'Thought Leaders' Drive Market
Any burgeoning technology typically has “industry champions” who help power its widespread adoption in the marketplace. The rise of production inkjet printing adoption is no different; it’s being driven, in large part, by executives who play key roles at top supplier organizations within the inkjet printing space.
The four industry execs who participated in a special supplier panel discussion that kicked off Inkjet Summit 2016 fit that description as “thought leaders” who are driving the market forward. The panel featured Francis A. McMahon, senior VP of marketing and operations, Production Print Solutions, Canon Solutions America; Eric Wiesner, GM, PageWide Web Press, HP Inc.; Mike Herold, director of global marketing for inkjet solutions, Ricoh; and Jonathan Edwards, VP of inkjet business development, Xerox.
The profiles below capture some of their views about inkjet and how they are leading the way to move the market forward.
Want to get to know Francis McMahon? Watch an entertaining “Names You Should Know” video.
With a successful pedigree that includes key executive positions at Kodak, HP, Océ and now Canon Solutions America, Francis A. McMahon is highly regarded throughout the digital printing industry for his sales and marketing acumen, as well as his commitment to building lasting business relationships. He is also a big believer in the importance of driving the production inkjet market forward for the benefit of all printers, whether they’re Canon Solutions America customers or not.
Case in point is Canon Solutions America’s funding for “The Designer’s Guide to Inkjet” and “The Inkjet Edge,” both of which were written as vendor-agnostic books to help educate printers and graphic designers. McMahon has also been a vocal and strong financial supporter of industry associations on the national and local levels, as well as a backer of scholarship funds that help fund college educations for tomorrow’s industry leaders. He serves on the boards of both EDSF and the Graphic Arts Scholarship Foundation.
Ongoing technology development, aided by the creation of advisory councils and the thINK user group that glean valuable customer feedback, has also remained high on his priority list. So, too, has been building a strong sales and customer support team that can provide consultative analysis of a printer’s infrastructure, workflow, data management and product application mix, and overall environment to help tailor the best solution for them.
Canon’s corporate philosophy is based around the Japanese word Kyosei — “all people, regardless of race, religion or culture, harmoniously living and working together into the future.” This concept is core to McMahon’s own viewpoint: Canon Solutions America will continue to focus on contributing to overall industry growth, and in turn Canon Solutions America’s market share will grow with it.
“I have been fortunate to be in this industry for more than 20 years and have bore witness to some amazing technology shifts, including the advent of digital printing and now the inkjet revolution. As Canon grows, I want to serve as a member of the senior leadership team and assist in driving innovation that will produce a positive impact for our company, our customers and the printing industry as a whole.”
Eric Wiesner definitely has a competitive spirit. Having run the Boston Marathon twice — not to mention competing in five Ironman Triathlons (swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and then run 26.2 miles) and 10 Half Ironman competitions — he understands how to stay focused on the challenge at hand. One hurdle Wiesner is less concerned about overcoming, however, is the printing industry’s adoption of high-speed production inkjet for multiple product applications, and especially HP’s PageWide Web Press HDNA (High Definition Nozzle Architecture) technology.
A 32-year HP veteran, Wiesner is confident that inkjet will become the de facto standard for three reasons: its image quality, its ability to print numerous types of products and the fact that it’s very scalable. He points to the very first HP inkjet web press installed in 2009. “It’s still operating, has been upgraded three times and is now scheduled to be upgraded to HDNA printhead technology.”
HP first designed its inkjet web press platform back in 2006 with the intention to enable customers to upgrade their presses in the field with faster speeds and print at higher quality as HP inkjet technology improves. “We’ve been successful through our R&D and manufacturing strategy of vertical integration in printheads, inks, writing systems, coatings and hardware design. When you have that control, you can make that upgrade strategy work.” Wiesner should know what he’s talking about, having worked in and managed HP’s ink, writing system and printhead lab in San Diego for more than 23 years.
Wiesner also believes that the Liquid Electrophotographic (LEP) process employed on HP Indigo devices will co-exist with HP’s thermal inkjet continuous-feed printing technology for a long time to come. “LEP does have unmatched performance capabilities, especially for high-coverage, high-quality applications.” But, that doesn’t mean HP’s long-term future doesn’t involve continued investment in thermal inkjet. “There is tremendous head room for future development,” he contends.
Wiesner sees lower volume cut-sheet inkjet printers continuing to replace toner devices in the marketplace. But, when it comes to rollfed inkjet, “No other technology in the market has the capacity to handle high-volume, 8,700 letter pages/min. or 500,000 digital color duplex pages/hr. Then, you’re talking about offset replacement.”
Mike Herold is feeling pretty good these days about Ricoh’s market share position for its high-speed inkjet press placements in the United States. Research firm IDC recently reported that Ricoh’s U.S. market share increased to 46% last year. That success has been driven largely through its InfoPrint 5000 and Pro VC60000 continuous-feed press platforms.
Herold admits it’s hard to pinpoint one factor that has led to Ricoh’s success, although he does credit maintaining active roles at special industry events, such as the Inkjet Summit and those hosted at Ricoh’s Boulder, Colo., facility, in combination with having a solid sales team in the field.
“It also comes down to which manufacturer customers are going to trust to partner with,” he says. “We try to make commitments that we know clients can achieve, as well as making the right investments in our portfolio. We’ve stood behind the InfoPrint 5000 since [its introduction] in 2007 — and still stand behind it today because it’s a solid technology.”
The need for a press platform for the graphics and direct mail printing markets led to the development of the VC60000. “The most compelling thing about the VC60000 is that most purchasers are brand new customers for Ricoh or are brand new to inkjet. To me, that is very rewarding.” Herold also believes the key to success for a printer looking to install an inkjet press is to first have a solid strategy in place, whereby inkjet is a key enabler of that strategy.
Jonathan Edwards may have started his business career working in the agriculture industry, but now he’s helping to harvest Xerox’s market position and prominence in the production inkjet printing space.
“We are not yet a leader in inkjet,” he admits, “but we’re on a trajectory to build a leadership position.”
Xerox’s significant R&D investment to launch three new inkjet platforms in just the past six months — coupled with its acquisition of Impika three years ago — gives credence to his statement. At drupa, Xerox promoted its new Rialto 900 roll-to-sheet inkjet press, as well as its brand-new Brenva HD cut-sheet and Trivor 2400 continuous-feed inkjet models.
Xerox, XMPie, Solimar and Muller Martini also demonstrated end-to-end personalized catalog production linked to a multi-channel campaign during drupa. It incorporated Xerox FreeFlow Core to automate the workflow, XMPie PersonalEffect to create customized content and Muller Martini’s Presto II digital saddle stitcher for finishing.
“We’ve identified catalogs as being ripe for transformation,” Edwards adds. “Retail is at a tipping point. Retailers are trying to figure out how to engage with customers in print, mobile and on the Web. Inkjet will become a significant part of the catalog business.”
The personalized catalogs were produced using Xerox’s new High Fusion ink, which enables high-speed inkjet printing on standard offset coated stocks without the need for applying any pre- or post-treatment to the paper. “It’s a technology we expect to bring to market next year. We want people in the industry to understand that Xerox really is at the forefront of the inkjet business.” PI