Ricoh, IBM Focus On Enterprise Services In Strategic Alliance


Ricoh and IBM on Monday announced a global strategic alliance for document solutions to be spearheaded by a new Ricoh offering, Document Security and Management Services (DSMS).

The two vendors will essentially be leveraging each other's sales networks. The DSMS solution -- which covers assessment and deployment, end-user services, managed services, security, green office and enterprise content management (ECM) services and will be offered initially in the U.S. -- will be jointly delivered by Ricoh's Document Solutions and Services Division and IBM's Global Technology Services, Ricoh said.

The alliance is geared toward service-oriented architectures (SOAs). Ricoh also has agreed to become a reseller of IBM's managed server services and help IBM sell and deliver IBM software, hardware and services, including end-user services, Internet security systems services, business continuity and resiliency services, and storage and data services.

"Ricoh and IBM have been working together for a long time, so I see this as kind of a deepening of that relationship," said Mark Minshull, Ricoh vice president and chief technologist, in an interview with ChannelWeb. "We're teaming up at a sales level to go after major global accounts and do what we each do best. Ricoh and IBM pair up very nicely. The promise ... is to lower the cost of implementation -- incorporate an SOA into MFPs so they can more easily integrate into IBM's selling process. Over time, printers are becoming very smart and sophisticated, and it makes sense to use enterprise network monitoring tools like Tivoli."

"IBM's SOA portfolio allows users to quickly and easily plug in new business functions called services into their existing business environment," added Sandy Carter, vice president, IBM SOA and WebSphere, in a statement. "Ricoh and IBM's partnership will help clients to incorporate MFP capabilities into their business in the same way a new building block could be added to an existing infrastructure."

The move is the latest in a history of collaboration between the two vendors. In 2007, Ricoh purchased IBM's digital commercial printer business for $725 million.

When asked to put a number to how much Ricoh expects the latest agreement to boost business, Minshull said, "We have internal projections, but I would rather not comment on that."

According to Reuters, a Japanese newspaper reported Dec. 31 that Ricoh expects new Ricoh/IBM business ventures to boost sales by about $1.1 billion within three years.

Minshull said he did not anticipate conflict with Ricoh's channel as a result of the alliance, the focus of which, he said, is primarily on the largest, enterprise-level accounts.

"I can't guarantee it has no impact [on channel partners], but IBM is obviously in a lot of places already," he said. "In both the U.S. and Europe, the focus tends to be larger companies with enterprise-wide initiatives."

"IBM and Ricoh are both trying to solve the same problems," Minshull added. "Take the IBM Tivoli story and meld it with the Ricoh one. There's a lot of strategic symmetry in where they're going and where we're going. Looking at [Hewlett-Packard] and what they're doing with EDS, this is a natural fit for us to offer a high-end services capability."