When discussing software solutions that fortify dealers and their end-user clients, it’s difficult to wrap one’s arms around the totality of offerings on the market. Taking an extended walk down the list of major and meaningful titles is like an Academy Award winner trying to remember everyone to thank during the acceptance speech—some are bound to be forgotten.
Instead, we’ve chosen a different approach. We’re calling to the “stage” some of the people who make the business of doing business possible. And we can’t stress the quantifier “some” enough; this is but a sampling of the hundreds of solutions at your disposal. We asked three simple questions of these providers to yield some semblance of market trends: What’s new? What’s hot? And what’s next?
National Sales Manager, Enterprise and Cloud Services
All Covered (Konica Minolta IT Services Division)
What’s new? Konica Minolta continues to invest in cloud-first strategies, offering clients a single, holistic provider to assist in cloud road mapping, migration, cloud optimization and security. Our FY22 commitment to develop and improve client digital transformation has provided an unparalleled ability for our clients, dealers and partners to stay competitive and grow market share while reducing costs, improving security posture and increasing the ability to scale. This year, we’ve continued to make substantial investments in growing our Cloud Services division, and for the third year in a row have been recognized by CloudTango as the number-one managed services provider in the U.S.
What’s hot? As a cloud-agnostic provider, Konica Minolta has the ability to assist clients no matter where they are in their cloud journey. In addition to clients leveraging the high availability and compliance certifications offered with the All Covered Private Cloud, we’re seeing many adopt a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud model by leveraging Microsoft Azure. While public cloud adoption has drastically increased, so have the challenges of managing, securing and controlling costs within these environments. As a Microsoft Gold partner and Azure Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP), we’ve developed a dedicated, rapidly growing Azure practice to provide clients a turnkey, white-glove-managed Azure experience.
What’s next? While cloud isn’t a new technology, the industry will continue a massive digital shift to relying on more cloud services, vendors and applications within a business ecosystem. Konica Minolta understands that “cloud” can mean many different things to many different people. Our goal is to initially align with a client’s business objectives and become a trusted advisor throughout their cloud journey—no matter the end target. We’ll continue to heavily invest in our public and private cloud capabilities and bring to market new offerings to complement our clients’ cloud objectives.
Senior Director of Marketing
What’s new: We’re updating our flagship uniFLOW Online product to make it more accessible for home use, including inkjet devices. This is pretty exciting for us because consumer devices generally don’t possess the infrastructure to support the extent of the things that enterprise print management solutions such as uniFLOW Online can do with secure printing and scanning, and connected to an enterprise hybrid environment. Our consumer-based devices will connect to our office equipment devices and exist on the same cloud platform. Thus, hybrid employees who have the opportunity to buy their own device can connect those and leverage the same infrastructure being used by enterprise. That makes it easier for corporate IT, which is increasingly challenged with supporting home user devices.
What’s hot: One of the biggest areas we’ve seen has been the unified communications space, which has grown pretty strong since the pandemic due to remote work. A lot of our dealer channel partners have invested in this type of technology. So that’s been a big growth opportunity for our dealer network. We invested in the cloud back in 2016 with uniFLOW Online and other products. It was a pretty slow adoption for a couple of years prior to 2020. A lot of organizations had to adopt cloud faster than they would have, and our growth in the cloud business has been quite strong. I can see our dealers investing in a lot of cloud SaaS solutions.
What’s next: We’re excited about the release of AMLOS—activate my line of sight—a Canon-developed hardware/software combination that combines a Canon camera with a Canon USA-developed software that is being designed to enhance the hybrid meeting experience working in conjunction with a compatible third-party conference solution. AMLOS is a single Canon PTZ camera mounted in a conference room area. Its software shows three independent video streams generated from one camera lens. A thumb’s up by an in-room participant activates AMLOS to start a meeting, and remote participants can join via a web browser with no app installation required for them to view the meeting. With AMLOS, a remote participant can select the views they want based on what the in-room participants focus on—they can look at the presenter, a white board, or maybe the conference table—and organize their screen as they see fit. We showcased the benefits of the AMLOS solution at a major trade show this past January.
What’s new? DocuWare will be moving its U.S. headquarters to Beacon, New York, by the end of the year. The company has outgrown its current office building but wanted to stay in New York’s Hudson Valley area. With the city of Beacon located close to major highways and the Metro-North Hudson train line, the company expects to attract new talent from the wider New York metropolitan area.
