Consulting the experts

Editorial Type: Interview Date: 01-2018 Views: 1,050 Tags: Document, Awards, Strategy, Workflow, ProcessFlows, Konica Minolta PDF Version:
Document Manager magazine catches up with Cameron Smith, Commercial Director, MCS at ProcessFlows | Konica Minolta to discuss the company's plans for continued growth based on a consultancy & solutions approach

David Tyler: You managed to take the DM Awards Company of the Year trophy in 2017 - what did that win mean to you, and to Konica Minolta as your parent company?
Cameron Smith: ProcessFlows has been around for a long time. We have a long list of customers where we have successfully optimised their business processes and delivered smarter information management. The DM Awards are the most established and prestigious awards in our industry.

To be recognised as Company of the Year is great news and very welcome. It is testament of our work so far and a glimpse of more great things to come in the future under the ProcessFlows | Konica Minolta brand.

DT: I appreciate it is still 'early days', but how has the Konica Minolta takeover of ProcessFlows changed how you do business?
CS: In truth ProcessFlows have been owned by Konica Minolta for over a year now. Whilst it is certainly making a difference, bringing together established businesses can take time to 'bed in' and leverage the synergies, so in many ways we have barely started to take advantage of our new position as yet.

In October, we established a new business unit that brings together and expands our combined strengths for optimising business processes and managing information. The new unit has some impressive capabilities from product development to demand generation, sales consultants and analysts all the way to project management, implementation and development. It's an exciting time and we are confident the expanded business unit will provide a robust platform to grow, innovate and exceed our customer expectations.

When you combine this with the strengths of Konica Minolta's core capabilities in managed print services we now have a really comprehensive offering to help customers address a range of opportunities and challenges across their business.

DT: Is it the case then that there is a kind of 'untapped market' for you among existing Konica Minolta users, businesses who may not have quantified the potential benefits of ECM and document management?
CS: Konica Minolta has over 30,000 customers in the UK so yes there is a real opportunity for us to help our customers with smarter information management and business process optimisation.

The key to unlocking this opportunity is our consultative approach backed by analysts and assessments that allows us to methodically understand and optimise business processes as well as quantify the value of any solution for each and every customer. This tailored and customer centric approach is being really well received by our customers because it always delivers better results.

DT: As well as the Company of the Year award, you also won runner-up in the Accounts Payable Product of the Year category at this year's DM Awards. Is that an application area that the company is particularly focused on?
CS: We don't take a vanilla approach to invoice automation, rather we can offer in-depth expertise in the A/P space, and work alongside businesses of all types and sizes to deliver solutions that meet their specific and unique requirements. One of the best things about this approach is that it means we can cater for all markets - at the very low-end, or via some very clever mid-market product offerings that cover the whole Purchase-to-pay spectrum, and we can also offer products to suit the enterprise user.

We're coming at this sector very much from a consultancy viewpoint: what does the organisation look like, what problems does it face, what systems are already in place? At that point we can recommend a solution that fits what the user actually needs, as opposed to 'Here's our invoice product, now to make it fit…'

DT: Is Accounts Payable a sector with enough potential for automation even now, after years of DM vendors pitching various products that promised to solve all the finance department's ills?
CS: People keep telling me that A/P is saturated and everyone has solutions in place already, but it's simply not the case. For every ten sales we make, around six will be Accounts Payable-related. It is still a massive potential market - it never ceases to amaze me when I visit very large and 'serious' organisations that some still have highly manual processes in place. These are the very businesses that need our support to complete the journey from manual to automated processes in order to remain 'agile' in today's competitive environment.

And this is what our current marketing approach is designed to address: we want to really get 'under the bonnet' of what these people are doing and how we can add value. If you ask these organisations whether they are automating their A/P processes, they will very often say yes, but when you dig a little deeper you realise that, okay, they may be scanning some documents, they may be emailing invoices for authorisation, or they may have a financial system in place that will match a PO to an invoice (but if it doesn't match it can't handle any of the exceptions!).

What it comes down to is that there are an awful lot of people out there who think they're 'doing automation' but actually they're not if they're only doing pieces of it. We still commonly see AP departments with 20 staff - more in some cases. The traditional ERP and financials vendors have tried to address this in recent years, but they are limited - they can only go so far.

We're seeing it with all sorts of customers, not just in the A/P space: while there is a lot of talk about this market and a lot of products trying to compete, there aren't very many companies at all who can come at it - as we do - with a truly end-to-end, fully integrated perspective, and a focus on solutions as opposed to product sales. That is the message that we're seeing gain traction as people realise just how deep and long-standing our expertise actually is.
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