Recently the Federation of Printers in Denmark, Grakom, and Medit Consult – a highly acclaimed consulting company in the graphics industry hosted a one day conference about ‘Automation and Workflow.’
One of the speakers was Freddy Pieters from Enfocus. We got the chance to catch up with him during one of the breaks and spoke about the un-released potential for many printers. Workflow is one of the major topics in the global printing industry so always good to hear an opinion from one of the market leaders.
You want to do that, not to scare people away, but I think I have also added the nuance that sometimes it’s also not that easy, and that they need external help. The network of resellers that we have is, of course, an important asset and focus, because these are the people that will actually do the implementations at the customers, so having them at the high level is for us very important, and we try to support them in that.
Yeah, there’s still quite a lot of work to be done. Of course, there are environments that are highly automated, when you look at photo book printers, it’s inconceivable that they would have to open every PDF file that they receive before they print it. But there are still a lot of printers out there that have automation to a certain level, but not up to the level where it should be to be profitable, to be efficient, to be customer-friendly, because everybody wants it yesterday, right?
There’s a resistance to change that certainly plays a role with the printers, perhaps not always fully convinced of the potential, where, because, when you show somebody a demo at a show, or one of our resellers shows “You can do this,” there’s perhaps this fear that, yeah, this is demo, but when I want to implement that in my environment, it’s going to be a lot more difficult.
And another reason is, we don’t have time, yeah? Which is a bit of a poor argument. Why do Formula One race cars make pit stops? Pun intended. Because they lose time, yeah. But with these faster new tires, they can go faster. So, sometimes you need to make that little stop, one step backwards to be able to jump further.
It means that selling cycles get longer sometimes, certainly for a product like Switch. Let’s be honest and open about this. Implementing Switch is not something you do on a Friday afternoon, so it requires a certain effort, both in time, and, of course, time is money, so also a bit of money. Nothing close to something like a press. Perhaps they don’t believe that it will bring them those benefits, or they think that there won’t be a return on investment, but there undoubtedly is. I mean, when you automate, you progress. You free up time for your people to do added-value work, like being busy with a customer is worth a lot more than being busy with a file.
Not for Switch. So, the box movers that you’re referring to, Pit Stop is a good product for that kind of distribution, but for Switch, we require the people to have a certain level of knowledge, because, otherwise, that’s not possible. They have to be able to support the customer to a certain extent. Of course, there are differences in level. Some are more advanced than others. Some have done dozens of implementations, others are only just starting. That’s also why we have different tiers, different levels for our resellers. We have the Platinum, the Gold and the Silver resellers, and then the ones that don’t have a status, so we have resellers who will sell a couple of Pit Stops per year and that’s it, but then, we have others that focus strongly on Switch and these people, of course, have the correct knowledge. We also have certification tests for them.
With the introduction of the Enfocus app store two years ago at drupa, we have enlarged the ecosystem where Switch is active quite considerably, and it’s picking up more and more. More and more apps are being added, more and more customers are finding their way to the Enfocus app store to find tools that can leverage what they are doing to improve the functionality of their system, and this will only grow. And who knows where this is going to. I mean, if we look at the way in which we use Switch internally, we do our order processing through Switch, so we receive emails from our distributors ordering things, and we do some Switch magic to make sure that the order is automatically created in our order processing system.
It’s me. And this to a large extent depends on the network of our resellers, because, of course, the name and focus is, I daresay, well-known in the graphic industry, less so outside of the graphic industry, although Switch could perfectly be a good solution in other verticals. But, because they don’t know us, our resellers don’t know the correct contact persons at these other companies, but that may very well happen that in a couple of years from now, we’ve active in a vertical in which we are not active today.