Log In | Become a Member | Contact Us


Market Intelligence for Printing and Publishing

Connect on Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

Featured:     European Coverage     Production Inkjet Analysis

Commentary & Analysis

A Few Minutes with Ron Gilboa, Vice President of Marketing, Kodak Versamark

By Noel Ward,

By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: October 4, 2005

By Noel Ward, Executive Editor October 4, 2005 -- Kodak is pulling out all the stops in a concerted effort to transform the company from its historic foundation in film and photography to being one of the leading players in digital printing. A big part of the company's Graphic Communications Group is Kodak Versamark, which develops and markets a broad array of inkjet printers, including the Encad family of wide format devices. Inkjet is certain to be part of the mix of print technologies print providers will come to rely on, and it is already replacing toner-based machines for some applications. To get a sense of where Kodak Versamark is headed, ODJ talked with Ron Gilboa, Vice President of Marketing, Kodak Versamark. As is typical in a conversation with Ron, we covered a lot of territory. Full personalization is now possible for a fraction of a penny per page- and anywhere from 12-28 percent less than current technologies. ODJ: First up is hybrid offset-digital printing. This isn't really new, but Kodak's reseller agreement with Muller Martini is. How do you envision this developing? RG: Muller Martini and Kodak showed this concept at drupa 2004, and this agreement is the result of our joint go-to-market strategy. Muller Martini will be able to offer the power of Kodak Versamark variable digital printing to their new and existing customer base -- with the full backing of our sales and support infrastructure. Printers will benefit by being able to access the combined expertise of both companies -- both for new presses and retrofitting existing equipment. The possibility of printing page-wide text (letter portrait) in line with an offset press using our DS9100 printing system at 300x300 dpi, and at a speed of up to 1,000 feet per minute is unique and particularly appealing to our industry and opens new doors to traditional offset print providers that wish to develop new strategies for growing their business by offering 100 percent variable printing. ODJ: What kinds of printers are you targeting with this solution? RG: Both Kodak and Muller Martini believe that there is tremendous opportunity for printers in commercial, direct mail, and transaction environments - especially those who are doing high volume direct mail, free standing inserts, or FSI’s, and coupons, as well as high volume transaction documents - to add more value and drive better results for their customers by making pieces more relevant, more highly personalized. What is really exciting for the marketers as the originators of direct campaigns is that full personalization is now possible for a fraction of a penny per page- and anywhere from 12-28 percent less than current technologies. With this hybrid solution, both the cost and speed barriers have been shattered - fully personalized pages can come out of the press at speeds of up to 4,000 impressions per minute - ready for in-line sheeting, folding, binding, inserting - at a lower cost per impression than is possible with current "off-line" technologies. And that's all possible without taking up much floor space, adding multiple steps to the process, changing rolls, or warehousing pre-printed stock. Imagine newsletters being customized to highly segmented donor groups -- with stories selected or rearranged based on the interests of varying groups. ODJ: What do you see as the leading potential applications for these types of solutions? RG: We believe that high-volume direct mailers will gain tremendous advantages with this technology. Not only will it speed up their turnarounds - imagine shaving days off of a production schedule - but will also allow for static and dynamic elements to be merged at the last possible moment, resulting in fresher data. With 100 percent variable black on every page, marketing pieces can be more targeted and offer more personalization, ultimately lifting response rates, as every study indicates more personalization equals higher response rates. We also see significant opportunity for non-profits to increase their personalization - newsletters, fund-raising, retention, "rapid response" mailers - while lowering their overall costs. Imagine newsletters being customized to highly segmented donor groups -- with stories selected or rearranged based on the interests of varying groups. Another application that we see great potential which involves more targeted versioning of sales materials--FSIs, in-store circulars, special sale events - through micro versioning. With high-speed inkjet technology, there is absolutely no speed or additional cost penalty to print a total run with millions of pieces in multiple versions, whether in 2, 5, 100, or 1,000 versions. Any kind of retailer will be able to support highly versioned pricing while retaining the economies of high-volume offset printing. ODJ: How else does Kodak Versamark see potential for growth in hybrid printing? RG: As Kodak develops solutions for the marketplace, we will aim at providing workflow solutions to all production environments where traditional printing and digital printing are part of an integrated offering by Kodak. This will allow us to offer advanced solutions with improved capabilities in both workflow and inkjet print technology in environments that until now did not invest in digital transition. This will expand our application gamut and market penetration as well. Customers are looking to provide 1-to-1 or highly personalized output at volumes that cannot be economically addressed by other solutions. ODJ: Talk about the VX5000e which you rolled out last year at drupa. Is the VX5000e ready for prime time yet, and what refinements have been made to the VX5000e since Dusseldorf? RG: The VX5000e printing system is ready for prime