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Commentary & Analysis

The New Xerox: What It Means for Software Strategy

Senior Editor Cary Sherburne recently spoke with Xerox executive Jacob Aizikowitz about his new role as head of the new Xerox Software Products Group to learn more about how the new Xerox is bringing together its diverse software development efforts.

By Cary Sherburne
Published: July 4, 2017

In January, the split of Xerox Corporate took effect. So what does that mean for software development in what is being termed the New Xerox? I spoke with Jacob Aizikowitz who has taken on the role as head of the new Xerox Software Products Group, while also continuing as President of XMPie, to find out more.

WTT: Jacob, thanks for speaking with me. As the New Xerox continues to take shape, the formation of the Software Products Group seems to be a significant step. Can you tell us a little more about that?

JA: It’s an exciting time, and it is all about new energy and a new focus. We took the decision to put the FreeFlow suite of solutions – minus the server which was sold to EFI – and XMPie into one group, which I have the honor of leading. The purpose of this is to expand our addressable market, making sure we are addressing the market with the right value propositions to the right people. In addition, we will benefit from synergies across our software development and marketing teams.

WTT:  With the print server pulled out of the FreeFlow mix, what is left?

JA:  The FreeFlow Suite includes several key offerings.

One is the FreeFlow Core platform, which is a suite of workflow components, covering the basic and advanced needs of modern digital printing and classic operations...

Another is the VIPP suite of offerings, which is focusing on transaction-oriented variable data printing. This is complementary to XMPie’s solutions, which are focused mainly outside of the transactional printing domain.

The third area is digital publishing with FreeFlow Digital Publisher developed in collaboration with Xerox partner GTxcel. This enables people to make content that is ready for print to become available digitally.

There are other elements in the FreeFlow Suite, some of them more legacy but still in the market, and those elements will have life for some time.

WTT:  What happens to the transactional printing software elements? Xerox has been in that business for many years.

JA:  And we will continue to be. That is also part of the Software Products Group, the VI Suite, VIPP, etc. This is an area that is a little disconnected from what XMPie addresses, for example, but there are interesting opportunities for combining all those capabilities to expand our market reach.

WTT:  So how would you characterize the overlying strategy for the Software Products Group?

JA:  As a unifying workflow concept focused on automation for printing companies, both in streamlining their operations and in using solutions like XMPie to look for new business opportunities

WTT:  How is Xerox thinking about the current state of the industry?

JA:  If you take a step back and look at the market today from a high level, you see that both printers and marketing service providers are challenged with the need to transform their businesses. We aim to provide them with state-of-the-art technology that will help them tackle this challenge, and become the digital-savvy businesses they all aspire to be.

One trigger for transformation is the need to receive many short-run jobs over the web and handle their processing with the utmost efficiency. This requires powerful workflow automation that is integrated seamlessly with high-quality print ecommerce, and that is a key focus for us as we work to support our customers.

The other trigger for transformation is broader. It’s the intersection of enabling marketers to practice personalized printing as part of their multichannel strategies, and enabling print providers to create and manage engagement – customer journeys and experiences, across time and media touch points (including print) – rather than just being an implementer of, say, direct mail, or even just email.

Many marketers in enterprises have become accustomed to using digital media – email, landing pages, web pages, mobile – and they don’t necessarily see how to blend them together with print, even though print media has value as part of the mix. At the same time, many print service providers still think in terms of a single document, a single print piece, or just web-to-print. Such thinking and business practices will not allow a print provider to engage a marketing executive, and this will eventually lead to decline in the printer’s business.

Our goal in the software business is to enable omnichannel experiences, where print media is one of the channels in the mix of touch points, and also, to bring to the service providers the ability to engage their customers with a value proposition around campaigns, marketing automation, and overall customer journeys, rather than just print or email or landing sites alone.

All of this, of course, with a high degree of personalization as needed and with utmost attention to quality, creative, reproduction, and experience.

