The Eastman Kodak Company will announce today that Barbara A. Pellow will be joining the company as Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President, Commercial Printing Group, reporting to James Langley, the President of the group. Pellow is well known in the printing industry for her work in bringing the Xerox DocuTech to market in 1990, and most recently, for the establishment of new programs and strategies in her role as Gannett Professor and Administrative Chair at the Rochester Institute of Technology School of Print Media. This announcement is a coup for Kodak, who is working to establish itself as a leader in digital printing solutions.

WhatTheyThink spoke with Pellow to learn more about why she decided to leave academia to pursue this role, and her vision for the future of Kodak's digital initiatives.

WTT: Barb, first of all, congratulations on your new role. When do you officially start?

BAP: May 1st, in time to participate in Kodak's activities at drupa.

WTT: Before we dive into the Kodak story, perhaps you could tell us a bit about your tenure at RIT, and what you feel best about having accomplished there.

BAP: Teaching is probably one of the most rewarding things one can do  working with college students and hopefully building leaders for the future for our industry. Interacting with the students was one of the most phenomenal experiences I have ever had. The other part of the job that was incredibly fun was the work I did with the Printing Industry Center at RIT. They have developed one of the most robust research agendas in the industry and I was pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to that.

WTT: And do you know who will be assuming the leadership role at RIT with your departure? We also understand that Frank Romano is retiring at the end of this school year as well.

BAP: Dr. Pat Sorce will be assuming the role of Administrative Chair for the School of Print Media. Frank will continue to play a role as a Professor Emeritus at RIT.

WTT: So why did you decide to take this leap?

BAP: The primary reason was that with the market move toward digital continuing to escalate, participating in the evolution of a company that is very committed to migrating into the world of digital technology was very important to me. Having had the opportunity to spend time with Antonio Perez and Jim Langley, it is clear to me that they are very serious about wanting to transform both Kodak and the printing industry in terms of leading a very strong digital transition. It is a part of the industry that has always fascinated and excited me, and Kodak has an interesting product portfolioits relationship with KPG, the acquisition of Scitex Digital Printing, the pending acquisitions of NexPress and Heidelberg Digital, and its ownership of Encad in the large format space. Having reviewed Kodak's technology portfolio, I also believe the company has future technologies that have the ability to be a disruptive force in the market and bring new levels technology, price and performance to the world of digital color.

WTT: Can you tell us how you see your role there? What will be the initial challenges you will tackle?

BAP: Probably the most important thing the marketing organization will need to do is to establish Kodak as a very credible brand for the commercial print market space. Kodak has a tremendous product portfolio that will serve the needs of corporate in plant operations, commercial printers, corporate data centers, and service bureaus both in the transactional and prepress space. We will need to build approaches that leverage product synergy and bring that portfolio to those market segments.

WTT: As you have indicated, the portfolio Kodak has assembled, including Encad, NexPress, Heidelberg Digital and the former Scitex Digital Printing (now Kodak Versamark), covers an interesting range. What are the shortfalls that you see, and how do you intend to position the company in the market?

BAP: I expect Kodak to continue to execute on its stated strategy of expanding product lines in a selective and disciplined manner with the ultimate objective of gaining market leadership. This will be a blend of leveraging Kodak's R&D capabilities and knowledge of image and color science, and acquiring external technologies through partnerships, alliances, distribution channels and other means, to enhance Kodak's position in the commercial printing market. This will require the development of a unified, standards-based workflow supporting a variety of both input and output devices. In terms of positioning, the Kodak brand is synonymous with quality, and we will leverage that brand identity in this market space as well.

WTT: As a bit of a late entrant, why do you think Kodak will succeed in this space?

BAP: The real question is, are they a late entrant? What they have done is to build an organization by assimilating some areas of investment they made early on, like KPG and NexPress, as well as more recent investments such as the VersaMark product line. Also as an organization, they have understood imaging and color science for a very long time. As I said earlier, the Kodak name is synonymous with quality imaging. What we will do, then, is deploy the company's knowledge and expertise in quality imaging in the form of digital products and services that are directly relevant to the commercial print market.

WTT: Tell me a little more about what you mean by that.

BAP: If you think about an in plant operation, a commercial printer, a digital service bureauthese businesses all have color management and proofing capability. The majority have some level of digital print technology. Many are aggressively looking at the large format market. And many are doing a combination of customized and/or one-to-one personalized communications. Kodak has made strategic investments in all these areas. And while there is still work to be done in terms of filling out the portfolio, they have a set of strategic investments that enables them to play across all elements of the commercial printing spaceright now.

WTT: Barb, thanks for your time today. Any final thoughts you would like to share with our readers?

BAP: This is a very exciting place to be at this particular time in our industry and I am looking forward to the challenge. Realistically, growth in the printing market is going to come from digital. Depending on which industry guru you listen to, digital will experience double-digit compound annual growth rates. Having the opportunity to work with a company that is committed to participating in this growth will be challenging and fun. If you think about it, in the work that Kodak is committed to doing, it is helping its customers make a better impression, both with best-of-breed technology and best of breed solutions. Stay tuned. You will be hearing a lot more from us soon!