Vice President, Industrial Print and Graphic Communications Business Segment, Konica Minolta
When it comes to the print and graphic communications space, Konica Minolta’s Gavin Jordan-Smith is beginning to look at vertical industries in a very different way by shifting his efforts toward influencing the influencers, maintaining a presence during the innovation process and striving to be where people buy and search for technology rather than pushing technology to them. By gaining a better understanding of what drives consumers to make a purchase and becoming more involved in the innovation discussion, the company can work to become a much greater part of the value chain for its clients and the brands they serve.
The graphic communications space has a number of segments with varying degrees of experience and sophistication as it relates to orchestrating the go-to-market process. While some of their clients have been leading in the marketing services space for a long time and have a great understanding of the process, others do not have a clearly defined plan, leading to a go-to-market process that is quite disjointed.
“Sometimes lines of business have different mindsets on what they want to achieve as a business objective, so the process may not always align with the path for execution,” he explains. “If you look at the supply chain as it relates to the understanding of the customer, we are a business that sells to a business who may be selling to an agency, who then sells to a client who sells to a consumer. There are definitely some problems in that value chain in terms of not truly understanding who you’re communicating to at the end of that cycle.”
The complexity of this process requires someone to oversee and understand all of the moving pieces and value chain components, but Jordan-Smith says there are issues that exist when it comes to alignment of those elements as well.
“Within an organization, when it comes to determining whose direction to follow, you often look to the ones who are actually paying for the service, so it can become very political,” he explains.
According to Jordan-Smith, this complexity requires the ability to manage different personalities to effectively navigate the process and demonstrate the value they lend to their clients.
“We have learned, however, that just because you can bring a horse to water, that doesn’t mean you can make them drink it,” he says. “We can provide software for variable data printing, for example, and we can show people how to use it and let them move forward on their own, but it requires understanding the ecosystem of services that we provide across the board. You can’t just deliver one piece and hope that the print service provider, marketing department or agency has a full understanding of the complete value chain. It requires some education to ensure they understand the full scope.”
Jordan-Smith explains that the company is constantly looking to be able to deliver new ideas and innovation for agencies to be able to better execute the creative components that they deliver. A key element in this process is disruption, and for Konica Minolta, this disruption lies in the ability to gather and use data intelligence to touch every part of the value chain, from product production until delivery to the end user takes place.
“Regardless of where the experience is happening, we’re able to deliver our value proposition along the entire path, and we can manage the service for our customers as well,” he says. “A print service provider may not have the sophistication we do when it comes to the platforms, technology, analytics or people to utilize those tools, but we can show them how to utilize them and grow their business as a result.”
When it comes to identifying new opportunities, Jordan-Smith says it is important to look at the end user and understand what the brand is trying to accomplish in order to determine the best way to influence the buying process and how people shop.
“In retail, for example, people are often looking at their phones and aren’t paying attention to advertising within the aisles, but you might want that advertising to communicate something to the person’s mobile device as they’re walking by,” he explains. “We're combining the mobile experience with the shopper experience and the product experience to drive brand awareness. We can apply technology to use cameras within stores and plot the path of a person as they walk through the store. We can show where people congregate the most based on products and brands, and we can use the mobile experience to show what shoppers actually do—whether they look at the ads, pick up a bottle, put a product in the basket, etc. All of these things are business intelligence that we can deliver to a customer within a retail experience.”
He also notes that they are able to print posters with QR codes that allow them to shop directly from the poster without going into a store, in addition to incorporating intelligent elements into direct mail printed pieces that can be monitored and tracked. This level of innovation requires a great deal of imagination and is changing the way that companies are able to understand and engage with customers. However, while this level of innovation is a game-changer, the value for many clients lies in the ability to produce something quickly and cost-effectively.
“The complaint that we see the most from brand owners is supply chain,” he says. “Products can change from month to month, so being quick to market is a very key element to them. If it takes them six weeks to produce a label, you're already behind. In addition, some brand owners produce far more than they need, and then they shift directions very quickly because the market moves quickly, and that's a cost to them as well. They are more or less wanting partners that can help meet their business objectives as opposed to partners in the value chain to reduce cost. It's a lot harder for people to manage multiple partners when you're drilling down on pricing than to manage the whole business element of what you're trying to achieve at a value proposition that's meeting your objectives.”