WTT:  A decade ago, you and I wrote a white paper on this topic, focused on the cross-media concept; and at the time; it seemed quite visionary. Now it is all coming to pass.

JA:  Yes, in our work (and in the technology direction of XMPie), we made the point that consistency across channels is a critical requirement for cross-media. This was – and still is – the key challenge: putting together campaigns with a print piece, an email piece, and, say, a landing site piece, when there is no guarantee that these individual touch points will be consistent and synergistic is relatively easy. Doing the same with a guarantee of consistency and synergy – which is the ultimate dream – is challenging, and that was where our software made a big difference.

Today, this is exactly what people mean when they talk about omnichannel. It’s about experiences where all touch points are reflecting one view of the customer. So I am obviously pleased with us being there to make omnichannel a practical reality for our customers. These ideas are also fleshed out in a more recent white paper we created.

WTT:  So it looks like the new Xerox is moving quickly to put together that unified view to bring all those efficiencies to customers.

JA:  Yes, that’s our task; and I think there is good recognition of that at Xerox. In the new Xerox, there is more focus on a particular set of customers and solutions; and it is easier to navigate within that more defined space.

 

Cary Sherburne is a well-known author, journalist and marketing consultant whose practice is focused on marketing communications strategies for the printing and publishing industries.

Cary Sherburne is available for speaking engagements and consulting projects. To get more information contact us.

Please offer your feedback to Cary. She can be reached at cary@whattheythink.com.

 

Discussion

By Gerhard Maertterer on Jul 07, 2017

By remembering the last 15 years in One-to-One Biz and reading this interview, I have a song, stuck in my head of sister sledge: „We are family, I got all my brothers with me ...“

XMPie was founded in the year 2000, DirectSmile in 2002 and my own company AlphaPicture in 2003. Now XMPie is a Xerox company, offering „The technology for engaging your audiences with personalized, relevant communications across Print and Digital media touchpoints“. Now DirectSmile is an EFI-company, offering software, which „allows you to create, personalize and automate marketing across web, e-mail, mobile, social and print media“. Now I am at Eversfrank, offering OMNIPRINT, which is „Variable data publishing in all channels from a single source, practice-orientated, effective, fast and extremely flexible“. Indeed my brothers, we all have the same DNA ...

Get up everybody and sing: We are family.
Ev'ryone can see we're together
As we walk on by ...

Living life is fun and we've just begun
To get our share of the world's delights
(HIGH!) high hopes we have for the future
And our goal's in sight
(WE!) no we don't get depressed
'Cause here's what we call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do
You won't go wrong
This is our family Jewel

 

By Cary Sherburne on Jul 07, 2017

Thanks for weighing in, Gerhard, always nice to hear from you

 

By Jacob Aizikowitz on Jul 09, 2017

XMPie was founded on the vision of making Personalization be a Strategy and not a Media-discipline.
At the year 1999-2000, Personalization, for most people, meant Internet. For few -- those in Print -- it was a Digital Print discipline.
We decided to start a company with the mission of creating a SW platform that will enable personalization in Print and in Digital Media, from a common foundation of Data and Rules. This would enable cross media personalization where the consistency across all different media touch points is guaranteed. This was one of the key points in the white paper I wrote with Cary Sherburne around 10 years ago. And this is pretty much what is today named: Omnichannel.
Personalization for objects (like, for example, images), or for print alone, or for landing sites, or even for the transactional-flavor of print, is cool, engaging, and making a difference. However, as the world becomes more and more digital, and more and more integrated, the holistic view that was (and is) at the core of XMPie, becomes the common goal and the uniting direction for many in the industry.
A major force driving for Omnichannel is the Marketing Automation set of disciplines, except that for them Omnichannel does not include Print. So, part of our mission -- now "our" in Gerhard's flavor -- is to make Print an equal citizen in the media mix that makes the Omnichannel experiences.

 

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