By Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com September 14, 2006 (Special interview from our sister site, WhatTheyThink.com) With little fanfare, industry veteran Bob Raus departed his position as Océ’s Director of Software and Professional Services Marketing to take on the role of Vice President of Worldwide Marketing for the VUTEk product line at EFI. Moving from sunny Boca Raton, Florida, to the shores of New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesauke at VUTEk’s Meredith headquarters, Raus took on the role as EFI was wrapping up its seventh annual Connect users’ conference in early May, the first Connect to showcase VUTEk hardware. WhatTheyThink spoke with Raus to find out how he was adjusting to life in the North and the transition to EFI. WTT: Bob, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Perhaps you could start by telling us what attracted you to the VUTEk opportunity at EFI. RR: At the time EFI acquired VUTEk in June of 2005, I heard about it, of course, but didn’t really know much about VUTEk or wide format. But I did find it interesting that EFI, a software company, would purchase a hardware company. So I was intrigued when the marketing position came up and decided to look into it. WTT: What did you do at Xerox and Océ? It dawned on me that this would be a different experience than I had had in the past, a company that is software-centric, using the hardware to drive more software sales –while also pursuing a strong growth strategy for the hardware. RR: My background with Xerox was in applications marketing, industry marketing, where I used in-house and partner software products to help customers use the equipment to its fullest value. The approach was to understand their business challenges and related business processes -then develop hardware and software solutions that helped solve those issues for them. At Océ, I was Director of Software and Professional Services Marketing and focused on the same goal while managing the PRISMA family of products, software partnerships and professional service offerings to streamline the processes that lead up to printing and into post-press. WTT: Now that you have been part of the EFI family for several months, what are your thoughts about EFI’s market approach and the reason the company acquired VUTEk? RR: One of the challenges of focusing on software at companies like Xerox and Océ was that software was always viewed as a box enabler. Justifiably, the primary goal is to sell the hardware. But you package software with it to help customers get data to printers faster, and to add value. EFI’s has a more balanced model that leverages the installed base of VUTEk printers and EFI software equally to add value to both sides. WTT: So what have you learned about how VUTEk fits into this software-centric environment? RR: EFI uses what is known internally as "The Slide" to describe its vision of a printshop where workflow is streamlined from job acceptance through print production. I was impressed that the business vision could be articulated so clearly, and it dawned on me that this would be a different experience than I had had in the past, a company that is software-centric, using the hardware to drive more software sales –while also pursuing a strong growth strategy for the hardware. It was an exciting proposition for me. And while the company certainly gets value from the annuity stream on inks and service that VUTEk delivers, that revenue stream wasn’t the only reason for the acquisition. "The Slide" shows how the VUTEk product line clearly fits into the vision. Not only does VUTEk fit into that vision from a production perspective, it also brings EFI into a market where no other player has a formalized software strategy. That gives EFI the opportunity to cross-sell its software solutions into that market, as well as to sell superwide format solutions into its core commercial print market. WTT: EFI recently made a couple of announcements relative to VUTEk. Tell us about those. (Be sure to read Changing the Game in Superwide Printing, ODJ, August 22, 2006) RR: Yes, we announced the VUTEk QS2000 UV-curing digital inkjet printer, a fourth-generation UV printer and the first in a new category of printers that combine EFI’s production and workflow management technologies with the market-leading digital print capabilities of its VUTEk superwide format printers. With the integration of the Fiery XF production RIP, the VUTEk QS2000 is the first step in realizing that vision of fully integrated business processes throughout the entire print shop. We also launched the new branding, EFI VUTEk, to better represent the advancements in integrated products and business processes we’re making. WTT: So how does that change competitive positioning for VUTEk? RR: Our competitors in the superwide format space tend to focus solely on the printing. With the new levels of integration, we have the ability to deliver solutions that will help print service providers succeed across their entire business operation. So we are doing what no one else can in the superwide format space, quite literally, differentiating not only on what the engine can deliver, but across the entire business with a full suite of proven workflow software. WTT: What is new with the QS2000? The integrated software and VUTEk product lines from EFI provide a logical extension and profitable entry point to the growing superwide printing arena. RR: The key differentiator for this product is that we are not compromising quality for speed. It uses what we call High Definition Print. While others may compete on one aspect of image quality – such as resolution alone, VUTEk HDP delivers a unique combination of several technological capabilities within the QS2000—print resolutions up to 1080 dpi, six-color printing, unique VUTEk image smoothing algorithms and the integration with the EFI Fiery XF RIP—produce the best image quality in the industry. The QS2000 is our first example of the value represented by the new EFI VUTEk brand. Award winning software coupled with industry-leading printers puts us in a new league where we are truly the only player. Superwide format customers are looking to streamline workflows, and at the same time commercial printers who have already worked to streamline their workflows are looking to superwide format for new revenue streams. The integrated software and VUTEk product lines from EFI provide a logical extension and profitable entry point to the growing superwide printing arena. Because EFI is the only superwide printer manufacturer that services both sides of the market, it makes it a much more compelling argument to work with EFI. WTT: What are the key challenges you will be addressing over the next several months? RR: One important focus is the distribution channel. We are growing our distribution network into a number of new markets that we haven’t been in before as VUTEk, although EFI is already in many of those markets. As we gain a larger presence in South America, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe, we are building distribution and building processes around growing the distribution channels for equipment sales and support, and ink distribution. My team and I will also be focusing on messaging for the VUTEk product line, as well as on the development of new products, specifying what we need to build next and where we want to go in the future. Besides that, we are working on creating sales tools, systems, and marketing campaigns to support direct and distribution sales channels. And we are looking at how we can develop even better ways to service our customers with a clear focus on their business needs and requirements. WTT: Bob, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. Is there anything else you would like to add before we close? RR: The future is pretty wide open. I am excited to be part of the EFI leadership team because EFI brings a whole new dimension to this marketplace that fits perfectly with my views on how to best help customers achieve success. That, combined with the fact that this market is growing significantly year over year, makes it a dynamic and exciting place to be. I am looking forward to learning a lot and to helping EFI VUTEk expand its leadership position as we go forward.