Beyond printing technology innovations a lot of great things happened in the last two decades since the year 2000. Jacob Aizikowitz, founder and til June 2019 President of XMPie, became a pioneer and visionary for print in the digital age. His topic was always to synchronize or align print and digital communication, what we call today cross media or omnichannel.

Andreas Weber, CEO of INKISH D-A-CH, picked-up Jacob’s current article on ”Why is Print Not Frequently Used in Enterprise Marketing?“, published by American Printer end of October 2020, to set up a great conversation.


So this are the topics to talk about:

There is a big gap between the print industry’s praising of print’s value and the reality of print’s infrequent use by enterprises’ marketing. — What makes you think that?

Does personalization and customization may have different meanings to technology providers, printers and marketeers? If so, what could we do to solve the dilemma?

At least: is omnichannel a linear-organic further development of direct marketing? Or is it more or less a disruptive approach, as things change completely for enterprises?

Which areas/markets in the world are ahead or behind?
Do PSP’s already use omnichannel for their own purpose?

And finally something personal: thinking back 20 years ago, would you have expected things to turn out the way they did? Or could it have been different?

As always in those COVID-19 times we had to use Skype to set up the conversation between Jacob’s home town Haifa, Israel, and Frankfurt am Main, Germany, where Andreas lives and works. So apologize if there is any disturbance caused by weak bandwidth etc.

LinkedIn Profile:

Hello dear friends of INKISH. Today I have an international guest – Jacob Aizikowitz. And therefore we switch to English. So hello Jacob! You are actually in Israel. And how are you today?

Oh, thank you. Hello, Andreas. It’s great to see you. Quite a long time that we have met. So at least virtually. I’m fine. I’m very well. Everything is fine. Nice sunny day. So it’s ok.

That means you are in a good mood. And that’s great because we have an interesting topic to talk about today. And it’s your passion. It’s all about cross media, omni channel. And also print is always involved in your world. And you identified that the print industry has a totally different understanding of the value of print. Then they are potential customers, the marketeers on the enterprise marketing side. What makes you think that?

Well, it’s first of all, what I presented in this article is… Think of it as a hypothesis. It’s not like research or statistical checking that I’ve done. But what I see is that the experts from the print industry are continuing to publish and to promote all the different aspects that print has value.

It’s tactile. It’s something to hold in your hand. You cannot just throw it away. All of these good things and and even people that are very much in the digital age, when they see print, they see that it’s valuable. But and by the way, we are talking about print that is great even personalized. OK? And so the print industry continues to promote this message.

And what I see is that on the other side, the CMOs, their staff, the marketing executives. They’re not necessarily embracing print at the same level or the level that would match the value of print as presented by the print industry. So the thesis I am coming up with in this article is leaving for discussion and saying: Look, education, communication and explanation, all of this is important. But maybe there is something else. And so my article is about the fact that maybe there is something else and there’s something else in my mind. It is that the way people handle print for personalization. I’m talking about marketing application. I’m not talking about plain, simple transactional things. So the way people handle print for these applications in most cases is very different from the way they’re handling the digital media. And that’s thesis of this documents. I’m trying to say: Look, all of these marketing executives, they are being bombarded by experience, customer experience, journeys and touch points. And they call it also omnichannel. But in their mind, it’s all in the digital domain. In the digital domain. Everything is online. Everything is full now-to-now, everything is connected. It’s very easy to move from an email to a landing site to a SMS – to integrate into it an application. But when you come to say: Hey, I want to introduce print into the mix – because I read that print is valuable. I heard about it. Someone told me that in most cases, not all cases – you are actually challenged. Because it’s a very different workflow. So different, very different practice. In many cases not connected to your set to the same data. So it’s becoming something very different. So I’m saying: Look, I believe that because of that, we see less embracement of print. Then we would have seen or what we should have seen given the value of print.

And that’s the thesis of the paper. I don’t have research on that. I’m sayin: Hey, guys, what do you think about it? And you can say that I am coming to it from my experience with XMPie. So there is a XMPie story here.

But I wrote it independent.

So then that means that the print community and the marketing community, they live a little bit in different worlds. Even if they have a lot of touch points. Because to run a print shop business today is driven by digital transformation. It is driven by smart factory approaches. It’s driven by automation. So it’s not a purely analog business anymore. What do you think is the reason? You described the gap. But what do you think is the reason? Do we have different definitions of what is personalization, customization or however you will name it.

Well, wait a minute. So I’m not sure that we have a different definitions. But the example that you mentioned about the printshop. When you and I, we know several print shop businesses. We know them all and well. And what we know together is that people are also XMPie customers. And you can see that those that are leading, they know how to put together the print and the digital media into one holistic experience. And they can offer it as a program to their customers. And you see some examples like that. And this is exactly the counter case. In other words, this is an example where print and digital interact in the same type of workflows and deliver the value of print together with digital. Not one instead of the other.

