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Solutions Summit Successfully Delivered -Including on MPS Engagments

16 Dec, 2011

The positive impact of a successful event in the industry is something to cheer about in today’s “new world” economy.  Specifically, the annual Solutions Summit, a uniquely formatted event that has become a credible venue for  C-level participants that wish to engage in a series of general session presentations, one-on-one meetings with VIP attendees and sponsors, and where informative case studies are presented in a board room format,  all providing exceptional networking opportunities.

This invitation-only event pairs VIPs from top office dealerships, as well as VARs and IT Resellers, with leading technology vendors, software providers, supplies vendors and wholesalers to discuss opportunities and strategies that will ultimately help build solutions and professional services, as well as address the evolving direction of the office industry.

The November 2011 event kicked off with a well-attended golf tournament at the luxurious Pinehurst Golf Resort, NC, later followed by a strategic keynote address by Jon Reardon, Group Director, InfoTrends ,  prior to a welcome reception and dinner.  Reardon, delivered a 'State of the Industry ' address entitled “The Changing Landscape of the Office Equipment Market.”   Reardon explained how each of the major Equipment manufacturers had shifted their business in order to remain competitive.  Examples included Xerox with ACS, HP with EDS, Konica Minolta with All Covered; new acquisitions that have shifted from acquiring office equipment dealers to acquiring IT or Business Process organizations.  “This change is a fundamental shift that you should pay close attention to,“ said Reardon. 

Strategic Thinking
The Summit strategically focused on the competitive pressures that have made doing business in the office equipment market even more challenging. This included addressing the direct organizations from equipment manufacturers who keep getting stronger, including the buying of dealerships to expand their footprint and territories, and the newer entrants such as IT resellers and Managed Service providers (MSPs) who are starting to look at ways to gain entry into the lucrative supplies business.  Without question, office equipment dealers have to think strategically today in order to maintain footing; understanding how to utilize new technologies in order to remain competitive. 

A highpoint was Reardon presenting the expansive footprint of many of the OEM’s channels through InfoTrends Channel Mapping database.  InfoTrends’ exclusive database tracks and monitors the movement of channels and their strategies.  One by one, Mr. Reardon showed the expansive channels of Ricoh, Xerox, Konica Minolta, Canon and then HP.  Each one of them growing beyond the office equipment reach into new areas with IT and BPO partnerships.   After the presentation Mr. Reardon was approached by many of the dealers with some saying, “I knew that the OEM’s were big, but when it is displayed in a visual presentation where I can see where each of them sit in my backyard, it is even more compelling.” 

“The office equipment and IT markets are continuing to blur and at the same time are becoming more competitive; moving at a rapid pace,” said Reardon.  “InfoTrends and its properties through Questex Media (imageSource magazine, Solutions Summit, ITEX Expo) are continuing to track the trends in this space in order to make better predictions and help its customers make better decisions for the future.”

Change or Die
In addition, Randy Dazo, Sr. Director, Solutions and Services, Office Group, InfoTrends provided an insightful presentation on how the Office Equipment market has been through dramatic changes over the past decade with new solutions, services, business models and technologies. He pointed out that today we see Managed Print Services as a way to gain new pages and revenues to our individual businesses, however MPS is only a short term solution to the long term challenges we will continue to face in an ever shrinking paper-based output market. Which asks, what does our future hold? 

“As an output industry we have to look at new areas of expansion to where the market is leading us. Forces such as new technologies, new users and the new economy are forging new pathways that we either need to be a part of, or be consumed."  'Change or Die' was a theme that Mr. Dazo used to convey the quick changes that are happening in the industry. Dazo described other industries that had to change the way they conducted business or they, too, died.

“The Micrographics industry was faced with a very harsh reality when these hardware devices essentially went away, leaving these dealers to make very quick decisions to either go digital, move into the Document Management industry, or die altogether,” explained Dazo. “We have also seen many technologies & great companies lose their edge because they could not move fast enough in their quickly changing markets; Polaroid, Kodak to some extent, and Borders book stores are just a few examples.”

Beyond the Box
“Moving beyond the box” was another theme explored at the event. Dealers need to understand that their future is not just selling boxes but the total solution of hardware, supplies, software and services that bring better unprecedented value to the customer engagement. At the same time dealers need to look at adjacent technologies that help them to expand and move beyond MPS and into Managed Services.

