Samsung Solutions in a Vertical World

By Carl Schell, Senior Writer, September 24, 2014

Samsung’s vertical-market approach to solutions was unveiled in June 2013 at the company’s national dealer meeting in Chicago. A week later at its U.S. headquarters in Ridgefield Park, NJ, Samsung opened its first Executive Briefing Center (EBC), a facility that showcases proprietary technologies in industry-specific settings such as education and healthcare. Flash forward to last week’s meeting in Dallas, where Tod Pike, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Samsung Electronics America (SEA), said, “Everything we do and everything we think about is how specific customers in vertical markets can use our products. When you do that, it really takes you to not only the use case of the device, but also the interoperability of that device within that vertical market, the workflow that leads to that interoperability, and the connected partners with whom we would need to partner in order to make that solution work for our customers.”

Piggybacking off the event’s themes of Smartify and the “connected” office, Pike and his fellow executives explained that a key cog in Samsung’s evolution is to enhance the relevancy of its devices through software, primarily for differentiation purposes as most OEMs in the industry have some sort of vertical-market strategy. Samsung’s current core markets are education, finance, healthcare and retail, with corporate/government, hospitality and legal comprising the next tier. And there’s a high probability that the company will launch broader campaigns for virtually any other vertical, including communications, construction, entertainment, manufacturing, real estate, restaurants and transportation (it already has a footprint in all of these). “Customers don’t want to talk about the interface or how fast something can print—it’s about what goes beyond those things,” said Matt Smith, vice president of sales and marketing of printing solutions for SEA’s Enterprise Business Division, adding that Samsung’s XOA platform is the driving force behind providing more customization and enabling the company to grow upstream.

Although it’s nearly impossible to not take notice of the success Samsung has had in the imaging space over a relatively short time, the company realizes it has a ways to go to truly build brand awareness with its printing division—and especially when it comes to its solutions marketing around verticals. On that score Peter Richardson, director of solutions and printer marketing for SEA, said, “Smartify is designed to be a disruptive campaign to solidify Samsung as a viable and strong player in the marketplace. By creating vertical-specific brochures and promoting less of a commodity feel throughout our integrated marketing effort, we’ll deliver a powerful message about Smartify-ing the office that will help us become No. 5 in market share in three years and No. 3 in five years.”

Brand awareness is critical (Samsung is eighth on the BusinessWeek/Interbrand 2013 Top 100 list of most valuable brands), but it’s still just one part of the equation. An organization must have that mix of offerings to back up what it’s saying—and Samsung’s menu of in-house and ISV-developed software is very good overall. Today, the company has roughly 10 solutions of its own (mainly for SMBs and most of which fall under what Samsung calls Business Core Printing Solutions) to go along with those from over 30 partners that cover MPS/fleet management, output management/cost accounting, document distribution/content management and mobile/cloud.

Just days before the Dallas event the company bought PrinterOn, a business that offers a variety of mobile and cloud printing solutions, as well as an app that’s compatible with the most popular smartphones and tablets. The developer has over five million users in 126 countries, not to mention the over 60 million pages that have been printed using the technology. Indeed, the acquisition represents a significant investment and shows that Samsung is in effect doubling down on its belief that more and more people will begin to print in less traditional or driverless ways. Smith said that it’s very much “business as usual” but that the focus will obviously be geared toward Samsung devices and, in turn, the Android OS, and that existing PrinterOn partners will continue to be supported.

While there were no other major announcements about solutions, the company still provided some software demonstrations to dealers during the breakouts. In the healthcare session, Samsung SecureThru Lite was put in the spotlight; this serverless secure pull printing tool supports up to 10 devices, offers multifactor authentication and is targeted at, for instance, smaller clinics so these organizations can protect hardcopy output, comply with various federal and state regulations, reduce waste and save money. Also, with finance and legal, company reps showed how workflows can be initiated from the desktop (according to one of the presenters, many firms in the Northeastern United States prefer their employees to not program scan jobs at the control panel) via Omtool AccuRoute, which is meant for businesses with five to 50 users and features integration with myriad document management systems; Equitrac, for its Follow-You Printing capabilities, was on display, too. And in the retail and hospitality session, interoperability (the interactive waiting room through a partnership with Mentor Graphics and using Samsung SMART Signage TVs, whereby customers can use the NFC tag to authenticate or to scan a QR code on the printer to output site-specific coupons from their mobile device), customization (the ability to access, search and print pages from gift registries from the control panel) and simple management (giving device access to people who need to print, say, coupons on the go) were highlighted.

All this notwithstanding, getting dealers to fully buy into the thinking that printers and MFPs can be “smart” and aren’t just “slave devices,” as Pike noted, remains a challenge, as is the fact that many dealers still aren’t leading with software. “Maybe it’s hard for dealers to wrap their heads around verticals and solutions because they don’t focus on just one business type,” White said. But whether Samsung starts requiring certifications to sell certain pieces of software or decides to build up its solutions support staff to better serve the channel, its continued dedication and commitment to software and the construction of four more EBCs are definitely positive signs of growth.

Republished with permission from Buyers Laboratory LLC ( ©2013 Buyers Laboratory LLC