Welcome to the Ricoh UK & Ireland blog.

Imagine.change.co.uk is the place where business decision-makers can find useful insights and inspiration for transforming the way they work.

Our business is as diverse as our clients, so you’ll find all sorts of trends and topics on the blog. But the one thing you can rely on is that our people will provide expert comment on the issues that matter most, as well as share a few tips and ideas along the way.

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Powering a personalised shopping experience

There is a quiet revolution going on in ‘brick and mortar’ stores. This revolution is due in large part to the online ecommerce experience and tremendous amount of information available on the World Wide Web (which turns 25 this year).

To get an idea of what I’m talking about, take as an example my phone store. It has ‘gone digital’. Store associates are equipped with a tablet, and can literally walk customers through their shopping experience, checking on details of their current service plan, their options for upgrades and inventory information on which models (and colors, cases, accessories, etc.) are on hand, or in a store nearby.

And what I really like: I needn’t stand in a queue. With the swipe of a credit card and an electronic signature, the associate completes my transaction, retrieves the phone I want from stock, either printing the receipts, rebates and contracts in-store—or likely emailing them to me as I prefer.

The extent and accuracy of the information available to personalise and expedite the shopping experience depends on more than infrastructure and applications. At Ricoh, we’ve been seeing it also depends on how well a company has streamlined and optimised their business processes to capture and transform information to support the sales process.

The mobile store example I mentioned shows that store associates can increase customer sales and loyalty if they have the technology that can match that of today’s wired, digitally savvy customer; and most importantly, can get the customer the information they need at the time they need it.

According to a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting, by a factor of more than 2 to 1 over their bosses customer-facing workers felt constrained by “older systems”. Think about it. How effective would the store associate be if they could not tell me what calling plan I am on, or what upgrade options I had?

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But as one who works to help design these solutions, I can tell you just integrating this information is not easy. Customer information tends to be siloed in different systems (ERP, CRM, marketing systems, etc.) And process redesign and integration can be as challenging as collecting information from different databases.

Just on the product side, if I was not sure what model I wanted, the store associate could guide me through a visual display of available inventory. Product images could be accompanied by specifications, available applications or connectivity options, performance comparisons, price, and more.

This information would have to be pulled from internal inventory systems, pricing from ERP, and promotions from marketing systems, formatted and combined into this “endless aisle” experience. This requires carefully considered design of the supporting business processes: for accuracy, currency, and security.

We at Ricoh have seen firsthand one of the most important prerequisites for successful customer service is a clear understanding of the underlying information requirements. And for me, a store associate carrying around a tablet is not nearly as compelling as the value it could bring to me as a customer.

Categories: Business Transformation, Future Workplace, Growth Strategies, Insights | Leave a comment

The Challenge of Speed for Government Organisations [Infographic]

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eBook vs. Print: It’s content that counts

The London Book Fair took place last week, where the great and good from the book-publishing trade came together on a variety of topics. As a reader, one of the most interesting discussions was the eBook versus print debate. It’s the age old conundrum of new versus old, innovation versus tried and tested; or is it?

You see, it’s a bit simplistic to think of eBooks as the future and print as the past. Print is a format that continues to offer so much and when it comes to new digital printing technology, it can innovate with the best of them and remain relevant. But are we focusing too much on this when the real interest for readers lies elsewhere?

Quality content
The strength of any industry lies in the quality of its products or services. For book-publishing, that quality comes from the written word. Authors craft the words and stories that enrich the lives of their readers. While some consideration of the format might influence an author – ones that publish in eBook form only, for example – it’s more about the reader and their relationship with the content or characters that’s important, not the delivery mechanism.

I say that from the position of owning both an eReader and a plethora of physical books. I can even find EPUB and paper versions of the same title in my library! And that’s the thing when it comes to the influence of technology on the book-publishing trade. It’s stood up remarkably well – compared to the music industry, for example. Since buying an eReader I actually read more and that includes buying more paper books as well.

Books mean a lot to many of us. Like music and film, our favourites – the ones that we collect and cherish – say much about us as individuals. For instance, where would Through The Keyhole be without a good old-fashioned bookshelf? The time taken to read a good book is time well spent. Other genres, like education titles arguably have an even bigger influence on people’s lives, not to mention the book-publishing trade and the education sector as a whole.

