EFI: Australian software takeover is part of mission into Asia

The US-owned software and hardware vendor ramped up its M&A activity in Australia in 2011 and 2012 with the buyouts of local companies Prism and Online Print Solutions (OPS).

At its annual Connect user conference in Las Vegas this week, EFI offered insight into its M&A strategy. Chief executive Guy Gecht said the two drivers for any acquisition were to grow EFI’s geographic reach and to add new applications.

The acquisitions of Prism and OPS show both sides of this M&A strategy: Prism helped EFI grow its share of the Australian MIS market above 50%, while OPS adds online ordering and cross-media, which will augment EFI’s Digital StoreFront platform.

“We used to be a US-centric company but we want to be global,” added Gecht.

Marc Olin, EFI’s general manager of Productivity Software, said: “If you look at the printing software market around the world, after the US and UK, Australia is the third largest for MIS development.”

Olin added: “There is no developed market for MIS in Asia – the Australian market gives us a chance to expand into Asia.”

MIS and workflow automation software has been EFI’s primary focus in the past 18 months, with the aim to become the biggest MIS player in the world.

For instance, its 2012 buyout of Brazilian developer Metrics made EFI the largest MIS supplier in Latin America.

[Feature: ProPrint at EFI Connect 2012]

EFI has one team of developers in Silicon Valley and another team in Bangalore, India, enabling virtually 24/7 R&D on its software portfolio, said Gecht.

He said EFI has 300 people working in MIS development, “as many as the next 20 companies in the world”.

Gecht said it was no coincidence that there have been a number of deals in our region. “Australia has been on our radar for quite some time.”

EFI’s most recent target was British MIS provider Technique, and even that acquisition had an Australian angle to it, said Gecht. “We lost a big deal to Technique in Australia. We hated that we had lost and we bought them.”

Several representatives of this Technique customer, IPMG, were in Vegas for EFI Connect, which for the first time was combined with EFI’s annual sales conference.

Of the roughly 1,200 attendees, the majority came from North America, with a strong showing from Europe and the rest of the world.

A number of Australian customers were expected, including the representatives from Hannanprint, Offset Alpine and Inprint, as well as Geon and Kwik Kopy.

EFI’s big moves in MIS and workflow, as well as expanding its inkjet portfolio, are part of a plan to throw off its reputation as just ‘the Fiery company’.

The Fiery RIP remains a core part of the business but it has arcs and troughs depending on equipment sales by OEM partners, such as Fuji Xerox, Ricoh, Konica Minolta and Canon.”2012 was a challenging year for Fiery due to a lack of new machines launches,” said EFI vice-president of marketing John Henze.

[LinkedIn: Which MIS do you use?]

Steven Kiernan is a guest of EFI at Connect.

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