By Andy Slawetsky – Canon held a Service and Solutions Summit in Atlanta June 20 – 22 to provide a hardware and solutions update to dealer executives and technicians. The last of a five-city road show, Canon billed the show as an “End to End Customer Experience.”

The event started mid-day with a general session that kicked off with Canon executives like VP GM BISG Engineering Services & Solutions Lee Farrell speaking to the roughly 80 attendees from more than 30 dealerships. Lee gave listeners an update on Canon and their six straight years of growth in the dealer channel.

He then went on to discuss changes that have been made within Canon to improve support and he highlighted what he called the Canon difference. Changes include a single point of contact for 1stcall resolution, an integrated lab where Canon techs can reproduce customer environments and more.

One change Lee mentioned was that Canon would no longer rely on Nuance to support eCopy as they would now be taking the calls themselves, removing a layer that dealers had to previously contend with.

I didn’t even realize dealers were still selling eCopy and I can’t remember the last time I heard or saw any marketing on that product. Judging by the three hands that went up from dealers who still sell it, eCopy doesn’t seem to have the clout it used to in this channel when it once seemed to be sold by just about everybody. Still, it was impressive to see Canon take control of its support to keep dealers from having to call all over the place to get an answer or some help.

Lee then talked about Canon’s SMART Service System that will lead Canon into the future using predictive maintenance, Artificial Intelligence, IoT and big data to help dealers continue to increase product reliability and service margins. Everything is going to the Cloud and Canon is leveraging the incredible capabilities it offers.

Next, Dan Misilewich talked about Enterprise and Desktop solutions, including Canon’s recently revamped imageRUNNER ADVANCE 2ndEdition line, imageCLASS A4 products and integrated solutions. The imageRUNNER ADVANCE products had their own breakout session later where attendees would learn about what’s new with the products, firmware updates and more.

Dan then talked about Canon’s improvement in US market share, where Canon is now #1 in monochrome and color for what they called “General Market” on their slides.

Canon’s Cloud Based Service Tools are going to be a big part of the strategy going forward as Canon looks to leverage the power of cloud tools such as auto backups, improved installation processes and simplified product migration are only a few of the improvements the new program will offer dealers. Canon clearly aims to simplify things for their dealers.

Anthony Agliata presented after Dan, talking about production print, specifically Canon’s growth in color cut sheet printing. After outlining the portfolio, Anthony talked about product leadership and again referenced Canon’s #1 market share position, speficially in production (every quarter since 2015).

Dan then discussed improvements Canon has made to products and how they’ve increased mean copy between service calls, citing the success they’ve had on the imagePRESS C800/C850 series. More copies and prints between calls equals better service margins. Period.

Canon is targeting Ricoh and Xerox, specifically with the imagePRESS C650 where they will provide what they called “aggressive pricing & promotion” to dealers to help penetrate a part of the market Canon feels is rich with opportunity.

While there is a strong focus on color, “black and white is here to stay,” according to one slide that discussed Canon VarioPrint products. Although that market is flat and arguably in decline, there are still a lot of pages for Canon dealers to grab.

Next, Ed Lamana from Canon’s wide format group took the podium to talk about imagePROGRAF devices. Ed spoke about product positioning, service metrics and other improvements. Canon is looking to increase their wide format sales to the dealer channel and they recently announced a distribution agreement with Carolina Wholesale Groupfor some of these products.

The event had a decent amount of breakout sessions where dealers were able to take a deeper dive into subject matter. Breakouts ranged from hardware overviews to software and workflow and it was no surprise to hear some seriously techy questions being thrown around during these presentations. I have to admit, there were a few times I had no idea what they were talking about!

I don’t typically come to many service events and it was great to have an opportunity to spend a couple of days learning about their side of the store. These techs are the ones that keep this industry going and they were there to learn. It was an enthusiastic bunch and Canon treated them like gold.

While this was a services summit, a very subtle undertone of this meeting was sales-based. Canon clearly understands that these technicians spend far more time with the dealer’s customers than the sales reps and they took the opportunity during this meeting to coach and educate them on upgrades and product recommendations. I thought that was an amazing concept. After all, who is with the customer more than the tech?

This was an informative couple of days and I greatly appreciate Canon inviting me to their event. Technicians are a fun group. They tend to be more loyal than sales people, often staying with dealers for dozens of years. I think these attendees got a lot out of these sessions and were glad for the chance to come spend time with their OEM.

Canon has reached out the press and analysts more than at any time since I can remember. It’s June and I’ve already been to three Canon events this year. While I’m definitely not looking for additional travel, I greatly appreciate the new Canon and their willingness to keep us up to date with What’s Happenin’.

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