Content marketing
The issue of format is not just a debate for the publishing trade, though. I see similar discussions when it comes to my role at work – content marketing. For those who are not familiar with the term, content marketing is all about creating and distributing compelling content to attract, acquire, and engage a target audience – with the objective of driving customer leads and, ultimately, sales.

Creating eBooks is becoming popular for content marketing professionals as business buyers these days are searching for information that will help them make better decisions. eBooks are an efficient way of delivering in-depth information on a range of business topics. With purchasing decisions becoming more complex, organisations that can provide the right content, at the right time, are the ones that will have the better chance of marketing themselves successfully.

As someone who develops content, I often see people decide on what format they’d like before thinking about the desired outcome. “Can we do a video?” is a common request. It’s easy to get hung up on the latest trend or technology. Yes, technology and technology-led change can be a disruptive force in any industry but you have to keep your eye on what your customers or audience actually want. For the book-publishing trade and modern marketing, it’s all about the story. In other words, it’s content that counts.

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Team Ricoh’s Winning Spirit – Week 8

With one day to go until I conquer one of my biggest personal challenges I’m overcome by emotions! I feel overwhelmed by the generosity and support from my Ricoh colleagues, friends and family, excited by the prospect of the cheering crowds on the day and terrified about the distance! Overall, I’m massively thankful to have been given the opportunity by Ricoh to run the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2014.

As this is my first marathon the last few months of training have been a real journey. I can honestly say I never knew how challenging and technical running can be. I have encountered injuries, which will hopefully hold up for the day, discovered jelly beans which are now my favourite treat and have been given a whole range of amazing advice. The advice has been from a super fit Iron Man champion, past marathon runners and loving friends and family, and with a day to go I would like to share some of my best advice with my fellow runners:

  • Enjoy the day: the day will be filled with amazing sights; cheering crowds yelling your name and you will be in the limelight- enjoy it!
  • Divide the total money you raised for charity by 26: then you’ll know how much you’re making for your chosen charity at each mile and will motivate you for the next.
  • Don’t cut your toe nails the day before: in fact don’t change anything the day before, just relax and eat carbs!

The charity I’ve chosen to support is Guys and St Thomas’ Kidney Patients’ Association, who support research and improve patient experience for those who suffer from kidney disease. The hospital helped my dad during the 13 years he was ill and particularly supported him when he had kidney failure. I’ve always looked for a way to say thank you and now finally have the opportunity to do so. If you are feeling particularly generous today and would like to sponsor me it would be most appreciated. Please visit my JustGiving page – www.virginmoneygiving.com/TrishnaJethwa.

I would like to wish runners from both Team Ricoh and generally within the company the best of luck on the day, especially Ciara Stokes and Lee Taylor who I know will be brilliant. I also would like to thank all my friends at Ricoh for your generosity and support- you know who you are!

I hope as a representative of Ricoh Marketing I do the team proud.

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Team Ricoh’s Winning Spirit – Week 8

On the 13th April a group of 10 Ricoh employees will take on the incredible task of running the Virgin Money London Marathon. Team Ricoh is made up of some experienced marathon runners and some first timers, all of whom clearly portray Ricoh’s ‘winning spirit’. They have undergone months of vigorous training and so to celebrate their on–going achievements in the run up to the marathon, we will hear from one runner each week. They will describe their training and experiences so far, their thoughts on the upcoming run and the charities they are supporting.

Week 8 – Ellie Lavelle
My chosen charity, Snowdrop is particularly close to my heart as they have supported my son Tom, now 21 months, who suffered a severe brain injury at birth. Following the event, Tom was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and we were later advised that his movements and speech would be affected. Determined to prove the prognosis wrong, we searched for assistance and discovered Snowdrop.

Snowdrop believes that “every child should have the opportunity to fulfil their potential and help parents, who have been given the worst case prognosis by medical professionals, defy those predictions through a neurological stimulation programme.”

With Snowdrop’s support we have been able to see our son smile, sit, crawl and stand, and we are convinced that the programme has contributed significantly to a milder prognosis. After everything they have done for my family, in particular my son, I was keen to show my support and give something back and running the London Marathon and raising money seemed to me like the perfect opportunity.

