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When you go into a customer and offer these types of services, you say you are vendor-agnostic: you'll manage for the customer even if their hardware isn't yours. Can you talk a little about why that's important, and is that open-ended? Do you let them hang on to their Xerox printers, et cetera, forever?
It's a balance. I was with a customer yesterday who had an RFP with much of our competition and one [vendor] in particular who said, 'We want you to go in and replace all of your devices with our devices.' And the customer said, 'That's not what our RFP asked. It asked you to manage the output.'
Some customers have cash assets. They didn't lease the assets, they own the assets and they're not due for a technology refresh. So being able to manage those devices is equally important to managing the information on our own devices. It's really an emphasis on our approach. Of course we want to sell Ricoh devices, but it's much more important to start with looking at all the information being processed and then optimizing the costs for that for the customer, than it is replacing the devices on day one.
It's not just about Ricoh printers, it's about leveraging the customer installed base in any place information is moving, and providing continuous improvement and continuous cost reductions over time.
But the ultimate goal being to get Ricoh hardware in there as well? Are you saying there's no set deadline or parameters for when that has to be?
I'll tell you right now there are some customers who would say, 'I'm not moving away from my printer provider. I'm not going to change. But if you can leave those in, you can manage other assets for us.' We can live with that. Over time, we'd show the customer that our devices have more functionality in some cases and that can help you, maybe you put in half the fleet as ours. But it's not integral to the value proposition. At the end of the day, if I'm not selling any devices, I'm probably not doing my job, but it is not what we're stressing in the customer engagement.
Why is that so important to Ricoh? Because that's a real departure from what some of your competitors push.
We do understand that it is a departure. The customer I was with yesterday, half their assets are cash. They say it's a cheaper value proposition for them than leasing those assets. If they bought their desktop printer 8 months ago but know they have to manage their print fleet more holistically, they're throwing money away by having Ricoh come in and say, 'You need a Ricoh printer.' You can't make the value proposition work and do the best thing for the customer if your fundamental premise is a technology refresh. That's our view.