Archive for March, 2009


Canon’s UniFLOW Solution – Follow Me \ Secure Printing

March 31, 2009

Canon’s new MEAP application is the Swiss army knife of MEAP (Multi-Functional Embedded Application Platform) solutions.

But one feature in particular has caught my eye, the follow me (secure) printing functionality. With this functionality an end user who is logged in to their companies domain prints to one of two generic Canon Print queues (Either B&W or Color). Their print job is stored securely on the Canon UniFLOW server. The end user then walks to their closest Canon MEAP enabled UniFLow MFD and releases their job by Identifying themselves with a Proximity Card, or Swipe Card, or even a simple Pin Code that is associated with their Windows AD Logon.

Think of the ramifications of this. Not only does it give you secure printing but convenience AND redundancy! The secure printing benefits are obvious (compliance, and privacy with no need for personal printers). But the other benefits are more subtle but just as real. Convenience, actually security with convenience (See article on the Next Killer App). Because there is convergence of technologies between the Active Directory Logon that so many companies use, and the security swipe or proximity cards that companies often use to open their doors. Tie these together with your MEAP enabled Canon MFD and wallah! you have security with convenience.

Now add in redundancy, when the first Canon MFD is busy or down (that never happens) for a PM (of course) the end user is barely even inconvenienced. Because instead of having to go back to their desk and log back on to their PC (or set up their laptop again if they shut it down), and then open the application they had printed from and hopefully have a back up printer already set up, so they can FINALLY reprint their job in total frustration. Instead of that scenario with the Canon UniFLOW solution they simply walk to the next closest MEAP enabled Canon MFD (running the UniFLOW app) and release their job at that Canon MFD. No frustration, no waiting, no problems.

I know the techies will really like the secure part of this solution (the security people too), but the average end user will think that the redundancy feature is the coolest thing since they started slicing the bread BEFORE they wrapped it up! The help desk will also like the fact that they only need to support two print queues.

I know that Canon will be showing the UniFLOW solution (with all of its functionality) at the On Demand \ Aiim show in Philly this week. If you are going to be there you should stop by the Canon booth to see it. Those of you who sell or buy Canon’s will be in awe (since Canon owns this solution, it is a Canon only app). The other manufacturers can come by to see how its done.

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh

PS: I will be on the floor at On Demand on 4/1/09.


Creating Chemistry (Part Two)

March 21, 2009

When I was at one of the _BS branches there were two very unique sales teams in the company, the one in California took a “REAL TEAM” approach. There were several members of this team, one was the phone guy (he set the appointments), a couple were the Account Reps (who were real good in front of the customers), there was the Sales Manager (who started the concept by putting her best accounts into the pot), and of course a Solutions Engineer. They all shared equally in the revenue of the deals that they brought in. Could your team do this? Maybe not but it worked for them. OK, maybe it does sound a little communistic but it was California after all, so it worked for them 🙂

When we talk about chemistry it is not an exact science. How you do it in San Fransisco may be different than what works here in New England. But which is more important, that we are individually successful? Or that we all do it the same way? Well, that depends upon who you ask and what culture dominates your organization. There is an American proverb that says “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”. Contrast that to the Japanese proverb that says “the nail that stands up gets hammered down”. Now both may be true (to some degree) but they reflect a difference in cultures that I think should be considered when trying to create that illusive chemistry on your sales teams.

There was a different _BS branch that had a team of System Integrators that came to work for this branch (I beleve that it was in Detroit). And they did some amazing deals that revolved around customized solutions that their team had the know how to pull off. But the National Sales Organization is unhappy with individual success they wanted each of the _BS branches to be the same.

As I have mentioned in a previous post when I was at the _BS branch we were the only _BS branch of thirteen _BS branches to hit our triple crown numbers that year. How do you think you would feel (being a part of that Sales Team) going to the end of year meeting? I won’t lie we were strutting around, feeling pretty good about what we had done. Until we got to the end of year meeting and not a single word was said about what _BS-Boston had accomplished! Instead they spoke about how they were changing everything, not to mimick what we had been doing but something completely different. Something that had not yet been proven to be successful. They actually moved my team from reporting to Sales to the Service side of the house (WTF?). They clearly had no idea what pre-sales System Engineers do.

