Sharp is offering channel partners profit opportunities beyond the print portfolio, with a wider proposition that includes large format displays, videoconferencing and collaboration solutions, cloud and IT services
Sharp Europe President Jeff Ashida, said that the company is renowned for its technology and creativity. Sharp has a long heritage in world firsts. These include selling the first solar modules in 1963, developing the first LCD calculator in the 70s, and the first 14-inch TFT monitor in the late 1980s.
According to Ashida, its current R&D focus is in areas including AIoT (a combination of Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things), and 8K. He said: “We believe we can be a global leader in AIoT and high-res (8K) display technology.”
The ability to bring new innovative products to market is a manifestation of Sharp’s relationship with Foxconn, which it says gives its partners an opportunity to grow their businesses by leveraging Sharp’s new global business alliances and partnerships.
At Inspire Expo, Sharp showed an 8K display and professional camcorder, integrating capabilities for video shooting and recording, playback and line output, announcing that these devices will form the basis for its R&D work on an 8K ecosystem.
Sharp believes that 8K is the basis for many new, exciting business applications. It says the technology is a game-changer for many industries that need detailed images, e.g. surveillance and crowd control, building maintenance and inspection via drones, or in medical environments to enable remote diagnosis or operation on patients.
“AIoT is a concept using our technology to make life easier, better, smarter,” Ashida explained, adding: “It’s a whole solution/platform not just a single product.”
One of the key themes running through the Inspire Expo event was that through its unique mix of solutions and services from video conferencing, whiteboards, printers etc. Sharp is well equipped to support its partners with diversification in their businesses.
One example of an alternative revenue generating solution for channel partners on display was Sharp Signage – a cost-effective, turnkey solution which enables users to display engaging and relevant information on sleek, modern professional signage displays. The solution includes digital signage software with sophisticated features and intuitive user operation such as pre-designed templates and the ability to share content across a wide range of different screens. Users can securely update content from any location and upload existing files remotely via an intuitive web interface.
Sharp Europe Director of Product Planning and Marketing, Jason Cort, said that digital welcome boards present a big opportunity for the channel. “It’s a door opener, an incremental revenue opportunity. You can change a commodity product pitch to an innovative business solution, enabling the dealer to become more valuable to the customer.”
Ecosystems of services
Sharp also presented ecosystems of services built around the MFP and its unique mix of document and display solutions. Ashida said: “We’re offering all of the components that our partners need to create new and compelling packages for their customers and to generate new revenue streams.”
These ‘components’ included a number of smart meeting room solutions equipped with Sharp BIG PAD interactive whiteboards to help people share ideas and work together more creatively and efficiently.
The offer includes a cloud-based, video conferencing solution that removes the need for expensive in- house IT infrastructure and support. It enables the meeting organiser to invite up to 50 participants to collaborate effectively using the device that is most convenient to them at the time.
Participants can join from any location, easily share content, view presentations, application windows, web pages and even annotations made using Sharp pen software.
Collaborative huddle and meeting space solutions on show included Sharp Plug and Meet, this mobile, self-contained, video conferencing solution features a modern design and instant on functionality, and comes equipped with a 40” BIG PAD interactive capacitive touch display, Windows 10 solid state PC and wireless hub, and embedded web camera and speakers.
In addition, a customisable Collaboration Station was presented as a new way to improve teamwork and productivity in the work space. It provides a convenient meeting room alternative for large offices, public areas, universities, colleges and organisations that want to utilise their existing working space more efficiently and comes equipped with audio and visual systems to allow users to seamlessly create, manage, visualise and share information.
Cort said that customers need Sharp solutions in all areas of the business. “Customers need help in selecting the appropriate technology for their needs, it’s easy to make price-based decisions but the focus should be on what’s important – easy to use products. If the products are easy to use, then they will be used and will continue to be used.”
He added: “Sharp has created new solutions beyond print that give resellers an opportunity to protect print revenues, be stickier with customers and get a greater share of wallet.”
Sharp is, it argues, the only manufacturer that can offer such a broad range of both document and display solutions which allows its dealers to get a unique mix of products and services from one partner, making it easier for them to diversify.