Given the challenges faced over the last year, I have taken the marathon training in my stride. I have been training three times a week which I have really enjoyed. I would have liked to have had a fourth training day but being a Mum it’s difficult to find three days! I’m pleased with how I have followed my training plan; I have stuck to it pretty regimentally and reached up to 20 miles but have now tapered my training down ready for the big day. I would like to say a big thank you to my family for allowing me the time to really focus on my training.

My target time is 4hour 20min but it will depend on my knee. To be honest, I just want to cross the finish line and give my boy the biggest kiss. Crossing the finish line and raising money for Snowdrop will be very emotional for me and my family. Having discovered Snowdrop and personally experiencing life changing results, I’m now definitely an advocate of positive thinking.

The money raised will help Snowdrop move into a more permanent building and have a permanent suite with the appropriate tools and facilities to assess and review their children. The founders of the charity, Andrew and Janet Brereton, are extremely dedicated to the charity and their families, always giving them hope and continual support.

I am extremely thankful and overwhelmed by the support I have received from family, friends, work colleagues and especially Josh Grundy in Learning & Development (L&D) who is also raising money for Snowdrop. I am feeling quite excited about the race (if not a little bit nervous at the same time!)

Please help me give back and support this incredible charity and sponsor my run by visiting my JustGiving page – https://www.justgiving.com/Ellie-Lavelle/

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A new publishing vision from Ricoh at London Book Fair

Books are different from many other sectors of print because alongside their functional use they create an emotional connection.  The result is people have choice preferences from a quality hardback or a small but perfectly formed paperback to a weighty academic tome or an e-reader.

It is these personal relationships Ricoh will be exploring at the London Book Fair, April 8- 10, at Earls Court, London on stand R505. We will be showcasing a number of interesting applications and services aimed at helping publishers look at their markets in new ways. They are designed to enhance traditional publishing processes with numerous exciting and compelling services that deliver something extra, beyond print.

Bridging the online and offline worlds
One such technology is video books – where video screens embedded in a publication link to additional relevant content. On the stand will be two video-enabled booklets in action – an instruction book to train end-users and a promotion for teaching and learning resources.

Another is interactive Clickable Paper that bridges the printed page and the online world to provide immediate one-touch access to multiple online resources such as photos, video/multimedia, web sites, e-commerce portals and social networks. It extends the value of the printed page and delivers far-reaching added value to readers, the magazine publisher and advertisers. Adoptees include Barnwell Print which has enhanced books with value-added multi-media content. On stand Where to Fish in Norfolk will offer a real example of this in action.

We are also developing solutions that support the demand for information to be provided across a variety of media. Open Text Book Portal is an online service that enables organisations such as universities to provide students with access to textbook content in multiple formats including print, Word documents and ebooks.

Custom textbooks and Digitally Printed Books
Then there is our Custom Textbook initiative for the digital production of tailored textbooks.  For example the US, there is a large market for customised textbooks and we expect this to become a significant growth market in Europe, particularly with opportunities such as those presented by university professors that prefer to create their own specific course materials rather than rely on predefined textbooks.

Visitors will be able to learn more about these technologies and more by viewing an unmissable 42-inch touch-screen Electronic Learning Table providing access to detailed information, documents, examples and videos.

Of course there will be book printing examples too with some created especially for the show including The Cult of Porsche: In the Beginning. The book is designed to be a print experience ‘like no other’ using the very latest digital printing technologies and papers.

So drop by and see how to start a new chapter in your publishing strategy.

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Is Augmented reality about to take off?

I recall the days of watching sci-fi TV programs when I was younger and thinking that the technology they used was so far-fetched and impossible. It seems what I thought was good escapism also offered inspiration for large tech companies.

A number of so called ‘made up’ gadgets from these sci-fi programmes have now made it into our everyday lives. I remember watching how the cast would talk into portable telephone devices or glasses that projected images and voice recognition systems, some of these augmented reality features now come as standard in today’s smart phones!

What is augmented reality?
Augmented reality (AR) is a live copy, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented or supplemented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. AR is becoming increasingly popular, lending itself to training and quickly redefining how we educate youngsters today.

Forward thinking ignites the imagination
As technology develops it helps improve and introduce new ways of working. We are not far off from a world where holograms and 3D visuals will form part and parcel of our everyday world. Which is a good thing, as these technologies and augmented reality contribute in our everyday lives, they also help improve things.

