Samsung Electronics recently flew a select team of analysts to South Korea to get a close-up look at their printer headquarters and new innovations in software, design and technology. It was a fascinating peek into one of the most powerful companies in the world and the unprecedented access I had to their high-level executives was rare and appreciated.
In this Q&A session, I had the opportunity to meet with Chin Yoon, VP, Strategic Marketing for the Samsung Printing Solutions Business. I asked him to share some insights into the direction Samsung thinks the market is going and the innovations they plan to bring to the table to help you be more effective in your office environment.
Samsung is a very large company with enormous amounts of expertise, technology and a culture of innovation. However, no one company can do everything, so you need partners in order to provide complete solutions. As the person who oversees partnerships and alliances, what in your mind makes a great partner?
When working with partners, of course you have to look at them in several ways. For instance, we have signed a global strategic alliance with Nuance. One of the reasons we chose this specific partner is because they have a large coverage of the global market for our dealers and global clients. But another reason why they were an excellent fit for us is that although we work with partners and do not sell direct, we can engage the large enterprise clients directly through our global agreement.
Samsung is a big company and we have a lot to offer the large, global enterprise clients. So although we engage our partner, we are now also able to talk to our end customers. And these customers want to know what solutions Samsung can cover globally. When they realize how big we are and the scope of our products and capabilities, it brings up all kinds of new opportunities. With Nuance we can provide support globally for their three major products Equitrac, SafeCom, and AutoStore. I have a team trained and ready. We are able to provide unified support.
What types of development activity are you focusing on right now for those enterprise clients?
Traditionally we’ve seen a lot of Java-based application development, since it is embedded already in the equipment and the developers can pull from it. But recently, one by one, we’ve seen a move toward Android. Applications can be developed very quickly on Android. We recently had a custom case where, if we had to develop it on a Java platform, it would have taken us three months. But because we did it on Android, the customer had the Android app running on the phone in one week.
For customer-oriented specific projects, Android is very strong. We are actually looking to the Android app store to see which applications have a relationship with our workflow, scanning and printing capabilities and then we can port that very quickly for our clients to make them universally available.
What standout products does Samsung have for the office?
If you look to the strengths of our products, our differentiation is that we put a lot of research and technology development into our scanning devices. And Android is very strong in workflow. So that is how we get differentiation. We’ve built some very nice enhancements into our scanning. Because our workflow solutions are so strong, we see major growth in the finance, legal, healthcare and education verticals.
Another unique advantage we have is that all of our products are security pre-enabled. With a lot of the vendors in the channel, security is an add-on feature that requires an additional spend to enable. Samsung looks at security as an absolute must – a default. So Samsung has built in very robust security and it is pre-enabled. Hardware encryption, write-over capabilities, and user management — everything is by default “on.”
In the U.S., print volumes in the office are declining. There’s a battle among vendors for market share of the remaining printed pages. There’s another battle being waged for the mobile printed pages outside of the office. I am personally not convinced the mobile prints are actually an incremental increase in pages, but perhaps just a shift from pages printed in the office that migrate to another location in the field. That still creates an opportunity to take market share from another vendor. Where does Samsung fit in this “battlefield”?
Right now I’m very excited about everything in the cloud. People are going to the cloud. Samsung has acquired a company called PrinterOn because we think that will be the future. Now that we have acquired them, we are enhancing this solution. A lot of people know PrinterOn as a hotel mobile print solution. We are bringing it into the office.
We are offering PrinterOn as both public cloud and private cloud solutions. With either solution, the bigger question is how do you secure the print? We are integrating it with our own security solutions so that we have full integration with Equitrac, Safecom and Autostore. You are using our protection solutions for security reasons. But what do you do with mobile users in the field and employees that move a lot around the office complex? We have that covered for you now as well.
Because you are Samsung, you must be very interested in mobility. You make the phones. You manufacture the tools that created this situation. In the U.S., mobility is absolutely a big and growing trend. Do you see that same trend globally? Is it more prevalent in certain countries?
This is a good question because I just saw something that I was very surprised about. We were in Southeast Asia recently at a conference and Samsung was promoting cloud printing and secure cloud printing. And we saw a lot of interest.
I think what is happening is that the developing countries are skipping a part of the traditional progression of technology usage. For instance, they are already leapfrogging directly to the cloud. They know how to manage the current headaches that are being experienced in the U.S. with the cloud and the global IT infrastructure. There is great opportunity globally for cloud solutions.
As the progression towards digitization continues and the money starts moving into the solutions, I feel that Samsung is in a unique position because of all the different products and tools you already manufacture. Building systems wrapped around the entire ecosystem of products is going to put you in a very unique position. How are you deciding where to focus?
Now we have a focus on specific verticals. We know we have robust security features that are vital to the process in the verticals we have identified to start with. Our first vertical we are building specific systems for is the finance industry.
The legal and healthcare industries are also very strong vertical goals for us. And traditionally we are very strong in the education vertical.
These are very important verticals because they are all very document-centric, but also they are very much digitization-centric. If you look to our devices, we are very strong in this — we put a lot of development into document scanning. All of our cameras are dual-scan-ready and very fast. And then with the use of Android, you can create a workflow very quickly.
How do you determine who to work with in developing your vertical solutions?
We try to identify who is strong in their workflow and engage with them. Because even if I have a perfect solution for the healthcare industry, I don’t have access to the customers. The partner does. So we work together with them, and I think the development process becomes actually easier for both of us.
As an example, we recently had a client that wanted to design a workflow in a very specific protocol. They would have to build everything from scratch for this. The workflow concept they were thinking about involved a printer scanner. But we had already developed a workflow process that involved using a phone and camera. They could simply take a picture of something and it would be automatically incorporated into the current workflow process.
Because of our experience, we knew we could take the existing workflow and just change the camera capture to scanning and they would have the new process without having to create a whole new system. We have also developed the other parts of the solution they need, so the entire process goes much quicker for us and the client.
So you’ve already created it by the time you’re talking to the partner, correct?
Yes — we can say, “Your solution is here. You have to change this, this and this and everything will work.” It’s fun! I think we will be very strong in healthcare and finance. And we are working the legal vertical together with Thomson Reuters. The initial concept only took us one month to develop. Previously it would take us six months. Android is very fast. You can reuse and repurpose existing apps. I think you will see this year or next year that there will be a lot of movement toward Android, because this is the trend. We are disruptive. We see from the market enough response that we are doing something right.
This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of Workflow.
is president and senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 15 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community.