Commentary & Analysis
Ghilad Dziesietnik, VP, Advanced Workflow and Core Software Technologies, EFI
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: October 17, 2002
WTT: What is EFI’s digital printing philosophy?
Ghilad Dziesietnik: Our view of digital printing is to offer the market something that’s easy to use - reading manuals should only be the last resort. This was the idea behind Fiery. The Fiery is so easy to use that Kinko’s and other printing franchises really like it. The Fiery interface is built to be easy for everyone. It is really a workflow tool, with only one day of training necessary, rather than a week. This ease of use really reduces the hidden cost of training, especially where employee turnover is high. True training costs are difficult to obtain since they are not budgetary line items, and often don’t show up at all, since the symptom is just lower productivity.
WTT: What is new here at GraphExpo?
Ghilad Dziesietnik: The OneFlow RIP, which can be used with any printer - an engine agnostic workflow. There’s no need to buy another RIP for a proofer or to drive high speed devices. There are relationships in place with Heidelberg for the 9110 and 9150, with Xerox for the iGen3 and with Scitex Digital printing. People can easily be connected to any type of device without going to another workflow tool. Jobs can be sent to any digital device including a DI or digital press. This is efficient for a quick print or rapid change, in-plant environment where employee turnover is big. The same workflow is used for all devices, simplifying or eliminating employee training.
A new Velocity Balance for non-Fiery devices manages multiple devices as a group, offers support for a wider range of print engines and provides new tools to facilitate printing of complex documents for color and black-and-white engines.
The Fiery Z5 color server with Fiery System 5 software has received the SWOP seal of approval, signifying that the system is capable of predicting final printed color in a web offset environment.
At the show, we are announcing the new partnership with Velocity OneFlow software and Heidelberg's 9110 engine. Velocity's centralized job management and load balancing offers an easy to use production printing solution, taking full advantage of the Digimaster's rapid image processing and speed. Velocity manages multiple devices as a group, intelligently routing jobs to the most efficient devices to maximize equipment utilization. The software also automatically splits pages between color and black and white engines and then merges printed pages together in the 9110’s inserter.
Velocity exchange is new and connects buyers and suppliers. A common interface no matter what output medium, connecting directly to proofers, DI and digital presses. Users will only see what they need to perform a certain function, through a simple, easy to use interface.
WTT: What has been buyer response at this show?
Ghilad Dziesietnik: There is enormous traffic as a result of being picked as a "Must See Em". Our market is largely a replacement and displacement sale, so we have to replace something else before Fiery is chosen. We also did very well at Seybold against other $100,000 workflow products. We benefit from a dozen years in the graphic arts markets.
WTT: What is your sales model? Are you selling directly or through partners?
Ghilad Dziesietnik: We only sell through channels for OneFlow and Velocity. Fiery is bundled with an OEM printer.
WTT: When will OneFlow be shipping?
Ghilad Dziesietnik: In the first quarter of 2003.
WTT: How many OneFlow Beta customers are there?
Ghilad Dziesietnik: Five to ten.
WTT: One Flow Pricing?
Ghilad Dziesietnik: Pricing is not yet announced, but will be much less than $100,000.
WTT: Is RIP speed still an issue for Variable Data Printing (VDP)?
Ghilad Dziesietnik: Waiting time for the RIP is no longer the problem. Q4000 is the fastest RIP on the market and includes all production options including finishing. The Q4000 drives products from Heidelberg, Xerox and Scitex Digital Printing at full engine speed.
WTT: What is EFI’s VDP solution?
Ghilad Dziesietnik: Fiery is a very fast VDP melding machine. Fiery probably does this better than anyone else and is able to drive variable data at full engine speeds. Support is embedded for the PPML standard, VPML, VIPP and others. The intent is to be language agnostic. PageFlex Personna and Atlas Print Shop Mail have already been fully tested and are working well. At EFI, we have applications, language and the fast melding necessary to drive VDP requirements.
WTT: How strong is the demand for VDP.
Ghilad Dziesietnik: Very weak. Digital printers are mostly used for short run printing. Now that RIPs have caught up with engine speeds, we see that VDP will catch on. The main job now is to be able to utilize the collected information to enable 1 to 1 campaigns. We now have some customers doing VDP jobs, but it is taking time.
WTT: What do you think it will take for VDP volume to increase?
Ghilad Dziesietnik: Marketing, creative and data mining people need to think about what can be printed. Web workflow captures customer information, companies like Amazon.com know how to mine captured information. The Web has solved this problem, but this capability is not so easily accomplished with printed communications. Now that digital printing costs are getting lower, this problem will also be solved with printing. Once the two can be combined (design and customer information), then the market will begin to grow.
WTT: It seems to me that inplant print shops will return because large companies have large databases and the ability to manipulate data. How do you think various vendors are positioned to assist?
Ghilad Dziesietnik: IBM is very established in transactional printing, what they have lacked is color, and PPML may help this. Scitex Digital Printing is also very well positioned to take advantage of increased demand, both in price and quality. Both NexPress and the iGen3 need to establish a niche once they are out in the market. HP through its Compaq acquisition also has consulting capabilities. Both IBM and HP are in a position to assist their customers with data manipulation to promote more VDP.
Thank you Ghilad.