Tomas Van Rossom has just been appointed as General Manager for Enfocus, and though new in the position, Rossom has worked with Enfocus since 2017 as Global Sales Director. In this conversation, we talk about family, Covid, subscription vs. license sales, setting goals, and how Tomas van Rossom will fit the new role after his predecessors.
A very open-minded and great conversation that we are sure you will like – so why not just watch?
This is Morten from INKISH TV. And I look very much forward to welcoming my next guest. His name is Thomas van Rossom. And he was just a few weeks ago appointed as new General Manager for Enfocus in Belgium. So welcome to INKISH Tomas. So how are you?
Thank you, Morten. I’m doing well. Thanks very much. And I appreciate getting the opportunity to have this interview with you today.
I look very much forward to it. Because as I said to you when we spoke last week. You are the third General Manager. And it’s not because you change general management in Enfocus all the time. It’s just because we all get older. And and we are going to talk a little bit about your ambitions and what will happen with Enfocus. But before we do that, you are not new to Enfocus. So can you give us a little bit of a background to who you are? And what you have been up to until now?
Absolutely. Enfocus has been around for more than 20 years already. And I know that INKISH has been a big fan and is following us since several years. So this is very good.
That’s for sure.
To have this continuity. So my name is Thomas Van Rossom. I’m 35 years old. I am married with three daughters. And I live in Ghent in Belgium, where also the head office of Enfocus is. I’ve been with Enfocus since 2016 already. So four years. I started off as a Sales Operations Manager. I was responsible for our CRM track as well. But then quickly, due to some changes in the organization, I was given the opportunity to become the Sales Director. So I have led the Sales, the Channel Sales, Online Sales, OEM Sales for the past three years. And that was a great learning opportunity for me. Because I was not involved with managing a channel before. But I have a very good team that I can rely upon. And I also was able to work together with Wim, the previous General Manager very closely. And I could say that over the past three years that we have worked basically in tandem.
And I take from that… Because one of the things we spoke about last week was the fact that Enfocus is also part of Danaher and family with Esko, ABC and Pantone. And I mean, so you are in a very, very exclusive spot from a company perspective, right?
Yeah, we are in good hands. We have this close link with Esko, who is in fact our mother company. But then part of the Danaher Group. And recently Esko announced also to make some changes to their organization. And they are now part of a platform around color and packaging. And having all this expertize and great people, industry knowledge gathered in this platform of companies is absolutely an asset to Enfocus as well.
And I take that… I mean, as you said, Enfocus has been around for 20 years. And I think that almost every printer on the planet knows about ‘PitStop’ and more and more about ‘Switch’. And soon also you are going to… I mean, you have another new product. What is that about?
Yeah, indeed. We have strong brands. Enfocus a strong brand. But I think ‘PitStop’, it’s almost like a verb – that you pitstop that file. So this is just a recognition of our brand. And it’s been building up for several years, as I said. But we also have an automation platform with ‘Switch’. And this is, I would say a unique platform. Given that it’s very open, very modern. And it allows to basically use the technology to adapt to your processes. And not the other way around. Where traditional values often ask you to adapt your processes to meet the technology. But this is not our vision. And last but not least, we have good plans in the pipeline as well. Because we are currently with a public beta of a new product called ‘BoardingPass’. ‘BoardingPass’ is let’s say the first step in job onboarding. We have seen as printers and the investing presses. And the presses got faster. Then the bottleneck shifted to the prepress department. But because we have automation solutions to automate this part of the business. The bottleneck shifts further into the front office. And there where the CSRs, the Customer Service Representatives who are constantly in contact with the customers. They got the jobs in, they onboard the jobs. But if there is a big delay there, then of course, it doesn’t allow to feed the process quickly enough. So the sooner we can help the CSRs to identify any bottlenecks or, let’s say showstoppers, the better. And this is exactly where we’re going to possible help.
Sounds interesting. I can’t help thinking about that… I think that when I spoke to your pre-predecessor – Fabian Prudhomme. He was in the transformation also when you started to move from being more like a license based business to a subscription based business. When we got into the ‘BoardingPass’ and that leaves a big question. What are you going to add to the Enfocus product portfolio? But maybe also to the organization?
Well, let me start with the organization. One of the very first things that I announced already. In the let’s see, first two weeks of my General Management is that we have now a dedicated department for customer success. And customer success – the name in itself is already great. It means we want success for our customers. And this is all given or based on the fact that we have a huge shift from perpetual licenses to recurring revenue. And recurring revenue can consist of subscriptions. Software subscriptions, which we all have. And it also can consist of maintenance contracts, which we also ship with our software. Now, just to give you some background about my history before Enfocus. I actually worked in close partnership with Salesforce.com, which is a worldly known software vendor in the CRM space. And they were the first or one of the first companies to offer SaaS. ‘Software as a service’, fully cloud based, fully subscription based. And from working very closely together with that company, I’ve learned a lot about what it means to have a recurring revenue model. To have a customer-success or success-first-strategy. And this is absolutely what I wish for Enfocus as well.
