Big News from Adobe MAX 2018 for the Printing World

Ryan McAbee
 Oct 31, 2018

A couple of weeks ago, creative professionals ascended en masse to Los Angeles Convention
Center for Adobe’s annual gathering known as Adobe MAX. The event was part learning, networking, and entertaining and attended by over 14,000 creatives. Although Adobe grew up with the digitization of the printing industry and Creative Cloud and PDF are mainstays, many in our industry may have missed some of the bigger news from MAX. In fear of being the 1,574th article written about the conference (apparently 1,573 were written for the 2017 event), here’s what matters to the print community.

HP SmartStream D4D

The most interesting announcement at MAX for print came from HP’s release of SmartStream Design for Designers (D4D). Read more »

SGIA 2018 Marks an End of Industry Segmentation

Ryan McAbee
 Oct 25, 2018

A bustling crowd of roughly 24,000 attendees packed the Las Vegas Convention Center from October 18 to October 20, 2018. The reason? The SGIA Expo – to be clear, the last SGIA Expo. Those who came to the event got the chance to learn tips to improve their businesses, catch a glimpse of new and upcoming technologies, and share insights among their fellow industry peers. With 600 exhibitors in attendance, there was no shortage of activity, conversation, and presentations.

SGIA Expo Opening Day

SGIA Expo 2018 Opening Crowd

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Brands Represent BLUE Ocean for Esko

Ryan McAbee
 Jul 25, 2018

Last week Esko announced its acquisition of BLUE Software, LLC, a label and artwork management software company headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. We had the opportunity to speak with Heidi Larsen, VP, Brand Integration Leader, who is directing the integration of the two companies, to get Esko’s perspective.

BLUE will join other Esko acquisitions, Enfocus and MediaBeacon, and sit under Danaher’s Product Identification platform of companies. In the issuing statement, Esko President Udo Panenka, said “We are relentlessly seeking to reduce time to market, cost and quality risk in the end-to-end packaging value chain. The acquisition of BLUE enhances Esko’s unique set of tools to enable brand owners and their partners to improve all three.”

Global brands continually need to flatten and speed up their supply chains so they can respond more quickly to marketing opportunities, different consumer segmentations, and ever-changing consumer preferences. The difficulty is that the industry averages 198 days to produce a label change, as cited at this year’s EskoWorld event. The challenge is further compounded considering brand’s refresh nearly a third of their SKUs every year according to a Keypoint Intelligence-InfoTrends study. The BLUE acquisition will further strengthen Esko’s product portfolio to support their growing and significant business supporting the packaging and identification needs of global brands. Read more »

Packaging Connected at EskoWorld 2018

Ryan McAbee
 Jun 11, 2018

EskoWorld, the yearly gathering of Esko users and partners, kicked off this week with a big “yeehaw” in San Antonio, Texas. More than 500 packaging enthusiasts, from brand owners to converters, packed the event to learn about trends and challenges affecting the packaging industry with additional opportunities to network, engage with supporting vendors, and get hands-on learning. More striking was that 39% of attendees were there for the first time.


Jan De Roeck kicking off EskoWorld 2018
An excited Jan De Roeck, Marketing Director, kicking off the opening day.

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Live from FESPA 2018: Steve Urmano’s Top 3 Picks

Ryan McAbee
 May 18, 2018

Live from FESPA 2018: Ron Gilboa on Mass Customization

Ryan McAbee
 May 17, 2018

Software Technology Highlights from the 2018 Pitney Bowes Software Analyst Summit

Ryan McAbee
 May 7, 2018

Last month, Pitney Bowes held a Software Technology Analyst Summit in San Diego, California. With 25 analysts in attendance from around the world, including senior executives from Pitney Bowes, the software team reviewed the company’s progress over the last year and offered insights into the short-term strategic directions of its software division. The event highlighted the launch of location-driven data services, user experience (UX) improvements to the location intelligence portfolio, expanded data and analytics features in the Spectrum Technology Platform, and a streamlining of the EngageOne communication platform. Pitney Bowes also showcased the upcoming introduction of its first fast and adaptable chatbot platform, EngageOne Converse.

Bob Guidotti and the Knowledge Fabric

Bob Guidotti, Pitney Bowes’ EVP and President of Software, brings his years of enterprise software experience to apply a disciplined growth strategy for the company. During his two-year tenure, Pitney Bowes’ software division has trimmed costs, streamlined its portfolio, slowed revenue declines, and shifted its investments to growth areas—primarily around digital—while also launching additional services and products within existing focus areas. Guidotti’s team is leveraging Pitney Bowes’ decades of intellectual property (IP) around location intelligence, layering other vetted third-party data sets, and packaging it as a service to enterprises with location-critical use cases. To deliver the message to the market, Jeff Winter (VP of Marketing and Communications) announced a new campaign focused around Pitney Bowes’ Knowledge Fabric. Simply put, the company’s software solutions can weave physical and digital points of information to derive insights for connecting people, places, and things. Read more »

Printer Spotlight: Consortium Companies in Edison, NJ

Ryan McAbee
 May 1, 2018

At the crossroads of New Jersey, just off the bustling Turnpike and Parkway, lies the town of Edison. The town was named after one of the most iconic figures in American history – the prolific inventor, Thomas Edison. Over a century ago that Thomas Edison moved his research laboratory to the Menlo Park area. It was there that Edison would invent solutions that continue to impact our lives today from the phonograph to the electric light bulb.

Against this backdrop in history, the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of Thomas Edison can be found today in the nearby Consortium Companies. The multi-generational, family owned print service provider offers a diverse range of products and services for clients in New Jersey, nearby New York City, and across the country. Whether customers need personalized mailers, oversized signage, fulfillment services, or marketing/novelty items, the group of Consortium Companies can deliver.

Read more »

Solution Focus: Corebridge – A Modern Management Solution for Wide Format

Ryan McAbee
 Apr 25, 2018

Look around. What do you see? Chances are good that you see signage used to promote, inform, or direct. The ubiquity of signs makes it an attractive product for print service providers looking to capture a piece of a growing market. Due to advancements and growth in digital printing equipment, print shops can get started quickly at many different price points.

Buying the equipment is only one part of operating a successful print shop producing wide format applications. How will customers know what you offer, get pricing, and confirm their order? How will they upload artwork files? Once the order is confirmed, how will accurate job details flow through each department of the shop? What happens when there is an issue and how will that be communicated internally and externally to the client? As you can see, managing a wide format print operation has a lot of moving parts beyond just printing. Read more »

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.

2016 InfoTrends, Inc.

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