Elisha Kasinskas is the Marketing Director of Rochester Software Associated or in short RSA. RSA developed one of the very first web-to-print solutions more than 15 years ago dedicated to in-plants. In the conversation, Elisha Kasinskas explain some of the needs in-plants have and why RSA has focused on this particular segment. However, RSA does also produce software for the broader commercial print market – but listen to the conversation for your self.
As with all our ‘Over the Skype’ interviews, quality is limited to bandwidth, web-cams, and ability to literally LIVE mix the conversations. However, it works, and with Over the Skype, we will bring you more than 20 exciting people, and angles on the industry as it is right now.
This is Morten from INKISH TV. So we are here on the final recordings of today, unless breaking news comes across. You never know. And I’m here with my good friend, Elisha, from Rochester Software Association. Is that right, Elisha?
Elisha Kasinskas with Rochester Software Associates, yes.
Oh, that was almost correct. So tell me a little bit who you are and what you do.
All right. So I’m the Marketing Director for Rochester Software Associates, and that entails anything marketing that our firm does, so from interviews like this, to attending shows, working on our website, communicating with customers, managing the customer community, working some with our partners and our sales team.
So would you say it’s a fun job you have?
Oh, absolutely. And my favorite part is working with our customers. So I like to shine a light on their stories.
When I met you a couple of years ago, that was actually in one of Deborah Corn’s panel debates on … I can’t remember if it was a print show or graphics, but what I really liked talking to yours because I think that we share food passion, and you also go to see Lithuania from time to time because you’re married to a Lithuanian, and I think that what I really like about you also from a people’s perspective is that when I meet you at trade shows, you are always a smiling and a positive person. That doesn’t do anything bad to you when you talk to customers I guess, right?
That’s true. That’s true. So, I like to look at the positive. And there’s a Lithuanian artifact over here to my right, so …
When you say it’s an artifact, is something that you brought at home from your vacation when you were there or …
Yes, absolutely. It’s a mug.
Okay. Super. Every time I have asked you about working together, you always said that, “Yeah, but we don’t sell anything Europe. We are an American company, and I always respond to you, “Yeah, but we a global company.” So-
So I think that would need to establish a little bit, what kind of services and products do you offer?
Sure. So Rochester Software Associates has been around for over 30 years. We started as a company that handles data … Well, we’re digital workflow software. Started out as a company that manages and converts the data streams from data centers, so they can print on postscript printers. Our footprint is, and we have multiple product lines, our footprint is pretty much North America, and we sell almost completely through our partners, and we have very limited reach in Europe. We’re what a lot of people would call a niche player, but we’ve been around for, as I said, quite a while.
The other software that we have is Prepress Software. That’s probably our newest. Then we also have our web-to- print software that’s been around 14, 15 years. That’s just for implants. And then we also have our output manager.
Would you say that the products and service that you develop are mainly focused at implants, or do you serve a broader market also?
Well, so when I first started, we wanted to make sure everybody was very clear about our web-to-print product being implant-only. We feel we serve that market best. It was designed for that. In doing that, though, we’ve had so much emphasis on that, that I think people have started to think our other products are only for implants, and that’s not true. Our other products, our output management, Prepress, et cetera, all can be used by commercial printers as well and are.
Okay. But that is good. I’m a little bit curious about your web-to-print solution first. And then-
… I would like to talk about the other things afterwards.
When you say that you have developed, first of all, a print solution that is 15 years old, that is kind of a pioneering venture, I guess. The second thing that I’m a little bit curious about, when you focus on implant, is that because implants have different needs compared to commercial printers in relation to web-to-print?
They do, and how they use solutions. Repeat users, repeat ordering, they have workflows that are a little different in terms of approvals. The way they charge back for their work, some charge, some don’t. How they’re funded is a little differently, and then they need secure, very, very secure. We deal with some of the most secure entities out there, but also then single sign-on, if that isn’t too jargony, where it’s integrated with the other applications that are in an enterprise or a school or a university.
And when you have services where you, for example, have the single sign-on and things like that, does that require that you have a physical installation behind a firewall, or can you do it as a service as well?
Yes, we’ve seen a surge in the last number of years where we have people that we’re hosting. What’s different about our hosting solution is it’s not software as a service. Everybody has their individual instance, and that’s very secure, but it also provides flexibility. So that if you don’t want to upgrade for a particular release, or you want a time it just, for instance, as a school district upgrading over a summer, you could do that.
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And when you decided in the past to address that market specifically, was that because did you have some demands from specific customers, or was it because-
Okay, so it started out as a project for one customer, and then is grown from there.
Oh really? Okay. I was just guessing. Okay. So you have developed this web-to-print solution to be specifically for the needs that you just described.
I think that, from time to time, markets changing a little bit because sometimes there is a mantra that you should focus on your core business and outsource everything, and sometimes you need to insource everything. And I guess that you have been with implants. You have been through all the different management mantras during the past 15 years. So is your software capable of delivering both the web-to-print experience if also an implant is outsourcing, or is it only for internal print?
