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How Ricoh and Cybozu Joined Forces to Revolutionize Work through Cloud-Based Business Improvement Solutions

RICOH kintone plus supports digital transformations worldwide

Ricoh and Tokyo-based software company Cybozu jointly developed Ricoh kintone plus, a cloud-based business improvement service. This innovative service integrates Cybozu’s customizable workplace platform with the RICOH Smart Integration (RSI) platform, which provides cloud-based apps and document workflow integration across devices. This offering has empowered numerous customers to streamline their operations effectively since launching in October 2022.

Ricoh brought RICOH kintone plus to the United States in 2023. It plans rollouts in Central and South America, elsewhere in Asia, and in other regions. We spoke with Ricoh’s Junichi Fujisawa, Teruhisa Hirakawa, and Shohei Tanaka to learn what led to the creation of this product and how it will change how people everywhere work. Fujisawa heads the RICOH kintone plus team as leader of Application Planning Group of the RICOH Digital Services business unit. Hirakawa and Tanaka oversee overseas deployment and product planning.


Strengthening collaboration: Ricoh and Cybozu unite in a shared commitment to enhancing worker experiences

Before joining forces with Cybozu to create RICOH kintone plus, Ricoh sold kintone as a partner of that company. Fujisawa attributes this collaboration to shared visions between the two companies. He explains, “Cybozu’s mission focuses on fostering a society rich in teamwork, while Ricoh is dedicated to delivering Fulfillment through Work. The strong synergy between Yoshihisa Aono, president of Cybozu, and Yoshinori Yamashita, former president of Ricoh, paved the way for the development of RICOH kintone plus.”

Junichi Fujisawa leads the Application Planning Group

The collaboration between the companies is significant for its potential to transform how small and medium-sized businesses operate in Japan. These businesses account for most of the domestic economy. Notes Fujisawa, “Small and medium-sized businesses lag big corporations in digitalizing their operational processes. By offering RICOH kintone plus to our customers in Japan, we can contribute to overall efforts to digitalize the entire nation. We believe that we can also benefit Ricoh Group customers worldwide with this tremendous service.”

Since advocating office automation in 1977, Ricoh has developed multifunctional printers and other offerings to help customers streamline their businesses. RICOH kintone plus is an outstanding solution for the digital transformation challenges of many companies because it is paperless and user-friendly. Says Fujisawa, “We concluded that collaborating with kintone creator Cybozu would be better than developing our own solution in-house to deliver services faster to our customers. That’s because Cybozu has a large domestic market share and has a very loyal customer base.”

Improving business with Ricoh’s unique features and robust customer support

Shohei Tanaka says that, “Ricoh kintone plus comes out of the box with Ricoh-developed applications and plug-ins that are really handy. And by combining RSI with a range of products from other companies we can deliver end-to-end business improvement services for workflow that you can’t get from stand-alone software.”

Shohei Tanaka looks after product planning in the Application Planning Group

Ricoh’s strengths in providing RICOH kintone plus are its global customer base of 1.4 million companies and its support capabilities. Notes Tanaka, “Ricoh kintone plus is a business reform application, so it is important to ensure it matches customer requirements. Ricoh’s sales and engineers intimately understand those business needs because they support customers locally. We can tailor RICOH kintone plus to frontline realities so customers can improve their operational workflows efficiently.”

Making work improvements gratifying by providing Fulfillment through Work

RICOH kintone plus uptakes should contribute to process digitalization for customers and the Japanese economy as a whole. While a lot of customers have deployed enterprise systems, many have yet to digitalize the business processes around them. This is partly because budgetary constraints often hinder the adoption of business process-specific tools.

Says Tanaka, “RICOH kintone plus offers the versatility to manage an array of business operations with a single tool. We are confident that that digitalization will streamline business processes and information sharing and contribute to the growth and competitiveness of individual companies. It should also do much to drive the digital transformation of work across organizations in years to come.”

Tanaka says that, “Customers who have already deployed RICOH kintone plus have found it gratifying to improve their business operations. We frequently receive feedback from companies that initially struggled to roll out in-house systems but after refining their business processes have enhanced internal work climates and communication, driving better teamwork. That aligns with Ricoh’s commitment to Fulfillment through Work. After successfully addressing one business challenge, many customers extend similar improvements to other operations or departments.”

