INKISH reports from GraphExpo 2015 in Chicago. In part two you’ll see a lot of software and among others meet EFI, Enfocus, Opensoft Scissorhands, Xerox and Printvis.
Graph Expo ’15 Part Two
It’s a great show. It’s a significant improvement compared to the previous years.
We have gotten some fantastic leads.
We love it. It’s been exciting for us, there’ve been a lot of people that have heard about us, that have maybe received some kind of information about our company and now for them to come over and meet us, to see the people behind the emails they receive.
I do refer to myself as the Intergalactic Ambassador to the ‘Printerverse’ and that’s where the whole alien theme comes from.
I’m Cristoph Clermont. I’m the Director of Development at the EFI ‘DirectSmile’ in Berlin. I’ve been with the company since many, many years. I’m one of the original founders of ‘DirectSmile’. We won two prizes here at ‘Graph Expo’ – the ‘InterTech Award’ and the ‘Must See ‘Ems’, which makes us quite proud and actually it’s a long way that we’ve invested many, many years in that across media, multi-channel marketing tool to enable printers to build a bridge from printing communication to any kind, which is in the Web, like email, to make postings, combined print with web and the other hand, most importantly make print measurable. So, to bring Print up to the same level like all the other Digital mediators, so that we can see how many people have interact, how efficient it was and to do all in a fashion, in an easy-to-do way that an average printer can start building that multi-channel, omni-channel campaigns, with their pre-press department.
‘EFI’ is the biggest competitor on the marketplace and we enjoy it. It’s kind of the old ‘David vs. Goliath’, but we pride ourselves on being a software company and not a sales company. We don’t make presses and software; all we do is focus on trying to have the best software on the market place. And then after the sale, we really try to focus on getting people live on a complete system.
We are showcasing the brand, new stuff, which we are releasing in October and this is a total, new aspect because on the one hand – the software makes it easy to build multichannel campaigns; on the other hand and that is the new stuff – as a printer, now you can even hand over a campaign to your customer to customize them. So, let’s say you’ve got a franchise customer with a bit different organization across the country – I can have one template and they can actually take that template, which could be a direct mail piece leading me to a landing page, having a survey and add it to that and to throw some email reminders and an SMS going to the sales team. They can have all that by click of a button, go in it, customize a content and run that campaign, which saves a lot of recurring work in changing designs and all that. So, that means it’s a huge advantage. It saves a lot of marketing expenses for the customer and especially when we look to the print space, there is no solution that allows to customize all that media in one easy-to-use tool.
‘PrintVis’ is a complete software solution and a complete MIS management system for printing and packaging companies. There are a lot of systems out there, that the people who are implementing that, have never been a press operator, they’ve never worked in a print company. We want to make sure that there is a commitment to the clients beyond just selling the system and then moving on. In software you’ve heard the term ‘Fire & Forget’, where people will go do something and then: “Well, too bad, thank you for your check, that’s not our problem”. We get to know our clients very, very well, they become friends and so it becomes very personal for us to make sure they are live and on a full system and that’s important to us, as a company. We’ve been in the United States now just at 3 years. So, it’s an exciting time for us and it’s such a gigantic market for us to come into, that it just makes sense to open an office in the U.S., so it’s been really, really exciting for us to be here.
I think it’s adoption rate of technologies by the printing industry which takes place more and more, year over year and it’s a very important fact that we need to look over our own borders and connect the print more and more to the Digital World – to the mobile phones we are all using every day and there are couple of technologies all towards that direction. I think that’s really important for the future of Print.
There are serious conversations going on there about what is the concern of the community. Talking to the people, I understand that they are more interested in, for example, in presses that do multiple things, that take multiple substrates, that they can use for multiple purposes, instead of having to have ten pieces of equipment for everything.
There is one trend, which for us is very obvious – it’s automation and the need for automation solutions for the printing industry.
We are very pleased, because there is a lot of new innovations and announcements here taking place at the show.
I’m Degory Valentine, I am Vice President of ‘Opensoft’. We are the creators of ‘Scissorhands’ and we have a few other products that we represent at the ‘Graph Expo’. This particular one was a ‘Must See ‘Ems’ for 2015, along with our product ‘DaVinci’. We have gotten some fantastic leads. ‘Scissorhands’ is integrated with both Pre-press, MIS systems and Cutting machines. We have gotten the solid context to help us develop our integrations much tighter with many of the key players in the industry. We’ve also gotten some great leads on building out our user base, as well. This machine is not actually what we’re selling. This particular machine is quite old – this is an Itotec Robocut, 115 cm cutter. Our solution is the touchscreen interface and a little circuit board which allows us to interact with JDF.
