Kodak Sharpens Federal Focus
Kodak Sharpens Federal Focus By Nick Wakeman
Kodak Business Imaging Systems has launched a new partnership program to lure systems integrators to push more of its products to the federal government.
One small systems integrator, The Computer Solution Co., a Midlothian, Va., software consulting firm, has already signed up as a partner under the program.
Kodak officials want to sign up eight integrators by the end of the year to crack open the federal market, which represents about 10 percent of the business imaging systems division's $600 million in 1996 revenues, said Gil Van Schoor, vice president of federal systems for the division.
Imaging and document management work with the government is growing as agencies convert paper records to electronic formats, said Payton Smith, an analyst with International Data Corp.'s Falls Church, Va., office. Price Waterhouse's 1997 Technology Forecast estimates the commercial and government markets for document management will jump from about $500 million in 1995 to more than $2 billion in 2000.
Kodak officials have not set a growth target for the federal market. However, Van Schoor said he expects business to swell after the first year of the partnership program.
Gil Van Schoor, vice president of federal systems for Kodak Business Imaging Systems
Van Schoor began piloting the concept for the program one year ago with several integrators, including Computer Sciences Corp., El Segundo, Calif.; The Computer Solution Co.; Emerging Technologies Inc., Herndon, Va.; and Advanced Information Network Systems Inc., Rockville, Md.
"Partnerships are essential to bring solution sets to the government," said Jim Guilfoyle, vice president for new business in CSC's federal systems engineering division.
Under Kodak's federal integrator program, an integrator agrees to bid $4 million annually of Kodak products in government procurements in exchange for the right to receive discounts on those products. Kodak's federal partners will no longer be required to buy a specified amount of Kodak's products annually to get discounts on Kodak products destined for federal customers, Van Schoor said.
This policy change applies only to the federal market but it could be emulated by the rest of Rochester, N.Y.-based Eastman Kodak Co. if it is successful, he said.
Kodak officials made the switch after realizing that the company's policy of requiring federal integrators to meet sales quotas was hurting its ability to establish ties with integrators, Van Schoor said.
"The revenue requirement was a deal stopper," he said.
With the pressures from governmentwide contract vehicles, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts with multiple winners and expanded use of the General Services Administration schedules, it was unrealistic to think many integrators would commit to the sales quota, said Robert Dornan of Federal Sources Inc., a McLean, Va., research firm.
David Romig, practice manager for The Computer Solution Co., said that Kodak's sales quota made it nearly impossible for smaller integrators to work directly with Kodak because they could not guarantee that they would hit those numbers.
His company could only work with Kodak through a larger systems integrator, which could promise Kodak it would push a certain amount of products, he said. "We had to work with them at arms length," said Romig.
Kodak's new approach recognizes that systems integrators bring more than just annual sales figures, Van Schoor said. Kodak has attached a value to the integrators' role in putting together the team to bid on projects and develop requirements for proposals, he said.
"Systems integrators know their customers, they have made the investment in an infrastructure," he said. "We don't know the customers as well as the integrators."
What's more, integrators have the market penetration that Kodak has not been able to develop, Van Schoor said.
|Kodak Federal Partners Program |
Requirements for systems integrators:
- $4 million in bids of Kodak products annually
- Shared business development plans
- Cooperative bidding
- Access to Kodak training, education and technical support
Besides the $4 million minimum bid requirement, Kodak also wants to work with the integrators on business development. It is making available training, technical support and advance looks at technology, he said.
"We can leverage all the capabilities of Eastman Kodak for our partners," he said.
Partnerships must bring together an understanding of the problem an agency faces, the right technology and be able to put the technology into the right context, Guilfoyle said.
These are the types of issues Kodak discusses with its partners when they develop a business plan together, Van Schoor said. And Kodak officials will target agencies where Kodak products can fit into the partners' strategy, he said.
In addition to hardware, Kodak also is hoping to push more of its software products through the partnership program. In March, the company formed Eastman Software after Kodak bought the software division of Wang Laboratories Inc., Billerica, Mass., for $260 million.
The acquisition was a big plus for Kodak because Wang had a strong relationship with Microsoft that Kodak continues, said Chris Selland, an analyst with the research firm Yankee Group, Boston. Every copy of Windows 95 and Windows NT workstation contains Kodak imaging software.
Work group and desktop software markets are the fastest growing imaging markets, Selland said. For 1997, the commercial and government market is estimated at $246 million but it is growing at 25 percent a year, he said.
The software market for document management and imaging is changing because of the emergence of "compound documents," Selland said.
Documents no longer just contain text but also include images, hypertext links and even audio, he said.