I have had the privilege to work with one of the best Pre-Sale SEs in the country, I have actually hired him 3 times. That’s how highly I regard his talents. When I first took him away from Ikon he said something in the interview that I have never forgotten, he said he was tired of someone at Ikon management “moving around the coconuts every six months”. It seems like some “genius” at corporate would have a “brain storm” to fix everything that was wrong with Ikon. So they would implement the new fix-it-all plan and change everything (even what had been working well before). In six months when that would fail the next “genius” would step up with his/her “fix-it-all” plan and begin to move the coconuts again. My absolute favorite asinine plan that Ikon had is when they split the city on Boston into two separate markets! So the southern part of the City was part of the RI Branch, and the northern part of Boston was a part of the NH Branch. ONLY A BEAN COUNTER could have come up with such a stupid plan. Of course “on paper” to the guy at corporate who doesn’t have to make such a stupid plan actually work in the real world, it probably looked good (at least on paper), It made one strong branch and one weak branch look like two mediocre branches. And that is the problem with corporate bean counters! They choose mediocrity over an individual commitment to greatness. They don’t leave the strong branch alone (or better yet ask them what they need to do it even better), and then focus on making the weak branch stronger, they feel compelled to change it all. Why? In a word arrogance! They think that they are smarter than the people in the field, after all they work for “Corporate” as if that alone makes them smarter. I have personally met more empty suits who worked for the corporate manufacturer than I could believe (not all, but way too many). People who I wondered how they got, or could possibly keep their job. IMHO.

The reason that I think that Ricoh & Konica Minolta are going to follow the same path (and hence get the same results) as Ikon & Danka is because they practice the same heavy handed Corporate (centralized) management that Ikon & Danka did. Fundamentally the Corporate office thinks that they know better than the people who run their branches, But almost without exception when they have a “Brain Storm” it is simply something that they saw work at one of their branches, and now EVERY branch must do it the same way. But what works in Chicago with the personnel that they have may fail miserably in Miami with their people. But all too often Corporate doesn’t get this point.

When I first interviewed with the Manufacturer, many years before I actually accepted an offer to become the Solutions Manager at the _BS-Boston branch I met with a hiring manager from Corporate. He recommended a book to me that was all the rage back at HQ in NJ. It was called The Agenda by Michael Hammer. I will say that one good thing that I got out of this book was that as companies we need to be “easy to do business with”. That nugget was worth the price and time I paid to read the book. But what made me laugh out loud was his notion that as managers we can train people so that they are basically interchangeable. That is a manager’s pipe dream. Would it be great for a manager if this was the case? Sure, because talent and ability and motivation would all be equal, so pay would drop and the managers job would be easy! Wouldn’t that be great! OK, back to the real world, the one  we we all actually live. People are not interchangeable. The primary job of a manger is to get and keep good people. This of course includes developing “good people”. If you do this your organizations will run well.

Have you ever read On a clear day you can see General Motors By John De Lorean? The biggest problem he faced when he took over GM was people had been cross promoted. He had Accounting people promoted to run Operations, and Operations people running Sales divisions, Sales managers running HR departments. Why because of this concept that good people are interchangeable. BULL! What makes a great Salesman would make a terrible Accountant, or Assembly line worker and visa versa. Sadly he had to clean house and begin to promote people with in their areas of expertise. We should all take a lesson from his book. This doesn’t mean that you can not change careers. I have been a Service Technician, A Field Service Manager, a Systems Engineer, a Sales Person, and now an Executive. But when I went from being a Field Service manager or an SE over to Sales I wasn’t put in charge of the Sales Department.

So I think we have well defined the problem that our industry faces. So what is the Answer? Have you noticed that when i often mention IKON or DANKA that I rarely lump Global in with them? If you did give yourself 10 points extra credit for paying attention 🙂 Why? Because the Global Model of management was very different than IKON or Danka’s model. For the most part Global let the companies that they purchased run autonomously. The Global Corporate office DID hold them accountable to “hit their numbers” but they did NOT micro manage their day to day operations. This is where the centralized management of the manufacturers will fail. Global was the most profitable (I didn’t say the largest) of the three National Copier dealers because of this strategy. Politically it is the difference between a strong Federal government and a looser Confederacy (No I am not talking about slavery). A Confederacy is a looser association of States that cooperate together towards the common good or the common goals, But NY does it differently than GA. Like a Confederacy Global allowed their individual dealers to retain their management teams and styles that made Global want to buy them in the first place.