My name is Fabian Prudhomme, I’m the Vice President of ‘Enfocus’. We’re a software and technology provider in a graphic cards industry, so we cater to a commercial printers, publishers, advertising agencies, packaging companies, even insurance companies, with a number of software applications. It’s a great show. There is a lot of traffic, a lot of high-quality leads, a lot of decision makers and it’s a really good show for us. Here we are showcasing our 3 main product families – one is PitStop Pro and PitStop Server, which is our PDF preflighting and PFD editing software application. That’s what we are most widely known for, with more than a 100 000 users worldwide.
What we’ve done is we’ve augmented the Itotec with circuit board, which intercepts signal, such as when the blade and the clamp drops and we inject signals, which is the essence of how we can push a cut program to it. The computer that we’ve mounted to the machine interacts with the circuit board that we’ve added. When the operator scans a job or enters a job ticket number, we’ll grab MIS data and JDF data from the Pre-press systems and MIS systems, we’ll upload it to our Cloud server, where we mingle it with information about the cutting machine and about the customer’s packaging preferences and then we’ll make an optimal cut program and push that directly into the cutter’s working memory thus, immediately initiating the cutting program without any further user-interaction and just enter the job number. The net result is actually fewer cuts to finish the product.
We’re showcasing ‘Switch 13’, which is the latest version of our automation platform and then we’re showcasing ‘Connect’, as well, which is like having a Pre-press Manager on side with a Graphic file Designer.
What I’m showing you here is the circuit board that allows ‘Scissorhands’ to interact with our cutting machines. This is how we intercept and inject signals into your cutter. We have 3 different connectors, one of them is USB, some other serial kit boards, very familiar and this allows us to communicate between our computer and the essential components of the cutting machine. Rather than replacing hardware components of the cutter, we work with all of the cutter’s existing hardware and augmented behavior.
Well, ‘Switch 13’ is a new version which goes for the first time, a web browser-based interface, which totally changes the user experience of ‘Switch’. At the same time, we are here to talk about our subscription. We’ve launched subscriptions this year on PitStop Pro, which is our Preflight plugin application. We have over a 1 000 subscribers in a few months and this is really booming. So, these are the two things that we heavily talk about here at the show. Hopefully, we’ll keep growing the way we grow today. We’ve been experiencing double-digit growth over the past couple of years now, so migration of our technologies and also a wider, global coverage. We’re growing very strongly in Asia, in Latin America, so there is a number of regions that we’re focusing on without forgetting our mature markets, which are growing again, as well for a couple of years now.
I was trying to create a community that encompassed all parts of print, not just a specific user group for one specific type of printing, or a preference for a process. So, the ‘Printerverse’, like the Universe encompassed everything and then, I like a theme, so I just went with it. I actually was an Advertising Agency Print Production person. I came up through Advertising for 25 years, started in Advertising Traffic, went up to Director of Production and after series of events that caused the advertising industry to have some shrinkage, let’s say, I was looking for work and I was networking with people, but I actually had run out of resources to find connections, so I’ve started a LinkedIn Group called Print Production Professionals in 2009. In the beginning, it was just a couple of people in there and it was basically for other production people, printers, designers, creatives, hiring managers and a place where people basically people connect to find work, but it’s slowly grown and right now in 2015, it’s a number one printing group on LinkedIn and it almost has a 90 000 members.
Pretty much to me, printing is a craft and if it was up to me, my mission I would say is to provide information and resources to the Print and Integrated Marketing Community, with a little fun in the mix. And this space for example, at ‘Graph Expo’ is here to provide print inspiration, information, with a little bit of fun. So, really what I find my mission is, is to help tell the stories of the community to inspire others to do great print, to help them learn about the tools to create great print and to keep printing an Art form, not so much shifting to the commodity that it’s really becoming.
Some people don’t get it immediately, but once they understand that the community that I am part of and that I also serve, I refer to them as the Influencers. They might not be the people writing the checks, but they are the ones who are influencing those checks to be written. They are the ones attending Webinars, they are the ones reading the Blogs, they are the ones on Social Media, they are the ones who are reading the Industry trades and then in the meetings when they go to their bosses and they say: “Look, we go to the Graph Expo or we go to the Show, or we are missing this equipment, we could make more money if we look into it”, it’s because they’ve received information from the people. The Alliance members are very happy to directly address the community versus using this as a PR moment; I mean there is plenty of PR moments for them, this is a chance for them to directly connect with their customers and potential customers. I actually created all the panel topics myself with some help, tweaking after from my team and when I do the panels, I might ask one or two questions that I want to ask, because I also have an agenda of making sure a certain information gets out there and basically it’s from understanding what the community is interested in, because I’m the part of the community. I host a Print Chat every week on Twitter, it gets about anywhere from 6-8 million impressions for the chat and there are serious conversations going on that are about what is the concern of the community.