Alex Joseph

Learning & Development Director , Ricoh

Supernova Award Category: 

Future of Work: Human Capital Management

The Organization: 

Ricoh is empowering digital workplaces using innovative technologies and services that enable individuals to work smarter from anywhere.

With cultivated knowledge and organizational capabilities nurtured over its 85-years history, Ricoh is a leading provider of digital services and information management, and print and imaging solutions designed to support digital transformation and optimize business performance.

Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group has major operations throughout the world and its products and services now reach customers in approximately 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ended March 2021, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of 1,682 billion yen (approx. 15.1 billion USD).

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The Problem: 

Historically, Ricoh’s core business focused on office printing, an industry in decline for decades as people print less due digital technologies, environmental concerns, and new ways of working. Over time, Ricoh’s 4,000+ print engineers and 90,000 employees have experienced a 36% workload decrease as a result. As offices around the world closed and countries went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the decline surrounding Ricoh’s enterprise printer business accelerated.
 As technology has evolved, Ricoh has adapted its business strategy and offerings to meet the needs of the digital future. As part of this evolution, Ricoh has provided upskilling and reskilling of employees, particularly those involved with new digital technologies and technical services roles. Ricoh has acquired over a dozen companies in the past 24 months, requiring adequately skilling its employees. Ricoh has been focused on three main areas of transformation: Digital Workplace Services (DWS), Digital Business Solutions (DBS), and Hybrid Infrastructure Services (HIS).

Ricoh challenged itself to create a learning culture and resources to quickly build a pipeline of future talent to support the organizational transformation from an Office Print business to a Digital Services company. Ricoh had been working to grow its business in digital services and industrial and commercial print prior to the onset of the pandemic, but the need became mission critical in 2020.

The Solution: 

Ricoh leadership invested in developing employees to adapt and avoid redundancies, working with Skillsoft to build technical & behavioral programs to fit Ricoh’s unique needs. Maiden was designed to upskill 4,000+ engineers and redeploy them in digital services support to complement the office print business. SCALA, a second program, prepares engineers to gain complex, hybrid infrastructure skills, secure certifications, and gain cutting-edge digital skills. Ricoh developed 3 service lines &a capability framework (basic-advanced) staged to upskill quickly. The L&D and Talent teams developed behavioral assessments & cognitive abilities to select strong candidates. These programs provide a model for the business to fuel future talent pipeline, business growth, and profitability; enabling the Service Engineers/Support to learn, share, and inspire; and HR to leverage existing programs and share, low-cost, effective programs globally to support the business.

The Results: 

An intensive campaign to attract target individuals ran for three weeks, with support of local HR and Marketing teams; including videos, all-staff emails, intranet banners, desktop backgrounds and an online SCALA Hub full of information, all of which was translated into multiple languages. Employees were highly receptive to the introduction of these learning programs and highly motivated to build new skills. Maiden, with 2,600+ participants, is successfully transitioning its participants to work on digital priorities. SCALA has made immense progress. It consists of a 9-month learning program which leads to individuals acquiring industry-recognized digital skills accreditations, such as Microsoft Azure, Office 365, SQL, Prince 2, and ITIL. The program is set up in three modules, each with a three-month duration. The first module is focused on digital awareness, while the second is focused on a specialization of the engineer’s choosing. In this module, candidates select a track and get a certification(s) and technical training. Following this, the engineers are placed in an assignment to assess their ability before final placement. With Skillsoft’s tools, Ricoh was able to move quickly and create highly customized programs and tracks. With the help of these programs, business is growing -- growth has been double digit for many customers. These are new areas of business growth, and the Ricoh team is confident that these new lines of business are the right choice.


There are 250 engineers enrolled in SCALA, and 2,600 in Maiden. For the initial Maiden implementation, 1% of these 2600 engineers shifted into the new business, leading to increased interest and engagement with the program and a current target of 100% of Office Printing engineers on track to start Maiden by December. To date, 74 certifications have been acquired. This program provides a competitive advantage for customers as they don’t have to outsource. Ricoh has been able to begin transitioning the focus of thousands of workers to include traditional printer work & new digital services. For SCALA, the key measure is placement success. The program started with 1-2 tracks and now has six with 9-10 different capability streams. The 250 of 600 engineers selected were split into two cohorts – Cohort 1 of 73 people, running from November 2020-July 2021 and Cohort 2 of 108 people, running from March-November 2021, with the remainder focusing on English Language training before beginning technical training. From Cohort 1, 5 delegates from the Office Print sector have been placed in new roles & are continuing personalized training paths in SCALA ahead of schedule. A further 40% of Cohort 1 already have new roles lined up. In addition, 70+ certifications have been earned to date. With the help of SCALA, there is a shared service area in South Africa that helps the US Ricoh division – something intangible without the program.

The Technology: 

Ricoh used technologies from Skillsoft and Cornerstone OnDemand. The Maiden & SCALA programs use Skillsoft’s Aspire Journeys to upskill with delivery on CSOD’s LMS. Skillsoft’s Digital Transformation collection was used in Module 1 for literacy, fluency, and essentials. Engineers learn Ricoh products from newly acquired companies in Module 2. Skillsoft created a custom Azure bootcamp to support the learner journey with CSOD before taking a certification assessment.

Disruptive Factor: 

With COVID-19 lockdowns, 12-15k staff were on reduced hours/furloughed requiring creativity to ensure safe and sustainable jobs. Launched in November 2020, Maiden and SCALA were very disruptive in reskilling, talent development, and in supporting redeployment. Ricoh had people apply directly for the programs versus manager nominations by managers, requiring strong sponsorship and change management as managers were reluctant to lose their top performing print engineers. To overcome this, Ricoh compensated the teams’ engineers were removed from during training by reimbursing their full salaries. This enabled local teams to stay on track despite losing a team member. Internal placement was difficult due to challenges of day-to-day business and managers undergoing significant change. The talent sourcing team helped deliver on placement requirements, working closely with L&D. It’s resource intensive, time critical, and focused on high quality, so extra effort goes into conducting interviews, supporting applications for new roles, and following through on qualifications and potential. Many engineers have been placed in their original business sectors, including printing, but with a new focus on leveraging AI and robotics to further innovation in printing. Based on these programs’ success, Ricoh is considering other areas of the business that could benefit from reskilling programs, such as sales.

Shining Moment: 

These programs were built for and by engineers. A former print engineer who transitioned to the learning design team knew what engineers needed to succeed. Many people in the business experiencing the decline were concerned about their future. A participant in the Scala program noted, “I felt like I was in a deep rut but now I have hope for the future.”  With a commitment to learning and development, Ricoh has made a truly positive impact for employees.

About Ricoh

Ricoh empowers digital workplaces with innovative technologies and services that enable individuals to work smarter from anywhere. Nurtured over its 85-years history, Ricoh is a leading provider of digital services and information management, and print and imaging solutions designed to support digital transformation and optimize business performance.