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Fifth Third Bank Works with Ricoh to Transform In-Plant Operations (Commentary by Cary Sherburne)

Friday, April 04, 2014

Press release from the issuing company

Print Operation Delivers 170 Million Annual Impressions of Color Output for Nearly 1,400 Banking Centers Across the Country

Ricoh today announced that Fifth Third Bank, a diversified financial services company that is among the leading money managers in the Midwest, has transformed its in-plant operations by tapping Ricoh to support its new, more efficient way of working – providing increased flexibility and cost-savings. Fifth Third Bank has selected the market-leading InfoPrint® 5000 continuous feed print platform and RICOH® ProcessDirector™ workflow software for the production of full-color transactional MICR documents for customers from 1,320 full-service Banking Centers in 12 states.

Fifth Third Bank produces 170M impressions annually and nearly 70M annual mailings in addition to the Bank’s significant online customer base that receives digital documents. With such an immense volume it is vital for the company to provide clients with three important things: the highest quality documents; delivering these confidential, critical communications accurately; and, meeting important regulatory requirements and deadlines. By adding the InfoPrint 5000 platform to its print environment, Fifth Third Bank is no longer burdened with legacy software and hardware, limited marketing opportunities, inevitable operating cost increases, restricted flexibility and outdated black and white documents.

“Traditionally in-house print operations are a cost center for a company. In our case, even more so than a more traditional bank, it is not enough to be cost-neutral, we have to be able to prove that our operations will ultimately save the company money,” said Mark Kearns, vice president, Bancorp Mail & Print Services, Fifth Third Bank. “The InfoPrint 5000 has allowed us to bring in the value of color, while decreasing costs. Shortly after installation, we quickly had a high visibility internal customer bring previously outsourced work back in-house thanks to the new color solution. A win for our customer and a win for us.”

Ricoh’s InfoPrint 5000 platform and RICOH ProcessDirector Express bring Fifth Third Bank an unprecedented level of cost effectiveness, scalability, flexibility and expanded marketing opportunities. Because Ricoh software and hardware are able to meet all regulatory requirements and deadlines, the Bank can now better capitalize on the demands of its credit card business, deliver transpromo output in full, variable data color faster and more effectively, and save on marketing campaigns with onserts, all of which means bringing more work in-house.

Fifth Third Bank has also streamlined hardware costs by returning all leased legacy equipment and converting currently owned assets into a disaster recovery low cost back-up solution, ensuring uninterrupted communications for all customers.

“The diligence Fifth Third Bank has shown in transforming their in-plant operations demonstrates the passion they have for delivering the best value to their customers in today’s new way of work. This is a key milestone for us, enabling Fifth Third Bank to decrease costs, expand business opportunities and exceed customer expectations,” said Winston Liu, vice president, Commercial Solutions, Continuous Feed, Ricoh. “There are many reasons Ricoh was named market leader by IDC for six consecutive years.* We think one major reason is customer satisfaction, like that represented here through our work with Fifth Third Bank.”

More details on Fifth Third Bank’s installation of the InfoPrint 5000, Transforming In-Plant Customer Communications at Fifth Third Bank, can be viewed in the Xplor Webcast, available for download here: http://xduonline.net/video/XplorRicoh120413/XplorRicoh120413.html

* IDC’s U.S. Quarterly Production Print Tracker


Commentary by Cary Sherburne

As always, it is a pleasure to talk to customers, and Mark Kearns, vice president, Bancorp Mail & Print Services, Fifth Third Bank, is no exception. I was able to speak with him, joined by Mike Herold, Director, Continuous Feed Inkjet Technologies at Ricoh, about his experience with the InfoPrint 5000, why they chose the device and what kinds of results they have been seeing.

Mark runs an in-plant operation that has historically delivered black & white transactional documents for the bank and its customers. The operation runs as a cost center. I found it interesting that the InfoPrint 5000 was justified based on the cost savings associated with ability to retire several toner-based print engines from another vendor. He also took a multilevel approach to the justification process within the organization, fully understanding that different constituents had different criteria for supporting such a decision. He stated, “Since we are a cost center for the bank, and primarily produce customer transactional documents, we can’t generate more money from customers by moving to color. But there was a significant cost saving associated with retiring part of our existing fleet and smart usage of the rest.” He points out that the CFO is focused on cost, while marketing is focused on the future capabilities that color can bring to the mix and both are focused on being the One bank people most value and trust.

He also points out that several of the devices that were retired were MICR machines, which meant that all black toner was the more expensive MICR toner, and having MICR capability was critical to the decision. With the InfoPrint 5000, he can selectively print MICR, abandoning the extra cost associated with MICR toner when it had to be used for the entire document. Another are of cost savings was the addition of a Hunkeler DP6 dynamic perfer, which eliminates the need to buy boxes of pre-perfed paper with the ability to perf on the fly.

Mark adds, “Our bank has begun to look at a more comprehensive customer communications management process, and we helped lead it from print. However, you have to protect your brand, and we always vet anything new coming into the shop with marketing and legal. Good software makes that easier, and we are pleased with the Ricoh software solutions that come with the press.”

When asked what the key decision points were other than MICR, Mark cited the compact footprint as compared to some other choices in the market with a space-constrained environment. But more importantly, he said, “What brought us over the edge was the service. You expect a printer to print; that is table stakes. But I have to have faith that the technicians will keep it running, and that there is good software that supports it. As a bank, a lot of our hardware is IBM based, and Ricoh’s production printing IBM heritage gave me confidence that this would go smoothly. In fact, we put it into production without skipping a beat.”

As to the future, Mark plans to gradually introduce more color, gradually move many of the inserts to onserts, and bring more outsourced print in-house as appropriate. He concluded, “Half of my bank customers have suppressed paper statements, so it is in my best interest to encourage that, especially since I own the postage budget. But we also want to support customers that prefer paper. I want to make sure they get the most value; postage is 85% to 90% of the cost of a statement whether you stick a poor quality statement in an envelope, or a work of art. You want to maximize the value of what is in the envelope, and that’s what Ricoh software, hardware and services provide.”

Mike Herold added, “It was good to work with Mark. He was always very open with us about what he liked and didn’t like, and what he was concerned about. One of the things that weighed in our favor was our legacy in managing data, workflow and process. We have to look at the printer as enabling technology, and it has to perform basic functions; we know we can do that. What is important are the other pieces you can pull together to get customers to what they are doing today and help them transition to what they want to do tomorrow. That comes down to the software tools and the people that will support them in making that transition. That is typically a differentiator for us.”


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