A good example of AR in action is in adverts where printed text can have an extra dimension (using technology like Ocutag). With a quick scan of your smart phone, the advert or text will come to life, giving you more information and options instead of the 2D plain advert/ text.

So next time you are watching a far-fetched Sci-fi programme, just think, it could be predicting our future technology.

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Team Ricoh Winning Spirit – Week 7

On the 13th April a group of 10 Ricoh employees will take on the incredible task of running the Virgin Money London Marathon. Team Ricoh is made up of some experienced marathon runners and some first timers, all of whom clearly portray Ricoh’s ‘winning spirit’. They have undergone months of vigorous training and so to celebrate their on–going achievements in the run up to the marathon, we will hear from one runner each week. They will describe their training and experiences so far, their thoughts on the upcoming run and the charities they are supporting.

Week 7 – Ciara Stokes
I first came across the charity Delete Blood Cancer, when discussing blood donation with a friend, who happens to work for the charity as a fundraising manager. He suggested I get involved, so I did some research and discovered what an amazing cause it is and the fantastic things they do in the battle to beat Blood Cancer. Having no prior knowledge on the donation procedure, I had always associated with something very complicated and extremely painful, but it’s not like that at all. I was surprised, therefore, at the lack of stem cell donors that are currently on UK registers and so I decided that I didn’t want to just sign up but really wanted to support them through raising awareness and a monetary donation.

Since then, I’ve been looking for a suitable challenge to undertake to help raise money and increase awareness of this great charity. I choose running the London Marathon, as it will certainly be an incredible challenge for me. I find running particularly difficult, don’t let my long legs fool you; my body was definitely not made for running. Being a gym regular, I’ve always tried to keep fit but running has been an activity that I’ve always found difficult. Running for Team Ricoh has provided a team support I wouldn’t have had otherwise. The encouragement and motivation I’ve received from my team members has been amazing and has got me through many terrible days of training.

I’ve recently moved to London so my training has become a lot more scenic, so I’ve been lucky enough to complete my long runs around Regents Park and along the canals. My training plan has been two short runs in the week (three to five miles) and one long run at weekends. Currently, I have reach 12 miles in training, even with damaged knee cartilage and constant shin splints. Ideally, I would like to finish the race within five hours but I probably will go over this time as I don’t think I have done enough training to run to my full potential on the day.

I’m very excited about running the Marathon and the whole atmosphere of the event. My only concern is not making it to the finish line, or being swept up by one of those ‘clear up buses’ I have heard about!

Signing myself up to become a donor and doing my research about Blood Cancer as really made me want to encourage as many people as I can to support this great charity. Only a third of patients requiring stem cell donations find a suitable donor within their family, the rest have to rely on the UK register to find a suitable match. Currently it costs Delete Blood Cancer £40 in lab fees to process each person, as many donors opt out of paying the fees. I hope that the money I raise from running (or possibly crawling) to the finish line of the London Marathon will provide some small support.

So please give generously and help support their fight against Blood Cancer by becoming a donor –
https://www.deletebloodcancer.org.uk/become-a-donor/basic-information.html

Or visit my JustGiving page and sponsor my run –
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/stokesyc

Categories: Innovation | 1 Comment

Team Ricoh Winning Spirit – Week 7

On the 13th April a group of 10 Ricoh employees will take on the incredible task of running the Virgin Money London Marathon. Team Ricoh is made up of some experienced marathon runners and some first timers, all of whom clearly portray Ricoh’s ‘winning spirit’. They have undergone months of vigorous training and so to celebrate their on–going achievements in the run up to the marathon, we will hear from one runner each week. They will describe their training and experiences so far, their thoughts on the upcoming run and the charities they are supporting.

Week 7 – Sam Scarman
So this year I’m lucky enough to be part of Team Ricoh for the London Marathon 2014. This is my first attempt at running a marathon so I’m fairly nervous about how it is going to go as I have no idea what to expect. My main reason for applying was to get fit and lose some weight and at the same time raise money for a good cause. Having weighed myself at the weekend for the first time since December I have lost over 20lbs!!

