By Jamie Bsales, Senior Product Editor, Solutions, February 1, 2012
While there was no shortage of new and improved hardware on display at the Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A. 2012 Business Conference & Expo reseller event held earlier this month in Las Vegas, it was solutions offerings that took center stage. Literally. Occupying the middle of the expansive tradeshow floor set up in one of the Bellagio’s ballrooms was a circular display divided into four areas, each designed to resemble a real-world locale—medical center, law office, classroom and library—addressed by various Konica Minolta and third-party partner offerings.
The tradeshow, general session and individual breakout sessions also highlighted software and services aimed at vertical markets and general business customers alike. Chief among the offerings: EnvisionIT-branded solutions for key vertical markets, managed IT services opportunities through Konica Minolta’s All Covered subsidiary, and an expanded managed print services portfolio in the form of an enterprise-class Konica Minolta Optimized Print Services (OPS) platform.
EnvisionIT Brand Serves as Umbrella for Vertical Solutions
Building on its strength in the general-business software market—as evidenced by the “2012 Document Imaging Solutions Line of the Year” award the company garnered from the editors of BLI and announced at the show—Konica Minolta launched a raft of new solutions targeting key vertical markets. Konica Minolta EnvisionIT is the umbrella brand that encompasses solutions and services for the education, legal and healthcare industries. Resellers will have access to integrated workflow solutions, supported by Konica Minolta, that help their vertical market customers work smarter and more efficiently. As part of the initial EnvisionIT offering, Konica Minolta will provide managed print services, managed IT services via All Covered, MFP-integrated solutions via the bEST program, professional services, hardware and support.
At the show, Konica Minolta announced the first of its EnvisionIT Education partnerships, designed to provide K-12 school systems and higher-education entities with solutions that improve the overall learning experience for both teachers and students. The biggest news on this front was the announcement of a new affiliation with Promethean Ltd., a leading provider of interactive “smart classroom” learning systems such as connected whiteboards, student response systems, tablet PCs, assessment and data management software and more. Authorized resellers can now offer their education customers an end-to-end solution, combined with Konica Minolta bizhub MFPs to provide scanning and printing, that includes the “21st Century classroom” solutions from Promethean along with the professional services and training to make it all work and help customers get the most from their investment.
Another EnvisionIT Education partnership unveiled at the show was with Performance Matters, which has developed a comprehensive assessment and data management platform that supports the information needs of K-12 teachers, administrators and parents. The Performance Matters solution helps eliminate costly and inefficient testing practices via a cloud-based platform that enables educators to print and grade student exams directly from the control panel of a Konica Minolta bizhub MFP. Additionally, all test results can be analyzed via the Performance Matters web portal, which provides advanced analytics and progress monitoring for both students and teachers, with results sent automatically to the district’s student information system.
In the “medical center” area of the vertical market pavilion, Konica Minolta showcased new EnvisionIT Healthcare offerings that can help healthcare providers improve patient care but also drive down costs. Longtime Konica Minolta partner Prism Software rolled out Prism HealthFlow. Powered by the developer’s award-winning document and forms management system, HealthFlow improves workflow efficiency by eliminating paper-based forms and providing an integrated—and secure—document management solution specifically targeted for healthcare facilities.
Another product joining the EnvisionIT Healthcare portfolio is NSI Autostore for Healthcare. Like its general-market counterpart, NSI Autostore, the new offering streamlines workflow by providing knowledge workers a platform to initiate complex document workflows right from the control panel of supported bizhub MFPs. This iteration of the platform is tailored to healthcare administrators and other medical-office personnel, and includes the workflow connectors vital to them: A single button on the control panel lets users automatically scan prescriptions to pharmacies or directly to electronic medical record applications, which can reduce transmission errors, lowers costs, and enable healthcare facilities to provide more timely and efficient services to their patients.
The third push in the initial rollout of the vertical brand is EnvisionIT Legal, with the goal of offering customers in the legal profession solutions and services designed to streamline legal data and record management. New in the EnvisionIT Legal stable is Dispatcher Phoenix Legal. Developed by Konica Minolta, this document-handling solution lets users route scanned documents automatically from bizhub MFPs (or bizhub PRO production printers); use OCR to convert files to searchable PDF formats (including the PDF/A format popular for archiving); and automate the process of adding Bates stamps, watermarks, multi-line annotations, notes and redaction. With the Workflow Builder, rules-based workflows can be customized via a drag-and-drop interface, and the company’s LiveFlo technology gives real-time views of workflow to identify bottlenecks and speed electronic distribution of scanned documents.
