Japanese printer vendor Konica Minolta has hinted it is looking to acquire an Australian managed services provider (MSP) to add to its existing in-house support team.
The company told ARN it was “assessing the market” for added support capabilities as it attempts to diversify its traditional printer business into new territory spanning robotics, wearables and augmented reality.
Speaking to ARN, Konica Minolta’s director of marketing and innovation Shane Blandford referenced the vendor’s US MSP subsidiary All Covered, a business that global channel chief Sam Errigo claimed the company would use to muscle in on competitor MSPs.
“All Covered was the first MSP we acquired and we rolled over 35 or 40 acquisitions into it. We’re yet to make an acquisition or investment in that particular area in Australia. I can say that’s being looked at very strongly at the moment because we have some products coming out where we will need that capability to support the marketplace," Blandford said.
Konica Minolta currently provides support for its printer customers almost entirely via its in-house service desk, housing a contact centre in Sydney’s Macquarie Park and employing 150 engineers based across the six regional capitals.
Although Konica Minolta does not work with a distributor, according to Blandford, resellers still play a role for the vendor in Australia, with 40 per cent of its sales signed indirectly.
Currently the vendor works with around 90 channel partners, who are mostly deployed across regional Australia and in the small-to-medium enterprise space in the capital cities.
It also has vendor alliance partnerships with the likes of Sophos, Fortinet, Microsoft and HP.
Blandford’s comments come as Konica Minolta prepares to launch its new range of bizhub i-Series printers in Australia next week despite an admittedly declining market in the majority of developed countries.
However, the company will use the launch as an opportunity to promote its ongoing shift towards more software and application-driven technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), robotic processing automation (RPA) and augmented reality.
In addition, Konica Minolta has also diversified its hardware portfolio into wearable technology -- which includes so-called ‘smart glasses’ that have yet to be launched in Australia -- and its series of Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR).
Developed over a period of six years, and aided by more than 60 acquisitions and five global Business Innovation Centres, the new lines will form part of Konica Minolta’s ‘Rethink’ go-to-market strategy, which aims to promote the company as more than a printer maker.
According to Blandford, this will lead to more opportunities for the channel as it starts to expand into new verticals, such as manufacturing and some areas of healthcare.
“There are still a number of areas where we don’t have expertise ,” he said. “But there will be a channel. They are part of our go-to-market plan and it’s more likely than not we will expand our channel presence in Australia. It is increasing and we know its place.”