass tray.
New Color Desktop A4 MFPs
Konica Minolta also previewed two new color desktop A4 MFPs, the bizhub C3850 (right) and bizhub C33550, both using Konica Minolta print engines, controllers, control panels, and touch screens, as well as compatibility with Konica Minolta’s PageScope suite and Universal Print Driver.
The bizhub C3850 and bizhub C3350 are rated at up to 40 and 35 ppm respectively, and feature a tablet-style 7″ color touchscreen with touch-and-swipe operation. Preliminary specifications include:
- PCL and PostScript print drivers
- Color scanning rated at up to 37 originals per minute.
- IC card reader compatibility.
- Super Group 3 fax (optional for the bizhub 3250).
- Standard 650-sheet paper capacity expandable to 1,750 sheets with two optional 500-sheet paper trays.
- Document stapler-finishing options.
Coming the second quarter of Konica Minolta’s fiscal 2014 year will also be an A4 standalone printer and desktop MFP. Also coming are:
- Two other monochrome A4 MFPs, the bizhub 4750 and bizhub 4050, rated at 42 and 50 ppm respectively.
- Three A4 standalone printers: the 35-ppm bizhub 3300P, 42-ppm bizhub 4000P, and 50-ppm bizhub 4700P
Konica Minolta also previewed the monochrome bizhub Press 2250P (above), which is essentially two back-to-back bizhub Press 1250 engines and prints at up to 200 impressions per minute, or 125 duplex pages per minute. Options include three PF-703s or LaserMax DocuSheeter, as well as Watkiss PowerSquare and CP Bourg Book Factory.
Other production-printing previews included the bizhub Press C1070, a 60-70 ppm digital color press. The C1070 has a 280,000-300,000-page monthly duty cycle, and has air-assisted paper-feeder options, as well as an optional air-suction paper-feed unit. Overall, Konica Minolta says it offers a smaller footprint, enhanced media support, and more offset-like image quality with the new Simitri HDe toner that it uses.
Also on the floor was the KM-1, a digital, UV color inkjet press that processes cut-sheet pages up to 29” size, and which Konica Minolta developed with Komori Corporation and introduced in September 2013. It’s rated at printing 3,300 sheets per hour simplex, and 1,650 sheets per hour duplex.
Also on the floor was the awesome KIP C7800 wide-format color printer that can produce toner-based color prints at speeds up to 3,500 sq. ft. per hour on a variety of substrates and can be equipped with a variety of print controllers.
Expansion of EnvisionIT
Konica Minolta also expanded its Envision IT to include software, hardware and IT services designed specifically for three new verticals sectors: financial, manufacturing, and government. Existing solutions are for the education, healthcare, and legal sectors, and for production printing.
For production printing and graphic arts, solutions include hardware such as the recently introduced bizhub Express C8000, and EngageIT automated workflow for managing production-printing processes from one platform. The aim of this solution is to minimize manual user intervention in production printing as much as possible.
For production-printing, there’s also EngageIT XMedia, which is available on a software as a service (SAAS) basis, and is designed to help commercial printers and their customers integrate multiple marketing channels to increase business, using email, text messaging, social media, PURLs, and more.
For more on the new EnvionIT solutions for the education, healthcare, and legal sectors, and for production-printing, see here.
The Konica Minolta Business System “Shape the Future” North American dealer meeting was a comfortable, professionally coordinated, fun AND focused event. Starting a trend, Konica Minolta went out of their way to make the dealers feel wanted and needed, and it was a welcome message to all.
As with other vendors, Konica Minolta is continuing the process of transitioning from pure hardware and printing. It’s well along that path with: sensible and cohesive dealer programs and strategies; solutions for capturing documents and routing them to workflows and on-site and cloud-based sites, along with mobility and security solutions; IT services (25 percent of Konica Minolta’s dealers deploy Konica Minolta’s All Covered IT services), and managed print services via its Optimized Print Services.
The theme of “Strategy, Passion, Leadership” was carried throughout the event by the highly capable executives of Konica Minolta Business Systems. It’s clear that they have the leadership skills in spades and that as a group, they are also the coolest execs in the industry.