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Thought Leadership Video Series

Kodak's Jon Bracken on workflow

Published on August 2, 2011

Jon Bracken, General Manager of Unified Workflow with Kodak, chats with Cary Sherburne about what kind of workflow automation printers should be looking at.

Cary Sherburne:  Hi, I'm Cary Sherburne, senior editor at WhatTheyThink.com and I'm here with John Bracken, who is general manager of Kodak’s Unified Workflow Solutions.  

John Bracken:  Yes.  Good morning Cary.

Cary Sherburne:  We’re happy to see you today.

John Bracken:  Yeah, thank you.

Cary Sherburne:  And you’ve been in this business a long time and you talk to a lot of customers and maybe we could start by you could share with us what customers are looking for in terms of workflow today.  It is a pretty complex world out there and they are under a lot of pressure.  So what is it they need to be or they want to be looking at?

John Bracken:  So I think the theme of the last few years has been one of automation and integration.  Customers are looking for solutions that drive a huge amount of efficiency through their business, but increasingly that is a bit of a given.  They have to be efficient to be in business still.  Customers are increasingly looking for ways of differentiating themselves and that is really driving us to deliver software that allows them to grow.

Cary Sherburne:  Okay and so are you seeing more of the real end-to-end automation because we went through a period?  JDF was announced in 2000 and it is 2011 now and we have gone through a period of some people implementing and some people not.  Are you seeing more end-to-end touchless kind of lights out processing going on?

John Bracken:  Lights out, there is an interesting phrase.  Light out I mean we still are working towards light out and for certain types of work you can achieve it, but for general commercial print it still is a craft that you need to interact with, but we automate I think more than many people do.  The end-to-end integration it depends where you are in the world is how I would answer that.  In the developed markets like North America, like Western Europe we’re seeing it increasingly where we’re tying the web portal, the front end through into the production system and then the production system and the portal into the MIS system.

Cary Sherburne:  And those can be from multiple different vendors.

John Bracken:  Multiple different vendors, yes and standards like JDF make that integration more straightforward, but it still requires the vendors to sit around a table with a customer and actually discuss what you’re trying to achieve collectively.

Cary Sherburne:  So the promise of just put JDF compliant stuff in and it will work without a problem we’re not there yet.

John Bracken:  I’m not sure we ever will be.  I mean the dream of plug and play JDF isn’t there.  Within JDF there is interoperability conformance specifications and we all as vendors work towards those, but even with them it requires a dialogue, cooperation between the vendors and you see us working very closely with I mean North America obviously, EFI are very important and we work very well with them and we have plenty of customers now who have got Prinergy link through to their or one of their MIS systems.

Cary Sherburne:  And so that sort of leads into the next question, which is what is the Kodak strategy for workflow going forward?

John Bracken:  Well our strategy has not really changed for several years.  What you have seen from us is the development and execution of that strategy.  There are two major things that we continue to focus on.  The first one is automation and integration.  Through our rules-based automation technology I think we deliver.  We also make more of the stuff more of the time and that is all that we can ever hope to iterate towards and the other thing is the integration, not only with our own products, but with third party products in a very open way and you have seen from us recently integration from a production workflow perspective down to the EFI Fiery digital control of digital print and the HP Production Flow, so that we’re not only embracing Kodak products within that unified workflow, but also third parties.

The other aspect of the strategy is to invest in technologies that enable our customers to grow.  We’re doing that not only through software, but services as well, which I think we talked about last time we spoke, technologies like campaign management, but also helping our customers adopt that technology through managed campaign services.

Cary Sherburne:  Well it’s interesting because I've talked to—I talk to a lot of printers, but I've talked to a lot of people recently that have Prinergy and have rules-based automation, but they haven’t really implemented it to its fullest advantage and so do they reach out to you?  Do you reach out to them?  How do you get that message across that you have services that can help them do this?

John Bracken:  So the first thing that we offer training and obviously customers who feel confident enough can build rules for themselves.  The other one and originally we were going to speak at the User Association meeting, customers post questions on the forums and say:  “I’d like to automate this.  Has anyone tried it?”

Cary Sherburne:  Okay, so networking.

John Bracken:  Networking and you often see on the forums customers actually post rules and in some cases actually scripts that customers can then just sort of copy, paste from the forums into their workflows, but if the challenge  is sort of greater than that then we can help customers do it and we have plenty of examples now where we have gone on site, done an evaluation of what the customer really wants to achieve and then delivered sets of rules and their return on investment on some of these rules is unbelievable.

Cary Sherburne:  Yeah, I was just going to say the return on investment on those services must be huge.

John Bracken:  Yeah, it depends on what we do for the customer.  I mean simple ones, automating archival and purging processes can save $60,000 a year.  We have had one example where we have implemented 12 quite complex rules at a customer site which does and makes sheet fed printing and digital printing and we did an ROI and we worked out there would be the equivalent of $800,000 worth of extra capacity or saving depending on how you wanted to realize it.

Cary Sherburne:  Sometimes those numbers are so big they’re hard to believe, right.

John Bracken:  And they are and the software tool itself can be measured in tens of thousands and even the services of tens of thousands, so you’re measuring return on investment in days or weeks.

Cary Sherburne:  That’s great.  Thanks John. 

John Bracken:  My pleasure.

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