Let me ask you this, Do you hire good people? Do you think that they are qualified to do the job that you hired them for? Then why for God’s sake don’t you let them do the job that you hired them to do. Should you hold them accountable for results ABSOLUTELY! But if they are good at what they do, let them do it. Help them, measure their success, or failure, but don’t micro manage their day to day work. The one exception to this may be a brand new person, like a new sale person. They have not yet proven themselves. We don’t yet know IF they can do the job. The best thing you can do for a new sales person is manage their activity (Yes, I learned that at Ricoh U). What they “do” today will greatly impact their success or failure three months from now. But it drives seasoned sales professionals crazy when you try to change what they are already doing successfully just to make it uniformed with everyone else. It is often the reason they leave.

When I got hired by _BS-Boston to be the Solutions Manager I was told that Corporate had disbanded the previous Solutions team several years before and that it had a significant negative impact on the branches sales efforts (see above reference to “moving around the coconuts”). They wanted me to come in a reconstitute the Solutions Sales Team. Ricoh has a great Interviewing process. I won’t give away the details (you should experience this kind of interview for yourself sometime, you won’t soon forget it). I met with three separate managers, two of whom I ended up would working for directly. Good men all. My immediate manager ran a number of successful sales teams with sales managers reporting to him, and in my opinion he was a big reason why the branch was so successful. I have never worked for a better boss or one that could read me so well. It was almost scary. He had that great balance of professional and personable. People not only respected him (because he had proven himself to be a great salesman and manager) but he was, and is well liked too. That’s part of putting together the chemistry I spoke of. His boss (my bosses boss, when I was at _BS-Boston) was a long time industry guy. And I respected him. He was always decent and fair to me and I knew he had my back, with Corporate. These two men (My Bosses) told me what they wanted me to do, and then they actually let me do it. They knew the results that they wanted to see and they held me accountable for them, but neither of them had ever done my job, so they did not try to micro manage me. This was a great part of the chemistry of that branch. It extended beyond the local sales teams to the larger branch. I liked working there, they were good people, professionals.

And then the Lanier merge happened. Like I said they completely ignored what this branch had done because the other 12 branches weren’t doing well, so we (the geniuses at Corporate) have to fix all 13 branches so that they are the same (mediocre). BTW, How are they doing so far? At the end of year meeting when the coconuts began to get moved around, I was told that they were moving my team to service (EXACTLY what had happened to the previous _BS Solutions team before me). To his credit the VP who ran the Northeast (a guy I respect) came to me personally and told me it was just for “logistics”. He wanted to settle me down because I was floored by Corporate’ response (or lack of) to our year. But It did not turn out to be so. Originally they put a guy in charge of Service for the New England Market place that had previously managed 10 technicians. He was a nice guy but way over his head. Soon after I was assigned to report to him he came to me and said “Who tells you what to do?”. I said Joe, Ricoh hired me to manage, if someone has to tell me what to do, then you hired the wrong guy. He was only there for a short time, to fill the gap until they eventually brought in a couple of top notch service guys.

I knew it was time for me to go when everyone else in the management team had their comp plans in place except for me. I had a conversation with the gentleman who ran service for the region and he said to me “We are not sure what to do with you”? Sadly, I knew what he was saying. My Comp Plan would not work under Service, the measurables are not the same. We had meetings about all the new (coconut moving) things that my team of SEs and Solution Sales people were now going to do. I asked my Service manager well what about all the things that we had been doing to make this branch successful? Who is going to do those things? He paused for a moment, looked at his shoes, and said well (pause) you guys will still do ALL that too. I asked him “are we going to get comp’d on those things”? He said no. Well then you and I know that they are not going to get done. People, especially sales people, will only do what you pay them to do. That is the purpose of a comp plan.

