Kodak Wants To Create A New Image: Channel Player

document workflow

The imaging giant’s quiet announcement that it had begun shipping a new document scanning device—the Scan Station 100—has created an opportunity for Kodak to engage with solution providers.

The Scan Station 100 is Kodak’s first network-capable document scanner and can be deployed as an operating system-independent device that produces images from the source directly into a point on the network.

Kevin Keener, a document imaging product manager at Kodak, based in Roch-ester, N.Y., said the Scan Station 100 is now opening doors for the company into a new channel segment, as well as a new market segment: SMB.

“Certainly, this presents some new markets for us,” Keener said. Specifically, he said, the device dovetails with a focus on the small- and midsize-business space, and on solution providers that deal with SMB customers. Larger imaging solution providers outside the broader IT channel “might not have traditionally played where people have a need to share documents” within a smaller office or business setting, Keener said.

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To lay the groundwork for this strategy, Kodak began rolling out a new channel program—the Kodak Desktop Reseller Channel Program—which now has more than 150 solution providers on its roster. It ships its imaging products to market via distributors including Tech Data, Clearwater, Fla., and Ingram Micro, Santa Ana, Calif.

The Desktop Reseller Channel Program and Scan Station 100 are the latest in a series of changes to Kodak’s business strategy that began several years ago in an effort to capture sales in broader parts of the market as other parts of its business declined. The results have been positive, according to some of the company’s solution providers.

“They used to be a very large, monolithic, bureaucratic company,” said Roger Tausig, president of Imaging Solutions, a Wallingford, Conn.-based solution provider and Kodak channel partner. “There was tons of red tape to do anything and everything. They have turned the ship in a much better direction.”

Tausig said that as Kodak expands its presence in the channel he would prefer to see the company zero in on solutions-focused partners rather than high-volume dealers.

“We constantly struggle with competition from box-pushers who bring no value,” Tausig said.

Keener said the Scan Station 100 has prompted positive feedback ranging from SMB-focused resellers to independent software vendors. The network-ready device ships with a list price of $2,995, which surpasses pricing on several multifunction printer (MFP) devices that include scanner functionality from companies including Lexmark International, Lexington, Ky; Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, Calif.; and Xerox, Stamford, Conn.

“There are those areas in the market where there is a need for high-quality document sharing,” Keener said. “With this, you can come up to it, drop a document in, and know that the image that comes out—to whatever destination on the network—is going to be a sharp, crisp, readable image. That differs quite a bit from some of the MFPs in the past.”

Keener also noted that because the Scan Station 100 sits on a network, images can be directed to a printer on the same network, providing the same essential functionality as an MFP for those who seek it. The device also permits scanning to USB drives.

Keener downplayed any competitive battles the company might see against some of the other MFP providers. But at least one solution provider said that with previous product lines, Kodak has differentiated itself from its rivals with attention to aftermarket support for both solution providers and customers.

James Cowen, CEO of Aqubanc, a Buffalo Grove, Ill.-based Kodak channel partner and solution provider, said his company has integrated some of Kodak’s stand-alone products into its imaging solutions and gives the company a thumbs-up.

“We found their service and support to be outstanding,” Cowen said, noting that service and support problems with another vendor convinced his company to switch to a Kodak solution two years ago. “They’ve done everything they’ve said they were going to do.

We haven’t had any problems with them out in the field.”