Executive Q&A: Francis McMahon

Q: Tell us about Océ North America, the segment of the market it serves, and who you consider to be your core users.


A: Océ North America (ONA), led by president and CEO, Joe Skrzypczak and headquartered in Trumbull, CT, provides end-to-end document production, management, consulting and outsourcing solutions for customers in a variety of professional printing environments.


With annual revenues of $1 billion, ONA comprises three sales divisions–Document Printing Systems, Production Printing Systems, and Wide Format Printing Systems. While the three divisions serve distinct markets, they share a common goal—driving results that enable our customers and the company to achieve profitable growth. In addition, customers turn to Océ Business Services for outsourcing and professional services and Océ Financial Services supports for a full range of financing options. ONA serves customers throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. We are recognized for our focus on customers, a direct sales force, an award-winning service organization and complete support.


The business unit that I’ve joined is the Production Printing Systems division, which is headquartered in Boca Raton, FL. Led by president Mal Baboyian, we are a direct sales organization that serves customers in the transactional and graphic arts markets, including commercial printers, book manufacturers, service bureaus and direct mail facilities, newspaper publishers, and print centers/CRDs in Fortune 2000 corporations. We provide these customers with industry leading black-and-white and color continuous feed and production cutsheet printers and end-to-end workflow software solutions.


Our core users have historically been in the transactional market, which includes the utility, financial services, insurance, and retail sectors. In fact, the most recent InfoTrends market share data states that Océ is the U.S. market leader in continuous feed black-and-white printers and has been since 2003. Last year, we increased our #1 share position in continuous feed color to 26 percent. In the 200 ppm or higher cutsheet printer category, Océ currently holds a 50 percent market share. While we lead in the transactional environment, we view the graphic arts market as a key strategic growth opportunity.


Océ is a very pragmatic company and our customers love this about us. Meaning, many vendors make the buying process very complex. We, instead, keep it simple by applying the right people to engage in customer opportunities. We don’t need small armies of people and endless hours of meetings with our customers. We keep it easy and our customers appreciate it. This pragmatism leads to radical improvements for our customers and that’s what is most important. We are a very reliable organization.


Q: What is your background and how did you get involved with Océ?


A: I spent the first half of my career at Eastman Kodak Company in sales and marketing, beginning in the copier business, and later moved over to Kodak Professional, where I worked with professional photo labs, photographers, and commercial printers. When NexPress was developed, I joined that team to help bring the first NexPress to market. The second half of my career was with HP in the Graphics business, where I spent time in all aspects of marketing. I’m now celebrating my six-month anniversary with Océ, where I lead the marketing efforts for Production Printing Systems.


The first 10 years of my career were in sales, and then I made a very purposeful move into marketing. My father gave me some very practical advice early on, saying “Good marketers spend time in the field understanding customers and their behaviors—how they buy, why they buy, what they buy, what keeps them up at night, and where their opportunities are.” I took his advice to heart. Because of this experience, I have been able to deliver programs and products that drive incremental revenue potential for my customers. My sales experience has sensitized me to the day-to-day challenges salespeople face. As a result, I’ve been able to help salespeople in way that would not have been possible without my own personal experience in the field. It has been, and continues to be, a fascinating ride—and a continuing source of inspiration and discovery.


When I joined Océ, I was intrigued by what Océ had to offer. Here was a fantastic company known for its customer-first ethos, exceptional product innovation, and an outstanding service organization. And yet, in many ways, from a marketing perspective, Océ has remained the best-kept secret in the industry—particularly in the graphic arts sector. As a professional marketer and someone who has built a career on helping the print industry, it’s a dream job. Océ has a tremendous opportunity to move the industry forward—with incredible products, solutions, consulting and support, and a message that should be shouted from the mountaintops. My involvement with Océ provides a real opportunity to help the industry—whether it’s customers in in-plants, print franchises, or commercial printers—especially now that we’re part of the Canon organization.


Q: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement in this market?

A: That’s a great question and one I think I’m going to answer in two parts. When it comes to contributing to this market, there are two achievements of which I’m really proud. One is external and one is internal.


Externally, I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been able to work with a group of people who share the same passion I do for helping the print industry grow by establishing print communities that encourage collaboration. Dscoop is a shining example of what can be accomplished in a collaborative environment that encourages the open exchange of ideas and experiences. Dscoop was an idea hatched by seven of us several years ago after a meeting in New Jersey. Six months later, we had 200 members. Today, the count is in the neighborhood of 6,000 users in four countries. I’m also very proud of the work I’ve been able to do with NYU and the PRISM committee, helping guide the program, raise money, and encourage students to enter our industry; fostering the next generation of graphic arts innovators.


