Ricoh Expands Workflow Portfolio with DocuWare Acquisition

Jamie Bsales
Jul 16, 2019

Just when we thought the era of document imaging OEMs purchasing document imaging software developers had passed, Japan’s Ricoh surprised us early in July by announcing a definitive agreement to acquire Germany- and U.S.-based DocuWare, one of the leading content management solutions vendors. The move puts Ricoh’s worldwide operating companies on equal footing with Canon and Xerox, which both have content management development capabilities in-house with their Therefore and DocuShare divisions. (And for those who have been keeping track, Lexmark, too, had owned an ECM developer in Perceptive Software, before shedding its enterprise software business to private equity firm Thoma Bravo in 2017.)

The content management space is certainly a growth area for the imaging industry. Keypoint Intelligence’s analysis shows the market for such solutions growing at an annual clip approaching 4% each of the next 4 years. And in a recent Keypoint Intelligence survey of IT decision makers in the U.S., U.K. and Germany, 35% of respondents overall reported that they are considering investing in a document management solution in the coming 18 to 24 months.

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Adding DocuWare to the fold certainly boosts Ricoh’s efforts to expand beyond MFP hardware to embrace digital workplace services. It was one of the first OEMs to morph its traditional MPS (managed print services) offering with a more holistic MDS (managed document services) vision, and more recently has added to its digital workplace transformation portfolio with its Ricoh Cloud Workflow Services offerings that connect the MFP and other IoT devices to cloud-resident software and services. So considering Ricoh’s current ecosystem, DocuWare is a very complementary addition. The move also makes sense considering that not only is Ricoh a premier reseller of DocuWare’s products, it is also a DocuWare customer that uses the platform for its own internal document-centric processes.

For its part, DocuWare brings deep expertise in content management and workflow. The company’s flagship software is one of the best-known document management packages on the market and the most entrenched among office equipment dealers and OEMs. Notably, the company has been aggressively migrating new and existing customers to its cloud offering, DocuWare Online, which now accounts for more than 60 percent of net new installs according to the company. DocuWare also recently introduced the DocuWare Kinetic Solutions offerings, which are ready-to-go versions of the platform tailored to the workflow needs of particular departments (such as HR). These are all available through more than 470 partners worldwide in its independent reseller network—a network that no doubt figured favorably in Ricoh’s decision to pursue DocuWare. And notably, only a few dozen of those resellers are also Ricoh MFP/printer dealers currently (according to Keypoint Intelligence’s channel database), which presents an opportunity for Ricoh to sign up more partners for its hardware business.

Both companies report that it will be business as usual for existing customers and partners, with DocuWare operating “as a standalone subsidiary of Ricoh” going forward. What is less clear is how this acquisition will impact DocuWare’s relationships with other document imaging OEMs that carry DocuWare as a sanctioned partner solution and that grant the company access to the SDKs (software developer kits) required to build embedded DocuWare connectors that run on their MFPs  (including HP, Konica Minolta, Kyocera, Sharp, Toshiba, Xerox, HP and others). Still given the strength of DocuWare’s existing installed base and reseller network, and the renewed push that will likely come from Ricoh dealers, DocuWare should continue to see success in the market under the new stewardship.

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