Konica Minolta’s Partnership With Google Cloud Could Be First Of Its Kind, Simons Says

The U.S. headquarters of Tokyo-based Konica Minolta is in Ramsey, a fact many New Jerseyans don’t know. The company, which is expanding in New Jersey, is thought of as a printer and business machine provider, but it recently announced a partnership with Google Cloud.

NJTechWeekly.com wanted to understand what Konica Minolta is doing in the cloud.

According to a release, as a Google Cloud “Premier Partner” for the office technology industry, Konica Minolta will be delivering its productivity and collaboration solutions in the cloud. The relationship will also facilitate cooperation between the two organizations on the technical development of advanced productivity tools, all to be built on Google Cloud. This will further Konica Minolta’s mission of bringing to market tools that will enable businesses to better manage their digital transformation, the company said.

Discussions regarding the partnership began when Mark Simons, senior vice president of strategic alliances, was brought on board in November 2018 with the mandate to, in his words, “work on the strategic alliances and partnerships, as Konica Minolta focused on the ‘Workplace of the Future’ initiative.”

Simons, whose background is in the personal computing side of the business, traveled the world for six months, learning all about Konica Minolta’s resources. He also learned about customer perspectives and marketing activity, and evaluated engineering facilities in Europe, Japan and in the United States, to get a better understanding of his new company.

 “I took a lot of time just trying to learn the company and everything that was there,” Simons told us. After his initial journey, he concluded that he was impressed with all the company had been doing, the investments it had made and the human assets it possessed. But Simons began to wonder what partners could have a dramatic impact on Konica Minolta’s business and on its customers’ businesses. He also asked himself, “What value could we bring to the partnership.”

Conversations with Google

The company started conversations with potential partners at the Google Cloud Next 2019 conference, held last April, that resulted in deeper, more thorough dialogues about where Konica Minolta was headed. Simons learned about various projects that Google was implementing. An executive meeting transpired two months later, and the pursuit was strong on both sides. The conversations with Google continued until the end of 2019, when the agreement was signed. It was officially announced at the same time as the announcement of the 2020 Google Accelerate conference.

“We’re delighted to welcome Konica Minolta as a Google Cloud partner,” said Kevin O’Kane, managing director of partnerships at Google Cloud, in a press release. “Their expertise in business transformation will be an asset for organizations planning and executing their moves to the cloud, and we look forward to collaborating closely to enable customer success.”

Simons referred to the partnership as a bold step: “What you’re seeing is two-fold. One, in our core industry, which is the printing industry — with Xerox, Ricoh, Canon, Toshiba, Sharp — I don’t believe that anyone has such a relationship on a cloud platform like Google. And I think it is a bold move for us to be establishing an industry standard going forward on what that cloud activity can be.”

He added, “If you think about the strategic view of it, maybe over the next 10 years, everything is going to be in the cloud: how we access content, how we work with content, how we analyze content is all going to be driven by a cloud platform. So, I think it was good for both companies to establish such a platform together.”

The second aspect, per Simons, is that it’s not just about a relationship for reselling Google tools and establishing a vivid marketing presence with the industry leader. It’s a collaborative, sharing R&D) activity.

Konica Minolta intends to work with Google, especially with its engineering staff, to bring relevant technologies to their customers, specifically to the small\medium business segment. This includes productivity tools, connectivity, artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA) tools, facial recognition and blockchain.

 “All these core technologies are going to have a huge impact in this next 10-year horizon, and a company that has the resources and reach that Google does, matched with the company that has the same capabilities within the small\medium business segment — it just made sense that the two parties come together and make a bold move.”

Rick Taylor, president and CEO of Konica Minolta | Courtesy Konica Minolta

Expanding in Ramsey

President and CEO Rick Taylor recently spoke about Konica Minolta in New Jersey, and the firm’s growth. “Our location in Ramsey, New Jersey, has provided the opportunity to keep expanding our campus to create career opportunities, stimulate business growth and support local communities. In 2018 we broke ground on our third building, converted and repurposed existing facilities and started construction on a new, 350-car parking garage. The expansion marked our continued growth in the imaging sector to produce high-end technologies that meet customers’ evolving business needs, but also serve to honor our continued commitment to the New Jersey economy by bringing 400 new jobs to the area.”

He added that this spring Konica Minolta will be unveiling a new Customer Engagement Center, an 18,000-square-foot facility that will allow current and prospective customers to meet with print-production experts and get hands-on experience through live demonstrations of the products.

 “In the same building,” said Taylor, “Konica Minolta’s R&D division will be setting up a Global Flagship Open Lab, generating new positions and allowing us to co-innovate and collaborate with academic institutions across the state. And as we grow our IT services division, All Covered, and focus on enabling companies to build a Workplace of the Future, we will continue to create new jobs to stimulate healthy economic growth.”

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