As long as Ricoh, KMBS, and Xerox try to run their direct sales branches like Ikon & Danka did (rather than the Global model) they will get the same results. AA has a definition for insanity. They say that it is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh

PS: I will be on the floor at the On Demand \ AIIM show all day on 4/1/09 maybe I will see you there.



March 18, 2009


For The Tenth Consecutive Year, Canon Captures The Top Ranking

Lake Success, N.Y., March 16, 2009 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leading provider of digital imaging and office solutions, today announced that the Company is once again ranked first in the overall page copier market in the U.S. for 2008 with 21 percent of the market, according to Gartner’s Printer, Copier and MFP Quarterly Statistics Database for fourth quarter 2008 (February 9, 2009).

“Despite the changing digital copier landscape and difficult economy in 2008, Canon’s award-winning digital copier technology continued to be the brand of choice for small and large enterprises nationwide,” said Ted Nakamura, executive vice president and general manager, Imaging Systems Group. “From monochrome to color, Canon remains dedicated to making investments in technology that allows us to deliver value with the most robust array of digital document imaging solutions on the market.”

Gartner’s research focused on market share for color and black-and-white copiers of both digital and analog technology, including personal copiers (1-10 pages-per-minute (ppm)) and copiers in Segments 1-6, which range in speed from 11 to 91+ ppm.

About Canon U.S.A., Inc.
Canon U.S.A., Inc., is a leading provider of consumer, business-to-business, and industrial digital imaging solutions. Its parent company, Canon Inc. (NYSE:CAJ), a top patent holder of technology, ranked third overall in the U.S. in 2008†, with global revenues of US $45 billion, is listed as number seven in the computer industry on Fortune Magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies 2008 list, and is on the 2008 BusinessWeek list of “Top 100 Brands.”  At Canon, we care because caring is essential to living together in harmony.  Founded upon a corporate philosophy of Kyosei  – – “all people, regardless of race, religion or culture, harmoniously living and working together into the future” – – Canon U.S.A. supports a number of social, youth, educational and other programs, including environmental and recycling initiatives.  Additional information about these programs can be found at  To keep apprised of the latest news from Canon U.S.A., sign up for the Company’s RSS news feed by visiting .


Creating “chemistry” in a Sales Orginizations

March 18, 2009

Have you ever been a part of a Sales Team that had “chemistry”? Where the whole of the Team were greater than their individual parts? I have been fortunate to have been a part of a number of such sales teams. While I have sold for a living my real passion is the Solutions side of the team. A good Pre-sales solutions engineer or solutions salesman can really give your team a shot in the arm. A bad one (with too much ego) can do just as much damage to morale.

When I first took the job at _BS-Boston I showed up at the downtown showroom, the “Tech Portal”, Corporate had spent some decent money making this a top class showroom. I knew that I would be spending a good deal of time there. I asked the Sales Manager who ran the downtown office if I could get one of his parking passes (for me to hang on to). He looked at me skeptically and said “what do you need a parking pass for”? I said that I am planning to spend a lot of time in this demo room, and working out of this office. He said “Yeah, we’ll see”. He went on to tell me that none of the SEs liked coming in to Boston. After my third visit that week, he handed me a parking pass, and we began to develop a real good working relationship. The Sales Manager had a solid team of mostly young, but motivated, sales people. He had one or two more seasoned guys. But that team had chemistry. They worked together helping each other out on deals. They often would eat lunch together or go out after work together. This is not something you can force it had to be cultivated naturally. This downtown sales manager did a good job of developing a team culture.

When I first started talking with this Sales Manager for the downtown office I told him that it would take us a year to get things where we really wanted them. But after that we would see some real benefits. Why so long? Because when I arrived there was a distrust between the Sales & the Solutions people. Why? Because most Solutions people come up through the Service channel. And let’s face it there is a certain animosity between Sales & Service. We can’t afford to have that same animosity between Solutions & Sales! We MUST be a team. I believe that it is incumbent upon the Solutions Engineer to earn the trust of each Sales Person that they work with, and this is what takes time. It took us a year at _BS-Boston, but we did it and by the end of the second year we had shown what a Sales Team with Chemistry can do. We were the only _BS direct Branch to hit all of our numbers for the year. I am very proud to have been a part of that team.