No, and that’s a really good question actually. We have a fair amount of integrations, including a recent one with a company called P3, where the implant can send some of their work out. And we’re actually getting a fair amount of demand with the situation we’re in right now, where people are … Customers are asking to be able to send work out, maybe because they have to, or they don’t have the staff right now. So that’s a very good question. Yes, they can certainly do that, and either manually or automatically, with the data coming back into WebCRD.
Okay. And when you look at … I’m not trying to be provocative, I’m just, because I’m curious about if you look at implant web-to-print solutions compared to the commercial ones, is it an easier market to address, or is it more difficult, or how do you see it? Is it as competitive as you see from the outside?
I think that depends on who you might ask.
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I [crosstalk 00:07:57] asking you.
Well, we were the first. So, there’s certainly some people that have entered the market since then. I would say it’s probably not as competitive as the commercial market. There are a lot of solutions out there. We certainly have some differentiators in terms of our security and the testing that we do, the knowledge base and how long we’ve done it, all the integrations that we do.
And it’s not just a standalone web-to-print. It actually does a lot of MIS functions, and then all the other products that we have that are integrated with it. So it’s complete workflow.
Okay. And what about, I think that one of the mantras you see on commercial web-to-print solutions right now is also that template-based ordering and variable data and all these kinds of things. Is that also something that you can accommodate?
Absolutely. You must be the reading what I write. We have multiple variable data print options, and that’s certainly a growing market for implants who are always looking to increase their value. We came out with our own variable data print last year, and we’re looking for another release imminently that will enhance their product even more, and it’s included. It’s free with WebCRD.
Super. Let’s talk a little bit about some of the other products you have because you said that you have some, was it workflow solution software that you also develop?
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Probably one of our first products after our data center transformation software, and that’s data streams coming typically from transactional print, and we see some of that now with switching to inkjet, was our output manager. That was one of our very early products. That’s kind of our, I’ll call it our secret weapon, our workflow, workforce, or workhorse. There we go, if I can say that.
That allows people to control, route, and manage. You can take in and adjust almost any kind of input. Then, depending on what your workflow is or your needs are, it can go to different printers. It doesn’t necessarily have to print. It can be output as an archive. It’s getting used a lot right now with people changing their workflows because they don’t have people in their shops, or they need to send them elsewhere.
So with the output manager, does that mean that you can take multiple inputs from databases and merge it into one stream so you can use the variable data in your production files, or how should I understand it?
Absolutely. So you may have, for instance, let’s take a government print center as an example. So they may have some transactional printing that’s coming from mainframes or from maybe network printing. So they may be printing unemployment checks. Then there may be letters and notices that have to go with that. There may be some things coming from … Some of them may have hospital systems, so there may be some HIPAA kinds of things happening, all sorts of sources coming in.
And then the output manager decides, based on what the item is and the printers that are online and the paper stocks that are there, and the printer that’s available, “Okay, where should it go? What’s the best printer for this job? What’s the best place for this to get printed?” And then output.
Whenever I talk to software people, and I listen to all the possibilities available, I’m always … And since you’re working in marketing, I really would like your input on it, because the more complex all these software solutions and services become, I think that it must be a … It’s a kind of leading question, but it becomes more and more a challenge to actually do the storytelling and the communication around these.
Yes, because there are so many different flavors and options, and it’s a very individual kind of depending on what the customer needs. I think the important thing is to have that conversation between the partner in RSA and the customer to understand what it is they’re trying to accomplish. Just replicating what they have using new equipment or new software isn’t always the best way.
No. And when you say that, because to being dependent on also on partners, I guess that even requires even more communications because you don’t … I mean, I guess that to create a demand for these service and products, you need to both understand the market and you get … I guess you get some input from your partners about what the demands from the market is.
Mm-hmm (affirmative), absolutely.
And I think at this at the same time you need to communicate back the service that they’re able to provide. But I guess that you try to influence the actual users and decision makers at the same time, in order to get that message across. How do you do that actually?
I do a lot of writing. We have case studies. We do webinars, white papers, trade shows. We we work closely with our partners where we may be in their booths. We’re doing some training programs with all of our partners that we’re about to launch something here in the next few weeks where we’re going to be educating them more about production workflow solutions so that they can recognize when there’s a need and an opportunity to help a customer, so just a variety of ways.
One thing is of course communicating to existing clients and customers, but to get that marketing message across to new prospects and find out how to get to them. I just think of it as a challenge, but that may be not so difficult or …
Again, it just depends on your viewpoint. Everybody would always like to reach more potential customers, right? So, I mean, in that case, it’s an advantage that we work with all the major production print partners because we have that many more people that can share our message. And interviews like this, especially since it’s global, help get that message out there.
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I don’t think it’s because it’s global. I think it’s because you’re so brilliant explaining things, so I thank you very much.
You are such a flatterer.
Always. So how is your company doing? Is it a good time for RSA, or what is your situation? Do you see growth and potentials in the market, or how is it going?
