Sharp #Pulse17. The Next Revolution

Sheryne Glicksman
Dec 6, 2017

Did you know that the S-Curve is used to determine performance regarding time and effort?  It assists in determining the level of maturity of an industry or a product. We have moved from an evolution of people following processes supported by technology to technology driving processes supported by people.

This is where we need to carve out our next S-Curve. After attending Sharp’s National Dealer meeting in Phoenix last week, I can see where Sharp is nicely positioned with their view of the Smart Ecosystem and the Evolution of Work.

Said Doug Albregts, President and CEO, “Foxconn closely partners with the world’s leading IT tech organizations such as Apple, Amazon, Intel, Google, and Microsoft, and in aggregate knows very intimately, the direction and future of the IT industry. With Foxconn being Sharp’s parent company, we now have a seat at the big table and has access to technology and a stronger “pulse” of IT.”

Starting today, Sharp has 20+ new MFP’s  that provide the customer with the same user experience regardless of the make and model of the product. This uniformity of design, common user interface, common accessories and supplies with same toner, developer and drum provides significant benefits when it comes to streamlining operations and stabilizing cost per copy for managed print services programs. It was stated that the multi-functional copier is still important to the ecosystem today and into the future. Sharp’s core business products start with the multi-functional copier and display because of the synergy of both products sitting on the network which is perfect for the SMB space.
The bridge of investments into the future consist of robotics, water generation, 8K, monitors and NAS. The access to this technology will drive the future of the Smart Home & Smart Office giving us more flexibility, collaboration in the workspace and ability to work anywhere. This equates to the Smart Life concept that Sharp has its pulse on since Foxconn makes almost 50% of the world’s electronic devices.

Products such as the world’s largest 70” wall monitor state of the art Aquos Board that you have to experience to understand it, Thecus networked attached storage device, Skywell water generation, smart signage and the security robot drew much attention in the product showcase. There were 10 new smart signage boards introduced that are simple and easy to use.
Sharp’s branding of AIoT combining artificial intelligence and internet of things together realizing a smart society with people oriented IOT with the product, platform and service at its core showed us examples of how 5G will allow us to connect our things at a faster speed soon. 5G will provide us with 10 times the download speed needed to use all the things we connect to the internet.

The future ecosystem will focus on 8k (the highest ultra-high definition television resolution) which is driving the need for 5G. Data collection analysis will spark new ideas for new business opportunities. With Sharp’s history of creativity of over 100 years, you can clearly see how committed they are to innovation with a new business vision that will change the world by creating the seeds for new industry advancements.

Sharps vision of the smart office was highlighted with the announcement of Alexaforbusiness with the concept of voice being the way people want to interact with a device. The Smart Office combines mobility, cloud and 5G starting with authenticating when you walk into a meeting room to connect to the devices you need that day wherever you go leveraging your existing infrastructure. It provides us all with seamless integration across our lifestyles again showing Sharp’s Smart ecosystem innovation.

There were 939 total participants with 605 dealership participants and 166 dealerships represented.

Today, it is apparent that Sharp has their pulse on the technology needed to win in business now and into the future. #Pulse17 was a fabulous event!

#icanhelpbringyourdatatolife

Fuji Xerox Iridesse – Two specialty colours is better than one

Ralf Schlozer

Less than a year ago, InfoTrends published a multi-client study: “Beyond CMYK: The Use of Special Effects in Digital Printing”. Not only did we find that many printers voiced a strong interest in specialty colours and the desire to have several effects as an option, they also indicated that having two specialty colour stations in the press is their preferred option.

Less than a year later, Fuji Xerox launched the Iridesse Production Press at the Fuji Xerox Premier Partner Conference on the 14th of November in Bangkok for the Asia Pacific market.

For the first time in dry toner production printing, a print engine has been equipped to print six-colours, adding two colour channels to complement process colour print with different specialty colours, including metallic, in a single pass. The Iridesse houses up to two additional specialty toners of gold, silver, clear and white, in addition to standard cyan, magenta, yellow and black. One specialty colour is in front of the CMYK units and one behind, therefore the Iridesse can underprint with one specialty colour, and overprint with another (or the same) in one pass.

