May 4, 2010
I was in Los Angeles Monday at the Konica Minolta “Power of Performance” Conference & Product Expo. About 30 analysts have been invited to report on this event that this year is bringing together Konica Minolta dealer and direct sales channels in one giant lollapalooza held from May 2-5 at the JW Marriott Hotel at L.A. Live (next to the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles). About a thousand people are here and we’ve just completed the first day which started with presentations from Konica Minolta executives, continued with a keynote from conservative commentator George Will, and has finished up with a rousing performance by the Blues Brothers (Dan Ackroyd and Jim Belushi) at nearby Club Nokia. I think from the A-list entertainment line-up you can see that Konica Minolta is going all out for this event, but the real risk, as Konica Minolta Business Solutions, USA Senior VP and CEO Rick Taylor put it, was getting all of the dealer and direct sales people in the same room for the first time. This strategy, however, has enabled Konica Minolta to bring a consistent message to the two groups that most need to hear it, despite the fact that by their very nature they are often in conflict.
Energizing the channel is the purpose of such an event, and if the early results are any indication, Konica Minolta has succeeded. The introduction of the new 80-ppm bizhub PRESS C8000 is a big piece of this, but the dealers definitely appreciate Taylor’s repeated promise and commitment that the direct channel won’t go after dealer’s accounts and employees. Taylor wants to create the largest independent dealer channel in the industry, and he is clearly well on his way to that goal. New A4 office products and a renewed commitment to the production space are all part of a message that includes the new bizhub PRESS brand (FYI, InfoTrends will soon be publishing an analysis on the new bizhub PRESS C8000).
Konica Minolta showed two new television commercials and highlighted how it would be promoting production print in on-line and print campaigns. The “Stop the Presses” message surrounding the offset quality and heavyweight performance of the bizhub PRESS C8000 will be hammered home over the coming months. Hints of additional production-oriented announcements have been interspersed with an ongoing commitment to Kodak’s Digimaster products (the EX300 is being shown here, as it was at ON DEMAND 2010). In addition Kodak scanners are being used to reinforce the ubiquitous digital document message supported by numerous Konica Minolta software partners.
This morning, George Will’s keynote was an economic downer describing the United States as an entitled society with a dependency agenda that is saddling our grandchildren with debt in the form of ever-increasing costs for healthcare and social security for aging baby boomers. It was somehow appropriate then that the Blues Brothers closed the evening with a cover of “Money (That’s What I Want).” Capitalism motivates both dealers and direct sales people, and it’s that economic drive that Konica Minolta hopes it can sustain with an innovative line of products and solutions for the office and production markets.
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