What’s hot? DocuWare iPaaS connectors now make it easier to integrate cloud applications. Using iPaaS platforms such as Make or Webmethods.io, DocuWare connectors remove the need for customer interface programming. Very little maintenance is required as connectors are adapted on the platforms by the manufacturers. As a DocuWare Partner, this opens up many new ways to quickly and easily connect a client’s existing solutions with new cloud solutions while also automating complete workflows and processes. Partners are already seeing the benefits of DocuWare iPaaS connectors; they can complete more projects in less time, leading to higher profits and more business opportunities.
What’s next? We’ve made strong investments in digital infrastructure. DocuWare Cloud delivers a fast time-to-value solution with an uptime of 99% that exceeds industry standards. Our flexible workflows are easy to adapt to any business. Customers report a positive return on investment in the form of a more productive workforce and higher profits within three to six months. DocuWare Cloud customers now number almost 7,000 globally.
From listening to our partners, we know their customers need tools that promote collaboration for remote workers, improve productivity and answer to the highest security standards. DocuWare Cloud is used in over 100 countries, and the software is available in 21 languages. It’s a truly global product, and we hope to continue to grow our partner network.
President, ECI Field Service Division
ECI Software Solutions
What’s new? Last year, ECI introduced Printanista, an all-in-one solution that combines the strengths of our existing print management products (FMAudit, PrintFleet, Print Audit) to give customers the industry’s most comprehensive device management system for MPS. The advanced data collection agent (DCA) within Printanista provides customers with the most thorough device data collection available. This release also includes agnostic support for USB printers that don’t report via SNMP, and remote device connection to allow for troubleshooting and device configuration adjustments without having to send a technician on site.
What’s hot? ECI continues to see enormous opportunity in cloud computing. More organizations are attempting to get a handle on their IT spending and reduce operating overhead. Cloud-based SaaS offerings allow them to have the latest technology and most up-to-date systems that can scale with their growth without the up-front investments and maintenance obligations. Since we specialize in cloud computing, our customers don’t have to, which relieves them of the time, money and resources typically invested in tasks such as vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, and data backup and protection. Those actions on their own can cost a small business thousands every year.
What’s next? System integrations and data analytics are in the spotlight right now. ECI is always looking to create more seamless workflows and richer experiences that provide more value so customers can reap more benefits from the technology. ECI’s office technology products collect a vast amount of data that, when arranged and presented logically, will provide a wealth of insight to customers to help them understand the profitability of their MPS programs. By looking at the combined data of these sources, ECI can help customers analyze every aspect of their organization so they can make better decisions.
Group Product Manager, Professional Imaging
What’s new? Epson Cloud Solution PORT is remote monitoring software for Epson professional imaging/wide-format printers. The cloud software platform allows users to view live updates on printer fleet production, equipment utilization and service information to optimize printer workflow and maximize operational efficiency. The software provides a vast amount of usage data and insight needed to make critical business decisions and achieve next-level productivity.
Epson Cloud Solution PORT is included with all of Epson’s current-generation SureColor production printers and will monitor and track current-generation Epson SureColor solutions regardless of where they are geographically as long as they’re internet connected.
What’s hot? Remote production monitoring has become essential for print shops to maximize productivity, connectivity and growth. As many shops re-evaluated management and production to meet changing demands over the last few years, platforms such as Epson Cloud Solution PORT provided key statistics and insights to make critical business decisions.
Development of mobile monitoring solutions has been key and will continue to make an impact on the industry. These types of platform solutions provide peace of mind through beneficial features, including efficiency tracking/reporting and team communications that make all employees aware of performance metrics and output timelines.
What’s next? Cloud software solutions will continue to develop in functionality and sophistication, and provide customers with new data and insights needed to run their print shops efficiently. Future developments for cloud-based monitoring software will include additional aspects of service and break/fix; printer monitoring (additional metrics); and new features that target additional data, uses and services channel partners can offer to help improve customers’ overall efficiency.
Director, Product Marketing-Intelligent Automation
What’s new? Kofax is always looking for opportunities to expand our portfolio, offering our customers and partners new capabilities to accelerate their digital workflow transformation journeys. Recently, we announced the acquisition of Ephesoft, Inc., a leading provider of value-add intelligent document processing (IDP) solutions. The acquisition will add to Kofax’s industry-leading IDP solutions and go-to-market channels. With global coverage and cloud solutions, the combined company will provide organizations with value-add solutions to accelerate deployments.