Fuji Xerox also revamped toners. CMYK toners are made of Super EA Eco toner, which is Fuji Xerox’s smallest particle size toner to date, citing a particle size of 5 micron for the colour toner. The Super EA Eco toner is able to fuse quickly at a low temperature, and is able to evenly transfer six layers of toners. Another patented improvement is flat metal flakes being embedded into the metallic toner particles. The flat metallic flakes should improve the shininess of metallic prints, and some improvement over the gold toner of the Color 1000i can be noticed – although digital metallic print remains far less shiny than foiling or the like.

A unique feature of the Iridesse is being able to print hues of metallic tones in one pass, by printing silver or gold first and overprinting it with CMYK. Other toner printers would need multi-pass printing, and in offset printing each of the metallic hues would need to be mixed first. This can reduce the effort drastically in hitting metallic effects beyond plain silver or gold. The press supports metallic colours found in colour catalogues such as Pantone Metallic and Pantone Premium Metallic. By using these colour swatches, the operator can reproduce colours similar to Pantone metallic colours by simply designating the colour codes. Also, since the press offers more hues than found in the Pantone swatches, Fuji Xerox has a range of predefined metallic colours on top.

Print sample showing metallic overprinted with CMYK

 

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News Flash! Your Workflow is NOT Proprietary

Pat McGrew
Dec 4, 2017

As we approach the end of the calendar year, it is a good time to take a look at your workflow. If you have been following the earlier blogs, there is a road to travel to ensure that you have the most efficient workflow, from the point you begin to sell a job to the point where you deliver it. And while it is true that every workflow should be developed to meet the needs of the operation it supports, it is also true that it is very, very rare to find a workflow that meets the criteria to be proprietary.

Workflows have physical, data, and file-based components woven together to ensure that work that is sold is onboarded promptly and correctly, scheduled, and executed. Physical workflows are how you move substrates to and among your devices and through to fulfillment. Data workflows describe how data moves into the organization from customers, and then through the organization into accounting and production. Data not only includes the information needed for managing the order in the accounting system, but also the order and fulfillment specifications, as well as the data that follows the job through each workflow touchpoint. It is machine data as well as data captured from the production systems. In VDP printing environments it can also encompass the data used to create the VDP work if it isn’t delivered as a print-ready file. The file-based components areprincipally the print-ready files, but could also include font and graphic assets, dieline files or other supporting documents.

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Comparting 2017: “Digitalizing Communication! Digitalizing Business Processes!”

David Stabel and Pat McGrew
Nov 17, 2017

Under the motto of “Digitalizing Communication! Digitalizing Business Processes!”, this year’s Comparting conference, held November 9-10 in Germany, was all about how digitalization affects the document and output management for enterprises as well as print service providers. Keypoint Intelligence’s Pat McGrew had the honor to provide the keynote titled: “Let’s Get Digital!” Other presentations also focused around the topic of digital transformation of customer communications. And, of course, Compart’s latest innovation, DocBridge Impress, had a central role at the conference.

Harald Grumser, CEO
Thorsten Meudt, CMO

Compart, who celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, has successfully hosted this annual event since 2005 with the number of participants increasing each year. More than 400 people from 14 countries world-wide attended the conference, representing a 10% increase over last year. The number of participants outside of Germany almost doubled from 25% in 2016 to 40% this year and reflects Compart’s growing international business.

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Let’s Talk About IPEX 2017

Pat McGrew
Nov 9, 2017

We know it wasn’t the 11-hall extravaganza of shiny hardware we have seen in the Birmingham National Exhibition Center in the past. It wasn’t even the show we saw mounted at the ExCel center in London. The return of the IPEX brand to the print industry trade show market was half of hall 5 at the Birmingham NEC. And that is OK. It’s a new start on a rebuilding campaign for one of the oldest Print trade shows, so why not give it a fair shake?
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DirectMail2.0 Launches Their Inaugural Market-Edge Event

Pat Nolan
Nov 6, 2017

Market-Edge 2017: Direct Mail, Digital, and Beyond

From October 26th to October 27th of this year, DirectMail2.0 hosted their inaugural Market-Edge conference at Wyndham Grand Clearwater in Clearwater Beach, Florida. Sponsors included Pitney Bowes, Konica Minolta, AccurioJet, Alesco Data, and Enthusem. Discussing Market-Edge with DirectMail2.0’s Marketing Coordinator, Iris Shalev, I was able to shed some light on why they wanted to put on a conference and what they hoped that their business and attendees would take away from it.

The purpose of the event, she said, was to act as a hub for direct mail marketers and printers that is more personal than a trade show and to provide a face-to-face networking opportunity for attendees outside of the usual competitive context. DirectMail2.0 wanted to strengthen this community with Market-Edge, and bring stakeholders with different expertise together to learn from each other for a 360-degree experience, Shalev continued.

In his opening remarks, DirectMail2.0 CEO Brad Kugler also touched on his company’s intended outcome of the event. They wanted to host an open forum for printers and direct mail marketers to come together and solve their common problems. What is the root of those problems? The answer is represented both by what DirectMail2.0 does as a business – they are an integration platform that offers online services to printers and direct mail marketers – and by the theme of Market-Edge: to bridge the gap between offline and online, to bring print into the digital world.

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Jetrion Returns to Flint, sort of

Ryan McAbee
Nov 3, 2017

Back in 2006, EFI acquired the Jetrion inkjet label printer business from Flint Group, which had developed the technology to expand beyond their traditional foothold in ink. At that time EFI was on a major push to expand into inkjet-driven hardware which was viewed as a growth engine beyond its Fiery and software businesses. EFI paid around $40 million in cash for the Jetrion business which was expected to post between $16-$18 million in annual turnover. After eleven years of less than expected growth, EFI announced an exclusive partnership for Jetrion label presses with Xeikon, a Flint Group company.

The agreement was reached after several months of negotiation, with the first hint of EFI’s decision to “exit the label market” given a week before by Guy Gecht during EFI’s most recent Q3 earnings call. Effectively, EFI is licensing the Jetrion brand while retaining control of the intellectual property and Jetrion ink business. Xeikon picks up the sales and service.

Source: efi.com

The Impact for EFI

The deal is a short-term win for EFI as the company retains the intellectual property rights and keeps the recurring revenue from the ink and, presumably, Fiery. EFI also gets to clear its financial books from an underperforming division. Gecht stated that 2016 Q3 Jetrion printer sales were $4 million which would not average to the $16-$18 million annual revenue expected after the acquisition back in 2006. The competitive market for inkjet-based digital label presses has also changed significantly over the last eleven years. There are more vendors competing in a more mature digital label market which has impacted the ability to place machines with just over 200 Jetrions installed globally to date.

In the long-term there are still uncertainties. Customers and prospects take notice when an underperforming division is jettisoned, creating uncertainty as to the future commitment to other divisions. EFI clearly stated that growth markets in corrugated and industrial printing are a primary focus. Could other divisions, like VUTEk, follow suit? In the Q3 financial call, the company noted a slowing of ink growth volume for its VUTEk line of printers which is an indicator of the end customer’s print volumes. There is always the possibility, but Keypoint Intelligence thinks it highly unlikely until other areas of the industrial inkjet division reach sizable revenue.

The material impact to the rest of the EFI ecosystem, for Fiery but also for Productivity Software solutions, is also unknown. Initial feedback indicates that Fiery will be the digital front end (DFE) for future sales, but Xeikon also has its own DFE. Does the change in sales and service reduce the potential pipeline for other productivity software, such as Digital StoreFront or Radius? Probably not due to the limited install base.

The Impact for Xeikon

HP and Xeikon dominate the digital label market, but both are leveraged to electrophotographic technology. The new agreement with EFI gives Xeikon a further expansion in UV-based label printers to complement its PX3000 Panther press announced earlier this year. The company can also leverage the existing Jetrion install base netting a greater presence in North American.

The company indicated that there will not be any immediate changes for customers, but there is opportunity for Xeikon to leverage some of its existing technology going forward. There are opportunities to have the Flint Group’s ink companies involved with the ink component of Jetrion. Xeikon has developed its X-800 DFE platform with an emphasis on label production and uses it for all other equipment, including Panther, although the company reiterated plans for the Jetrion line to be powered by EFI Fiery. Other lessons learned during the development of Panther could also be leveraged to retool and even expand the existing Jetrion line.

Final Thoughts

The greatest, initial benefactor to the agreement will be existing Jetrion customers who will see expanded service and support from Xeikon which has been at the forefront of digital label production for many years. Users will also be able to join Xeikon’s business development program aXelerate, which helps label converters build applications and sell digital output to grow their business.

IPEX 2017 – feeling the pulse

Ralf Schlozer
Nov 2, 2017

Many print industry pundits will still eagerly remember IPEX as the second most important trade show for the graphic arts industry. Held at mid-term between two drupa trade shows, IPEX was the show to kick the tyres of new products that just reached the market after being previewed at drupa as technology demo.

That held true until IPEX 2014, when the show essentially imploded. Most major exhibitors pulled out leading to a much smaller footprint with 15,000 m², down from 50,000 m² in 2010. Declining margins in the printing industry did take their toll, with exhibitors questioning the return for a costly trade show presence. The show’s move to London did not help IPEX either. The hope of addressing new overseas visitors failed, and UK printers shunned the travel into central London. Although plans for IPEX 2018 to take place from 19 to 24 March 2018 at the Excel, London were announced, everybody expected this to be the end of IPEX.

As a bit of a surprise came the announcement of IPEX 2017, back again in Birmingham. The timing for autumn 2017 was set as the drupa organisers were still aiming for a three-year cycle, so that IPEX would again fall in the middle between two drupa shows. Certainly, the return of IPEX was not on the big scale it once had. IPEX 2017 occupied just parts of one hall of the NEC exhibition centre, instead of 11 of them in 2010, with ample space left to squeeze in more booths. Most equipment vendors did not join the IPEX bandwagon in 2017 either, with Ricoh being the only major digital print equipment manufacturer exhibiting. Other vendors were present via dealers or driving finishing equipment in the booths of finishing equipment vendors. It is noteworthy that finishing vendors did contribute most to the footprint of the show, complemented by software and supplies vendors.

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PDN PhotoPlus 2017 – Photo Fun in NYC

Carrie Sylvester
Nov 1, 2017

The annual PDN PhotoPlus Conference & Expo (PPE) was held October 26-28, 2017 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City.

PhotoPlus Expo (PPE) draws a sizeable crowd from the surrounding metropolitan area and has become one of the East Coast’s largest photography, filmmaking and digital imaging events. The show highlighted 250 exhibitors and was expected to draw nearly 20,000- attendees. Canon, Nikon and Sony once again were PPE show floor anchors, as they were the vendors closest to the main floor entrance, and occupied the largest exposition real estate. Although this is one of the biggest photography events on the East Coast, there were no new cameras introductions during the expo but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot to do and see on the show floor. Read more »

DMA &THEN 2017 Conference Recap

Pat Nolan
Oct 31, 2017

The DMA Celebrates 100 Years at &THEN 2017, Looks Ahead

The DMA reached an impressive milestone in 2017, hitting its 100-year anniversary as an organization. While this was cause for celebration at this year’s &THEN conference in New Orleans, much more time was spent looking ahead than reflecting on the last century. This comes on the heels of the DMA’s name change earlier this year, from Direct Marketing Association to Data & Marketing Association. In his opening remarks for the three-day conference, DMA CEO Tom Benton attributes this change to the modern role of data as the lifeblood of all marketing. It powers and improves all marketing activities and enables 1:1 at scale, he notes.

 “This year, more than ever before, it was evident that the strength of the Data & Marketing Association and &THEN lies with our members, speakers, guests and partners. We were pleasantly surprised at the sizeable turnout, and initial feedback confirms that the content provided at &THEN ranks alongside the finest data and marketing thought leadership events in our association’s 100-year history. We’ve already begun planning for &THEN 2018 and will be delivering more of this data and marketing expertise next year, October 8th through 10th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.”

Tom Benton, CEO of DMA

Along with data, cognitive computing was another recurring talking point woven throughout the conference’s buffet of speakers and presentations from notables on all sides of the industry – agencies and publishers, technology vendors and service providers, and executives from some of the world’s biggest brands and marketers. Yet at this year’s &THEN, it felt as though “Big Data” and “artificial intelligence” transitioned from buzzwords to not only serious competitive considerations, but necessities of the marketing toolbox.

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