The question is whether when the CEO of some enterprise or some brand thinks about customer experience management. When they think about omnichannel. When they think about journeys, about touch points. Most of the time they think of this as a complex of things in the digital space.

They don’t introduce print to their thinking. And I believe that the reason that they are not doing it is because they think print is difficult or complex, of course, expensive, etc. So the people from the print shops or from the service providers. They must sell print and digital under a framework that allows them to play them as equal citizens in the mix. They do it. But it’s not enough. You need to have the enterprises embrace this and say: We want it. And we can do that because it’s not like creating something that is very foreign to everything else that we do in the digital space.

That’s interesting to hear. So because I think one point is marketeers – they are not tech savvys. And they do not want to deal to step deep into technologies. And what they want is they want to have results. And they want to have a better go-to-market approach. And what do you think could be a good performance promise from the printers side? Because you mentioned normally people think: Oh print is expensive and so on. But on the other hand, print is more effective. So even if you have to invest more money or maybe also more time to set up a campaign. It creates a higher revenue, a higher profit for everybody. What do you think is a good performance promise printers should articulate and tell to the enterprise world?

So. So let me answer this question.

But before that, I want you to maybe give you something from my past experience to explain why do I think that there is this gap between the print industry and the enterprises. And it’s just an example. And then I go back to your question. The example is from the early days of starting up XMPie. Where we came from being very much involved with digital printing. But the minute we stepped out and took a broader view, we had a chance to do it because we were now on the task of maybe creating something new. We can talk with the people in the Internet world. So this is like the digital space. Think about the year 2000, 1999 – and over there you have personalization, you have color. You have a very creative staff. You have all of these things. And the print industry is talking about their problem, the own problem in the print industry. Not relating to the fact that the world around them has changed dramatically.

And so this was one of the triggers for us to start XMPie and to try to say: Look, we have to put digital and print together under one framework. And one of the things in this article that I wrote, is that there are certain things that I think should be addressed in order for the enterprises to embrace the value of print.

So now we go to your question.

And I think that the examples that I see that we are successful. They are examples where the leaders or people in the print industry are talking about the providers of services. Small or large. Those that have the right technology, they were able to speak to the enterprises in their language.

They were able to talk with them about programs, about plans, about something that will end in so called journey’s, ongoing experience. Going from email to landing sites, to postcards, to follow up emails and offer such programs.

And that broke the ice. In other words, the people on the enterprise, they were able to see the value of print. Which they believe is valuable. But they were able to see it in the context of today and it is their main thing. So we talk about CXM. For sure – they understand CXM. If you would like to tell them that print, done in the old fashioned way, disconnected, offline media, preprocessing, prepare a lot of preparation before you do anything, to say: Well, OK, but it’s not connected. So those that were successful, those that I’m aware of – one of them is offering (inaudible). I mean, they were able to take the technology that they have and in their case, it’s XMPie. But maybe there are others. And offer programs to the enterprises that are in their language, in their concept, in the context of the new digital space. And print was one element in the Polka. So I think that’s the story. The story is that print should be able to talk…printers should be able to talk to enterprises in the CXM, in the experience, in the journeys language. And stop talking about it in the old fashioned way. Or even, you know, talk about web-tp-print, it’s important. But it’s not necessarily breaking the ice.

That is interesting because I think the printers, they talk about what I call the “what” and not the “why”. That means they present always what they can do and how they do it. But when I got you right, your point is: Identify the needs in the enterprise world because printers, you know, they have what I said before…They have integrated the digital to their print world and the daily business they are doing. On the other hand, the enterprises, they are purely digital. And they separated print. Maybe they do it. But then they do it for mass customization. But they are not aware that they also can integrate print in that world of mass customization. Let’s call it like that.

I believe that they are aware that they can integrate print. But what they are aware of print is that it’s done in a different way. Yeah. If you plan a journey and one of the touch points is a place where you, at that point, you will send the emails to a collection of people. And it’s a very simple decision. And the implementation is straightforward. If you want to do exactly that same touchpoint. But instead of e-mail, it’s postcards, then it’s a different story. Oh, we need to go to the print buyer. We need to see the project, who will do it. It’s a different thing. So if I were the CMO and people tell me: Yeah, there is value in print. But this is a different process. Immediately I translate it in my head to: it’s arcane, it’s costly, it’s complex. And you know what? I’ll avoid it. This is an important hypothesis. I’m not talking about statistical research, ok? So I’m just presenting it for discussion.

