Ricoh National Dealer Meeting – Convergence 2010

Randy Dazo
Apr 27, 2010

Sparing no expense, Ricoh held its annual dealer conference at the beautiful Palazzo hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada during April 19th-22nd. This was the first time that Ricoh brought together the Ricoh Family Group indirect channels and also the first chance to meet the new IKON leadership of the company. Making a great impression was something Ricoh had to do. Ricoh traditionally held separate events for its Ricoh, Savin, and Lanier channels. Because of the major transitions at the helm of Ricoh Americas and Ricoh US, however, it made sense to address all groups at once at an event themed Convergence 2010.

Since the Ricoh IKON acquisition in 2008, there has been quite a bit of speculation about the changes that might occur within the RFG organization. The channel already had apprehensions about Ricoh’s growing relationship with IKON before the acquisition, and the direct organization was growing with the Lanier (original direct Lanier) and RBS integration. As such, concerns would certainly arise when Ricoh announced that it had acquired IKON.

Two weeks ago, speculations were confirmed when Matt Espe (former CEO of IKON) took the helm as Chairman and CEO of Ricoh Americas. Addressing the channel’s concerns was of paramount concern at this meeting. At the same time, however, this change in leadership was likely no surprise to Ricoh’s channels–when Ricoh acquired Savin in the 1980s, many Savin leaders took executive positions with Ricoh. Similarly, many of Lanier’s leaders took over direct sales within RBS after the Lanier integration. Nevertheless, with so many IKON executives now holding the fate of the direct and indirect sales operations, concerns from all channels needed to be addressed.

So with over 1,000 channel partners, direct employees, and the press filling the Blue Man Group theater at the Venetian, Ricoh executives addressed the audience with their strategies and visions one at a time (in between some impressive Blue Man Group numbers!). Executives announced the new leadership and direction of the company, new solutions and services with MDS (Managed Document Services), future product directions, and of course a new strategy to integrate the channel as a part of the decision-making process for the future. The messages seemed sincere and were consistent across all speakers–the channel was and would continue to be an important part of Ricoh’s future success.

With the indirect channels producing approximately 40% to 50% of Ricoh’s revenues, it would of course be very important to involve them early on in this convergence strategy. Furthermore, with IKON’s successful services and solutions organization as well as a very strong production outsourcing service, executives mentioned that there could be synergies bringing extended services to the indirect channels if they chose to partner and accepted this converged strategy and organization.

All that said, the jury is still out on how this announcement is being received. Among the dealers that we spoke to, emotions were mixed. Some were excited about the new capabilities and strengths that the Ricoh/IKON team could offer, while others were apprehensive and were adopting a “wait and see” attitude. Success will come down to execution, and it remains to be seen how the dealers will be able to stake a claim as part of this new organization. InfoTrends is looking forward to seeing how Ricoh will execute its strategies. We will closely monitor the effects of this announcement and how the channels respond to this new management team and direction.

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