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New Kodak Workflow Solutions at drupa, WTT Analysis

Press release from the issuing company

DUSSELDORF, GERMANY, Jan. 15 - (SEE COMMENTS FROM CARY SHERBURNE BELOW) - Kodak’s Print On Demand Solutions (PODS) Group will present a new workflow initiative for its OEM partners at drupa 2008. The new workflow offering addresses the needs of digital print providers for advanced and automated workflows supporting the growth of the digital production printing market. This growth presents new challenges such as increasing numbers of short runs and web-generated print jobs and the need to eliminate manual re-entry of job info, as well as to reduce error rates and turnaround time. In order to tackle these challenges and increase profitability, digital production print environments must invest in deploying automated workflows. The PODS Group will offer its OEM partners comprehensive workflow solutions that support the entire workflow spectrum. This new offering leverages Kodak’s Unified Workflow Solutions, such as KODAK PRINERGY and KODAK INSITE Software technologies, and provides PODS channels with a high value proposition to their customers and print providers. The workflow strategy of the PODS group is based on open JDF standards. It is geared to develop automation between all elements of the print process, and connect in a modular way an array of leading applications and systems that are offered by the PODS Group or other industry vendors. PODS Digital Workflow Solutions will be tightly integrated within the portfolio’s components and through the CREO Color Servers family, providing an effective gateway to a wide range of digital presses from HP, IKON, Kodak, Konica Minolta and Xerox. “The fast growth of the digital printing market presents operational challenges for digital print providers,” said Gershon Alon, Director, Workflow Business Unit, PODS Group. “This growth requires an efficient and automated workflow to increase productivity and profitability for the print providers. Our OEM partners will benefit from best in class workflow products and solutions, backed by Kodak’s technology and integrated with the well known CREO Color Servers. This tight integration provides print providers with a flexible portfolio of products that is unmatched for profitability and effectiveness.” A new workflow business unit has been formed in the PODS Group to support the growing needs of the workflow activities. WhatTheyThink.com Senior Editor Cary Sherburne Comments: Here in Dusseldorf at drupa 2008 Media Week, the Creo Print On Demand Solutions Group (PODS), the OEM color server business of Kodak, shared with nearly 150 media representatives from around the world how its products fit into a unified workflow solution. Kodak VP Judi Hess suggested to the group that as an industry, we need to go beyond Web-to-print solutions, to what she is calling "Plan-to-Print" solutions that will reach back into the enterprise marketing management process and integrate with corporate processes and systems at the planning stage for business communications, enabling the ability to become involved further upstream in the marketing process. Web-to-print, she explains, begins with the order. As these applications become more complex, such as cross-media and VDP communications, service providers need to be involved earlier in the planning process for these programs, and that requires more integration with enterprise systems upstream from the Web-to-print solution but integrated with Web to print and alternative media. . Ilana Jucha, GM of PODS team, unveiled the Creo PODS drupa announcements and pointed out that the group is aiming to be the industry supplier of choice for connected workflow solutions in a multivendor environment. These two announcements, the next generation high-speed Creo Color Server technology, which the company is calling Nuevo, and the establishment of a workflow solutions business unit within Creo PODS, set them on the road to achieving that goal. Higher performance servers are specifically targeted at companies that are producing direct mail, TransPromo and photo-rich applications. These applications typically require a high level of resources, and the 10X performance improvement delivered by the Nuevo platform leverage the latest server technology to enable these higher performance levels. A composition system and predesigned templates have been embedded in the solution as an ease of entry tool for customers who are new to the VDP market. Nuevo is IPDS capable, important for transactional and TransPromo applications, and it also uses photo-specific algorithms to improve predictabiity of photo printing. By forming a workflow business unit in the PODS group, this organization positions itself to offer Kodak's InSite and Prinergy workflow solutions to its OEM partners, which include Xerox, HP and Konica Minolta, as well as Kodak. This can add capability in multivendor environments, and also provides Kodak with a potential new distribution channel for these solutions with access that would not be available through the Kodak channel. Hess told the group that Kodak will be standardizing on the Creo Color Server technology for all of the Kodak printer platforms. It is not clear what that means for the EFI/Kodak relationship since Hess deferred to the individual business units for definitive answers to that question. WhatTheyThink will ask that question of EFI and Kodak executives when they present later this week. Hess also reported that in early conversations with OEM partners, those partners have been receptive to reselling InSite and Prinergy, even though these are more closely aligned with the Kodak brand than Creo PODS is, being attracted by the ability, perhaps, to drive more volume through their print engines because of a more productive workflow and/or using these applications as a unifying layer for a variety of their own and third party solutions. You can read more from Cary Sherburne at WhatTheyThink.com.