EFI responds to backlash over plans to phase out Prism

Marc Olin, EFI’s general manager of software applications business unit, said that EFI had originally intended to stop development of the Prism Win MIS and its shopfloor data collection tool, QTMS, “as quickly as possible while providing ongoing help desk and support services for many years into the future”.

However, he said plans changed due to the response from Australian printers.

“We saw some very strong reactions from the client base that felt that the Prism package was doing a good job for them,” said Olin.

“I think while we expected the clients to have some concerns, as they always do when there is a significant product change, we found the Prism clients to be especially dedicated to the product,” added Olin.

He confirmed that EFI will now continue to develop Prism Win “for at least three years”, while “QTMS customers will not need to switch to AutoCount as we will be merging the technology platforms”.

Some local Prism users who spoke to ProPrint were up in arms over the way EFI communicated its acquisition strategy.

Their concerns largely centred on two issues: preference for Prism over comparable products from EFI, and the fact that switching over could mean writing off significant investments they had made to buy and develop Prism.

A Sydney-based printer told ProPrint: “The wording [EFI] issued initially and the way they handled it for the Aussie market could only be described as appalling. Americans may also speak English but it is not the same language.”

One figure close to the situation said “customers have been pretty brutal” in their reaction to EFI, sending the US company “into serious damage control”.

But another Sydney printer pointed out that while “what they [EFI] put out was gut-wrenching to Prism users, they have now corrected it”.

A further issue among some label printers was the lack of an equivalent MIS product in the EFI stable, though Olin said “we have recently introduced Radius SBE to begin to address small to medium-sized label converters”.

Hannanprint is a major user of both Prism Win and QTMS. Managing director Tony Dedda said: “We were a little taken back by EFI’s initial approach. A team of guys came to see us – the visit was not very customer focused.”

Dedda said he had been particularly concerned about plans to replace QTMS with EFI’s Auto Count product.

“But since that initial shock, there have been some positives,” added Dedda.

“They have listened to the market and have committed to the development of Prism Win for three years. After that, hopefully Monarch will prove to be a suitable alternative with a clear migratory path. The good thing is that they are committing to the ongoing development of QTMS, which to us is clearly a superior product and adequately addresses the needs of Hannanprint.”

The takeover also forced Snap Printing to re-evaluate its 2010 decision to implement Prism Win across the franchise network.

Chief executive Grant Vernon said: “We were in the early stages of implementing Prism Win to replace our current Prism PPE software.

“EFI have announced they will continue to support Prism tools but not offer them to new clients. Snap interprets that to mean that Prism Win will have a limited life – albeit several years – so we will not proceed with Prism Win.

“This is frustrating because we have done a great deal of preparation work but these things happen,” added Vernon.

He said Snap was assessing EFI’s Pace and PrintSmith MIS products, and would make a decision “in due course”.

Meanwhile, EFI’s Olin explained the reason behind the misstep.

“That plan was developed using the limited exposure we had to the products and the people during the diligence process. 

“Once the acquisition was complete we were able to review the development plans, speak directly to clients and really understand what the current situation was regarding the employees and the clients.”

EFI still hopes Prism users will eventually migrate to its suite of products, but is now taking a ‘best of both worlds’ approach.

Olin added: “As we get closer to that three-year mark, we will evaluate the number of clients still on maintenance and make a determination whether to continue development for additional years.”

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