08 May 2014
By Jessica Schiffenhaus, Associate Editor
A few years ago, inviting several hundred copier dealers to a meeting in Las Vegas that focused little on the bread and butter of their businesses—copiers—might have seemed, well, pointless. Now, manufacturers are making it a point to do just that: shift the focus of the dealer community. Although still a significant part of the business, hardware is no longer in the spotlight. Instead, it runs quietly in the background while dozens of solutions work to leverage, limit, monitor or enhance its functionality. This was evident at KYOCERA Document Solutions America’s (KDA) fiscal year 15 Pan-American dealer meeting, which focused heavily on Kyocera business applications and encouraging dealers to become Total Document Solutions Providers. With the exception of a few new A4 devices, the technology fair was filled to the brim with business applications and third-party solutions, all of which, of course, embedded on Kyocera copiers.
Held at the Venetian Las Vegas from April 15 to 17, the KDA dealer meeting drew a crowd of more than 1,200 attendees, including Kyocera and Copystar dealers, from the United States, Canada, Latin America and Mexico, as well from Europe and Japan. According to Norihiko Ina, president and CEO of KDA, the U.S., Canada and Latin American markets experienced 5% year-over-year growth, while Mexico grew 6%.
“I am proud to stand before you today, in our 41st year in the Americas, and announce that for fiscal year 2014, we earned another record year,” Ina told the crowd during Tuesday’s general session. “This is the third year in a row that KDA has achieved record-breaking performance.”
A clear goal of the meeting was to get even more Kyocera and Copystar dealers onboard with Kyocera’s Total Document Solutions initiative, which encompasses Kyocera’s hardware, business applications, pre- and post-sales services, certifications, marketing and more.
“Our Total Document Solutions approach addresses a user’s business challenges and optimizes their document solutions investment,” said Peter Hendrick, vice president of marketing at KDA. “This has been a longstanding commitment at Kyocera—and now we’re rolling out even more initiatives to empower our dealers even further. For example, we’re expanding our Certified Total Document Solutions Partner initiative. This helps dealers analyze and address client needs; it also helps them forge ongoing customer relationships. We’re supporting our dealers, and those dealers are assisting their customers with comprehensive solutions. That is a true commitment to our channel partners.”
To date, there are 115 Total Document Solution dealerships, according to Terry Knopsnyder, KDA vice president of engineering. And, more than 950 technicians are enrolled in Total Document Solutions courses, paving the path for more certified dealerships.
“During fiscal year 2014, our business applications sales increased significantly,” said Danielle Wolowitz, KDA’s senior director of product planning and product marketing, “delivering on the promise of expanded sales potential by taking a Total Document Solutions approach.” Additionally, Wolowitz indicated that the company is viewing the A4 market as a source for significant growth. “With seven new models of color printers and A4 MFPs in total, our portfolio of A4 products in fiscal year 2015 is broader and better than ever.” Several of the solutions at the technology fair leveraged the functionality of lower-end A4 devices (those without touchscreens) by allowing users to use a smartphone or tablet as the UI.
During the general session, Knopsnyder also declared that dealers would no longer have to return defective parts for warranty credit, to which the crowd responded with vigorous applause, whistling and cheering. “No more waiting for packages to be delivered. No more physical inspections. And no more UPS return-freight charges on those typical returns,” said Knopsnyder, who added that for quality control purposes, they’ll require return on parts for about the first six months after a product has been introduced.
Last year, Kyocera rolled out the “Most Important Document” campaign, which included a clever commercial that focused on a range of people and professions and their “most important documents.” This year, the company debuted a new version of the commercial. In addition, Hendrick announced healthcare-, legal- and education-specific versions to bolster the company’s vertical marketing message.
The company is also marketing Business Application packages and “Pro” packages for the education, financial services, healthcare, legal and manufacturing markets. Each package consists of four to five applications that together create a workflow that is, according to Kyocera, tailored for that specific market. The technology fair was divided into five sections, which included these verticals, as well as general business applications, to allow dealers to further explore solutions applicable to each market. Dealers who were interested in diving deeper could attend a two-part seminar, “2014 Top Industry Trends and How You Can Leverage KDA to Capitalize on Valuable Vertical Market Opportunities in Healthcare and Finance/Legal.”
Three Tiers for Color Billing…Hip Hip Hooray
Although three-tier color billing was showcased at last year’s dealer meeting, it was much more highly publicized this year—understandably so, as, we are aware of no other vendor that offers this level of flexibility for their color pricing structure, which allows dealers to set their own percentage of coverage levels for each tier per customer, per device, and bill them accordingly — and the subject of one of the key seminars. To lessen the burden of meter collection and billing for dealers, Kyocera developed Tiered Color Monitor (summer launch), a HyPAS application that delivers full count information (including for each of the tiers) to a dealer’s Google Drive account. The information can be sent and synced automatically, or manually by a service technician, and converted into bar graphs and charts. Furthermore, Great America introduced a billing component for three-tier pricing that, according to the company, integrates seamlessly.
