A Glimpse into Sharp Pulse 2017
Company Sets the Bar High at U.S. Dealer Meeting
Product diversification. Streamlining operation(s). The smart office. These were just three of the themes at Sharp Pulse 2017, a show best described as conversational in tone and intriguing throughout. And, there was bacon.
Almost 950 people—dealers, ISVs, and a variety of other partners—flocked to Phoenix, where Doug Albregts, President and CEO of Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America (SIICA), said that Sharp aims to be No. 3 in market share by 2019. A bold claim no doubt, but with Foxconn in the picture to help provide the strategic investment that can bring significant benefits, Sharp could get there.
|Sharp’s Mike Marusic, COO (left), and Shane Coffey, Associate Vice President of Document Product Management, discussed new products and their benefits on the first day of Pulse 2017.|
A Product Playground
Sharp will introduce over 30 document imaging devices in the coming year, with many already available. In the copier space, the company has refreshed its monochrome 30–60 ppm line with both Advanced and Essentials versions of five MFPs, while a low-end color copier was also launched (a low-end mono copier will come out in the spring, and new color copiers are slated to arrive toward the end of 2018). The key message around this group is commonality, as the control panel, supplies, and accessories are the same for all save for the low-end models.
The dealer community at the show seemed especially thrilled that Sharp now has some new single-function printers and printer MFPs, too. The two “IT” MFPs are already available, and the fact that the UI on these matches that from the company’s copier line is clearly a step in the right direction. Sharp is also marketing this family—devices from Project 1, the first collaboration with Foxconn on the document imaging side—as having a lower CPP than the predecessors.
Unlike some of its competitors, Sharp has a bevy of displays that can quickly enable its dealers to deepen the dialogue with customers. For instance, a couple of smart signage displays were announced (40" and 50" versions), along with four desktop monitors. But the 70" Class 4K Ultra-HD AQUOS BOARD was the real headliner in this area, as it can be a serious player for dealer bids (approximately a third of Sharp’s 300+ dealers actively sell displays) in the education vertical.
|The Sharp PN-L705H AQUOS BOARD|
8K = Ultimate Reality
One of the most captivating things at the event was a demonstration of Sharp’s 8K technology, which features 16 times the pixel resolution of 1080p. This technology will drive the need for 5G—10 times the download speed compared to 4G—and will, eventually, create more flexibility in the office due to how fast it is.
|Just look at how clear the picture is with Sharp’s 8K technology!|
Here Come the Bots
Robotics is clearly one of the things at the heart of Sharp’s future initiatives—and the future is now. The Sharp INTELLOS Automated Unmanned Ground Vehicle (A-UGV) was also among the coolest things to be seen at the show, with Albregts describing it as a “B2B productivity tool.” The A-UGV can enhance surveillance both inside and outside of buildings while integrating with other technologies working with a team of security officers to provide even more comprehensive locational security.
Sharp also previewed what is currently being called the “assist bot,” which is an Alexa-like device that uses facial recognition to seamlessly pull up materials for individuals in a meeting, for instance.
|The INTELLOS Automated Unmanned Ground Vehicle|
Water, Water, Everywhere
Sharp made a big deal of the market’s first atmospheric water generator—in essence, a dehumidifier that makes water drinkable via a six-stage filtration system. Aside from the fact that Skywell is exclusive to Sharp, what makes it a classic fit for the channel is that there’s a recurring revenue component, whereby dealers can charge for every 8 ounces of water produced like a CPP contract.
|The Skywell Atmospheric Water Generator|
Other Noteworthy Stats
1) Sharp has a roughly 40 percent win rate when its dealers are into the bid stage.
2) The company is looking to make around 15 acquisitions in 2018; chances are none of them will be ISVs because Sharp prefers to partner in the software space, but Albregts did mention that buying managed IT firms isn’t out of the question.
3) Tech Data, which handles all aspects of distribution for Sharp, has reduced the percentage of products that are damaged in shipping to 0.6% (was 0.8% under Sharp’s watch); and by the spring, Tech Data will even manage parts for Sharp.
It’s Time to Get Smart!
Sharp has products for the home, Sharp has products for the office, and the line between the home and the office is blurring more and more. In both places, synchronous collaboration and routine sharing are moving up the ladder of importance. Using the example of a meeting, as Sharp did during its Pulse 2017 show, an organization could need a calendar, the user list, unified communication, a mobile element, displays and other tools, security and remote management, and, perhaps most critically, content. Bringing all these pieces together can be a challenge, but with new products from Sharp, along with technologies from Foxconn and elsewhere, Sharp sees a real opportunity for growth as we march toward the smart office.
Said Jim Oricchio, President of Coordinated Business Systems: “Sharp definitely showed that dealers do have a tomorrow, as long as they decide to embrace new technologies and accept that hardware won’t be the driver.”
“Sharp has done a wonderful job on many things, specifically with expanding the product line, and we’re particularly excited about the possible business impact of the smart office,” said Joe Hall, Machine Sales for Office Solutions & Services.