I started training in December last year as soon as I found out I had a place and it has been very stop start since then. I have actually surprised myself with how dedicated I have been to my training. I was conveniently injured over the Christmas and New Year period with a foot injury. And I have also got an old knee injury that likes to make my life miserable when I get anywhere past 10 miles. I have just completed a 17 mile run to get me used to the extremely long distance but other than that I have just been doing a couple of 8 mile runs in the week with a long 12 – 14 mile run at the weekends. I’m looking to complete the course in less than 5 hours, hopefully.

I’m really looking forward to running around London, past all the famous landmarks, as well as speaking to other runners and sharing training nightmares and fundraising successes. A number of my friends that have taken part in previous years and they’ve all said what a great day it is, so I’m just hoping the weather stays nice and cool and the rain stays away. Fingers crossed everything goes perfectly. I’m a bit apprehensive as to what my body will do after the 17 mile point as it will be unknown territory, but hopefully previous injuries will stay as previous injuries and I won’t develop any new niggles along the way.

I’ve chosen to raise money for Gosset Ward at Northampton General Hospital. They are in urgent need of a new travel incubator and ventilator which helps support poorly newborns and premature babies. The work they do in Gosset ward is absolutely fantastic and having known close friends that have relied on the support of the staff and the equipment I’m determined to raise as much money as possible to help support their cause. If you can spare any money for this great cause please go to my virgin money giving page – http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/SamScarman

If anyone is thinking about applying for the marathon in future years I would definitely recommend it. The training has been tough but very rewarding and from my experience alone I can say that if you put your mind to doing something and stick to it, eventually things will pay off. I’m very privileged to be able to take part this year and am looking forward to showing off my medal when I finish!

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Team Ricoh Winning Spirit – Week 6

On the 13th April a group of 10 Ricoh employees will take on the incredible task of running the Virgin Money London Marathon. Team Ricoh is made up of some experienced marathon runners and some first timers, all of whom clearly portray Ricoh’s ‘winning spirit’. They have undergone months of vigorous training and so to celebrate their on–going achievements in the run up to the marathon, we will hear from one runner each week. They will describe their training and experiences so far, their thoughts on the upcoming run and the charities they are supporting.

Week 6 – Joshua Grundy
I used to enjoy takeaways sometimes up to seven days week; Monday was Chinese day, Tuesday Indian Day, Wednesday Kebab Day, Thursday Pizza Day and Friday was Fish and Chips day. If I was feeling particularly sorry for myself over the weekend then visits to McDonalds and KFC were also on the cards. It sounds absolutely ridiculous to me now, and it makes me feel quite sick recalling just how overindulgent I was.

Then things started to go very wrong. To cut a long story short I was faced with the decision to ‘get fit or get very, very ill.’ I chose the first option and have never looked back. I’ve now ridden a bike from London to Brighton and from London to Paris, doubled my personal strength records and have run a Marathon and I feel like a completely different person than I did all those years ago.

Last year was a massive step in my new fitness lifestyle, as it was my first attempt at the London Marathon. To be honest I could have trained harder, only achieving one 13 mile run and a couple of 10 mile runs before the big day. Not to make excuses but the snow really didn’t help with training both through physical difficulty of running through it and the minus temperatures! I didn’t spend enough time building strength in my knees and as a result injured my knee not long before the Marathon. All of these things resulted in a finish time of five hours and 28 minutes on the day which, I was only able to achieve thanks to the amazing crowds that gather across London and my amazing loved ones who travelled to London for the day.

This year is different, I’ve already ran more than four times as far in training as I did last year and have completed the Silverstone Half-Marathon in two hours and eight minutes. It has become abundantly clear to me that I wasn’t designed for running. My knees ache on a regular basis and sometimes I bend over to pick something up and can’t get back up again. After long training runs I can barely walk and I’m now down to just eight toenails. But I’m entirely focused on reducing my time by one whole hour, and no amount of blisters or bits falling off of me is going to stop me!

The charity I’m running for this year is SnowDrop. SnowDrop are an amazing charity that specialise in helping children with brain-injuries to realise their full potential and their results are truly staggering. The charity has many fantastic success stories and the website is a real uplifting read and I highly recommend people to go and have a look for themselves – www.snowdrop.cc.

I would really appreciate as much help as people can possibly give me so please support this amazing charity an sponsor my run by visiting – http://www.justgiving.com/josh-grundy1.

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