PFU EMEA’s Brian Fortune explains why he remains optimistic about scanner sales
As Fujitsu launches two new scanners and announces the sale of its 5 millionth ScanSnap device, Technology Reseller caught up with Brian Fortune, PFU (EMEA) General Manager Sales, to find out more about what Fujitsu offers the reseller community. We started by asking him about the state of the overall scanner market and the opportunities that exist for scanner resellers.
Technology Reseller (TR): How are scanner sales? Is it a difficult market at the moment?
Brian Fortune (BF): Scanner sales are relatively stable, if not growing slightly, in volume terms. There are a lot of things driving the requirement for the scanning and capture of images. One, which organisations don’t have a choice about, is compliance. In the future there is likely to be even more regulation around how we, as a country, interact with Europe and the world. Companies must make sure new hires have the right to work in this country and our technologies are being used to capture, record and ensure compliance in relation to that.
GDPR is massive as well. Organisations need to secure the information they hold about people and it is much easier to secure that in digital form than in paper.
Then, of course, there is business transformation. One of the low hanging fruits in any organisation is to look for the paper. Organisations will try to remove paper wherever they can by making deep changes to processes, but even just taking paper, digitising it and triggering workﬂows based on that can significantly change how organisations work and interact with customers and suppliers.
Then, there are things like Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Imagine a scenario where scanning an invoice and extracting the information it contains triggers a myriad of different processes that require no human intervention. Instead, a machine makes rules-based decisions, providing consistency throughout an organisation and reducing the potential for error.
These sorts of thing are driven by digitisation, whether the content is created digitally or converted from a paper document by scanning, so we are optimistic about the future for capture.
TR: What right now are the big growth areas for you and your resellers?
BF: We see significant growth in workgroup/departmental devices. In the past, organisations would capture documents centrally and have someone responsible for doing that in one location. Now, organisations view scanning as something that everyone should do as part of their daily routine. The technology is so intuitive that people whose main focus is something else entirely can easily use it. So, there is massive growth in distributed capture.
At a product level, we believe the newly launched f-7300NX (featured in Technology Reseller, Issue 14) is going to be a significant product for us, because it talks to the need for distributed capture and because it is such an innovative product. It combines many different technologies that we have had separately in one device; it has the imaging capability, but also security: it has NFC and keypad security, so you can record who scanned what and when.
The other thing about scanners that has challenged some organisations in the past is that the minute you put a peripheral device on someone’s desk you have to manage it – there are drivers to install; if you have a new operating system you have to make sure the technology works with it. Over many years, we have developed remote management technologies to address these issues, but the 7300NX has so much ﬂexibility that it can be deployed very easily and can even be PC-less. You don’t need a PC to use this technology.
TR: How are you helping resellers to profit from these trends?
BF: As a manufacturer, we differentiate ourselves by being 100%-focused on the channel: everything we sell is sold through a distributor and a reseller, so we invest a lot in the channel.
In fact, in 2017 the Fujitsu Imaging Channel Program won Incentive Marketing Association Circle of Excellence awards in both the ‘Consumer Offer/Branding Program/Customer Loyalty’ and ‘Sales Incentive’ categories – the first time a single program has received awards in both categories.
The Imaging Channel Program is the hub through which we provide a significant amount of resource to support our partners – marketing material, knowledge and insight, presentations, product-related information, community news, promotional activities and such like. Then, within that, we have an Imaging Rewards Program to reward resellers for their contribution to our success.
In the UK, we have close to 2,000 participants in our Imaging Rewards Program and I would encourage all resellers to get involved. As well as giving points for sales, which partners can exchange for a variety of items, the program from time to time includes additional promotions. Last year, we ran a Japan incentive and took six channel partners out to Japan to experience Japanese culture and see where our products are made.
This was so successful we are running our ‘Trip of a Lifetime’ Japan incentive again, from the beginning of November through to the end of March 2019. Every sale you make goes into a draw, so even if you make only a couple of sales, you could still be on the trip.
Our third element is the Imaging Alliance Programme for people who may not sell scanners but who are significant inﬂuencers, typically ISVs, integrators, coders. Three years ago, we created a programme for them, with its own portal where they can access our SDK, sample code and supporting information and share experiences and issues they have with our products.
We felt this should be a separate community because the things they want to talk about and the help and support they need are different to those of our reseller partners. That said, we do try to cross-pollinate these communities because sometimes our resellers will need solutions that we don’t offer, but which people within our broader ecosystem can provide.
TR: Are you increasing the number of channel partners you have?
BF: Yes, over the last couple of years quite significantly. We now have more than 5,500 resellers in Europe, of which nearly half are in the UK. It’s not just the promotional elements – the Japan trip or the rewards programme – that attract partners; it’s the real value that’s in it for them.