Adapt or die: pivoting to meet the needs of customers

Konica Minolta has repositioned itself to deliver digital workplace solutions that meet the needs of its customers. A pandemic and expanded Microsoft relationship have accelerated this shift

Adapt or die: pivoting to meet the needs of customers
Konica Minolta

The digital revolution has intensified, and businesses around the world have felt the pressure to ‘adapt or die’. For Konica Minolta, an enthusiastic pursuit of the former has helped it steer clear of the latter. The global brand which previously focused primarily on hardware such as cameras and multifunction copiers, then established itself as a leading provider of document and print workflow solutions, has gradually expanded its portfolio of services as part of the digital transformation to deliver digital workplace solutions that align with the 21st-century needs of its customers. 

“I suspect that some portion of the readers will associate the Konica Minolta name with a device or product,” says Todd Croteau, global head of IT services and president of All Covered - IT Services from Konica Minolta (US). “But we have moved away from this. We are no longer just ‘your father’s copier company’.” 

The traditional, hardware-based business has deliberately transformed itself into an agile, customer-centric provider, and its relationship with Microsoft is playing a key role in this change. Konica Minolta recently became a Microsoft Global Managed Partner, something which Jaromir Sponar, European Microsoft partnership programme advisor, believes will have a significant impact on how the organisation manages its businesses. 

“Over time, Konica Minolta has acquired many businesses worldwide,” he says. “Previously, Microsoft saw us as multiple, individual, smaller brands, but this global relationship has unified us.” 

Its new status with Microsoft means that Konica Minolta will now be able to unite its brands, leverage the local knowledge and expertise of each and share this throughout the whole organisation and in various industries and localities around the world. 

“For example, we have been working with colleagues in the UK to serve a customer with offices in the US, UK and Japan,” Croteau explains. “Previously, our teams in these countries would serve each as separate entities, but soon we will be able to use a common platform and go-to-market so that we know exactly what’s going to be delivered to our customer’s employees, whatever their location. Previously our teams in different countries acted with different approaches. While they all worked, it required a lot more coordination internally. A global approach will transform this.” 

From a business perspective, a unified strategy has significant benefits, but the new approach will also provide customers and partners with a whole new level of value. 

“Previously, the customer would be limited by what knowledge, expertise and investment existed in the country,” says Croteau. “In the US, there is a lot more investment and expertise on classic managed service provider offerings. However, there has not been the same investment in this area in Europe, so now that will come across the pond to Europe and every customer in Europe will get the benefit of that. 

“On the flipside, in the US, we haven’t invested as much in the Microsoft Dynamics platform as our European team, so that investment will now be shared with the US team. Our customers can leverage this broader community and reference level and our partners will become worldwide partners. 

“It’s a win, win, win; it’s great for employees, great for customers and great for our partners.” 

Croteau believes that Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of Konica Minolta’s transformation efforts more than ever. 

“The pandemic has taught us that in our modern world, people thousands of miles apart can carry out business virtually,” he says. “The same can be done for support or service or for engaging a customer on an assessment or workshop. What matters is connecting the knowledge and the expertise with the customer situation. 

“However, Covid-19 coupled with the Microsoft relationship have created an internal spark for us to think even more strongly than ever in the direction of the digital workplace. With more people working remotely, the print side of our business is not delivering the same value for our customers, so we have had to find new avenues. It has prompted us to move faster with our customers and bring more value to them more quickly.” 

By providing an “Intelligent Connected Workplace”, Konica Minolta offers cloud, IT, managed print and video solution services for remote working, collaboration, workflow management and automation and security, and has pivoted to deliver value wherever its customers need it. 

“For example, for a simple monthly fee that is tailored to a customer’s size and industry, we can take care of all of their security management, employee training and support, provisioning of equipment, cloud infrastructure and more,” says Croteau. 

“We are repositioning ourselves to become a solutions provider that is constantly striving to deliver innovation for the digital workplace,” adds Olaf Lorenz, senior general manager of digital transformation at Konica Minolta. “We want to be there for the success of our customers and we are striving to realise this through our capabilities and passion for innovating with the customer.”   

This article was originally published in the Spring 2021 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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