EFI seeks digital connection

EFI has wrapped up its user conference, Connect, with those attending getting a preview of what is to come from the digital software and hardware giant.

The company indicated a change in strategic direction, it will not be looking to major acquisitions to get into new markets, but will be focusing on developing its existing markets.

Guy Gecht, CEO, EFI says, “In the past we made big acquisitions to get into an area. We are not planning to do that now. What we want to do is get deeper in the areas we are currently in.”

EFI says the enabling platforms are inkjet and smart innovation. In inkjet it is already in labels, wide format, textiles and ceramics.

Command Workstation, the new centralised platform which print shops can operate all Fiery-driven printers through, was seen first hand at the show in Las Vegas. EFI also debuted its latest marketing automation software, MarketDirect, which has been designed to easily link in with databases to provide and generate personalised communications using pre-ready templates, across direct mail, EDMs, mobiles, and social marketing. It is available immediately on the Australian market.

The event featured keynotes from early adopters of the Nozomi press, EFI’s single-pass corrugated digital inkjet packaging solution first shown art drupa, with Eric Bacourt of Spanish company Rafeal Hinojosa, and Mal McGowan, owner of Irish printer McGowans speaking.

When explaining how it had changed his business, McGowan says, “It is the biggest change we have seen in 10 years. The print is better and looks different. It is the easiest sale for my people to do: same price, looks better."

Gecht says, “I think if you are a commercial printer, and you say I want to become a supplier to Zara, or Nike, or Adidas, that is going to take a lot of knowledge. But if you say I want to be able to do short runs, some fabrics, some decoration, you can definitely do it. A lot of signage is moving to fabric as it has a great feel, and travels well.

“People found that fabric is a great way to do signage, with the Reggiani technology that started in professional textile and migrated to signage, you can do that at affordable prices, and a great quality."

[Related: Gecht talks commercial print, EFI

Hinojosa is a huge player in the Spanish packaging market, with a significant market share, the logistics of scale come into play for whether jobs are worth doing after transporting. For Eric Bacourt, CEO, Hinojosa, producing value-added packaging on the digital Nozomi press opens up markets, “The more added value on the product, the further you can transport it.

“The challenge for all of us is to find a market niche where we can add more value.”

John Henze, vice president Marketing, EFI says, “Command Workstation was about a more modern user interface, and a more efficient way of working with applications, a left to right type of flow. This platform now enables you to connect to all Fiery driven devices, not just cutsheet documents. Whether that is high-speed inkjet devices, or in display graphics. There can be a tremendous amount of efficiency gained and productivity by being able to manage a broader portfolio of printers under one common, centralised job management interface.

“If you are a customer that decides you want a Ricoh colour device, and a Konica Minolta black and white device, the look and feel of Command Workstation across all of the products in exactly the same. A lot of people have their proprietary workflows, that compete with Fiery in many ways, the customers position should always be to get the right workflow for them.

“For the Australian market where we are focusing on software a lot of customers have mixed fleets. For anyone that is looking to integrate workflow, and management information systems, the Fiery is going to give them the best opportunity.

Taking the rise of mobiles as user’s main access to the internet, MarketDirect is built with HTML5, with responsive design enabled to automatically be optimised for mobile screens.

Aaron Tavakoli, segment marketing lead, E-Commerce, Cross-Media Marketing, EFI, “MarketDirect Cross Media is a multi-channel marketing platform that integrates all aspects of direct mail, VDP (Variable Data Print), with email, traditional marketing, landing pages, all the necessary QR codes to connect them, along with mobile messaging, marketing, and social marketing.

“It is aimed at print service providers with as few as 14-15 employees, and can be used to provide marketing services to their customers. What the system produces is a vendor ready-file that they can pass on to any printer they are using.”

“It can be scaled, and is great for those who cannot invest in an enterprise-sized platform like Marketo.

“For a commercial printer, the advantage is integration. If they are using it alongside an e-commerce platform like EFI Digital StoreFront, they can take the campaigns they produce in MarketDirect, publish them to StoreFront, and re-use those assets, and re-sell those programmed campaigns to other customers. They can also place those campaigns online, and let their customers self-execute.

“As they move into distribution and fulfillment, if the campaigns involve shipping finished goods, that they may be warehousing or holding in inventory for their customers, our fulfillment platform will integrate, and they can convert them into shippable packages, and distribute to multiple locations based on the customers profile.”

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