And do you think this complexity is still given? When I go back many years for sure, the technology was not that advanced like we have it today. And when I got it right also from the last XMPie conferences and XMPie user group meetings. I saw that automation and also integrating social media is happening on the fly. So is there more work and a bigger work load for the enterprise to use those solutions? Or is that part of the printers job?

I think that that’s a fantastic question.

And I think that it’s something that will have to happen on both both sides. In terms of XMPie and maybe there are other software packages that already became online and all of that. But in terms of XMPie the ability to talk to the printers, to print businesses large and small, to help them transform their business. That’s well-defined and happening at a certain rate.

The ability of XMPie to go with XMPie into the enterprises and engage the enterprise directly is something that, you know, it goes already to the scope of the whole Xerox corporation. And that’s a different story.

But the opportunity is huge. Because if the enterprises would realize that they can use digital printing in a streamlined easy way within the general framework that they understand about customer experience management. Then print will be used more than what it is today.

And I don’t necessarily have all the solutions on that. I’m just making the point that I believe that some of the challenges are in fact technical challenges. They don’t have to understand the technology. But the CMO will hear from his people: You want to do print here?

And I mean it. We need to go to the print buyer. I’m a little bit doing an illustration.


It’s not the answer that they will hear what they want to do email or landing sites. All the digital things are always integrated. Relatively easy to do, not breaking the process. Print sometimes breaks the process. And so that has to change.

And in your opinion, what do you think those… We have a lot of print shop owners who are able to offer what you are talking about. And I met a lot of them around the globe within the XMPie users group. And do you think that the majority of those people, they use an omnichannel approach to have a better go-to-market? Or do they just show samples? Do they practice what they preach?

That’s a tough question.

I’m not sure whether the majority are using, you know, customer engagement, customer experience in order to engage their potential customer. But I do think that most of these people that you are aware of and you saw them. They started from being able to do print and say a landing site what people call PURL. And from another direction. And they started going with the web-to-print and print and maybe print and PURL. But they have not yet not all of them, only the leading edge of this community, started thinking of and mastering the concept of journeys of holistic experiences and what we call today omnichannel. And they are able to offer full programs to their customers.

So suddenly they can actually talk about, you know, something that goes over time, not just print and PURL. And so they evolved themselves. They don’t use it, I think, for their own marketing. But some of them are actually successfully changing the way they are talking to their customers, their enterprises.

And because of your huge experience. And this is also on a global level. Do you think there are differences in the different parts of the world? Are they in Sao Paolo more advanced or behind like we are in Europe? Or who is leading in that field? Could you specify that?

And no, I cannot, you know, put the finger and say that we saw… For my experience that we saw the most advance in one place. We saw very sophisticated things in Australia and in Europe, in the UK, in Germany and Sweden.

And we saw very sophisticated and large scale things in the USA. And frankly, you mentioned I mean, so we saw also something that engaged that there was quite impressive in Latin America, including a holistic program for supermarkets and things like that.

So we saw it in different places in the world. But it’s not… It has not yet become the mainstream. It’s like the innovators, the people that understand how to put everything together and are ready to take some risks with advanced technology. They are changing. They are making the changes. And it’s not yet to the point where everybody’s going in experiencing that.

That means there are early adopters around the globe and they are doing a great job.

But yeah, but it’s not yet mainstream. Does that mean that we need better communication addressing enterprises to make them aware of that? Because we have I’m sure we have a lot of interesting cases and success stories. And we can deliver stats and figures of creating good results. So it’s very transparent when things are successful. But what is going wrong in the communication?

This is an area where I cannot make too many comments. I think that on one hand there’s always room for the communication and maybe improving the communication. And I – coming from a point of view of deciding to write this article, which is really like to challenge people to think – I tried to say that communication alone is not enough.

The solutions for digital printing, the solutions for embracing print or including print in…

Print is behaving or is used or the… Software and workflow are being used in order to create print is part of the story. Must be much more similar. And in the article I called it online to the software and workflows that are being used in digital.

I think that results in the enterprises will understand the value of print as presented in research. But they will be still hesitant of using it because it breaks the whole process that they consider the main process.

I think that we have a chance that a company – I mean, a company like Adobe. Adobe specifically. They’re pushing very strongly the CXM, customer experience management. And they are also doing it a lot around the digital space. But, you know, with their push and with the inclusion of PDF as part of the touch points. Something that also XMPie can do very well. I think that they are maybe helping to maybe… that will help start changing or moving the pendulum.

That good that you mentioned Adobe. Because in my observation, some years ago, we had the feeling they step away from print. Because everything was about digital marketing all of a sudden. And they invested a lot and they did a great job. But then later at 2017, they came back and they had new offers also to the creative and the printing community – integrating print. And I think that’s a good story we can also share because Adobe is so successful in what they do. And they know exactly what Americans call “Where’s the beef?”

