Over the last decade, the way in which customers have used Konica Minolta's products has changed dramatically. In the past, photocopiers, printers and fax machines all operated as separate, and often stand-alone, machines. Today, however, many of these functions have been combined to provide single machines capable of faxing, photocopying and printing. In addition, these integrated products now form an integral part of an office's communications network.
"These changes have led to what we refer to as an increase in digitisation, networking and connectivity across our entire product range," explains Paul Johnston, Technical Systems and Solutions Trainer, at Konica Minolta. "The traditional service scenario for analogue printers, photocopiers and faxes was characterised by a limited number of known factors, predictable error potential and the maximum risk of one irreparable machine. Nowadays, when machines are integrated into the IT infrastructure, the service scenario is much more complex and there are an unlimited number of unknown factors including unpredictable error potential and, in the worst case, the possibly of a complete network failure. It was therefore essential that we made technical training a top priority for all our sales and service representatives."
In order to ensure all its direct sales force and dealer partners remain completely up to speed on the latest networking and digital technology, Konica Minolta invested in a new training academy in Milton Keynes, where groups of up to 20 delegates learn how to install, integrate and maintain the company's products, thereby ensuring end-users continue to receive a high standard of customer service and post-sales support.
The intensive three-day courses run back-to-back throughout most of the year, giving very little time between sessions to remove work from the PCs in the training labs and re-install a specifically-designed set of files and applications for the next set of attendees. When the academy first opened, this task took more than four hours, which meant that having to come in early in the morning or stay late in the evening in order to have the systems set up in time for the next course.
Paul Johnston decided to look at ways to reduce this re-installation headache and, after examining a number of approaches, discovered that disk imaging might be the best way forward. Disk imaging would create a single master image of all the files, system settings and applications that could be installed by CD onto each PC in a fraction of the time. Although the theory was sound problems were encountered when testing several pieces of disk imaging software.
As Paul Johnston notes, none of the solutions that were initially tested delivered the levels of stability or reliability required. "This was the case with several well-known brands including Symantec's Ghost product," recalls Johnston, "and it was with a great deal of frustration that we returned to our original method of a manual system restore and the apparently never-ending prospect of early mornings or late nights."
At that point, it was suggested that the company tested Acronis Snap Deploy, a comprehensive deployment solution that enables IT organizations deploy or restore laptops and desktops quickly and easily. Snap Deploy creates an exact disk image of the standard configuration, including the operating system and all applications. It can also deploy that image to multiple systems simultaneously, making it ideal for rapid bare-metal installations.
"I remember thinking I'd give disk imaging one more shot and if this software didn't work, I'd have to look for a different way to solve our problem," comments Paul Johnston.
Fortunately, after familiarizing himself with the Acronis Snap Deploy software, Johnston was able to create a master image that could be used to quickly and easily reformat each of the 20 PCs in the training labs. With Acronis Snap Deploy, the time required to complete this task was cut in half while the images were 100 per cent accurate.
Paul Johnston has been extremely impressed by Acronis Snap Deploy, and has been able to remain much more focused on his core job of providing trainees with the best learning environment possible. "This," as Paul Johnston notes, "means that instead of worrying about when we're going to find time to carry out the system resets, we can concentrate completely on ensuring our attendees know how to deliver first class installation and post-sales support."
Acronis is a global provider of affordable, scalable storage management and disaster recovery software that helps enterprises and SMBs safeguard their information and assures the availability, security, integrity and recoverability of their infrastructure. Acronis' patented disk imaging and disk management technology have won broad industry acclaim for data protection, backup and recovery, system deployment, and migration for both physical and virtual servers. A global company, Acronis has offices in the United States, Europe and Asia and sells its products both direct and through enterprise distributors and resellers.
About Konica Minolta
Konica Minolta Business Solutions is one of the UK's leading document solutions companies, providing cutting-edge digital multi-functional and printing appliances including photocopiers, printers, fax machines. It has a network of direct sales and service centres across the country and over 130 independent full-service dealerships.