Jun 11, 2015
I spoke recently at a user group meeting composed largely of commercial printers when the topic of the ‘Cloud’ came up. I was a bit surprised to hear a very high level of suspicion. I asked the audience: “Who is excited about the opportunities presented by the Cloud.” Two hands went up. “Who’s not?” About half the audience raised their hands. Multiple questions were put forward about data security, possible integration issues, and overall viability. The bad vibes were much stronger than I anticipated.
It continued. The ‘Cloud’ was dismissed as a marketing buzzword. “It’s just a question of where the server resides,” said one attendee. Others were very skeptical about turning over their production data or any client data to a third party. Some said that their agreements with clients would not allow it. Another attendee told a horror story of a cloud service that became unavailable for two days because of a snowstorm and power outage on the East Coast. There was also concern that integrations that their companies had built on top of workflow software could stop working if software revisions were made to the cloud offering. Loss of control, concerns about expense, and cloud-based licensing issues were also key themes. One attendee described the cloud today as a “royal cluster of inconsistent services.” Wow.
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Apr 25, 2012
Danaher Corporation, an industrial and healthcare manufacturing conglomerate, made news again this month for another purchase that is important to the color digital printing world. This came when Danaher announced that it will buy X-Rite Inc., which makes color measurement systems. X-Rite also is the parent of Pantone, the formulator of color standards for print service providers, including converters of labels and packaging for consumer products. Danaher’s offer values X-Rite at $5.55 a share, or about $479 million. This is a 39% premium over X-Rite’s closing share price of $4.00 on April 9, 2012, which was the last trading day prior to the announcement. Stockholders representing approximately 68% of the voting power of X-Rite’s outstanding shares reportedly intend to tender their shares into the offer. The deal is subject to regulatory approval and closing conditions, but is expected to close by July 1, 2012. Observers of the CDLP market will remember that Danaher made a similarly important purchase in 2011, with the acquisition of Esko.
For its 2012 investment, Danaher will net a company that is highly influential in the packaging and label industries. X-Rite’s spectrophotometers, colorimeters, densitometers, and related products are widely used by converters and other print service providers to test color reproduction, a vital topic in the representation of consumer brands. At the same time, X-Rite’s Pantone business is one of world’s top sources of color standards. The Pantone Matching System (PMS) colors are commonly the choice of brand owners worldwide. PMS colors may be less influential in other regions than they are in North America, but many global brands often have a high reliance on them. One sign of their importance is that, among color digital label and packaging (CDLP) press manufacturers, it is common for an individual vendor to describe a new press’s color printing capability by estimating the percentage of PMS colors that the press can reproduce.
Danaher’s 2011 purchase of Esko, which was then called Esko Artwork, was a somewhat smaller investment, $470 million. Danaher closed that deal at the middle of 2011, and thus added to its portfolio one of the top suppliers of design and workflow software for the packaging and label converting industry. Esko became part of Danaher’s “Product Identification” group, whose anchor member is Videojet Technologies (Wood Dale, IL), the leading vendor globally for monochrome inkjet coding systems. While there is no obvious synergy between Esko and Videojet, Esko has continued to thrive as an independent company within the group. Assuming the newest Danaher purchase goes through, the conglomerate’s Product Identification group will soon have Esko, X-Rite, and Pantone within it, and there will be synergy between their various products and services.
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Feb 28, 2012
Fespa Digital was held last week and the overarching theme was workflow for wide-format. While the single biggest launch at Fespa was the Mimaki JV-400 with its Latex or solvent UV ink options (see Tim Greene’s recent blog here for more information), the area where there were the most announcements and developments was in the workflow space. Wide-format has long lagged small format digital, and for that matter analogue print in the sophistication of its workflow. Recent developments show it is catching up at least and may even be overtaking those sectors.
At Fespa new products were announced by GMG, SAi, Esko, ONYX and Xanté, while other established wide-format workflow vendors such as Caldera refreshed some products for SGIA in the USA at the end of last year and plan further developments around Drupa in Germany this May. Read more »
May 28, 2009
Last week I had the opportunity to attend Kodak’s Graphic Users Association Conference at the Grande Lakes Resort in Orlando, Florida. For those that may be unfamiliar, the 5,500-member Graphic Users Association, more commonly referred to as GUA, is a users group for Kodak software and hardware owners. Anyone who buys at least one piece of Kodak software or hardware is able to join GUA and get access to its online forums to interact with other Kodak users, as well as the opportunity to attend the annual conference. GUA operates fairly indepedently from Kodak, but still has Kodak representatives on its board to coordinate contact between Kodak and GUA, as well as to help coordinate the conference.
This year’s overarching theme of the conference was “Efficiency Revealed”, focusing on how print service providers can utilize production workflow solutions and integration to automate their print shop, increase efficiency, improve turnaround time, and ultimately decrease costs on jobs. Kodak’s Prinergy and InSite product lines that make up Kodak’s Unified Workflow portfolio were highlighted often in various sessions. Workflow topics ranged from utilizing Prinergy’s Rules-Based Automation (RBA) functionality to setting up a business plan for integrated a workflow with MIS. There was also a full software lab available, where users could test out new and upcoming software, as well as troubleshoot issues with files or applications.
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