Kyocera officially launched its newest series of monochrome MFPs during the event. While we got a sneak peek at the pre-launch models last year, the 42- to 62-ppm ECOSYS M3040idn, M3540idn, M3550idn and M3560idn were on display at the technology fair, alongside previews of up and coming color printers and MFPs. Kyocera also announced seven color printers and MFPs scheduled to launch next spring. The single-function ECOSYS P6130cdn/P6035cdn/P7040cdn series ranges in speed from 32 ppm to 42 ppm, is based on a new controller and supports Kyocera’s three-tier color billing. Of the new MFPs released, the ECOSYS M6535cidn and M6035cidn are 37-ppm units that are the first in the ECOSYS line to offer a 7" touch screen (with the optional SD card, they can both support HyPAS applications), which has a look and feel consistent with that of Kyocera’s other touch-screen products. The 32-ppm ECOSYS M6530cdn and M6030cdn do not feature a touchscreen, although they otherwise offer the same additional new features as their 37-ppm counterparts, including support for an optional offline stapler (another first for the ECOSYS line). The MFPs will also support mixed-size originals and an optional wireless interface.
“Now, I may be a bit biased, but I am confident that KDA’s device technology is still ‘second to none’ and that no other manufacturer has such a powerful balanced deployment capability than Kyocera and Copystar across A3 MFPS, A4 MFPS and printers,” said Hendrick. “But a customer’s document imaging needs require more than just the device alone. That is why, at KDA, we continue to broaden our business applications portfolio and expand our third-party partnerships.”
Among the array of Kyocera Business Applications and third-party partner solutions were several new and upcoming applications. One interesting aspect of Kyocera’s solutions development pointed out to me several times throughout the show is that the majority of the business applications are developed by Kyocera Document Solutions America (KDA). According to members of the software development team, this allows them to quickly respond to changes and develop customized solutions for customers. In addition to the latest version of PanelPlus, three business applications (AccuSender Fax, Kyocera Language Exchange and OpenText Alchemy Connector) were launched at the meeting; the rest of them are scheduled to launch this summer or early fall.
AccuSender Fax: Bypassing the other send options of AccuSender, this version cuts straight to the fax menu, allowing users to send documents as faxes from a Kyocera MFP through their existing fax servers.
Language Exchange: Created due to dealer demand, Language Exchange adds a one-touch button to the home screen that automatically changes the system language to an alternate language specified by the company. Once the device times out, it automatically reverts back to the default language.
OpenText Alchemy Connector: Allows organizations to enter metadata and scan documents directly to the appropriate database or folder in OpenText Alchemy.
Survey Assistant: A non-market-specific cloud-based app with a web-based interface that enables users to create a survey with unlimited questions/responses; print, email or save the file as a PDF; scan the filled out forms at a Kyocera MFP with the Survey Assistant App; and print or export the results. The app lets users drill down to get more specific result analyses based on the answers for one or two specific questions.
DM CONNECT: Think of it as “Enhanced DMS Link.” It encompasses everything that DMS Link offers but adds new features including: The Workflow Wizard allows for easy creation of workflows, which can be assigned to users or linked together with other workflows, and includes vertical industry-specific workflows; fixed/required index fields; support for cloud-based email; improved Bates Stamping; remove blank pages; calendar date selection; and the ability to set the sender for emails instead of one fixed address for the device.
CentraQ and NetManager: Also referred to as “The Print Optimization Suite.” CentraQ is KDA-developed and offers follow-me printing from network-connected Kyocera devices. Users can release jobs by entering a PIN code, swiping a badge, and, in the case of devices without touchscreens, by scanning a QR code (printed via the application) with a mobile device. The Pro version offers job tracking and usage reports. Developed by KDC, NetManager is a more robust solution that offers administrators a way to manage output in a mixed fleet. Complete with its own control panel interface, NetManager offers pull printing, policies per user, user quotas and project accounting. One interesting aspect is the solution’s support for print vouchers, which give users a credit to print a certain amount.
PinPoint Mobile: A cloud-based scan application that lets users receive scanned documents from anywhere to any device (PC, laptop, smartphone, tablet) with an Internet browser. Users connect to a PinPoint Mobile-enabled Kyocera MFP by obtaining a unique PIN, either by scanning a QR code associated with the device or visiting a URL. Users enter the PIN at the device and scan the document; the browser page with the PIN automatically refreshes with a link to download the file.
Google Connector: A more comprehensive connector to Google services than CloudConnect that allows users to print from Gmail and Google Calendar, as well as scan to and print from Google Drive. This application can be associated with ID badges for card authentication.
Enterprise Cloud Portal: This concept was shown last year—Kyocera developed a customized portal to an organization’s cloud system to act as a kiosk, providing bidirectional access and data entry for specific workflows, not just for printing and scanning—and now Enterprise Cloud Portal has its own customizable interface, capable of supporting hosted systems and locally hosted cloud systems, to shorten the length of time required to develop custom solutions.
My Panel: Still about a year away from launch, My Panel converts users’ smartphones and tablets into personal control panel interfaces for use with Kyocera devices—most significantly, providing a touchscreen interface for devices with LED screens and hard keys.
Republished with permission from Buyers Laboratory LLC (www.buyerslab.com). ©2013 Buyers Laboratory LLC