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Commentary & Analysis

Free: The Numbers, Adaptive Software and Words from McGlynn and Shamir

The numbers just in from the On Demand Show indicate it was clearly a big success.

By Noel Ward
Published: March 19, 2004

The numbers just in from the On Demand Show indicate it was clearly a big success. Smaller booths among the bigger vendors resulted in a 9 percent reduction in floor space, but according to unaudited data, there were some 448 exhibitors compared to 438. Total attendance of 33,753 was up 24 percent, and conference attendance of 2,134 was up 65 percent. These tallies will drop somewhat when audited figures are available in a few weeks (accounting for vendor personnel, press and analysts), but On Demand 2004 will be remembered as a busy show--maybe even a little bit the way things used to be--and that is very encouraging.

Océ PRISMA Adaptive Workflow Software

In addition to rolling out its new VarioStream 9000 and CPS 900 printers, Océ clarified how its PRISMA workflow architecture is configured to address the needs of specific markets. PRISMA comprises nearly 60 different modules, some developed by Océ and others by partners, which are tightly integrated into PRISMA. While customers have always been able to select the modules they need, it was not always clear which ones were best for their specific applications.

Bob Raus, Director of Solutions Marketing at Océ's Digital Document Systems division said Océ has now packaged various modules in ways that address the needs of four broad markets--transactional printing, print-on-demand, office and network, and CRDs. This way a customer can be assured of acquiring a complete solution while retaining the long-standing advantages of PRISMA's modularity. A transactional printing customer, for instance, can easily add the tools needed to provide print-on-demand services such as publishing, while a CRD can add the capabilities to manage office and network printers across an enterprise.

Raus says this approach is part of Océ's focus on the customer, recognizing that different environments require increasingly tailored solutions. "Beyond the four solution sets, we focus on a customer's business, asking them what issues they have they are trying to solve, learning where their priorities are, and then relating those to the elements of PRISMA that can help them." By example, Raus describes a financial services company that is producing prospectuses and investment guides for their customers. Such a firm might use Océ's Document Designer and Doc Setter to create the content and look and feel of a document, then TrueProof (Océ's on-screen proofing software), to check layout, pagination and front-to-back registration before sending the job to print using PRISMAweb which supports job submission to a CRD or in-plant printer.

The new solution sets are complete packages that include PRISMA Adaptive Workflow modules, Océ Professional Implementation Services, end-user training, and robust servers. Options include software and server investment protection, data verification, document tracking, SAP support, and custom accounting, programming and integration services.

A Few Minutes with Bill McGlynn

For one reason or another, Bill McGlynn, Vice President of Digital Publishing Solutions at Hewlett-Packard, and I seem to connect about every third trade show. We managed to get about 45 minutes in a fairly quite spot and covered a bit of ground.

With every other vendor settled into traditional booth spaces, the big blue Hewlett-Packard road show trailer with pull-out sides was something of a surprise to many attendees.

"This isn't one of our big shows," explained McGlynn, "It's not like GraphExpo where we have to bring out everything we offer. The crowd is more like DMA here, and we get corporate traffic in addition to print providers. The truck is very effective for us in this situation. Plus it was a lot less expensive than having a traditional booth. We just drove the truck in and were ready to go very quickly. And the truck will be out of here within 4 hours of when the show closes."

HP has two trucks in the U.S. and two in Europe. "We do a personalized direct marketing drop when the truck is due in a particular town, and people can go to the web site to sign up. When they do that, a lot of the stuff that prints in the truck is personalized for them. It works out very well and we close business in the trucks."

McGlynn said there are about 2,150 of its Indigo line of machines installed worldwide, including those in place prior to HP's acquisition of Indigo. The company has enjoyed 40 percent year-over-year revenue growth, with pages increasing about 60 percent. These pages are primarily short-run color printing, rather than variable data printing, an important distinction. HP's strategy has been to sell to commercial printers, an audience generally less inclined to tackle the challenges of variable content, but which sees the advantages of offering short-run full-color printing to its customers.

"The variable data is coming, but the logjam is really in the corporation. They don't know how to use it. They would like to if they thought it was reliable. On the other hand, it's not just direct mail and transactions with variable data. Look at something like on-demand printing of manuals. We ship about a million inkjet printers a week, worldwide, so we need a lot of manuals. If you overshoot the number of manuals you need even a little bit, it's a lot of money. But in shifting to on-demand we print what we need. And it's not just for inkjet printers. We have computers and servers and laptops and everything else. Plus, doing them on-demand helps ensure all the information and diagrams are up-to-date and correct. This is a great strategy and it can be very important for all kinds of manufacturing companies."

McGlynn also described a new tool called CMYK Plus that maps ICC profiles to the gamut of a particular print engine while taking into account paper types and brightness. CMYK Plus will become available on high-and low-end devices. "People say, 'you wouldn't put this on a low-end device,' but it's actually more so there, because people print their photos on desktop printers. You might have a PhotoSmart printer at home and you can just do a drop right off the web and put it on your printer."

HP has an advantage in offering this kind of technology because its product line encompasses so many different types of printers and presses. For consumers and corporate customers alike, though, it presents a great argument for using an HP device as the printer of choice.

Rebuilding Two Brands

I could go on, but we're almost out of space and I still have Kodak Versamark to cover. I'll be doing an interview with Homi Shamir in On Demand Journal between now and drupa, so for now I'll briefly recap some of Shamir's remarks at the Kodak press conference. Although Kodak's acquisition of Scitex Digital Printing was made in November, the actual integration didn't begin until early January. So while much has been done, there is far more to do. Nonetheless, Shamir is pleased with the progress and what it portends for the future.

"There have been a number of instances already in which former SDP engineers have met with Kodak engineers and found the technology they needed was available," says Shamir. "Kodak has so much color and inkjet expertise in-house and it's exciting to find we can leverage it so quickly."

He noted a key focus is reintroduction of the former SDP technology as Kodak Versamark and the associated branding of the company and products. "In doing so," he said, "our mission is to lead the transformation of data-driven production printing through application of personalized, relevant messages. Kodak gives us tremendous brand recognition, and will be a great asset as we roll out our new technology at drupa." (That is a new 300 x 1200 inkjet device driven by a new controller developed in conjunction with EFI.)

More broadly, Kodak is re-branding itself as a force to be reckoned with in the commercial print space. Offering both high-speed inkjet and toner based presses (NexPress) gives the firm a unique position in the market and while the branding will take some time, it does rearrange the chess board of the printing industry.

That's a wrap for On Demand 2004. But brace yourself. Drupa is coming and coverage starts in just a few weeks.



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