Inspiring Customer Passion: The 2012 Konica Minolta Dealer Event

Jim Hamilton
Jan 18, 2012

More than 1,000 attendees have been in Las Vegas the past couple of days at the Bellagio hotel for Konica Minolta’s dealer event. This is the third such Konica Minolta event I’ve attended in the past few years. (See previous blogs on the one in Los Angeles in 2010 and Orlando in 2009. This year’s theme is “Inspire Customer Passion” and to bring that message home Konica Minolta presented an engaging mix of corporate presentations, an inspiring keynote by Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos and author of the book Delivering Happiness), and evening entertainment by Larry the Cable Guy.

Welcome to Fabulas Las Vegas

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas

Here are some thoughts on the event:

  • Inspire Customer Passion — In the opening session, Konica Minolta Business Solutions USA CEO Rick Taylor used a number of baseball references (Mickey Mantle and Dizzy Dean quotes for example) to build on the “Inspire Customer Passion” theme. He had good news to report including sales revenue up 14% (first three months of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010). He said that their national IT services business had generated more than $100 million in revenue. Their direct branch operation was up 7% and that overall the color office business was up 12% and the color production business was up 22%. He said that Konica Minolta had the number two market share position in total color placements. (Not sure which analyst firms share numbers he is referencing or the specific cut he’s looking at but certainly the bizhub PRESS C8000 has had a remarkable run since its introduction in 2010.)
Konica Minolta theme: Inspire Customer Passion

Konica Minolta theme: Inspire Customer Passion

  • Speed first and quality over price — Shoei Yamana, President and CEO of Konica Minolta Business Technologies noted that the company had prioritized speed in its product designs and cited this as a key reason for the company’s success. Taylor noted not long afterward that Konica Minolta will never choose to be the low-cost provider, choosing instead to promote quality over price.
  • Production announcements at a later date — Taylor said that new (yet to be announced) Production products would have the “speeds of a Porsche and the operating costs of a Prius” (yet it was a BMW that was on the expo floor as a grand prize for some lucky dealer…). Overall, much was hinted at in production yet little was said specifically. This is not unexpected as it’s a bit early to be showing one’s hand regarding drupa announcements.
Konica Minolta Dealer Event Grand Prize

Konica Minolta Dealer Event Grand Prize

  • If the CEO ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy — Taylor used numerous references to happiness, including the Harvard Business Review “The Value of Happiness” issue and Tony Hsieh’s book, “Delivering Happiness.”
  • Relationships with dealers — Alan Nielsen, Executive Vice President of Dealer Sales and Administration, applauded what he called the phenomenal performance of the dealer organization, citing a 25% increase in total unit sales in 2010 and a 16% increase in 2011 (despite poor economic conditions). Part of this he credited to rules of engagement that were established a few years back (e.g., Konica Minolta would compete on a level playing field, would not approach accounts where the dealer is the incumbent, would not hire away a dealer’s employees, would not make disparaging comments about dealers, etc.) BTA survey data that Nielsen showed at the event supports his contention that the situation has been turned around since a few years back when survey data indicated that Konica Minolta was not well liked by dealers. Nielsen added that in April of 2008 there were 459 authorized Konica Minolta dealers. As of September 2011 the number is down to 355, yet even with fewer authorized dealers the sales numbers are up. Konica Minolta is happy with fewer, but more productive dealers.
  • EnvisionIT — Konica Minolta launched a new brand for vertical market solutions called “EnvisionIT” (pronounced ‘envision it’). The markets covered are healthcare, legal, education, and production. The press release only addressed the first three verticals but I assume that in production EnvisionIT will represent software and solution partnerships with companies like Kodak/Creo, EFI, MPI Technologies, Objectif Lune, and Prism Software as well as Konica Minolta developed offerings such as the G7 color management solution that was shown at the expo.
  • Acquisitions? — Taylor highlighted the Harvard Business School contention that acquisition is a key factor for successful (and happy) companies. He said that Konica Minolta would continue to be active in acquiring companies.
  • A totally new product line in 18 months — Kevin Kern, Senior VP of Marketing said that Konica Minolta would replace the entire product line over the next 18 months and that the company would broaden the reach of their production print line and extend their wide format partnerships. The biggest product news was in light production: the bizhub c754 (see below).
  • bizhub C754/C654 — the bizhub C754 (75 ppm mono, 60 ppm color) and its sister product the bizhub C654 (65 ppm mono, 50 ppm color) are expected to do double duty in office and light production color. Both products are the first to offer Konica Minolta’s new control panel interface called INFO-Palette, a 9″ color touch screen with a customizable user interface.
  • New production mono — The first indication of what Konica Minolta is planning in terms of production upgrades was the bizhub PRO 951. Built on the same chassis as the bizhub 1200, the bizhub 951 has a small footprint and an all in one modular finisher called the FS532. Konica Minolta said that upgrades to their bizhub 1050 and 1200 high-speed mono offerings would be coming out this summer. They will go by the names bizhub 1052 and bizhub 1250.
Konica Minolta bizhub PRO 951