How can the Solutions Engineer gain the trust of the Sales people that s/he works with? It REALLY helps if the Solutions Engineer has sold in a previous job. But it is REALLY hard to find a good technical person who has sold for a living too. If you do prepare to pay a premium for their services (it will be worth it). If they have not sold them selves they really need to be empathetic to what it is like for a quota bearing Sales Person. To get up every morning thinking where am I at on my quota, what will close this week, or this month? It is not enough to just dress a Systems Engineer (SE) in a suit and make them look like a Sales person, they have to think like one (at least to some degree) if the sales person is going to trust them. The biggest thing a Solutions Engineer has to show their Sales counterpart is that they are committed to doing what it takes to get the deal. They need to see that the Solutions Sales Engineer is invested in the deal, and that they will do everything (ethical) to get it.

This is all too often the missing ingredient to that illusive “chemistry” that we seek to develop in our sales teams.

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh


Are Ricoh’s employees paying for the Ikon aquistion?

March 11, 2009

We all know that Ricoh paid too much to purchase Ikon. Any of you that are in deals against Ikon know that Ricoh continues to spend liberally to pay off large leases for Canon equipment IF the customer will switch to Ricoh equipment (It must be nice to have deep enough pockets to buy market share). But who is paying the price for Ricoh generosity? Is it Ricoh’s employees?

In a cost cutting move. Ricoh apparently announced the following changes for its employees:

  • Suspend the Employer match for the 401K plan for 2009
  • No merit increase for FY2009
  • bonus control program which caps payment at 75% of the annual potential for bonus payout
  • Universal standard work week moves from 37.5 hours to 40 hours, without pay increase
  • hope these actions will save $20 million in FY2009

Did I miss the part where they told us how much of a pay cut that Ricoh’s CEO was taking? After all wasn’t he at the helm for this growth by acquisition strategy. Buying companies (like Savin, Lanier, & Ikon) doesn’t guarantee you will capture there market share. Do you think Ricoh is beginning to figure this out?

It sounds like Ricoh is trying to balance their budget on the backs of the rank & file workers. Does Ricoh really think that they will keep there best & brightest people with this plan? I think not! Especially with the Large Independent Canon Dealers & CBS growing like crazy. Hey guys (& girls) come on over the water is fine over here.

We, the Independent dealers have continued to be fiscally responsible. We don’t buy our market share, we earn it. As a result we are growing and we are hiring. In this economy that’s a certifiable miracle!

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh


What’s up with Lexmark?

March 11, 2009

I was in an Industry conference about a year ago and there was a panel of financial analysts that specialized in our industry. They predicted a dark future for Lexmark. At first I was a little skeptical but I watched the news to see if what they said had any merit. After a while I started to see stories on Lexmark. When you begin to string together the following news items things begin to look grim for Lexmark.

Acacia Research, a firm that buys obscure patents, announced it has forced Dell & Lexmark to pay license fees for a patent it owns pertaining to network multifunction printer technology.  The dollar amount was not released.  Other companies that have already settled with Acacia are; HP, Samsung, Oce’, Brother, Epson, Muratec, Okidata, Panasonic & Toshiba.  Acacia reports that its total annual collections are up 45% to $13.8 million per year.

Lexmark warned that its fourth quarter financials would be lower than expected:
– stock shares went down 11%
– restructuring charge of $45 million
– Layoff of 375 jobs
– 17% drop in revenue
– Company started as a spinoff of IBM in 1991
– Stock dropped to $28.35 per share
– Still has 14,000 employees

And now we hear that Standard & Poor’s Ratings Service just lowered its rating on Lexmark to one notch above junk status, or BBB- . Lexmark stock has lost about half its value since peaking at $37.55 last summer.

What does the future hold for the once mighty Lexmark.  From where I am standing it doesn’t look good.

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh


Do the Copier Manufacturer’s Sales practices rise to the level of “dumping”

March 5, 2009

Have you ever heard a Salesman called a “give away artist”? Or have you been in a deal against a Sales person who “dropped his pants” to get the deal? Do you find yourself scratching your head when your hear what they “sold” (I use the term loosely) the MFD for?

