Out here in Vegas the Ricoh Convergence conference before heading over the New York this afternoon for the info 360 event. Convergence is Ricoh’s annual dealer event and there are more than 600 people in attendance. (Heck, it may turn out to be bigger than info 360 – just kidding, I hope.) The Ricoh event is being held at the Wynn, which is really a sweet location. Full casino, for those who go in for that, and electric curtains in the rooms for us less adventurous types.
Ricoh is an interesting dichotomy in a couple ways. A dual-dichotomy, if you will. First, like many organizations in our market, it is battling with the whole dealer/reseller vs. direct sales channel conflict. Of course, Ricoh’s acquisition of IKON in 2008 didn’t help things on this front. IKON had a huge national sales force that has now been merged with, after many fits and starts, Ricoh’s direct sales force.
At Convergence, Ricoh stated a couple times that the digestion of IKON is now complete so it can re-focus its resources on growing its business. Then, someone from Ricoh indicated the IKON assimilation is “almost” complete, and we heard that there may be more changes in July. Ricoh has already changed its management team pretty extensively since last year’s Convergence event.
The current CEO of Ricoh Americas is Martin Brodigan. He’s been with Ricoh a long time, most recently serving as COO of Ricoh Americas. He’s been in his current position less than two months. Brodigan has been charged with turning around U.S. sales, which last year he said were “unacceptable.” Ricoh apparently lost quite a bit of money. In addition to declining paper use (which, at the event, was reported at 10% worldwide and accelerating), which obviously hurts printer sales, Ricoh had supply problems caused by the Japanese tsunami/earthquake, as well flooding in Thailand. Exchange rates also negatively affected the company.
Ricoh’s dealers accounted for 32% of units sold in 2011, up from 30% in 2010, which is a good trend for the dealers, but were not sure how good of a trend that is for the former IKON.
Ricoh’s second tricky conflict has to do with its legacy as a copier/printer business and its desire to move more toward professional services. Ricoh seems to have a few visionaries that are at the forefront of leading the company towards a “services-led” business model. However, there is still a ton of inertia-related to hardware sales and print click-charges that these visionaries have to fight. Much more on this in our next premium issue!