Making work better everywhere with RICOH kintone plus

Ricoh is deploying RICOH kintone plus globally to contribute to working better everywhere. It released this offering in the United States in February 2023 and in Latin America in January 2024. The company plans rollouts down the track around Asia and Europe.

Teruhisa Hirakawa observes that, “In overseas markets, although differences exist because of local business practices and regulations, the imperative to tackle outdated processes through digital transformation mirrors that of Japan. Companies worldwide need to improve efficiency by adapting applications to align with their operations.”

Hirakawa adds that, “The Ricoh Group’s mission and vision is to deliver Fulfillment through Work. We believe that introducing Ricoh kintone plus to overseas markets goes beyond merely providing a service with a strong market presence and recognition in Japan. It represents a major step toward fulfilling our global aspirations. We aim to extend our expertise in sales and successful problem-solving solutions from Japan to overseas markets, to make work fulfilling everywhere.”

Teruhisa Hirakawa looks after global product planning in the Application Planning Group

The developing RICOH kintone plus has involved teams in Japan and abroad. Hirakawa is deeply committed to enhancing business efficiency through global digitization efforts while addressing the specific needs of overseas markets. He says that, “Our customers in the United States, where we have introduced our service, have provided exceptionally positive feedback. We are establishing a system for local development, allowing us to promptly address local requests and requirements, such as integration with local systems.”

For Hirakawa, who has played a key role in Ricoh’s international deployment efforts, one of his greatest satisfactions comes from hearing users in diverse countries express appreciation for business improvements. He says that, “It excites me to imagine receiving gratitude from customers across different nations. While overseas deployment presents numerous challenges, I am committed to doing my best to keep receiving valuable customer feedback.”

Seeking to make RICOH kintone plus fundamental to improving businesses

In addition to overseeing product planning, Tanaka also leads deployment efforts across Latin America and Asia. During a recent regional feedback initiative, he witnessed firsthand the strong demand for RICOH kintone plus. He recalls, “When we presented proposals in Latin America before the launch, over 70% of the customers we met expressed immediate interest in using RICOH kintone plus. This experience reaffirmed that digital transformation challenges are universal.”

Tanaka also finds it challenging to develop emerging markets in Latin America and Asia. The response to the new service has been very positive and exciting in these dynamic and demanding emerging markets. He says, “I’m eager for companies in emerging markets to enjoy using RICOH kintone plus to enhance their operations. It would bring me great joy if this service contributes to business successes, fosters economic development, and helps realize a sustainable society where job satisfaction and economic growth sit side by side.”

RICOH kintone plus is already making great strides in enhancing operations across various domains, with its functions continually evolving. By further enhancing the integration between RICOH kintone plus and RSI’s database, the potential for leveraging advanced data to enhance customer success initiatives and product capabilities becomes even greater. Ricoh aims to deliver added value that it tailors to customer needs while also developing features to improve usability, such as AI-driven technology to optimize business applications.

Fujisawa emphasizes that, “RICOH kintone plus is a tool to enhance both the gratification and efficiency of business operations. We seek to make it more user-friendly not just by introducing new features but also by streamlining the application creation process.” He aims to enrich functionality by establishing a seamless ecosystem through collaboration with diverse partners, including Cybozu.

The product planning team aims to establish RICOH kintone plus as a standard tool for companies worldwide.

Fujisawa envisions, "We want companies to seamlessly integrate RICOH kintone plus in workplaces much like multifunction devices and printers have become standard office fixtures since the era of handwritten documents. We aim to foster a mindset in which people instinctively turn to RICOH kintone plus for their needs rather than considering the installation of a new system. I would be delighted if we could cultivate a global environment where RICOH kintone plus drives business enhancements, with people exchanging ideas worldwide and deriving satisfaction from collaborative work.”

Ricoh has geared its cloud-based business improvement services toward fostering digital transformation for customers. The company is poised to revolutionize work in line with its commitment to Fulfillment through Work.

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