Giving Shape to Ideas

Meet New Executive Officer

Keeping ahead of the competition by being first with new ideas and staying innovative

Richard K. Taylor
Executive Officer
CEO, Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc.

President and CEO of Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc., Richard Taylor, shares his perspective on how to keep the company on track as a key innovator and industry leader by being innovative in all areas of corporate operations, from business strategies and employee education to creating new values that will drive growth and profitability in the future.

Richard K. Taylor
Executive Officer
CEO, Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc.


Richard Taylor is the first non-Japanese executive officer appointed at Konica Minolta, Inc. His career began at a well-known brand in the industry, after which he moved on to high-level positions at major competitors before joining Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc. in 2008, where he recently became president and CEO. His leadership is an integral part of the company’s strategies and global growth policy.

What is driving Konica Minolta’s growth in the North America today?

Introducing new services and a motivated vertical sales force.

The key word for us is “services.” What services we can provide that really make a difference to the customer and really change the way they look at us. This is done by carefully listening to them, and the market in general, and gathering information vital for developing new products and services, and improving current ones.

Important is to provide services in a way that leaves a lasting impression, one that makes the customer feel good about choosing Konica Minolta as their provider. This is the foundation of building customer loyalty, which is the seed for sustainable corporate growth.

The way people think of Konica Minolta when they see or hear the name is changing. They no longer simply relate it to a manufacturer. We are a full-service provider, providing services to multiple industries.

We often talk about The Road to Tier One. I made reference to my perspective of it at a conference three years ago. I spoke following the keynote speech of my good friend Yamana-san, president and CEO of Konica Minolta, Inc. My message to everyone was, To get to Tier 1, we must change who we are competing against. We shouldn’t be competing with other companies in the multifunctional peripherals business, we should be competing against the best companies in the world, like Apple and Starbucks.

Fast-forward to today, the Forbes 500 List of 500 Best Companies to Work for in the U.S. listed us at No. 132. So we made the top 500 list for the first time, and there is nobody else in our business sector on this list of who’s who of U.S. business. This is no small accomplishment, and that achievement started out by having engaged employees. Employees that understand and believe in what the company is doing and reflect it in their work. That is what our customers see too.

Our salespeople have always been exceptional at customer relations on an individual basis. But the transition to selling IT-based services has changed the technical aspect dramatically. We have therefore introduced a team sales approach where each member apply their special expertise. For example, there is a leader who handles the relationship aspect, a vertical market member who understands the customer’s business and speaks the language. Depending on what a customer’s needs are, we bring in professional resources with great credibility and expertise, and fully networked with references.

Once talented generalists, we could sell anybody a multifunctional peripheral system. But now our sales representatives are each knowledgeable in a specific industry, and are trained to understand the business environment in that field.

So, a big part of our success has been educating our workforce. In the U.S., if employees need a skill set they don’t have to advance in the company or want to learn more for personal development, we offer them the opportunity to do it. We also offer an executive education program through a third party that we partner with. It’s a very credible source that does leadership. Probably more than 500 people have been trained through them so far.

In what ways are you using these highly skilled employees to transform the company?

They are now capable of communicating with customers on the same level,
showing them that we understanding their needs.

Traditionally, the customer purchased a machine and their satisfaction was based on how well the machine performed. However, customers now have diverse needs that need to be met simultaneously. Many times they rely on us for 24/7 support to maintain business operations.

One aspect our sales teams also raise questions to ensure that the customer has fully thought out the request and is not missing anything, such as, “Can we help you in this area of workflow?” This type of special attention is effective in expressing our expertise and showing concern for covering all aspects of the service.

So as we start investing in contacting that customer during the service lifecycle, first of all they become much happier because we didn’t cut off communications after the sale and wait until renewal to contact them again. Secondly, we are given the opportunity to propose another one of our products or services, at which time we become increasingly more valuable to them.

As part of the corporate transformation we’re undergoing, we now utilize what has come to be called a “hybrid sales strategy.” This involves combining the strengths of our multifunctional peripherals with IT services.

The entire customer engagement thing, focusing on the customer, is an ongoing process. It’s a proactive approach to the customer, not reactive. In the past, we were a very reactive business. Now we are proactive, seeking ways to help customers, sometimes before they know they have a problem. They don’t even know they have the problem, but you’re looking around and see some file cabinets, and say, “Can you really find important documents easily…, and are they safe?”

How has the acquisition of All Covered served to fuel growth and create competitive advantages?

It opened the door for involvement in the area of ICT infrastructure, complementing our new
business growth strategy and keeping us ahead of competitors.

About six years ago we were looking for businesses that would complement our growth strategy and make us invaluable to the customer. One area that we lacked specialization in but felt we could market successfully to customers was IT management.

This required us to bring more specialists into Konica Minolta, so we embarked on a strategic acquisition program, acquiring some 40 companies, including All Covered, one of the largest. Our stance was, if we acquired the best of breed in local areas, expand operations nationally, regionally, and then globally, we would distinguish Konica Minolta from the competition.

Fortunately, the president of All Covered was very interested in our plans when we acquired the company, and he came along as part of the package. In the IT business, people move around between companies a lot. So when we were able to keep senior management in a business completely different from ours—literally a different culture—the blend was both interesting and challenging, but it’s really worked for us.

By the way, this year All Covered was named one of the top 10 MSP providers in the U.S., and No. 11 in the world.

Has your appointment as Konica Minolta’s first non-Japanese corporate executive benefited U.S. operations in any way?

Having direct access to the home office shortens the decision-making time and globalizes our potential.

We receive amazing collaboration from the global headquarters, and our dreams wouldn’t become reality without it. We definitely make decisions faster than a majority of our U.S. competitors. And now I have an even closer relationship with Yamana-san, so there’s no excuse to not get information to someone quickly, which in my opinion, shortens the decision-making time.

The universal aim of the Konica Minolta Group is to become a truly global organization. With that as our goal, we must get as much accurate input as possible from those who are closest to the customer, and our customers are all over the world. I believe one of my obligations in view of my position is to ensure good information flow, making it as open and honest, and as customer-centric, as possible. Hopefully that’s something that we can globalize, and other people across our global organization will use.

All of this requires staying ahead of the game and being the first to know what the next big thing is. This is where the investment in our Business Innovation Centers will pay off and create value. Even so, we believe that our U.S. operations, in view of its size and the complexity of the market, is obligated to provide leadership globally. In relation to this, I believe my appointment as the first non-Japanese executive officer of Konica Minolta, Inc., which is a huge honor for me, comes with the personal obligation to do everything I can to make that happen. Since we have proven that good ideas can come from any of Konica Minolta’s worldwide operations, we’ll certainly be asking for ideas from everyone and working to globalize them.