Saturday, December 13, 2008

Last Year: Ricoh and IKON; Next Year HP and Canon? What the Heck?

"I've advocated some kind of [agreement] between Canon and HP, modeled off the Fuji-Xerox joint venture," suggested Don Dixon, research director at Gartner, "They have complementary product sets and complementary capabilities from a best practice sense. Canon needs distribution and the IT affiliation that HP brings to the marketplace. There's a good fit there. Whether Canon has the temerity for something like that is the question." - Image & Print Summit, 2008.

- Woah, Nelly!



While researching for my "Best Darn End of Year Article", I ran into the 10 Burning Questions In Print And Imaging over at the ChannelWeb site.

These questions reflect the hot topics at the Print and Imaging Summit from last week.

All ten questions and the associated answers are ripe with direct information and heavily sprinkled with inferred strategic directions. I recommend you go there, read and digest.

We all wonder how the the current economic woes will effect us, personally. As for Imaging and Print, Gartner Managing Vice President Peter Grant said, "...there are three areas that are going to be the lighthouses guiding you to the land of print cost savings -- smart MFPs, managed print services and software.

I understand his belief about Managed Print Services and can see the software angle, but define for me what exactly a "smart" MFP could be or is.

***UPDATE*** 12.17.08

Definition of a Smart MFP, SMFP:

" A regular MFP can print, fax, copy and scan paper documents. An SMFP can also be programmed by a third party, the user or the technology provider to perform custom functions; easily integrates with office and enterprise applications; is management-friendly, with consistent architecture and user interface; works well on the network; and is based largely on open industry standards. SMFPs can perform usage tracking and other functions that help organizations actively manage their office printer/MFP fleets."
-Source, Gartner.

Who are the Heavy Hitters in MPS?-

Specifically who are the players in the MPS arena and which ones are best positioned. At the Summit, Gartner Research Vice President Ken Weilerstein referenced the latest "Magic Quadrant" results stating Xerox and HP are the Leaders. IKON, Ricoh, Pitney Bowes, Lexmark, Canon and Toshiba are each mentioned in the "Qaudrant" report.

Regarding an advantage the smaller, niche players may have over "big" players, "They [niche] may provide more personalized service and be more accommodating to your needs than large vendors," Weilerstein said.

"I heard from one client who tried one of the big vendors that it took her five calls to get to the right person. It can be unwieldy."


But to me, the big questions revolved around the IKON/Ricoh deal and Canon's response.

What's To Become of Canon?-

One of the biggest print and imaging stories of 2008 was Ricoh's acquisition of Ikon Office Solutions back in August for approximately $1.61 billion. And you also remember Ikon provided more than $1 billion of Canon's systems in North America.

And according to reports from both Canon and Gartner, Canon is focused on expanding its national accounts, widening sales channels, more acquisitions and authorizing new Canon dealers to compensate for Ikon losses.

"For the most part, the Canon box and the Ricoh box at certain levels are doing pretty much the same thing," said Don Dixon, research director at Gartner, "If you're an Ikon customer holding Canon hardware, well, you're in a great position to renegotiate your agreement. Canon is in a precarious position at the moment."

What Will Be The Next Big Merger & Acquisition Event In The Space?-

As you can imagine, one of the big subjects discussed officially and around various watering holes are the implications of Ricoh's acquisition of Ikon.

There will be more M&A in 2009 as barely surviving firms run for cover from the current global recession.

"We've advocated that there are too many players," suggested Dixon, "Some are staying in the marketplace but don't necessarily offer anything unique that customers are really asking for. They've just always been there."

"Canon has a lot of money but is not showing well in managed print services -- their channels are getting attacked by their competitors," said Gartner Managing Vice President Peter Grant. "Ricoh is on a tear, moving forward -- it'll be interesting to see what Canon does now that it's back on the ropes."


"I've advocated some kind of [agreement] between Canon and HP, modeled off the Fuji-Xerox joint venture," added Dixon, "They have complementary product sets and complementary capabilities from a best practice sense. Canon needs distribution and the IT affiliation that HP brings to the marketplace. There's a good fit there. Whether Canon has the temerity for something like that is the question."

Could the above quote be an indicator of the "shape of things to come"?

I am not sure, but those guys over at Gartner seem to have had a pretty good grip on things thus far, perhaps the crystal balls have been polished.

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