What’s hot? There’s been a growing realization of the importance of unstructured data (emails, social media posts, hand-written forms) in successfully automating digital workflows. This data is used by robotic workforces to update business systems and perform a variety of automated tasks. It’s also routed to human workers for analysis, approvals and other actions. Bad data going in can lead to cascading errors throughout the process, causing delays and rework. Kofax has long recognized this trend, and it’s why we’ve invested extensively in IDP. The acquisition of Ephesoft fits directly into this strategy.
What’s next? The pandemic has taught companies the importance of being adaptable—to expect the unexpected. It’s widely accepted that intelligent automation helps build dynamic processes and more productive workforces. But how will companies invest in these multifunctional solutions? Will they select a primary vendor who pieces together a solution from various suppliers, along with the integration and support issues that approach brings? Kofax believes companies prefer a single-source, integrated automation portfolio that includes IDP, RPA and business process management, all designed and built to work together. This is the guiding principle of our portfolio evolution.
Director of Marketing and Campaign Strategy, Dealer Channel
What’s hot? Trends center on document management, workflows, security, talent acquisition and retention. Remote work is predicted to continue to grow into 2025, adding stress on the new emerging buyer—HR. Today, HR leaders are faced with recruiting and onboarding an unprecedented number of remote and hybrid workers, and IT must provide cloud workflows, including access to documents, information, access controls, audit trails, retention strategies and storage. They must also implement security protocols to ensure information confidentiality and compliance. Add to this the complexity of retaining that workforce and it’s easy to see why companies are rethinking the way they do business.
What’s next? We’re currently working with our indirect channel on sales and marketing kits focused on new and emerging buyer needs, digital strategies and overall sales fluency. It’s imperative that companies speak to the customers in their language and fully understand their business operations and workflows. This entails website development, social marketing and overall digital transformation. Our big-picture goal continues to be helping customers transform data into intelligent, actionable information quickly, accurately and securely so they can make informed, data-driven decisions that move their businesses forward.
Associate Director, Software Product Marketing
Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America
What’s new: Sharp’s new BP-VD10L Virus Detection Kit, powered by Bitdefender, gives users of its BP series document systems an added layer of security that scans inbound and outbound data for virus activity. When combined with the BP’s standard security features, such as BIOS Integrity Check, Real-time Intrusion Detection and Firmware Attack Prevention, these models take a big leap forward in MFP security to keep data safe. The Virus Detection Kit is supported by all Sharp BP series models.
What’s hot: The Synappx Collaboration Hub Experience creates dynamic workspaces that enable creativity and allow remote and onsite team members to work together seamlessly. It enables users to start a scheduled or ad hoc web meeting on a meeting room display from a smartphone and automatically connect to in-room audio and video. This mobile-centric approach allows attendees to control the meeting room’s microphone and camera directly from the Synappx mobile app. The Synappx Collaboration Hub Experience works optimally when paired with the 4K Ultra-HD PN-L2B AQUOS BOARD interactive display series.
What’s next: Following this year’s release of the Synappx Collaboration Hub Experience, Sharp will continue expanding its Synappx platform, which functions as the “brain” behind your smart office. The platform is built to add different applications and security components that enhance the collaborative experience and intuitive connections our products offer. Coming soon, you’ll see added security, cloud service, collaboration tools, device management and remote monitoring combine to provide an optimized and more streamlined user experience. Look out for more from this evolving full suite of Synappx applications to make your office smarter by connecting your data, enhancing security and enabling smart hardware.
President and CEO
Square 9 Softworks
What’s new: Many people in the ECM software space have been looking for ways to leverage some of the emerging technology being developed. We believe 2022 will be seen as a breakthrough year for Square 9 as we introduce both Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning into our workflow offering. GlobalCapture users will now be able to automate the OCR extraction processes with TransformAI, our cloud-based AI engine, to intelligently recognize high-value data from invoices and receipts.
Replacing the outdated approach of extracting information by creating and maintaining templates is something the ECM community has been asking for, and we’re excited to launch in the fall of 2022. Square 9 customers can also expect to see AI incorporated into other areas of our products in the coming months.
What’s hot: The hottest area in ECM in recent years has been, without a doubt, the introduction of web forms into ECM workflow processes. With a strong forms-based approach, users can capture and consume information much more quickly by eliminating the conversion of paper or the use of OCR. By doing so, web forms feed information directly into the workflow with the highest possible level of accuracy and with the lowest possible cost.
