Server-Printer Combo Deal Results from IBM-Ricoh Alliance
January 19, 2009 Dan Burger
IBM Global Services and its WebSphere software division should be expecting a boost now that IBM and Ricoh have a new deal to share sales networks. The arrangement more closely ties IBM’s service oriented architecture efforts with Ricoh’s document solutions lineup.
Two years ago, IBM and Ricoh created a joint printing business so that IBM could focus on its core server, storage, software, and services businesses. That high-volume printer business (IBM called it InfoPrint and it has retained that name), along with Ricoh’s document management software, was a good match for a great many IBM mainframe and midrange shops. And IBM really wanted to get out of the printer hardware business. Anyway, Ricoh’s customer base (which includes the IBM high-end printer base) will likely begin to hear the IBM version of IT services benefits. Improving enterprise-wide integration will play a big role in this combo deal as there is a great deal of synergy between the two companies.
When Ricoh and IBM got together on this arrangement back in 2007, it cost Ricoh $725 million to jointly own InfoPrint, which at that time had estimated annual revenue of slightly less than $1 billion including hardware, software, and services.
The latest alliance, announced earlier this month, is a sales networking arrangement that reunites servers and printers and packages them as a comprehensive office information technology system. Each company expects its U.S. sales channels to be ready to roll with this by spring. A wider roll-out that includes other geographic areas will follow, but the timeframe is unspecified. It’s certain that both sides will be pitching services, though.
Ricoh’s Document Security and Management Services (DSMS) will emphasize improved document workflow, security, compliance, and reduced total cost of ownership of office equipment. The Ricoh Document Solutions and Services Division as well as IBM’s Global Technology Services will be part of a sales package that aims to take the printing load off IT staffs that could be more effective responding to other business demands.
Ricoh’s sales network will also resell IBM’s Managed Server (a hosted service) and collaborate on the sale and delivery of IBM software, hardware, and other services. The idea of buying services rather than battling to provide them in-house is expected to eventually fill the needs of many enterprises.
The sales channels for Ricoh and IBM will also be emphasizing Ricoh’s Multi-Function Program-based solutions that integrate with applications and infrastructure that support SOA. MFP extends SOA environments to help drive efficiencies and lower IT costs. “IBM’s SOA portfolio allows users to quickly and easily plug in new business functions called services into their existing business environment,” said Sandy Carter, vice president IBM SOA and WebSphere.