EFI Productivity Suite Announcement Tops the Headlines at EFI Connect 2015

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Jan 22, 2015

EFI Connect, EFI’s annual user conference is currently underway in Las Vegas. Over the years it has grown in size and importance, but has never been as big as this year. An estimated 1,500 attendees have taken three days out of their work schedule to meet and discuss trends in the industry and be educated on EFI and partner offerings. The conference has also attracted a record number of media and analysts; over 70 representatives from 17 countries came to Las Vegas; about 20 of them from Europe. This blog provides an update on some of the interesting happenings and identifies what InfoTrends sees as the biggest news at EFI Connect: the announcement of EFI’s Productivity Suite.

EFI CEO Guy Gecht talking to RR Donnelley CEO Thomas Quinlan III

EFI CEO Guy Gecht’s keynote is always an anticipated event; as well as his fire-side chat sessions with CEOs and business leaders in the industry. This year, the keynote focused on how EFI is committed to helping print businesses navigate through a changing industry using GPS as an analogy. On the second day, the discussion between Guy Gecht and RR Donnelley CEO Thomas Quinlan was remarkably good; as the leader of the world’s biggest printing company ($12B in revenue; 70,000 employees), Mr. Quinlan talked candidly about how communication is changing, how RR Donnelley needs to adapt (and often fails before getting it right), and that print has become part of an interconnected, synchronized customer experience. He also mentioned that RR Donnelley is actively looking at new growth opportunities such as specialized label, electronics, and textile printing. Interestingly, 3D printing is not on the near-term list as RR Donnelley considers it to be more of a consumer than a business-to-business opportunity for now.

In terms of announcements, the biggest news at Connect came from Gabriel Matsliach, the new General Manager and Sr. VP of the Productivity Software Group. Gaby Matsliach came on board during 2014 and his immediate focus is to bring order to the ever expanding range of MIS, web to print, and cross media acquisitions that EFI has made over the years.

Overview of EFI Productivity Suite

Starting in Q1, EFI’s MIS, web-to-print, and cross-media solutions will be sold and positioned as part of the EFI Productivity Suite (EPS). Instead of talking about products and features, EFI will position the suite as an integrated solution tailored to the intended environment, such as Enterprises (large print companies), Mid-Range, Small, and Packaging. Each version of the suite will be deployed with a wide range of certified and tested connectors that should take away painful integrations. Popular combinations such as Monarch (high-end MIS) and PrintStream (Warehousing & Fulfilment), or Pace (mid-level MIS) and Digital StoreFront (Web-to-print) can be deployed more easily and faster. Popular 3rd party integrations, such as Monarch or Pace with workflow management systems from Agfa and Kodak, are also on the agenda.

Finally, EFI also used the conference to show the latest announcements in its Fiery and inkjet divisions. The Fiery group has made evolutionary improvements, especially around quality and faster processing, and is also actively expanding into the industrial printing area by providing the front-end as well as color management solutions for its inkjet products. EFI’s inkjet division is doing very well with its VUTEk, Jetrion, and Cretaprint products, and at the event they showed us some very interesting decorative applications, including thermoplastic and corrugated carton. EFI’s development work on the Landa B1-format S10 was underscored by a video visit from Benny Landa. Packaging is an area that is clearly on the radar for EFI, as well as fabric/textile. Functional and printed electronics are areas that are of interest but are not seen as mature enough at the moment to make it attractive for EFI to invest in.

InfoTrends Opinion

Without doubt, EFI Connect is one of the fastest growing end-user events in the industry. The biggest announcement of this year’s show in our opinion is EFI’s decision to streamline its productivity business. The announced Productivity Suite with its long list of pre-approved connectors makes it much easier for EFI to position, sell, and deploy its business automation software. This move is long overdue. At the same time, it almost feels as if EFI is addressing the symptoms resulting from its MIS acquisition strategy rather than the core problem, because virtually all such systems have been acquired, and they all differ in terms of architecture and how they were designed. So while the EFI Productivity Suite is good, it’s just a first phase and its real potential lies in re-architecting or porting its core MIS solutions over to a common platform (similar to what EFI has done with Monarch) so that then true scalability can be achieved. Nevertheless, based on where EFI is today and the complexities involved when integrating various components, the EFI Productivity Suite is very good news for print service providers.

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