And I can’t help thinking about when people or when companies shift from a licensed model models to a subscription model. The biggest hurdle is basically the change. Because you come from having bigger checks coming in to the change where the revenue comes in. Also when we look at the pandemic, it must be fantastic to be in a situation where the business has changed to recurring revenues. Because you’re not as fluctant to changes in the market as you would have been if you only relied on new sales, right?
Absolutely Morten. And I think you just touched upon the two most important things related to subscriptions or recurring revenue in general. One is that not so much for customers. So let’s start from the customer. For them, it’s a real benefit. If you are on subscription, it means that the entry cost is much lower. That you can pay as you go. If you want to add licenses, you add them. If you stop using the software, you stop paying for the software as well. But of course, it means for a vendor like us or for resellers in our channel… It means that they are used to selling a perpetual license of, let’s say, 1000 euros. And now they only sell for, let’s say, one third of the price per year. So it means that it is, first of all, a big hit in the topline revenue that we have. But at the same time, it’s a change in mindset. Because you need to renew that customer for at least three years. In order to have the same amount of revenue as you would have had with perpetual. But it’s exactly in this change of mindset where the success and the future of Enfocus lies. Because if you are successful at making those customers loyal, then we will also see that recurring revenue. And of course, over a longer period, as long as you keep adding subscribers. And you maintain your subscriber base at the same level, you will exponentially grow the revenue as well. And this is a good news not only for our partners. If they are able to go through that first-year-dip, let’s say. It also means that we have more capacity, more revenue to reinvest in our products. And to reinvest in, I would say, services that can accompany the product throughout the lifetime of the customer. To make the experience the best that it can be.
I agree 100 percent at that point. But I can’t help thinking about also that if you look at maybe not so much at ‘PitStop’ and ‘Switch’ because they are relatively inexpensive. But if you have more expensive products and services, this lowers the entry point. So more people can actually be part of the automation adventure that everybody is talking about these days. So, I mean, you don’t have to have a well posted credit card in order to get started. You can get started on the low entry.
Absolutely. And if you look at it, for example, from the ‘Switch’-platform point of view. If you would have to buy the full product. I mean configuration, installation, but also the maintenance and the hardware that comes with it and so on. It’s still quite an investment. And while printers would easily consider spending one hundred thousand or more on a press… They are still this buyers through our software but this will actually help their business. But I think this is a mind shift that we are seeing more and more. That people and the print industry are aware that presses are fast, but it’s really in the software that you make the difference. Not only because of the speed, but also the accuracy. Think about not having too much waste in your processes. Also, from a sustainability point of view. You don’t want to waste resources that you could prevent by detecting errors, for example, in the software. And bringing all of this on a subscription basis, lowers the entry point for many printers. And will help to accelerate even this investment in software for them.
When I prepared for this conversation with you, I looked at your LinkedIn profile. And when you got the job with Enfocus, one of the things that you put in your LinkedIn profile is: 95 percent customer satisfaction or on time delivery or something. From a personal perspective – do you consider yourself a very competitive human being?
I wouldn’t say competitive. No. But I am very much results driven. Meaning that, well, first of all, I’m pretty much organized and structured. I like to have a goal in mind. As long as this clarity is not available, I don’t believe you can be successful. But then when you have this goal, it’s not about just setting this goal. It’s also measuring how you go towards that goal. And this is very much also part of the values of Danaher, our mother company. Around continuous improvement and sustainment. You can make an improvement. But if you don’t sustain it, the improvement will go away after some time. So it’s important that you measure that. And that you build upon the results of the previous improvements. And indeed those metrics that you referred to, we have on time delivery. This is not so relevant for end customers because it’s more for partners when they place orders through us. It means we want to ship basically our software quickly to them. So that they have a smooth operation with our team. And in essence, our partners are our first customers. Because they are the ones who ordered with us. And they are the ones who pay our bills. Or pay their bills. But of course, we have a second group of customers as well. Which are the end users who are using our software. And those are also our customers. And we want to make sure that they have the best experience, as I mentioned, in the past. And so we are also in the process of getting better at measuring the results for the end customers. Based on satisfaction service that we do. But also based on usage data that we track in the software. Which allows us to see whether they are successful. Whether they have learned new features. Whether they are benchmarking towards other customers. If they are using all that is possible from the software and we can even support them with e-learnings or with tips and tricks that we send them. And, for example, at ‘BoardingPass’, it will even be possible to send messages inside the software to help them get the most out of it. So all of this is in the mindset of creating the best products, but also the best experience possible.
One of the reasons why I’m asking about whether you are a competitive person is also because… I think that if you look at the printing industry, it has become more and more a competitive market to be in. I mean, the end customers, the printing, the PSPs, the converters, all of them. They need to compete on a daily basis with other PSPs because of the overcapacity and the demands for faster turnaround time. And I think that ‘Switch’ has played an enormous role in automation of these kind of things. And I was just thinking if I remember… I made conversation with Wim when he joined Enfocus. And, you know, his background was, as far as I remember it, more like a programmer. I think him and I, we spoke about both of us programing, the Commodores 64 when we were kids. So probably around the same age. But your background is a little bit different. So I was just thinking that with your background and also the focus on the deliverables that you just spoke about. Are you moving Enfocus in an entirely new direction? Or will you continue pretty much as we know Enfocus today? Where do you see that?