Konica Minolta bizhub PRO 951

  • Around the production area — Konica Minolta had a range of production products in a special section of the expo floor. This included a bizhub PRESS C7000 and C8000, bizhub PRO C6000L (the entry-level version of the bizhub PRESS C6000), and a bizhub C751 light production color device. Konica Minolta noted that the C751 was capable of printing on tabs and that this feature was particularly important for legal applications. Konica Minolta also showed RIP/engine level color calibration, a bizhub PRO C70hc (high chroma) extended gamut color printer, and a KIP C7800 wide format printer.
  • An offset hint? A huge ‘Inspire Customer Passion’ graphic at the back of the production area (see below) had two offset presses on it. Konica Minolta would not say if there was any symbolism to it, but one was clearly a Heidelberg press.
Inspire Customers Passion (with offset presses)

Inspire Customers Passion (with offset presses)

  • A successful year in production — Kern said that production print had a very successful year with color sales up 22% and mono up 6%. He noted that users were less interested in traditional high volume digital monochrome products and that this trend worked to the advantage of Konica Minolta’s bizhub PRO 1200 products. He said that dealers had a tremendous month in December and that one dealer sold six C8000s to a single customer. Kern also said that 78% of C8000s sold are to commercial printers.
  • Mohawk Paper — Mohawk Paper had the best print sample on the expo floor, a wedding ‘save the date’ mailer in a greeting card format with a punch out magnetic piece that you could put on your refrigerator. Mohawk has also done a nice job on its MakeReady web site with some great information for digital printers and designers.
  • Happiness, Tony Hsieh, and the Zappos data breach — Given the news of the Zappos data breach, it was amazing that Tony Hsieh was even there, but he was poised and composed during his presentation about delivering happiness, and answered a question about how Zappos would address the issue. (It was basically ‘all hands on deck’ to work through the massive effort of updating all members’ passwords. Luckily, no credit card data was breached.) Hsieh’s underlying theme in his keynote was that a strong company culture was critical to success. He’s spent a lot of time making sure that Zappos’ company culture is vibrant. There’s more to his presentation than can be quickly summarized but a lot can be garnered from the Zappos top ten list of what the company should be:
  1. Deliver WOW through service
  2. Embrace and drive change
  3. Create fun and a little weirdness
  4. Be adventurous, creative, and open minded
  5. Pursue growth and learning
  6. Build open and honest relationships with communication
  7. Build a positive team and family spirit
  8. Do more with less
  9. Be passionate and determined
  10. Be humble
  • Enterprise OPS — Konica Minolta’s managed print services (MPS) offering is called Konica Minolta Optimized Print Services (OPS). Announced at the expo was Konica Minolta’s OPS Enterprise Edition, which the company sees as a big step forward for this program. OPS Enterprise Edition is produced in conjunction with Pharos Systems and will be available in July.
  • Dealer program for managed IT services — Konica Minolta spent a lot of the session talking about Managed IT Services that dealers could access through a new program that allows them to become providers of managed IT services. Three dealers have already signed up for the program but Konica Minolta admits that they haven’t closed any business yet. All Covered will drive this initiative. They were acquired by Konica Minolta almost exactly a year ago. Their pedigree includes a 15-year history, 500+ employees, 2000+ contracted clients, a tenured management team, national coverage, and a strategy that does not involve offshoring work.
  • Getting into managed IT services — All Covered noted that there were three ways to offer IT services:
  1. Build the infrastructure yourself and absorb the associated costs of building, equipping, and staffing a NOC (network operations center) on a 24 x 7 basis
  2. Buy an existing IT services company (likely a multi-million dollar investment with the associated concerns about whether it will be the right fit)
  3. Partnering, which has a lower cost of investment and gets you up an operational quickly

Of course All Covered is making the point (and it’s a strong one) that partnering with them through the new dealer program is the best way to go.

  • Customer One Guarantee — To ensure the best customer product experience Konica Minolta has instituted a program called the Customer One Guarantee, which as Kevin Kern aptly put it: “it works or it walks.” They guarantee they will replace non-performing products.
  • Giving Shape to Ideas — Konica Minolta’s new advertising campaign is called “Giving Shape to Ideas” and is grounded in the idea that innovation has no value if it doesn’t help a customer solve a problem. Konica Minolta will get this idea across in a couple of commercials that poke fun at good and bad ideas (‘Dress as a Super Hero Friday’), as well as clueless corporate leaders.
Giving Shape to Ideas and the Production area

Giving Shape to Ideas and the Production area

  • End user profile videos — Many Konica Minolta customers were profiled in nicely done video segments that played on the big screens between sessions. Two Konica Minolta bizhub Press C8000 users caught my attention. One was Simpsons Printing in Rapid City, South Dakota and the other was Digital Dog Direct, a direct mail company from New Jersey.
  • Me and social media — I’ve never tweeted live at an event like this but Konica Minolta did a nice job of setting up the press and analysts with tables and electrical outlets so I set up my laptop and tweeted away. It turned out to be a good experience. I heard from and met some folks at the conference this way. (You can see what I tweeted and follow me on Twitter for future events at @jrhinfotrends.)

There’s more to talk about including bizhub MarketPlace and CampaignBuilder but I’ll hold off on that until later. InfoTrends will follow up on this blog with a deeper analysis for its consulting service clients.

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