time. We've seen refinements in the area of reliability and serviceability, color management, image quality, RIP speed, consumables and a host of other areas. ODJ: What types of customers are showing the greatest interest and for what kinds of applications do you see them using the VX5000e? RG: We primarily see a lot of activity in the transaction, promotional and direct mail markets. Generally the customers we're working with are looking to provide 1-to-1 or highly personalized output at volumes that could not be economically addressed by other solutions. Many customers are looking for solutions for loyalty program statements and coupon programs. Most applications fall into the increasingly blurred world between traditional direct mail and transactional documents. We refer to these documents as TransPromo, documents with supporting data that more closely resembles a traditional transactional document, but with marketing and promotional content that more closely resembles highly personalized direct mail. Beyond direct mail, Trans Docs and TransPromo, we're seeing a lot of activity in the print-on-demand area: booklets, personalized info packs, etc. The list goes on. ODJ: Let's slow down the print speed and move over to wide format . This is clearly an area with plenty of potential and the Encad line has some competitive products. How does wide format fit in with other GCG offerings Wide format provides an opportunity to diversify and extend their offerings RG: Wide format is an optimal fit for GCG customers looking to expand into new market segments, leverage their current operations and offer a broader portfolio to expand campaigns and projects. For commercial printers, wide format provides an opportunity to diversify and extend their offerings in applications such as trade show graphics, point of purchase signage, banners, photographic enlargement, and proofing. Other opportunities are provided with the ability to print in variable sizes on a wide range of media and with formats that leverage their existing workflow and color management to increase revenues for each job and customer. ODJ: Where does Kodak see the greatest growth opportunities in wide format? RG: InfoTrends estimates 38 percent of commercial printers plan to purchase a wide-format printer in the next 12 months, with the largest growth in Point of Purchase (POP), display and retail signage graphics. Printers anticipate wide-format printing will represent 11.6 percent more of their overall revenue in the next two years We see the greatest growth with our Kodak wide-format inkjet media offering a competitively priced, universally compatible, full line portfolio of consistent quality with an industry leading Performance Guarantee. InfoTrends estimates 38 percent of commercial printers plan to purchase a wide-format printer in the next 12 months ODJ: A clear gap in the Kodak wide format line-up is UV curable inks. This limits the range of applications Kodak can address. Are there any plans to add a machine that uses UV curable inks, or to offer a larger format solution for big signage and wraps? RG: Kodak is evaluating several technologies, markets and applications to deliver the most optimal solutions to the market. In the near future, we will continue to offer industry-leading products suited to the many demanding market segments and applications being driven by inkjet technology to best meet the needs of our customers. ODJ: Compared to Europe and Asia, you have fewer customers in the U.S. using inkjet for transactional printing. What's your current take on where this market is going? The market is clearly taking notice of the need for color. RG: Though its true that our initial success in transaction printing environments was initially outside the U.S. marketplace, we have been experiencing significant growth in this market in the last few years. As a key vendor with a viable solution that can deliver color today or seamlessly allow modular upgrades to color, we see many of the leading service bureaus, and mainstream financial establishments realizing the benefits of color. Our print volume in spot color and process color increased over 50 percent from 2003 to 2004 and now stands at over 12 billion impressions worldwide. The market is clearly taking notice of the need for color. Marketing executives in our industries are looking for ways to better communicate with their customers, retailers are looking for new avenues for advertising, and consumers are looking for meaningful communications. These bode well with our offerings and our clients’ strategic directions. Among our customers, we find those with vision are looking at their customers in a holistic way -- understanding their business objectives and tailoring solutions that meet their needs. These service providers have the ability to develop full programs that are long lasting and deliver measurable value to their client every day. Many of these clients are now well on their way to acquire additional Kodak Versamark systems to accommodate their growing needs. Among our customers, we find those with vision are looking at their customers in a holistic way ODJ: What has to happen to get full color into transactional print? Or will it always be only for selected applications? RG: Transaction documents are already produced using color, albeit imprinting of black over a color shell. Kodak Versamark is lowering the barriers of entry into full variable digital color for the masses. We see the billing applications become a platform for new age of advertising that is enabled by Kodak Versamark’s full color digital printing. This will allow rapid growth in color implementation that as an industry leader we plan to promote and develop. This does not take away from our offerings in spot color and black & white as these will continue to exist as the industry migrates to more color full color digital printing. Please offer your feedback to Noel. He can be reached at

 

 

Become a Member

Join the thousands of printing executives who are already part of the WhatTheyThink Community.

Copyright © 2016 WhatTheyThink. All Rights Reserved