Did you go into this business to starve? I don’t know about you, but I don’t think it is wrong to make an honest profit on the equipment that you sell, especially if you have a history of taking care of your customers. (There is an added value here).

Along come the Direct Sales arm of the manufacturers. Usually with a name that ends with _BS (CBS, RBS, KMBS, TABS, or some other_BS). Is it just me or does it seem that the ONLY thing they have to compete on is price. Why is it that they always seem to be the cheapest? Could it be because one Manufacturer’s Direct Sales Branches lost $42 million dollars last year? It must be nice to have such deep pockets that you can afford to loose $42 million dollars in a year and still stay in business (OK, stop thinking about AIG, CitiBank, etc. we can talk about them another time).

How do you loose $42 million in a year? Could it be by pricing your equipment and service so low that it COSTS YOU MONEY to make the sale? Isn’t that the very definition of “dumping”, predatory pricing designed to buy market share and drive your competition (who actually sells for a profit) out of business? The concept of “dumping” is based on the fact that you can “bleed” longer than your competition. They (the Manufacturer) can afford to Loose money longer than most of your competition (We, as independent dealers are in business to actually make a profit).

It’s not just the guys who lost $42 million last year either. I worked for a different  _BS for a little over two years, and my last year there (right before their big merger with Lanier) we were the only direct _BS branch out of 13 direct _BS branches in the country to hit our “triple crown numbers” for the year. Which means 12 out of 13 didn’t! How do they stay in business? Maybe they just keep buying other companies (Savin, Lanier, Ikon….) to buy their market share. IF they were an Independent business, they would be OUT OF BUSINESS!!!

When I was the Solutions Manager at _BS \ Boston (New England) I brought one of the top sales guys over from my old company (happens all the time in our industry doesn’t it). When he made his first sale, the GSM (General Sales Manager) for the Boston Branch was bragging to the VP who ran all of the direct branches about his first sale and the profit that he made (personally) and for the branch. The Corporate VP (an Accountant type) said to the GSM you need to look at that deal to make sure that he didn’t do anything unethical. UNETHICAL!!! Oh My God! He MADE A PROFIT, Somebody arrest that Salesman, HOW dare he make a profit!!! Who the hell does he think he is!!!! After all doesn’t he understand that we are in business to give the equipment away and he is screwing up our plan by actually making a profit.

This is what happens when you put a “bean counter” in charge of a Sales orginization. How do you put someone in charge of a Sales force who themselves have NEVER sold anything in their life! Am I out of line saying that it is necesary for you to have made a quota and sold for a profit to manage those that do. If you have never done this, it doesn’t make you a bad person, but it does mean that you are not going to be repected by those who have gotten up every morning thinking about their quota and their margin. But maybe I digress…

The Direct Sales Branches of the Manufactures, the _BS organizations seem to give it away. Am I wrong about this? They not only give away the equipment (which is bad enough) but they try to give away the service (if their Service Manager is too weak to stand up to these Give away artist). These are the people who have set the bar at 4.5 cents for an 11×17 color page (Single Click)!!! You Can NOT, repeat NOT even break even, never mind make a profit at that price. So WHY DO THE MANUFACURER’S OFFER IT. In my opinion THEY ARE DUMPING!!! and that is illegal. I will say that our VP of Service (Mike McLaughlin) at NECS will not put up with this, why? Because he knows, and he makes sure that we know, that IF he is going to give the customer the GREAT SERVICE that they are acustom to from NECS that he can not, and he will not do it for this price. We regularly tell customers that if you are looking for the CHEAPEST then you don’t want us (NECS). Because we are not CHEAP, we will give you the best value, but we are not the cheapest.

So, It may be necessary for those of us who actually turn a profit in this business to call to task the direct branches who loose money each and every year. If you can’t do what we do, and make a profit then GET OUT! It doesn’t make you a bad person just unfit to manage a Copier \ MFD organization. You are ruining this business for those of us who can do it and make a profit. And I think that if you can’t make a profit then you are “Dumping” your equipment and your service, and that’s illegal! So Knock it off, you are not helping anyone in the long run.

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh