Cary Sherburne: Hi. I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com and I'm here with Chris Payne who is Vice President of B to B Marketing for Kodak Graphic Communications Group. Glad to see you today.
Chris Payne: Good to see you, Cary.
Cary: So, you know, the old Chinese proverb, “May you live in interesting times,” we certainly do in the graphic communications industry.
Chris: We certainly do.
Cary: Maybe you can talk about some of the trends that you’re seeing as you’re out there in the marketplace
Chris: Well, we’re seeing a lot of interesting things happening as we come out of the recession. And a lot of things are changing worldwide due to the phenomenon of really the Internet and Internet-enabled technology, SmartPhones and Tablets, and they’re having an impact on our industry. And we think that’s positive. We’re seeing a lot of change in transformation of the printers. It’s opening up opportunities. So if printers are doing the right thing, it’s opening up opportunities for them to move into a multi-channel communication. And we’ve been talking, as you and I know, for at least a decade, right, about multi-channel communications. But we’re really seeing that to take hold in a lot of printing companies and trends that we’re certainly seeing that are beyond that right now. There’s a lot of supply chain efficiencies out there, tech books and newspapers, where we’re very active with our customers.
The advantage for publishers to do short-run printing and do better inventory management of books is really helping them, the same in newspapers, particularly distributed newspapers. And we’re seeing a whole area open up in packaging. You think packaging, you know, it’s a sustainable part of our industry. And you think, well how’s that impacted by digital technologies, by RFID, smarter ways of doing business to get versions of packaging out there. So we’re seeing even applications like that really be changed by the digital environment we live in, which I think is fantastic for most of our customers given what it opens up for them in terms of opportunities.
Cary: Yeah. And especially when you talk about packaging, one of the great things has been the ability, in the design process, how the digital technologies have allowed packagers to get sample packaging out there and test market those and do all that stuff.
Chris: Yeah. And packaged companies today, it’s about getting their products to market quicker and it’s about more versions. And when you think of what they have to do to get a package to market, the regulations and all the other things that they have to meet, automating that chain is really quite important, all the way from the brand down to the converter. And certainly, we’re doing a lot of work in that area with our workflow team as we look at the efficiencies that we can bring given our heritage in production.
Cary: Yeah. And it’s interesting when you look at the packaging side of the market, I think a lot of the brand owners and designers are kind of more open to looking at new strategies because some of the older ones are so inefficient. But if you look at the commercial print side maybe there’s not as much openness to change. I don’t know what you’re seeing in terms of adoption rates for printers or some of these new technologies like Rules-Based Automation or things like that that will give them a more productive, lower cost base.
Chris: The commercial printing—classic commercial printing, cheap fed, you know, printing brochures and these kinds of things, the Rules-Based Automation publication printing, Rules-Based Automation has been there for a long time. I mean we’ve laid a lot of that with our PRINERGY portfolio. We’re beginning to see those guys really move into what I would say is a lot of value added; value added that helps their customers grow revenues, be more in tough with their customers with one to one, and communications. Packaging is kind of falling. It’s not yet got automated on Rules-Based Automation in their whole process. And so we’re beginning to see that happen. That’s where we can clearly add value to a lot of packaging customers that we serve.
On the conventional publishing commercial printing side, you know, what we’re seeing is we work with those customers really helping and partnering them to transform their businesses. That transformation happens in two ways: how we help them migrate with their own internal processes, how they sell to their customers and how they structure their sales force, as well as the more classical products that we’re selling to them.
Cary: Yeah. You know, it’s interesting because when you think about that commercial print side, I mean there are still printers out there that are saying, you know, going to the customer and saying okay, I’m printing these 25,000 brochures, where do I ship them, and that’s the end of the conversation. But that just doesn’t really work very well any more.
Chris: Many of our customers, what they’re telling me is they have a digital part of their business, an electronic part of their business which is helping communicate with their customers doing print on-demand, doing version personalized work. And that’s also feeding their offset, you know, production capability. And we have many customers just take care and Rochester itself, public press, mono-litho, and I think a schedule to see some of those late at the day. But they all show you the same thing. Their offset business continues but it’s very much around a hybrid environment and selling both parts of a campaign.
Sometimes they have long runs, sometimes they have short runs, and sometimes they have personalized work. Doing that across the spectrum is really important for our customers. And certainly, we’ve seen that for a long time, and I would say many of our customers are winning today because they have the ability to do this broad range of jobs—personalized, short run, long run. And we have the ability to meet their needs in terms of that daily interaction to drive their business forward.
Cary: Yeah. And then also helping them sort of change the sales model so they are starting further upstream in the process of the customer.
Cary: That’s great. Good work.