Samsung Unveils its First A3 Models at 2011 US National Dealer Show

<p><i>By <a href="">George Mikolay</a>, Senior Product Editor, A3/Copier MFPs, March 25, 2011</i></p> <p>Against the backdrop of its recent dealer event held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas, Samsung announced the official US launch of its first four A3 models (<a href=";spec=5..., <a href=";spec=5..., <a href=";spec=5..., <a href=";spec=5...) and went hard after dealers to add the new products to their offerings. Promising to never sell its products through a direct sales channel, Samsung reached out to the dealers for their support and input, and detailed strategies on how it plans to penetrate the A3 market. It also announced enhancements in service and to the software solutions offerings available to support dealers in selling the new products, as well as in managed print services offerings. </p> <p>It’s clear that Samsung has a vision, and what they are today is not what they intend to be. “This is the most significant time in our company,” said Samsung President and CEO JY Lew. “Our goal is to be number 1 in the printer business, and we’re looking for you [the dealers] to be our partners in this endeavor.” </p> <p>To Samsung’s credit, while it is still a relatively small player in the U.S. printer market, it is the number two printer engine manufacturer in the world. And the company has a growing product portfolio, which now reaches beyond A4 printers and multifunctional products to A3 copier MFPs. According to Samsung Vice President of Commercial Sales Sean Brown, Samsung’s EBD business had eight record-breaking months in 2010, including the single best month in its history. While the A3 and A4 document imaging device markets are relatively flat, Samsung grew its market share—with double-digit growth in its A4 sales in the U.S. and globally—perhaps a sign of things to come. </p> <!--break--> <p>Samsung and Dealers: A Winning Team </p> <p>Samsung emphasized its commitment to its dealers. “We will not go direct, never have, and never will,” said Samsung National Sales Manager Don Crier. “This is part of who we are as Samsung.” The new A3 products will be sold exclusively through what Samsung calls direct dealers (dealers who buy directly from Samsung and not from open distribution) at first, with the orders being fulfilled though Azerty, the leading wholesaler of office products, which also handles Samsung’s higher-end A4 products. Samsung currently has about 150 of these dealers, all of whom currently carry additional product lines. </p> <p>Samsung SCX-8040ND </p> <p>While Samsung’s coverage in terms of distribution is “paper-thin” at this point—it’s a long way from a Canon or a Ricoh, for example—the company clearly wanted to put to rest any dealer concerns over their markets becoming oversaturated with competing dealers. “On the one hand, we have to get nationwide coverage, but we’ll be very methodical in adding dealers to minimize overlap,” Brown said. “We want to have good dealers in the right areas, and are not looking to have multiple dealers competing in the same area over the same boxes, as all that will lead to is price reductions.” </p> <p>So why the BTA channel? For one, selling copiers is a lot different than selling printers. According to Brown, the BTA channel is the only channel capable of providing same-day two-to four-hour response time, and whose factory-trained technicians carry needed parts to service locations. “The BTA is the only channel we can partner with for real A3 penetration,” Brown said. “We need your support and input, and we want to learn how to grow this market with you as our partners. We’re the largest IT provider in the world, and the breadth of product and the brand we bring can help us mutually grow our businesses and drive mutual success,” Brown said. </p> <p>Looking to leverage its IT provider presence to become a recognized provider in B2B verticals, Samsung plans to use what Brown deemed a “laser-focused” approach, first focusing on the education, government and healthcare verticals. “We really have to focus on being easy to do business with and putting together a system that helps our strategic partners grow their business and develop trust and a sense of mutual ownership,” Brown said. According to Brown, the education market is the only market segment that copies more than prints, and the opportunity in it is immense. As such, Samsung’s sales alignment is primarily around education for now. Samsung has identified the top 25 education accounts, based on seats, total IT spend and IT spend per student, and&#160; the company’s key account managers are actively pursuing those opportunities to create demand to bring back to the channel. Advertising will also be very targeted, with Samsung planning to utilize education and government white papers that present the value proposition to buyers in education and federal government. </p> <p>Enhancements in Service </p> <p>Samsung’s journey into A3 took years, and included benchmarking against the best of the industry in pre-launch testing with BLI. With any new product launch, especially one that marks entry into a brand new product segment as is the case with these new A3 models, come concerns with service preparedness that need to be addressed. According to Samsung National Service Manager John Barbieri, Samsung’s service support is much stronger now than ever before. Once pre-launch testing was completed and prior to the U.S. launch, Samsung enlisted five dealers to participate in further assessment. The dealers were given one of each device in the series and asked to run Samsung-specific tests for serviceability, quality, reliability and usability, as well as their own tests, so they could provide insight. Then the dealers installed the devices at customer locations for additional testing over the course of four weeks. Not only did this give Samsung the confidence to know that it had a good product, but also resulted in further improvements and added functionality. </p> <p>According to Barbieri, key throughout the field testing at dealer and end-user sites was the presence of not only a Samsung sales associate, but also a technician from Korea. Barbieri further emphasized that the communication between Samsung U.S. and the parent company in Korea has improved vastly with the launch of the A3 models, with the parent company now understanding the importance of having representatives sent to U.S. “Not only did Samsung receive valuable feedback that was applied to firmware and feature enhancements, but the dealers had unparalleled voice of customer opportunity directly to the factory,” said Samsung Marketing Manager Peter Richardson. </p> <p>Service training has also been greatly expanded, so that a service issue can be diagnosed during an initial phone call in which the issue is described to the technician. The company has also put in place six Regional Service Managers(RSMs), based in key locations throughout the country, and is in the process of training two National Service Providers , Barrister Global Services Network and Prism Pointe Technologies, that will be contracted out to service the devices in areas that Samsung’s dealers cannot reach. “We encourage dealers to sell to all locations, and not just ones in pre-defined territories,” said Richardson.