In terms of internal achievements at the companies where I’ve worked for the last 20 years, I’m proud of the time I’ve personally spent helping customers grow, succeed, and achieve their goals. By the same token, as a part of a corporate leadership team, there’s nothing more rewarding than inspiring the people who work for or with you in an organization to achieve things they didn’t think they could on their own; giving them the freedom, tools, and accountability to do things that help them recognize their own strengths. When someone walks into your office and has done something that really helped the business—something they didn’t know they were capable of—well there’s no feeling quite like it.


Q: If you could change anything, either about your career, your company, or the market as a whole, what would it be?

A: Another thought provoking question. Change is something that can be terrifying to many people, but when it is embraced, managed, and executed in the right manner, it is one of the most powerful ways to move an individual, organization, or industry forward. You know, we can look to the natural world for the perfect example—where you’ve got complex, adaptive systems that survive or perish based on their own ability to cultivate variety. Failure to do so results in an inability to cope with change when it is introduced externally.


In the business world, especially today’s print industry, organizations that get mired in the status quo end up in the backwater of wealth-creating opportunity. And this is a powerful metaphor for the business world. Because we can change everything. Throughout my career I’ve been able to do that. Our careers, our businesses, our industry—they all have to constantly evolve if we are to survive, let alone thrive.


When you are a facilitator of change and positive things happen, remember that no one will be patting you on the back or congratulating you. Only you will recognize what happened and how special it really is. Enjoy the moment, watch others take the credit, and be happy that you made things better. It is the feeling inside that matters most; knowing you helped others succeed. But watch out for those who always seek the credit as they are the ones who will hold the organization back.


What would I change about my career, company or industry? The conundrum is that throughout my career I’ve really been an advocate and agent of change. Every day when I walk into work, it’s all about how we can bring about change in a measured, strategic, and practical way, whether it’s developing transformative solutions to help customers adapt, grow, and succeed, helping commercial printers identify new sources of revenue growth, or re-architecting processes that no longer serve our goals or our customers’ interests. Tomorrow’s winners are not gazing in their rear view mirrors. They’re looking ahead, embracing change, breaking the mold, and incorporating continuous learning and improvement into their company visions.


Q: What is the greatest challenge facing the industry right now?

A: I could start out with the obvious challenges—the ones that the pundits, analysts, user groups, and blogs wrestle with every day—industry consolidation and competition, declining volumes, rising postal rates, print suppression, electronic substitution of print, the economy—there is no shortage of challenges. While I’m not downplaying any of these issues, there are bright spots, especially for digital print, where page volumes are projected to grow at a rate of 11% through 2014.


What I see as the bigger challenge is the need to create a greater sense of community. I don’t think the industry as a whole recognizes the real power of working together vs. working independently. We have a lot of opportunity here. For example, a number of vendors are building devices based on proprietary standards that don’t enable customers to grow—the technology is limiting by nature. It’s a sort of technological protectionism that I think, in the end, will backfire. The future’s about openness, collaboration, and working together.


Also, there’s been a lot of discussion around Graph Expo with vendors. Should it be a competitive arena where vendors are like gladiators fighting for industry supremacy? Or should we approach Graph Expo as an opportunity to celebrate the industry and our achievements; to exchange ideas and experiences that help customers grow? I contend that isolationist mentalities keep us from moving the industry forward. We’re all struggling with the same issues—cyclical challenges stemming from a sluggish economy and structural changes that are diminishing print demand. Success comes from sharing and collaborating. We need to rally together to form a community of vendors and print providers who are willing to work together and succeed as a whole. Graph Expo is not about any one company or individual and I feel sorry for the companies that simply do not understand this.


Q? What do you consider the greatest asset for the industry right now?

A: You may be surprised to discover that I view Web-based technology as the industry’s greatest asset. I know this might seem like a contrarian view, especially to those who view the Web as print’s greatest rival. Certainly, evidence shows that digital marketing is growing at the expense of traditional marketing methods like direct mail. However, TV didn’t signal the end of radio or motion pictures, and the Internet will likely not be the death of print. For those who see the Internet as an opportunity, that’s exactly what the experience will be.


Look at what Web-to-print technologies are doing for commercial printers and corporate print buyers. Suddenly it’s possible to place orders online, to upload files, proof jobs, and track job status via the Web. This saves customers time and money and results in a higher level of customer service. Look at how print providers can promote their businesses online and expand their offerings to include services like PDF file conversion.


