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Ricoh and IBM join together in Global Strategic Alliance

Issue #0901/3 – Almost a year on from the time when IBM began the process of divesting its printer sales interests, for the second time, to Ricoh (see ), IBM and Ricoh have announced a Global Strategic Alliance as a vehicle for tackling enterprise business printing issues.

This alliance brings together Ricoh’s hardware expertise and IBM’s IT management expertise specifically to address complex printing issues faced by enterprises. Workflow reengineering will be a primary target activity for the alliance, together with security and compliance issues. Benefits to customers should also include reduced Total Cost of Printing and the implementation of improved sustainability practices.

Other impacts of the alliance will include Ricoh being able to sell IBM’s Managed Server offering also to take a share in selling and implementing IBM software, hardware and services. Furthermore, the two companies will collaborate on Ricoh’s service oriented architecture for its MFPs. This is intended to allow greater integration of MFPs into enterprise environments, bringing hardware and workflow capabilities more in line with Xerox and other MFP manufacturers.

Services will be launched in the US initially.

Probably partly in response to the purchase of EDS by Hewlett-Packard, this alliance may represent an attempt by IBM to carve out a secure future for itself. IBM has been slipping further and further behind Hewlett-Packard as a global technology company over the past five years and to cement a solid relationship with a major hardware manufacturer provides a clear-cut means for IBM to increase its influence in the market.

Ultimately, a merger between IBM and Ricoh must now be seen as a possibility.

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