Konica Minolta Outlines Future Plans at Las Vegas Event

More than 1,100 members of the Konica Minolta dealer network gathered November 17-20 at the Palazzo and Venetian hotels in Las Vegas for the 2013 Business Conference and Product Expo. With a theme of “Shape the Future: Strategy, Passion, Leadership”, the two-day conference featured informational presentation, educational seminars, and demonstrations of Konica Minolta hardware, software, and services.

The event kicked off with a reception on Sunday and a group welcome dinner, but Monday morning marked the start of the conference itself, with presentations by Konica Minolta, Inc. president and CEO Masatoshi Matsuzaki. He was followed by Konica Minolta Business Solutions USA, Inc. president and COO Rick Taylor, who outlined recent fiscal and business results and expanded service offerings for dealers.

Growth Reports

Konica Minolta USA is divided into two distribution channels: direct and dealership. Taylor reported that in the first six months of fiscal year 2013 the dealer channel accounted for 52 percent of sales, while the branch or direct channel accounted for 48 percent. Overall growth in fiscal 2012 was six percent, with eight percent growth in hardware sales and nine percent of growth in unit sales. However, the fastest growing segments during that time were software services at 44 percent and IT services at 59 percent.

Taylor noted that the company was moving from a hardware-based company to a solutions and business service-based company. “With print volume shrinking, we need to adapt to the new cross-media customer reality,” he said. “There is more information out there than ever before and we need to become an information management company.”

All advertising and marketing in the coming months will have the theme of “customer intimacy”, which recognizes the need to find hardware, software, and service solutions to customers’ problems, according to Taylor. That said, Taylor also noted that all of these things will have the aim of driving print.

Also announced was the establishment of new “business innovation centers” in the US, UK, and Japan. The US center will be located in California’s Silicon Valley region in order to take advantage of the IT resources there.

Expanded dealer support was also a focal point, with new IT service offerings and expanded solution offerings for government, financial, and manufacturing vertical markets. The IT services expansion will allow dealers to offer customers “cloud services, backup, security, and application development solutions through the All Covered division of Konica Minolta.” Taylor also said that an effort will soon be underway to review all dealer agreements to “ensure that they are fair.”

Production Printing

Taylor was followed by senior vice president of marketing Kevin Kern, who outlined some of the recent developmental steps and pending product rollouts. In the production print area, the bizhub PRESS C1100, which was previewed at Print 13, is scheduled to be available in the summer of 2014. This 85 ppm to 100 ppm unit has a 600,000 to 800,000 monthly duty cycle, an extended service cycle, and will run at the same speed with any weight substrate, according to Kern. Also coming next year is the bizhub PRESS 2250 OP for book production and the bizhub PRESS C1070, which will offer more offset quality output and an added magenta toner for better reproduction of the red color spectrum.

Farther down the road, but also displayed at Print 13 and on the conference expo floor, is the KM 1, the 23x29.5-inch UV color digital inkjet press that fits into current offset workflows. Using paper transport technology from Komori and inkjet technology from Konica Minolta, the KM 1 combines “the speed and flexibility of offset presses with the digital benefits of variable data printing and zero makeready,” according to the company. Availability is slated for 2015.

Following Kern was keynote speaker and Emmy Award winning sportscaster Jim Nance, who offered lessons learned in his decades of sports broadcasting. He also touted the ongoing relationship between the PGA and Konica Minolta, which is a PGA sponsor.

The afternoon featured presentations by senior vice president of business intelligence Sam Errigo and the executive vice president of the Dealer Sales Division Alan Nielsen. Taylor, Kern, Errigo, and Nielsen were also present at an afternoon press conference in which details of the day’s presentations were clarified and such developments as moving into 3D printing and the relationship with KIP in the wide-format arena were discussed. According to Errigo, Konica Minolta’s move “beyond the box and more and more to the cloud” will eventually result in recurring revenue surpassing hardware sales.

After a group networking dinner on the expo floor, the first day was capped off by a performance by comedian Dennis Miller.

Learning Opportunities

Day two of “Shape the Future” was devoted to educational sessions and opportunities to further explore the offerings at the exposition. “Fit for the Future – Creating Adaptable, Innovative & Inspiring Organizations” by best-selling author and Fast Company founding member Polly LaBarre explored changing the “DNA of organizations and reaping unimaginable rewards as a result.”

“Excellence in Execution: Leaders Getting Things Done” was next on the slate. Speakers Jim Boneau and Lisa Stefan of Bluepoint Leadership Development offered “a proven methodology” to execute projects and plans. In “It’s All in the Clouds” speakers from Konica Minolta’s All Covered division discussed various cloud-based solutions.

In “Don’t be Afraid of These Heights”, speakers explored ways to conquer various vertical markets. Later, InfoTrends group director Jim Hamilton moderated a panel discussion titled “Get Passionate about Big Iron.” The session offered real-world insights and success stories from printers who entered the world of production printing.

The educational slate wound up with “EnvisionIT” presented by Gavin Jordan-Smith, Konica Minolta vice president of solutions and production planning. Following that, attendees gathered at Tao Restaurant for a final night dinner, which featured a raffle for various high-end prizes, including a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle.