Channel Strategy Session: Top 3 Takeaways from the Sharp National Dealer Meeting 2023
Homegrown tech, power of partnerships resulting in an even more well-rounded company
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Looking ahead instead of looking back is only natural at tradeshows. It can be difficult to nail the proper tone of the organizational plan for the future, though. At the Sharp National Dealer Meeting 2023 last week in Las Vegas, the entire company found that right set of actions and words, and the resulting energy was like a righteous groove that just will not quit.
Building on a successful run of roadshows last year, Sharp’s US outfit parlayed that momentum with ever-increasing positivity as well as strategic creativity to deliver an engaging experience. Mike Marusic, President and CEO of Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America, presented the roadmap and, not surprisingly, the event’s theme: “The need to diversify is here to stay, but how do we do that? Why do something if you can’t execute correctly?” he asked the roughly 600 dealers in the crowd. “You have to adapt to us as we will adapt to you.”
|Mike Marusic, President and CEO of Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America, gave everyone plenty to contemplate during his remarks at the Sharp National Dealer Meeting 2023.|
1: Sharp A3 Growth
One of the first slides we saw detailed company growth in the US A3 market from 2014-2022—an excellent climb from 5.8% to 10.1%, with no dips whatsoever. Sharp was not hampered by the chip shortage (thanks, Foxconn) and the supply chain crisis as much as some of its competitors. The impressive jump from 7.2% in 2019 to last year’s tally can, in part, be attributed to the company’s ability to proactively pivot its strategy, diverting many of the global challenges that plagued the industry.
It was made abundantly clear throughout the dealer meeting that the company has a direction. “Sharp knows the office and Sharp focuses on the office. We are a document company at our core,” Marusic said. On top of its ascending A3 market share, in Q3 2023, Sharp will add to its A4 portfolio with four proprietary MFPs that are “very close” to their A3 siblings feature set-wise. So, even if the company is preaching the value of products beyond print, Sharp obviously continues to invest—and see nice returns—in the space.
|John Sheehan, Senior Vice President of Channel Sales at Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America, emceed the General Sessions at this year’s Sharp National Dealer Meeting.|
2: True Production Print
While production print is still, well, print, it’s an area of further exploration for Sharp. Marusic even commented to analysts that “Production has been our Achilles heel.” Light production gets you in the door and, to that end, the company will refresh its Polaris Pro line in Q4 this year, but Sharp realized it had to up the ante to really make some headway.
In what was perhaps the biggest announcement at the dealer meeting, the company introduced a 120-ppm color digital press (six color stations, real-time color stabilization) along with two mono devices (125/136 ppm). All three are powered by Fiery digital front ends (DFEs), share the same finishing options, and according to Sharp are loaded with professional features. Availability is later this year for the color press and next year for the monos. Although the company did not publicly name its OEM partner for the new presses, rumblings from attendees—including myself—was that it resembles a Fujifilm.
Marusic also said that Sharp has no immediate intention of entering the production inkjet arena.
|The new color press was a jewel of the Sharp National Dealer Meeting 2023.|
3: Security & IT
If security is not a serious talking point in every organization’s strategy regardless of industry, then something is wrong. As expected, security was a much-discussed topic at the event not only during the General Sessions but in several breakouts, too. The major news here was that Sharp is collaborating with ConnectWise to elevate security of MFPs and printers—output hardware will be part of the IT stack that’s monitored by ConnectWise Security Information and Event Management (SIEM).
The company had already been using Tech Data for distribution of hardware but, thanks to the Tech Data-SYNNEX merger a couple of years ago, Sharp is now broadening its relationship with the outfit to include IT solutions and services. And like it or not, artificial intelligence (AI) is only going to grow in power and usage, and it is no longer a choice if you are serious about improving operational, relationship, or revenue outcomes. Sharp does not plan to lead AI development, but the company stated it will likely leverage partnerships to integrate AI into its future offering.
|Drew Sanford, Vice President of Global Security Operations at ConnectWise, gave the first of two keynote speeches at this year’s Sharp National Dealer Meeting.|
“By continuing to provide products and services under a managed office umbrella, Sharp truly gets it! I was honored to be on the panel to talk about managed IT services and the convergence of the print and IT industries. At Novatech, we are totally aligned in our strategies and look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with Sharp.” –Dave Moorman, President and CISO of Novatech
“Sharp is continuing to innovate its products and services so that the dealers can as well. The path they are on is light years ahead of all the other manufacturers. Sharp is leading the way in the future of our industry—and this dealer meeting was the proof. The company’s commitment to showing a premier level of hospitality blows the competition out of the water, too.” –Jacques Passailaigue, President of GOECO
“The partnerships and new technologies that Sharp introduced at the conference for cloud services and hardware will significantly benefit our clients. Sharp’s integration with the security operations center (SOC) is a critical service that will protect against one of the most blatant vulnerabilities in business. Synappx’s further assimilation into Sharp’s products and other third-party apps provides a lot of potential for the future of technology in the office. The combined force of software and hardware will help organizations communicate seamlessly in better-protected environments.” –Luke Ubelhor, Director of Managed Services at Donnellon McCarthy Enterprises
Keypoint Intelligence Opinion
The spirit of diversification was alive and very healthy at the Sharp National Dealer Meeting 2023. From all the print hardware and software to projectors (yes, Sharp is back in that business) and Sharp/NEC displays and Dynabook laptops as well as all the security and IT services, the company is evolving into a truer version of itself—doing so organically as well as with a little help from some friends.
Of course, there are questions that need to be answered. Can Sharp sustain its A3 growth? Can it improve share in A4? How long will it take to make inroads into an entrenched production market? Will dealers take advantage of Sharp’s new IT partnerships? All in due time.
The product expo was too cavernous to me. I thought the company’s recent digital transformation (DX) relationship with Kodak Alaris would have been made more of a thing during the sessions (there was a booth, however). Nutella was not part of the breakfast spread. These are minor gripes. Because while “Opportunity Meets Execution” is the most resonant tradeshow tagline in recent memory, Sharp could have easily rolled with “Winning at the Wynn” and still been right on the money.
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