That’s a very good question. And I would say it’s not a question that I need to answer by myself. I think in the first step now, we will have to build a team, the management team at Enfocus, again. As you know Win, indeed, with the background in programing and R&D in the past. As well as Lisbet Olbrecht, who was our Head of Product Management. They both moved back to Esko. And it’s a very interesting move. Because, in fact, Esko has now chosen a clear strategy also to go in this direction of software and hardware. And how it links together. And moving to the recurring revenue as well. And this is experience that Enfocus has had over the past few years. And basically with the move from Enfocus to Esko, they will also bring those best practices into the Esko organization. At the same time, I will now have to backfill those roles. We are still looking for a Head of Sales.
It would be busy, right?
I am busy for the moment – indeed. Because I have not only my own role to backfill. But then we have to backfill a person on the Head of Product Management. And then once we have this team established and full again, then we need to go back to the drawing board. Let’s see, take our strategy from the past three to five years and see what elements are good. What we want to maintain. But also at the same time, think about new opportunities that arise. And make sure that together with the team we establish a new story which we can believe in for the next three to five years. And which we are very motivated to have an impact on. And I think I can’t make any suspicions on what those strategies will be.
Of course, you are new.
Yes I am new but I am also not so new. I have been in the management team for more than three years already. So I do know that we want to make not only good products. I think we are very strong on the automation and on the PDF editing and Preflight insight. But at the same time, we also need to think about how we can offer more services related to that. What is the role of the channel to play in the shift to recurring revenue?
But that sounds great. And I totally understand that you can’t say that.
The last question here, Tomas…
Actually, I’m sorry to interrupt you Morten. But what I wanted to say is that I believe that Enfocus still has a role to play in bringing printers into the 21st century. And this might sound a bit strange because we do have printers who are role models and where you would be amazed if you would see their production plants. It’s full of the most modern printing presses. You could see a software everywhere and very clean production plants. But at the same time, there’s also this… Yeah, it can be a prejudice or it might also be a reality in some cases where printers are still on the press with very manual work and not able to scale. And as you mentioned, in a competitive environment, which is not only competitive locally, but more and more also globally, printers really need to be aware that there are new things coming. And we want to help them make this leap into the 21st century. Let’s see.
It’s funny that you mentioned taking people into the 21st century. Because I can tell you that my question was about the potential. Because I think that Enfocus has grown a lot of reputation. And especially you on ‘PitStop’ you have a huge installed base. And going on ‘Switch’, of course… But the potential is still huge. I mean, you have a huge growth potential in the market, I think.
Indeed. And I wanted to say that in one of the few questions ago. When you talked about the COVID situation and the lockdowns and the impact on the economy and so on. And especially also on print volumes. We have seen printers in the past year having a decline in their Sales of 30, 40, 50 percent even. And so if we would have been on the license sales model, we would not have survived even 2020. Because also our impact was quite drastic. Up to 30, 40 percent of license sales drops. And we survived this year thanks to the recurring revenue. And so that’s an important note to make. At the same time, I believe that bringing printers into the 21st century is a very noble goal to achieve. Because I believe that 21st century companies, especially software companies, and then of course, our customers who benefit from our products, they need to look at their software in a different way. Thinking about recurring revenue. Thinking about how to be successful. How it can help achieve customer satisfaction for them. Customers are expecting more and more a consumer like experience when they engage with their printers. Thinking about on time delivery for printers. When will my print be ready? If there is a change in the print file that I deliver to you… Can you quickly let me know so that I can have a quick correction on a new file sent to you? So there’s a lot of expectations also changing from the print buyers. And this is what we want to facilitate as well.
And Tomas, what you just said.. It seems that it is almost something that you could put up like KPIs and measures. So you can see how you progress during your execution of the management, right?
Absolutely. Absolutely. And I would like to say that bringing them in the 21st century, it might seem like: Yeah, but we are already 2021 now. So isn’t this a bit late? But I still know that there are some companies that have been grounded, let’s say, or founded in the late 90s, for example. And those people at the management level of our customers, they are getting older. And then there’s also the shift of new generations taking over printers. And consolidations happening and so on. So while I compare to other industries, the print industry might have a small delay in adapting like subscriptions and so on. I believe that this shift might even go faster in the print industry once it actually happens. And we want to make sure that we are driving that acceleration and not lagging.
Perfect. Thomas Van Rossom, it was a pleasure to meet with you here on INKISH. Thank you for your time. And I wish you and your team all the best in the future. I am pretty sure that you and I will talk again. And I’m very confident that Enfocus will be a strong and stronger player also with many printing companies and convertors in the future. So thank you very much for your time here.
I appreciate you giving me the opportunity. And I look forward to talking to you as well Morten.
Thank you very much, Tomas.