These newly announced EnvisionIT solutions join Konica Minolta’s existing portfolio of solutions that are well suited for vertical-market deployments, such as Equitrac Express and Equitrac Professional, Prism DocForm and DocAudit, Pharos iMFP and UniPrint, IPRO Copy+ and others.
Resellers Can Expand Their Businesses with Managed IT Services
On the services front, Konica Minolta’s early-2011 acquisition of IT services firm All Covered— which focuses on delivering managed IT services to small and medium-sized businesses—promises to benefit not just Konica Minolta’s direct accounts, but its independent reseller base, as well. At the Las Vegas event, the company announced that under the new Managed IT and Print Services program, dealers will be able to offer customers desktop management, e-mail security, server and network monitoring and 24x7 client help desk support.
“With services provided by All Covered and backed by Konica Minolta, dealers and customers can count on a consistent level of service and capabilities nationwide from a company they trust,” said Sam Errigo, senior vice president for business intelligence services at Konica Minolta. “Konica Minolta dealers will be able to gain a competitive advantage in a crowded marketplace with new service portfolios designed to provide cost-effective management of IT and print environments.”
According to research by IDC, IT services spending by small businesses in North America is projected to grow from $8.4 billion in 2011 to $9.7 billion in 2015. Opening the All Covered portfolio and resources to resellers enables Konica Minolta dealerships to expand their line-of-business offerings to included managed IT services, without the huge capital investment in resources and manpower required to start such a practice on their own. Instead, dealers can leverage the investments being made by Konica Minolta as it builds out the All Covered network at the local level and expands its centralized 24/7 help-desk and remote services operations.
OPS Enterprise Takes MPS to the Next Level
Going hand-in-hand with the managed IT services expansion, Konica Minolta also announced an enhanced MPS program for dealers. Starting this summer, dealers will be able to offer comprehensive MPS capabilities that can extend to enterprise accounts as part of Konica Minolta’s Enterprise Optimized Print Services (OPS) program. The new technology platform for Enterprise OPS is a result of a collaborative development agreement with Pharos Systems International, a leading provider of enterprise print management solutions.
The company claims that Enterprise OPS will deliver true enterprise-level managed print services for environments ranging from the office to central reprographics departments (CRD) and commercial printers. The new and feature-rich functionality provides visual updates on a worldwide basis for monitored networked MFPs, printers, servers and routers that can be accessed from an iPad, tablet or any web browser. Other new features include comprehensive management reporting, applications reporting, end-user printing patterns and drag-and-drop floor planning tools.
Grab Apps at the bizhub MarketPlace
Additionally, Konica Minolta previewed its bizhub MarketPlace, an offering still under development but that should launch this year. The idea is to allow customers to put the new, improved bizhub touch screens to use for more than just entering job parameters: Deaelers and customers will be able to download bizhub “apps” from the MarketPlace to add handy new functionality to the device.
The initial roster of one dozen widgets will include the bizhub SECURE Notifier, which automatically polls various bizhub MFP settings and displays an icon assuring customers that functions such as HDD Password, HDD Encryption and HDD Backup are configured and working properly. A Connect to SharePoint app gives users one-touch access to Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 and 2010 repositories, letting them browse folders, preview and print stored PDF files, scan and upload PDF documents and more. There’s also the Connect to Google app for accessing Google Docs and Gmail accounts from the bizhub control panel.
An app for Konica Minolta’s Clear Planet cost-free recycling program lets customers create return-shipping materials—mailing labels, packing slips pre-populated with cartridges’ serial numbers, and so on—with just a few button presses. A handy Paper Templates app, meanwhile, lets users access and print often-used forms and documents such as cover sheets, permission forms, certificates and so on, as well as create special paper including graph paper, blank sheet music and more on the fly. Businesses can use the Announcements widget in conjunction with the PC-based Corporate Announcements application to create and deploy messages on the bizhub control panel. A Quick Links app lets an administrator place icons for often-visited websites on the control panel, and an RSS Feeds app can show text from RSS feeds on the control panel when the machine is not in use. There are also Weather and Stock Watch apps.