It’s all a matter of perspective. The key is to view print, the Web, and mobile devices, for that matter, as complementary channels that provide more ways to engage with consumers in the manner they prefer. A perfect example is QR codes in printed documents that are scanned by Web cams or mobile devices to redirect users to personalized Web pages. It’s a brave new world where CMOs and marketers have more choices than ever for distributing their messages, and where every medium can play a strategic role.


Q: In your opinion, what is the biggest change to the way we communicate with one another in the past few years and how can this industry take advantage of that?


A: I think the biggest change is that today there are more channels and communication vehicles than ever before. First, it’s hard to believe that the Internet is already 20 years old. Yet, it’s still a disruptive technology that’s ushering in entirely new ways of communicating—with e-marketing, blogs, newsgroups, FTP, PODcasts, social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. However, like every transformative technology, the Internet is evolving. As it does, it’s spawning new opportunities.


The challenge from a marketing perspective is formulating the right mix of media and channels; knowing which one to use and why. This is still an inexact science and we need to get smarter about how consumers want be engaged and which media resonate best in which situations. Of course, customers don’t always know what they want. It’s up to us, as marketers, to educate them on new possibilities, to capitalize on the strengths of each medium, and to recognize that people want to be reached in multiple ways. This differs by individual, which is where the importance of one-to-one communications comes into play, and why having the very best and savviest marketers is more important than ever.


Q: Looking ahead, what major innovations or technologies do you believe will shape the future of the industry?


A: Once again, I’m going to take the road less traveled for this question. When it comes to market changing technologies, we can talk about the usual suspects. Certainly digital color, especially inkjet technology, is transformative, will revolutionize the way marketers use color with variable data, and will make color ubiquitous as it becomes economically feasible for more people.


But let’s take the conversation up a few thousand feet and look at how the growth of the Internet and related applications like the iPad, iPhone, and Kindle are impacting print. Once again, the Web is a radical innovation. However, according to Wired Magazine, the Web is dead. Why? Because people now use it to transport specific applications more than they use it to surf, crawl, or browse. The Web has been displaced by the Internet. It is becoming a transport medium for downloading content on demand, and it’s being used in ways few of us could have imagined five years ago. Consumers are in control and they’re choosing dedicated applications (think streaming movies, Pandora, Skype) where they bring the screen to them rather than go to the screen. The conclusion? The Web is not the culmination of the digital revolution—it’s just the beginning.


The corollary in the print world is that the specific technology—inkjet, solid toner, software—matters less than the people who use it and how they use it to change the way they work, engage, communicate, and do business. As with the Web, print is all about people. And that’s what will shape and drive the future of print.


Q: What one piece of advice would you give to people involved in this industry?


A: I think that my one piece of advice for the print industry is really an extension of what we talked about earlier. It has to do with people. My advice is this: approach every day looking at life through a different lens or with a different mindset. Is what you’re doing about you and your career? Is it about what’s best for your company? Or is it about what’s best for the industry? While it may seem counterintuitive, if you choose to do what’s good for the industry as a whole, not only will the industry continue to prosper, but you will also find that your company performs better and your career takes off.


And that goes back to what I was saying about change. Embrace it. Get out of your comfort zone. Recognize that markets will not stand still, so you have to adapt. Recognize that success has everything to do with community and collaboration. If you try to go it alone and think you have all the answers, without embracing the resources available to you, you’re limiting your possibilities. Again, when we focus on growing the pie vs. which slice of the pie we want, we all win. When the print industry wins, everyone wins. So, my advice? Collaborate and conquer.


Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with Printing News readers?

A: Yes, I invite all of your readers to get to know Océ. There’s a new Océ on the horizon and the new Océ takes a very pragmatic approach to how we provide solutions to our customers. This pragmatic approach, which leverages the hardware and software systems that have made Océ a perennial favorite with long time customers, can have a radical impact on business results.


Our focus is on our customers and how we can make them successful. Look at the technologies we’re bringing to market, like the new Océ ColorStream 3500 lower-volume range inkjet press, which makes inkjet accessible to a whole new class of print providers. Look at what we’ve been able to do to enable corporate 2,000 data centers and in-plants to strengthen their bottom lines. Look at the integration with Canon—Océ has gone through significant change in the last six months. And we will continue to change because that’s what it will take to help our existing customers and a whole new group of customers succeed.


This is the new Océ. Give us a call and learn more about us. I think you will find that our pragmatism is exactly what you need to go further with your business. In today’s changing world of print communications, it’s easy to get caught up in buzzwords and the endless variety of applications and solutions. We keep it simple and our solutions just work. Our people make it a priority and this is what makes Océ a special partner.


And last, continue to dream and imagine all the possibilities that can be available for our industry. “Seek all that is still unsung.”