I think that still the weight or the importance of digital in the story of omnichannel, of customer experience, of journeys. The importance of digital is very, very high. Most of the people that are in this space that when they use… By people I mean enterprises and vendors like Adobe, Oracle, Salesforce. When they use the term omnichannel – OK? – they don’t think print. They think of the fact that you use your app, your social media, your landing sites, your email. That’s already a mixture of channels.

And you use also video. And say all of these have to give an experience where the customer is in the center. They don’t even mention that print should be there and could play in the same level, the same type of workflows as the digital.

And that’s my claim. My point is that we need to make sure that somehow the capabilities of integrating print will be such that for the CMO, the choice of including print or not including print – will be just based on what they perceive the value of print and not based on the fact: oh, it’s a different process, it’s very complex and it’ll go to the print buyer. Which I believe is the case today.

Yeah, that’s interesting. We had a we had a good I had a good conversation a couple of weeks ago with the CEO of Mondi Uncoated Fine Paper – Gunilla Saltin. And she also was very proud that they had a corporation with – as a paper manufacturer – with Adobe Stock. And so they had a very good… they found an interesting application. They published a book to use those high quality photos Adobe Stock can provide… Created by leading artists around the globe. And then they had an interesting new application to do special effects in printing, mixing up all those different technologies. And I think when we are able to inspire also Mondi and Adobe to integrate what we both talk about, then this would be a no-brainer forever. What do you think?

I think that you’re right. But it’s a very… It takes time and it’s a demanding task.

It’s not so easy to convince all of these. But that’s the point.

I think the point is to bring to them the fact, the awareness, the knowledge that it can be valuable and that it can be used in online fashion. Again, XMPie is one type of solution that uses it that way. I’m not aware of all the others. But that’s what needs to be brought to them. And  then I think the use of print would be much higher.

You know…you also mentioned in the past in different context, you talked about subscription and things like that. So maybe the access to print should be different. You don’t have to buy five big items in order to print. Maybe you go to somebody to subscribe. I don’t know.

That’s more futuristic in terms of my horoscope. But it might be also something that needs to be done. That you can get it as a service and not bother with the complexities of what it takes in order to manufacture it.

That sounds good. And I’m very happy that we have started that conversation and I think we can have some more follow ups in the future. But you mentioned the past. And going back 20 years. I think we met the very first time in 1999 or in the year 2000 around DRUPA 2000. And when you go back to that point, what was your expectation at that time? Would you have expected that things are making progress like it happened? Or have you wishes which are still open?

Well, at that time, I expected that things – you know – once we solve the problem, once we allow you to do things as we defined at that time at XMPie. That voilà – everybody will take it and BOOM – everything will be done and the world will shift and that all the creative agencies will go and use it and all of that stuff. So that thing didn’t happen at that rate. And some of it is because you always have to improve your technology. But a lot of it is because apparently coming out with new ideas, breakthrough ideas, changing the way people work, getting the innovators to embrace you, and all of this process takes much more time than maybe what I expected.

But during this time, a lot of things are changing. So when we started and we defined cross-media – even remember I wrote an article with Cary Sherburn. I promoted this notion, of course, media, everything is cohesive and consistent and all of that stuff. At that time, nobody used the term omnichannel, nobody used the term multi-channel even at that time.

And through the years suddenly people defined omnichannel exactly as that.

So when things take longer, there are many things that evolve like for me at the time – I didn’t realize the very significant importance of analytics, that the feedback loop and the ability to make choices all as part of the software.

And that becomes now very, very powerful. And I think that I could not envision the speed at which the digital revolution will take place.

I think that’s something that – I think that we had the good insight, that says: Hey, this is an internet there and we need to make sure that internet and print are not disconnected. So that’s the foundation vision. But we never realized how quickly things will evolve on the digital side.

And it took us… And still there is room to improve, you know, to improve and to make sure that you play well in that space. Overall, I think there is more recognition today of the fact that you interact with your audience in a consistent way. There is different touch points and there are good examples where print is part of the story. So to a degree I am pleased. Well I am very pleased but…

So that means you are you are still happy. Even some of those things you mentioned took more time. On the other hand, unexpected things came. And for sure the change from Internet communication to social media communication or digital communication, that was also a catalyst for what you are what you are talking about, right?

Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.

Good. Then I think we’ve done it for today. It was a pleasure talking to you. And I hope we can see us in person again because we have something like a habit. Taking wonderful selfies around the globe wherever we met in the past. So I want to have that experience again. And thank you Jacob very very much for your time.

Thank you. Thank you for inviting me to have this dialog. It’s great. And I enjoyed it. Thank you.