&#160; Barbieri added that these service providers do not sell hardware, so dealers should feel no threat of competition. A technical hotline to be manned by six dedicated reps has also been launched, and regional offices with permanent training staffs and online training are also available, free of charge. </p> <p>A4’s Latest </p> <p>While the new A3 engines took the limelight, a number of new A4/printer engines were also showcased. The <a href=";spec=5..., <a href=";spec=5... and wireless <a href=";spec=5... multifunction printers feature Samsung’s Secure Pull Printing, giving users the option to print to any compatible Samsung device on their network while ensuring that only the specified user can retrieve the document. The SCX-5639FR and SCX-5739FW models also include the Embedded Barcode Font feature, which enables users to quickly print and scan document barcodes without the need for a separate program to create the code. In addition, these models include a Reversing Automatic Document Feeder. </p> <p>The <a href=";spec=5... and <a href=";spec=5... printers are the first printers with Samsung’s new anti-jam roller technology. Highly recommended in recent BLI lab testing, the ML-3712ND proved to be highly reliable, productive and easy to set up, use and manage on the network. </p> <p>Both of Samsung’s new printer lines feature Eco-Mode, giving users the ability to easily save energy paper and toner. The ML-3712ND and ML-3712DW decrease the user’s environmental impact with a noise output of just 52 decibels, according to Samsung. Also noteworthy on the ML-3712ND/DW is the Eco button on the control panel that overrides the driver settings and forces output to be duplexed and blank pages to be skipped, for example. </p> <p>The Solutions and Managed Print Services Front </p> <p>Samsung’s solutions team also looked to keep the focus on the education and government and healthcare verticals, detailing the company’s solutions offerings in these areas beginning with security for the new A3 machines. “The security features available on our new A3 devices position us at the forefront of the industry,” said Ron Nevo, senior manager, solutions marketing. For example, optional SecureThru is an embedded feature that enables pull printing when users authenticate with a proximity or magnetic card. A Common Access Card (CAC) embedded solution is also available for government accounts. According to Nevo, Samsung’s CAC MFP solution is approved by the Department of Defense as acceptable for government installations and works seamlessly with government-issued Common Access Cards. Users can restrict access to the walk-up features of the MFP or increase the security protections when using them with functions such as digital signatures and e-mail encryption. Other notable security features include standard hard drive overwrite and 256-AES hard drive encryption. </p> <p>Robert Simmons, director of the solutions field team for Samsung Electronics America, detailed the key values of XOA, Samsung’s embedded solutions platform, and how it spans across the entire spectrum of Samsung’s devices, from consumer to desktop to workgroup. This makes a strong case for dealers when presenting a managed print services contract, as does the fact that XOA can work with either Web services or JAVA-based solutions, providing users with flexibility in design. In short, Samsung partners that have already built a solution for a competitive device using either Web services or JAVA can be ensured of a quick integration with Samsung devices. Via Samsung’s CounThru, dealers can have the flexibility of a managed print services contract billed based on coverage rather than on number of pages alone, and data can be exported from the solution into any ERP system. </p> <p>Samsung currently has about 10 partners that have developed XOA connectors ready to integrate with the platform. Among them is <a href="’s Intelligent Enterprise Suite</b></a>, a full-featured remote print management solution designed to help print service providers and equipment dealers implement an MPS practice for their customers. The solution identifies the output devices on a client’s network, tracks usage, monitors status, and automatically orders supplies when necessary. Because it can access the detailed data stored in the private Management Information Base (MIB) of most printers and MFPs, dealers can use it to streamline the collection of consumables and meter data across entire fleets, rather than relying on multiple manufacturer-specific MPS solutions. Data is synced in real time directly to MWAi applications that reside on the dealer site and users can access dashboard views via a Web browser. Service calls can also be fully automated, increasing device uptime and customer satisfaction. It is also highly scalable, with the ability to centrally manage multiple client or corporate locations. </p> <p>Also relative to managed print services, the Samsung Needs Assessment Program, or S.N.A.P., is designed to provide Samsung’s dealers with the same level of analysis and cost comparison offered by competing OEMs, without the threat of Samsung coming in to “steal away” the contract. “We have a unique set of products and tools and professional expertise to help you land a managed print services contract, while at the same time the finished product will have your logo, your message and your value proposition,” Simmons said. </p> <p>Other key software solutions providers represented at the show included <a href=""><b>Drivve | Image</b></a>, a data capture and indexing solution. Version 4.0 includes features such as zonal OCR, enhanced barcode reading and a flexible licensing model. A BLI “Pick” winner as “Outstanding Network Document Capture/Routing Solution,” Drivve | Image offers robust device support, a strong feature set and outstanding ease of use. </p> <p>Also partnering with Samsung is Prism with its <a href="">... document management. Scalable to fit any size organization, DocRecord is targeted at vertical markets such as healthcare, financial services, and education. The system performs automatic OCRing of documents, along with full-text and barcode indexing. The program also offers check-in/check-out for version control of stored documents, and maintains a version history of changed files. Users can preview PDF, TIFF and standard image file formats; Prism offers an optional document viewer module that supports more than 300 file formats. </p> <p>Simmons also said that the solutions team is working&#160; on training Samsung’s call center representatives to be able to answer solutions-related questions, and stressed how Samsung is available as a partner to dealers when need be. “If you [dealers] feel the need to have someone on hand to discuss solutions ‘geek to geek’ when pursuing major accounts, we’re available,” Simmons said. “Let’s partner together to go after those opportunities.” </p> <p>This article was originally posted on <a href="">Buyer’s Laboratory</a>.</p>