“If you look at the success of Apple and its recent products such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad, they were not new, innovative hardware technologies to the industry,” said Dazo. “It was the ecosystem of simple hardware, services – the iTunes service and software – the expansive content within iTunes, which fundamentally changed or is changing the music, mobile phone and mobile content industries.”

Additional highlights included a quality presentation by Jim Philips, CEO/President of Digital Gateway, in which he eloquently discussed “How Do We Build the New ‘Standard of Performance’ in the Office Equipment Industry Together,” touching on issues that are crucial to continued success. In addition,  Christopher DiReda, National Sales Director, MPS, OKI Data Americas, presented a compelling session on Addressing the Challenges of Managed Services Expansion, a theme that seemed to penetrate throughout the 2 ½ day event and which led to many hours of invigorated conversation.  

MPS Panel Discussions

A. Putting the MPS Ecosystem Together with Different MPS Engagements - led by Bud Karakey, VP of Operations, BEI Services; Thomas Schneck, President, Docuware AG; Gordon Snider, Director of Sales, PrintFleet; Gil Wazana, VP of Sales, MSE; Miles Herman, COO, LEAF Commercial Capital. The panel session addressed key ecosystem elements; supplies logistics, MPS enabling, leasing and advanced solutions to  help dealers understand what is necessary to piece together to deliver a comprehensive MPS offering.

B. Supplies: A Core Strategic Element within MPS Engagements - led by Luke Goldberg, Senior VP, MSE; WooJin Kim, CEO, Printer; Ray Loisel; Senior VP, MPS Operations, West Point Products; Aaron Dyck, President, LMI Solutions. The panel session, made up of key industry supplies delivery organizations, demonstrated to dealers how to be profitable and efficient when delivering supplies in MPS engagements to customers.
The lineup of industry-leading sponsors included: Platinum Sponsors: Digital Gateway and OKI; Gold Sponsors: BEI Services, DocuWare, LEAF, LMI Solutions, Micro Solutions Enterprises (MSE), PrintFleet, Printer Essentials and West Point Products; Silver Sponsor: Print Audit; and Bronze Sponsors: Diversified Computer Supplies, Inc., Drivve, GreatAmerica Leasing Corporation, and PartsNow LLC.

Participant Michael Ketterl, Director of Sales and Print Management, Laser Systems concluded, “Prior to the Solutions Summit, I was not quite sure what to expect. I have been very pleased with the event. I found the case study presentations and 1:1 meetings to be especially valuable. The ratio of dealers to vendors was perfect. The one-on-one time spent on topics valuable to my business is unparalleled. I will definitely attend the Solutions Summit again.”

Concurring was Mike Ehlers, President, Yost Business Systems, saying, “This was a great event to get an unbiased look into our future. It opened my eyes to lots of ways to grow and expand either with new offerings or forming strategic partnerships. The two days of meetings was the most packed and intense focus at a meeting I have been to in a long time. It is always great to rub shoulders with other people in the industry.”

Jackie Paralis, OKI Data Americas, Inc., commented, “The Solutions Summit provided OKI Data Americas with the outstanding opportunity to personally meet with reseller and dealer prospects who were serious about growing their business. We were extremely pleased with the Solutions Summit and felt it provided the perfect venue to learn about each partner while educating them on the products, solutions, systems, tools, and resources OKI can provide to help them drive increased sales and profits.”

Participants had lots of positive take-away comments on the 2011 Solutions Summit’s various activities and networking opportunities, including Dan Wetzel, RVP – Midwest /Clarity Imaging who offered, “In addition to the great venue at Pinehurst, the intimate boardroom meetings gave us time to talk with each other, and vendors, on ways to change and better our processes, as well as reinforce our business plans.”

To learn more about the annual Solutions Summit, and future events, visit www.solutionssummit.net. For information on InfoTrends visit www.infotrends.com.   The Solutions Summit is produced by Questex Media Group LLC, which produces the ITEX Expo & Conference, and imageSource magazine, among numerous media-related events and publications worldwide. Visit www.questex.com for full details.

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