As Alaris introduces an expanded channel programme, Gerry Kelliher, Sales Director EMEA for Kodak Alaris, explains how Alaris and its partners can work together to exploit opportunities in the scanner market
No one would deny that the scanner market is a mature one, but for Gerry Kelliher, Kodak Alaris EMEA Sales Director, it is still full of opportunity, not least because of the gap that still exists between digitisation and automation.
“There are plenty of process workflows out there that are digitised but not yet fully automated, and we are looking for partners who can help us identify the decision-makers who own them,” he said.
The sorts of process Kelliher is talking about are where someone captures a digital image of a document by scanning-to-the-desktop and then manually entering details into an electronic system or forwarding the image to a shared service centre, perhaps with the message ‘Here is an invoice. Please can you approve it or pass it on’.
“We still see lots of steps, lots of hands on a process from start to finish, and every one of those interactions costs money, opens up compliance risks and introduces errors,” he said.
“A bank in Latin America we worked with were getting 1,600 new 10-page customer application forms a week. Forms were being scanned on an MFP and delivered to a shared service centre where 26 people performed manual data entry. You can just imagine the spelling mistakes, the incorrect addresses, the compliance problems and the time it took to open an account. We need partners who can recognise inefficiencies in their accounts and want to provide an end-to-end solution, using our hardware, our software and our professional services.”
Kelliher says that Alaris is unique in the scanner space for its ability to bundle those three elements together in what he calls ‘an information capture cog’ that can be plugged into a partner’s solution. “We can deliver the information capture front-end to make a partner’s solution more effective for their end user accounts,” he said.
A key aspect of Alaris’s proposition that Kelleher says has real significance in the context of end-to-end automated solutions is image quality.
“With the advent of Robotic Process Automation (RPA), we are seeing image quality and some of the core attributes that Alaris has always delivered coming to the fore in terms of their impact on read rate and the accuracy of images for postprocessing. We are now seeing partners that insist on using our solutions because of the high image quality we guarantee and the fact that our PerfectPage technology delivers the crisp images they need 100% of the time,” he said.
Kelliher says that while existing channel partners have been successful at identifying the owners of processes ripe for automation, especially in production capture environments, Alaris will be looking to develop relationships with new partners as it expands into new markets.
“Traditionally, we have been very strong in production capture, but as we move more into distributed capture, we are looking for new partners who have access to those enterprise accounts. Our end-to-end proposition is very attractive to partners that are focusing on delivering value to a smaller set of more specialised end user accounts. They want vendors who can provide an end-to-end bundle they can fit into their solutions,” he said.
To help existing and new partners exploit such opportunities, Alaris is expanding its channel programme with a new platform designed to make it easier for Alaris and its partners to do business together.
“In addition to market development funds, rebate programmes and rewards programmes, we are adding more capabilities to enable partners in our software solutions. We are investing in creating bundles – pricing bundles and hardware and software bundles – where we pick out components that are perfect for a partner’s needs and provide marketing collateral that can go around that and sales enablement for their sales teams,” Kelliher explained.
“People appreciate the investment we are making to drive value for the channel. We are not just producing new scanners and saying ‘Here you are. Isn’t it great? You have to take it.’ We are saying ‘This is where we see it fitting; this is where we see the opportunities; this is where we are having successes in other countries’ and really showcasing that to people.”
The full gamut of partner tools offered by Alaris now includes a business plan playbook; training and certification; value proposition development; sales and marketing collateral; market development funds; deal registration and special pricing; rebates and rewards; and social selling training and tools.
“We are really challenging our partners, particularly hardware-centric VARs, to get into solutions. It’s not easy – you need skills, you need people – but, as a vendor, we can help with training, with use cases, with bundles. A partner doesn’t need to build that capability themselves. They can take what we offer and use what they are good at, which is relationships and understanding their customers.”
Software and services
Alaris is doing a lot to help partners win more business; what would Kelliher like to see partners doing more of to fulfil their side of the bargain?
“We want partners to look at both software and services. Where a customer has our hardware, which they really value, we want a partner to find out why aren’t they considering us for their capture software? If they are using somebody else’s solution, which one have they got, how much does it cost, what is it linking into, what’s the end-to-end environment? We did a study with a consultant in Germany and he worked out that it cost a BPO 12 euro cents to scan an A4 page, 4 cents of which was in the digitisation process. There’s an opportunity for partners to discover what makes up that 4 cents. Challenge the accounts. Say ‘What comes out of the scanner that I put in your environment and where is that going?’,” he said.
“Likewise, on the service side, make sure that customers are taking service contracts, because it’s good margin for partners and very easy for them; we take the customer calls, we put our engineers on site; we manage any issues; and the partner gets to renew that service contract every year.”
Kelliher says that service too often gets overlooked, especially with A4 devices and entry-level A3 scanners, where customers tend to defer decision-making until later.
“That’s a missed opportunity, because that scanner is driving a business process. I remember someone in South Africa telling me the most valuable document in their hospital was the indemnity form – the form you’re presented with at the reception desk to sign away all your rights. What’s that scanned on? Typically, the cheapest scanner available, because they need one on every reception desk. Where does the scan go? It goes from the reception desk through to the operating theatre. Imagine if it gets lost. SIs sit up and take notice when they hear that. If a hospital is looking for 400 entry scanners, ask what they are needed for and what software they will be using. With our Capture Pro software, we can detect at the point-of-scan if the form wasn’t signed properly. If the patient has to sign every single page, we can validate if one was missed,” he said.
“This is the value we want partners to think about – the workflow and the value of the data. We talked to a bank in Turkey and they said there are fraudsters who get credit cards by not filling out the forms correctly. They know there are 48 hours between getting the card and the mistake being noticed and the card being cancelled.”
Kelliher points out that even where paper volumes are declining or a workflow is paperless, information still needs to be validated.
“Take a mortgage application form, for instance. Two years ago, you may have had to produce huge amounts of paper documents to go with that. Now, a lot of it will be digital, but you will still need something signed and you still have to validate this myriad of stuff that you might have sent from your phone – pictures of your marriage certificate, utility bills etc.. Banks still have to check these details. Our software might not have to scan the image of your marriage certificate, but it will have to validate that it is a marriage certificate. It will do that and recognise what other documents are needed and stop the application moving to the next stage until they have been received,” he said.
By looking beyond scanner hardware and embracing Alaris software and services, partners can develop new revenue streams and future-proof their business as customers continue to bridge the gap between digitisation and automation.