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Heidelberg Executives Examine Interplay Between Different Technologies

Press release from the issuing company

December 11, 2002 -- "We must look at print media production even more from our customers' perspective. The key question is how print media can best be used to help customers reach their communication goals. In this case, technology aspects take a back seat. What counts is the ability to flexibly employ all relevant and suitable technologies for efficient communication using print media". This sums up the main conclusions reached at an international discussion between Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) and media experts from twelve European countries. The aim of the discussion was to examine the interplay between different technologies such as offset and digital printing. The media experts who took part in the discussion see the printers' current situation as fraught with difficulties. Price wars and the hard-fought battle for customers place heavy demands on companies and sometimes even threaten their very existence. Companies must perform well in order to provide investment funds for new technological processes. The majority feel, therefore, that the way forward lies in dynamic-aggressive corporate concepts that focus on solving customers' problems. In other words, "companies who can show print customers new ways of saving time and money will be rewarded with success!" Dr. Klaus Spiegel, member of Heidelberg's Management Board, added fuel to the discussions by highlighting some fundamental points: "Digitization of print media offers some fantastic opportunities. Printshop customers benefit from increased speed, enhanced quality and greater flexibility in production." For Heidelberg, as a solution provider for the print industry, Dr. Spiegel emphasized two requirements: 1.Thorough understanding of market needs. Only companies with a profound and broad-based understanding of customer needs can provide customers with effective long-term support in safeguarding the profitability of their business. 2.Comprehensive strategy. Companies who want to achieve maximum efficiency must support the whole print media production process. Andreas Forer, responsible for Direct Imaging and DTP on the Product Management team at Heidelberg, added: "Our technology portfolio is organized in a complementary way. It is not based on a divisional approach. We put the customers in a position where they can choose from a number of different options for the jobs they need done." Forer is noticing a rapidly growing number of customers who, alongside their traditional work of producing print products, are also actively supporting their customers' marketing activities. For instance, supporting customer relationship measures using database publishing is a particularly lucrative option, and one which generates new print jobs and keeps the machine park in constant use. Paul Willems, Marketing & Sales Manager Europe for the Heidelberg/Kodak joint venture NexPress Solutions, explained that NexPress is concentrating on profitable solutions. "The market's training needs are considerable. We are working with our customers to create market-focused, partnership-based solutions that bring benefits to end customers." Willems is therefore committed to providing extensive training in cooperation with the Heidelberg Print Media Academy. Case studies are also being documented to show what measures can currently be undertaken successfully. Some new record breaking applications are demonstrating that digital print is coming to a higher level of maturity and that creative thinking, backed by the right business model can lead to attractive new profitability sources. For Dr. Klaus Spiegel, the broad spectrum of solutions provides an incentive for continuous innovation. "Customers like our approach of integrating the process steps, from creation and production right through to logistics. We will not give up our quest to seek out our customers' needs through intensive discussions and market contacts in order to provide them with the best possible solutions." The facilitator of the specialist discussions, Andreas Weber, trade journalist and spokesperson of the DigitaldruckForum, summed up the proceedings on behalf of his media colleagues: "We'll soon make headway as long as we face up to the problems of the print industry and discuss them openly. The tasks facing us can only mastered if print customers and production service providers work efficiently together hand in hand. "We need open dialogs like the one in Heidelberg to help us take a broader view," stated Weber. Only by taking others seriously will we be taken seriously ourselves. In other words, the performance of the print industry needs to be measured in terms of how it benefits its customers' communication needs