Over 200 partners joined Kodak Alaris at its first virtual Partner Summit this week. The global information capture specialist had planned on holding its annual partner conference for the EMEA region in Vienna from April 21 – 23, but in light of the current COVID-19 crisis, decided to make it a virtual event.
Alaris President and General Manager Don Lofstrom confirmed that despite the challenges presented by the current global pandemic, Kodak Alaris’ performance in the financial year ended March 31 was strong overall. In his address to partners, he provided an update on the impact of COVID-19 on the business and the marketplace over the past four months, as well as steps Kodak Alaris has taken to minimise disruption to its customers.
“Employee safety and supply chain management have been at the forefront of the company’s focus,” Lofstrom said. “Our supply chain is now intact and strong, our manufacturing sites in China are up and running at nearly full capacity. Scanner production is over 95 percent capacity now compared with 40 percent in March. Our secondary supply chain partners are also beginning to normalise, although we continue to monitor this very carefully in certain regions.”
Whilst March brought some delays and slippage to orders, Lofstrom said that this month has seen increased demand from a number of sectors including healthcare and logistics. “Work from home mandates are also creating market needs for digitization and remote collaboration solutions that involve our digital capture and software offers” he explained, adding: “We have also increased our use of remote monitoring and service to ensure we keep customers up and running, and do continue to provide essential on-site service in locations where government mandates allow.”
66% of partners who attended the virtual event said that COVID-19 had ‘considerably changed’ their business and that they were looking to change their business strategy. Lofstrom said that Kodak Alaris is thinking outside the box, looking for opportunities to offer expertise to help partners overcome these new challenges. “We expect some short-term decline for most applications as a result of the crisis but are confident that there will be some pockets of incremental demand. The need to share documents across remote teams and accurately capture data and automate business processes will remain critical, with many organisations under pressure to remove manual steps and reduce staff time,” he stated.
Lofstrom also believes that technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA) and machine learning will continue to change scanning requirements. “AI and machine learning require intelligent capture, RPA accelerates process automation and edge capture follows edge computing,” he said. Kodak Alaris is well positioned to help partners capitalise on the opportunity with offerings including its partner-centric, cloud-connected scanning solution INfuse; usage-based pricing; cloud-based software and managed services including fleet management.
Lofstrom also provided partners with insight into the future roadmap. He confirmed that the INFuse infrastructure has been expanded to work with Amazon and Alibaba (in addition to Microsoft Azure) and announced the launch of a new Windows server edition, new legal flatbed accessory and card reader accessory with availability in late summer. “The low volume production scanning market presents growth opportunity for partners,” Lofstrom said. “To this end we will be launching an updated series of scanners later this year.”
In conclusion, Lofstrom said that partners bring Alaris technology to life and confirmed the company’s commitment to investing in its channel partners. “We have a strong partner network and continued investment in partner enablement is important to us. We have this year, developed relationships with a new breed of partner – AI, RPA and software vendors, as we look to expand our reach and share in new markets. We continue to gear our efforts to support our resellers in winning their most promising opportunities, through the provision of market development funds, best-in-class partner resource management systems and marketing collateral. We will also be adding more capabilities to enable partners in reselling software solutions. Working together we will succeed in this challenging environment.”
Kodak Alaris is planning a series of follow-up events designed to keep partners engaged throughout the year. These include virtual breakout sessions in April and May covering opportunities within the enterprise and public sectors, archiving and digital mailroom markets; as well as sessions looking at key vertical market solutions/opportunities, sales enablement and bringing further value through the Alaris Partner Programme. The company will also recognise its partners’ achievements in a virtual awards presentation on May 20th.