I think we look at the horizon. Short term we are there, and we have an advantage in that we’ve been deploying our solutions remotely. So this wasn’t a change for us in terms of, “Oh no, what do we do now?” So it was just all everybody’s working at home. Everybody’s very productive. We’re getting a lot of outreach from customers and partners where they have changes that they need to make to their workflow, either because there’s more work or they need to shift work. So, short term we’re working through all of that.
There aren’t as many people in the shops. So we’re addressing that through doing some training with our partners and taking the time to communicate and encourage customers to look at this as a time to get your workflow in order, deploy features you haven’t done yet, take a look at new features. So, short term, those are the kinds of things that we’re working on.
More medium term, Deborah Corn mentioned in her interview about being there when people are ready to come back.
Absolutely. I think people will be needing to be leaner. They will have smaller budgets. They’ll have created some new things that may stick or may not. And then longer term, until we get through this, I think it’s hard to accurately project, right?
Oh yeah, of course. But I really like your short-term, mid-term, and long-term assessment of what’s going on right now. But I was more thinking of a broader perspective of RSA’s market and how you, as a company, is doing, not so much related to the crisis, but more is it a growing market, or is it a stable market, or how do you see your own potential in the market?
Okay. It’s certainly a changing market. For instance, adding our Prepress software. That was a need that we saw a few years ago. And one thing I didn’t mention yet is all of our products universally print with ticketing to all the production printers. So that’s one thing that we have to keep doing is staying current and printer testing as new things come online.
So we are adapting. We’re not just sitting on our haunches and waiting for things. We’re out there and looking proactively for what’s the next thing. Adding our own VDP was something we felt was important and including it with the software or we have other options. So if somebody has something that is a little bit different, we can meet that need as well. There’s always more things in the pipeline. Some I can share, some I can’t.
Yeah, of course. Well, interesting. I’ve never seen … I think it’s maybe because I used to be a manager for an implant in Copenhagen actually.
Didn’t know that.
No, but that’s 20 years ago or something like that, so it’s been a while. And, at that time, that was way before web-to-print. I think it was at least for a LA company that was introduced via Xerox in Denmark at that time. And when I saw it, it was just crazy. And then if I had known you at that time or just recently after, then you would … You might have been … We could have been working together for a way longer time, Elisha.
Isn’t that just crazy to think of? And I actually recognize that there’s a big difference in the needs that an implant has, compared to a commercial printing company. So I think that you have given me, and hopefully also my audience, a great insight in some of the changes.
I just want to thank you very much for participating in this little session here. So thank you very much.
Thank you so much for including us in your interviews.
Of course. Take care.
Thu November 16th
Günter Thomas · Verpackung, Auswahl, Politi...
Navigating Challenges and Innovations in the Printing Industry: Insights from Andreas Weber and Morten Reitoft's Discussion with Günter Thomas Introduction This article offers an in-depth look at the printing industry's current state and future prospects, guided by a conversation with industry veterans Andreas Weber, Morten Reitoft, and Günter Thomas (GT). It highlights critical issues such as market challenges, innovation, quality, sustainability, and public perception in the context of the German printing industry. Section 1: The State of the Printing Industry The discussion begins with examining the German printing sector's struggles, particularly the impact of rising costs and stiff international competition. Günter Thomas points out the difficulties in transferring increased operational costs to product pricing. He also mentions the burden of political decisions on the industry, such as policies affecting electricity prices directly impacting production costs. Section 2: Innovation and Quality in Printing Thomas emphasizes the importance of innovation in maintaining high-quality standards in printing. The conversation discusses the need for closer collaboration between designers and printers to optimize potential outcomes. According to Thomas, the lack of such interactions hampers the industry's ability to double its knowledge sharing and advance collectively. Section 3: The Role of Packaging Printing The dialogue shifts to packaging printing, a significant and challenging sector in Germany. Thomas discusses how medium-sized companies struggle to keep up with global corporations' capital and scale. He notes that despite its challenges, the luxury sector remains a vital area of focus, especially in terms of quality and innovation. Section 4: Sustainability and the Future of Printing Sustainability is a central theme, with Thomas advocating for environmentally friendly practices in printing. He critiques the general demonization of packaging and urges the industry to demonstrate the beauty and necessity of printed products. He also highlights the need for the industry to consider the lifecycle of products, from production to disposal. Section 5: Engaging with the Public and Industry Image Thomas and Weber discuss the importance of enhancing the printing industry's public image. They suggest that the industry should more actively showcase its technological advancements and the intrinsic value of printed materials. The conversation underscores the need for the industry to step out of the shadows and assert its significance in the global market. Conclusion The discussion concludes with a call to action for the printing industry to embrace innovation, uphold quality, pursue sustainability, and engage more publicly. The industry faces significant challenges but also possesses the potential for growth and adaptation. The key to future success lies in balancing economic pressures with the drive for innovation and environmental stewardship, ensuring that the printing industry remains vibrant and relevant in the years to come.