To do this effectively, however, the forms platform must include the tools to effectively collect, interpret and share that information. For our customers, that means being able to create forms-driven workflow processes that can calculate values and make decisions based on the outcome, or even call on information residing in other business intelligence systems. At Square 9, we’ve seen forms-based workflows explode with more than 270% growth in just the last year, and it shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
What’s next: If the cloud ever had one detrimental quality, it would be its limited ability to communicate with other cloud information platforms in the same way on-premises platforms could. Fortunately, we’re seeing more products acting as data brokers between cloud applications to break down those barriers. We’re actively working to create the recipes that will allow our products to communicate freely with other applications and perform seamless data sharing.
With its low cost of ownership, ease of maintenance and built-in strategy for business continuity, the cloud has emerged as the smart choice for most businesses. At Square 9, we see more than 80% of our new business utilizing a cloud strategy. And many of our long-term customers are planning to migrate in the next two years. This is good news for our dealers, as cloud sales provide them with another form of ARR while guaranteeing revenue certainty for years to come.
Vice President, Customer Success
What’s new: Starting In 2021, Tigerpaw began investing in the future by increasing the size of our development team by over 50% and by scaling up our implementation and support teams. Our product focus has been on adding features that streamline business processes, allowing our existing and new customers easy entry into new markets. Tigerpaw can now automate everything from service order creation to dispatching technicians, replenishing inventory, invoicing and customer payment. Just hit the Tigerpaw button and let the software run your day. All of this is aligned with our goal of allowing our customers to run a better business and sleep well at night.
What’s hot: Converged services! If you’re in the managed IT services space and looking to add managed print, or you’re an office equipment dealer considering adding AV managed services, our all-in-one software platform is essential to your growth. The last couple of years have exposed the importance of diversifying, and dealers are reacting. The Tigerpaw One approach of including everything without additional module charges has given dealers the ability to provide CRM, dispatch, inventory, project management and invoicing and customer payment services to new markets without adding cost. Tigerpaw can automate all of these modules, too.
What’s next: What isn’t next? We’ve listened to our customers through our Tigerpaw community and proactive customer success meetings to build our next-generation roadmap. There will be a revamped Tigerpaw Mobile application with geofencing and a new look and feel later this year. After that, we’re on our road to a full web-based application, and we’ll be leveraging our Integration Hub to easily add new RMM, DCA and vendor partners at an accelerated pace. In the future, how about cool features such as competitive gaming metrics for customers that want to share and predictive analytics? One of our core values is “Always Evolving,” and that’s part of what drives us to find new and better ways to help customers run a better business.
Vice President of Solutions and Outbound Marketing
Toshiba America Business Solutions
What’s new? Toshiba is investing in cloud technologies to enable speed and adaptability without the infrastructure burden for clients and dealers. Such innovations include the company’s e-BRIDGE Global Print, a radically simple, highly secure, cloud-based print management tool for Toshiba devices. Clients are up and running in just minutes with the dealer facilitating it all through the Global Print online portal. This means current and future Toshiba customers may leverage the cloud for secure, pull-print capabilities while presenting immediate value for dealers in a totally self-service manner. High value, low overhead. It’s a winning combination for dealers.
What’s hot? Toshiba’s solutions business is experiencing sturdy growth, which allows dealers to grow revenue without hardware supply chain constraints. Growth segments include document management and workflow solutions as well as secure file exchange and cloud fax offerings. We see the shift to cloud occurring in our transaction mix as well, with more customers choosing cloud over on-premises solutions when both are available. Toshiba provides dealers with a robust and expandable portfolio along with pre- and post-sales support, and delivers marketing/sales enablement kits so dealers can drive revenue around solutions while avoiding heavy investments in SMEs or marketing campaigns.
What’s next? Having been in the cloud business for decades, the shift to the cloud just intuitively makes sense and I believe will be the primary deployment mode for most companies over time. Cloud allows seamless expansion beyond the confines of infrastructure or real estate constraints to take advantage of huge economies of scale and information access. We continue to invest in the cloud for end-users as well as resellers. With Toshiba’s Elevate Sky Service portfolio, for example, dealers gain greater insight while delivering a truly superior customer experience to their clients. You’ll soon see us expanding the Elevate Sky Service portfolio, enabling dealers to provide proactive, highly intelligent support to clients—all through the power of the cloud and AI.