This latest acquisition is exciting because it positions Konica Minolta as a full-service provider to the dealer channel with the extension of FORZA in addition to managed IT services, enterprise content management, voice over IP (VoIP), multi-function devices and industrial print.
Yet beyond our own interests, we see the FORZA piece as a strategic link to activate the consumption-based model that customers are demanding and the dealer channel is building toward, complementing its own Workplace of the Future™ vision.
We believe that customers will consume technology, products and services differently in the future. The market will move to a consumption-based model with bundled invoicing for a multitude of products and services. In order to facilitate the single-invoice concept, a new way of selling, servicing and invoicing is required and FORZA, built on the SAP Business One (SAP B1) platform is the solution for the dealer channel.
Workplace of the Future™
In order to prepare for the Workplace of the Future™, we are investing $25 million to update our SAP architecture to SAP HANA, delivering the required flexibility to support the future demands of a services-led organization. The recent acquisition of MWA Intelligence Inc (MWA) is strategic for both Konica Minolta and the dealer channel as the future of change is already in motion. Here is how it will work:
The Workplace of the Future™ will consist of integrated and connected devices that customers will want to be supported and invoiced by a single provider. The customer experience needs to be simplified with combined services such as managed IT services, hosted applications, data storage, automated reception, conference room management and multi-function devices. The bundling of services into a single invoice will require the power of an ERP that is designed with flexibility that can adapt over time to the changing customer requirements.
The whole concept of the Workplace of the Future™ is that customers will consume in a manner similar to music or games via paid-for services. Consume what you want, when you want at the price you want. And unless dealers prepare their backroom infrastructure with the ability to operate business in a manner that customers want to consume, the inevitable decline in business will occur. So ultimately, it is all based on a consumption model dictated by the customer.
The FORZA architecture is built on the SAP B1 HANA (in-memory database) platform and will allow you to bill in whatever level of currency you want. This is the future and we all need to be prepared. Whatever ERP framework is selected, you should be able to invoice and manage your business long term. We’re looking out over the next five or ten years and thinking about technology and the associated impacts on our industry. That is why we view the FORZA product as an extension of our current managed IT portfolio.
So What Now?
As I said, the acquisition of MWA is very strategic, not only for our dealers but for the entire dealer channel. The MWA team will report into All Covered, as they have a proven track record and a foundation of trust within the dealer space.
The initial focus for us is going to be on the dealer channel. Yet, there’s so much opportunity in this space and we want to accelerate the FORZA platform due to the demand for change. I believe there are industries that are similar to the dealer channel that would be great vertical markets to expand as a follow on to our initial deployment. We’ve identified four vertical markets that are a good fit for the FORZA platform. Our model is to take what we’ve created, leverage the same type of source code and make this applicable to those industries.
What It Takes Going Forward
I believe that if you truly embrace innovation and have a desire to be a market leader, then change becomes inevitable. This is about our entire industry and stepping up to innovate and lead with products and services that will shape our future. We are breaking down the “manufacturer” barriers and opening up to the entire dealer network and delivering the best ERP platform for their business. That’s what this acquisition is all about. That’s exciting news I am happy to share!