Executive Q&A: John Schloff, VP Marketing/Alliances, Volly at Pitney Bowes

Q Tell the readers about your company, the segment of the market it serves, and who you consider to be your “core” users.

A Pitney Bowes is a very interesting company that combines the stability and strength of a 90-plus year old company, with the innovativeness of a start-up. It’s actually a very powerful combination.

We serve the SMB (small to medium business) market—with over two million SMB customers—as well as the enterprise market, with penetration into the majority of the top 100 companies in the US. We also have a very strong footprint globally.

Q How did you get involved with Pitney Bowes? What was your background before that?

A Six years ago, I joined the Pitney Bowes division that was just pioneering the concept of Customer Communications Management (CCM), which is all about helping organizations connect with their customers, and that was the real draw. I saw an expansive vision to serve the market, and the assets to deliver on that vision.

Prior to Pitney Bowes, most of my career was in the digital side of communications and printing. In the mid-1980s I was selling electronic publishing systems—and what a great place sales is to start your career. That perspective provides an anchor to “field reality.”

I shifted into a series of marketing and product management roles in the digital print area, both domestically and internationally. In the mid-1990s, I had the chance to live in Mexico and run a company outside the US that had an install base of 5,000+ copiers and printers. This experience created another anchor point helping (me) to create a more global view of business and working in a market with unique needs. For the eight or so years before Pitney Bowes, my career shifted into “intreprepreneuring,” essentially starting new growth vectors inside enterprises.

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

A I think it would span across a number of activities that have helped the industry evolve and grow. When I was at Imation, I was involved in launching a number of digital proofing solutions that improved both costs and cycle times. At Kodak Polychrome Graphics, I launched a DI press that helped span the chasm between digital print and traditional lithographic print. At Pitney Bowes I helped us get into high end digital print through our partnership with HP.

And now, I am helping launch Volly; a digital lifestyle offering that replicates the role mail plays in a consumer’s life. This is probably the biggest transformation that I have worked on because it really allows consumers to choose their channel.

Q If you could change about your career in regards to the print industry, your company, or the market as a whole, what would it be and why?

A Change is about the future, not about the past, but this is a great topic for our industry.

Change is never easy, often exciting, and almost always for the better. And it is happening more rapidly today.

Q What do you consider the greatest challenge to be for the industry right now? Why?

A I think our greatest challenge is the ever increasing pace of change we are seeing. Yet, this is as much of an opportunity as it is a challenge. Capitalizing on change is how winning businesses thrive and how industries grow. How we deal with this pace of change will be the primary driver that shapes the future of our industry.

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

A Our greatest asset is rooted in our people, and the associated deep pool of knowledge and experience around effective communications. Our industry lives and breathes when making connections between people, and that’s really what communication is all about. We just have to make sure we don’t get stuck in a specific vehicle of communication.

Q In your opinion, what have been the biggest changes to the way we communicate with one another in the past few years? How would you recommend this industry take advantage of that?

A Our biggest change has to do with how consumers have an ever increasing array of sources of information they tap into, and a rapidly expanding array of ways to tap into that information. If we understand these two dynamics, and commit to delivering against them, our industry will both transform and grow.

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

A I think the explosion of available, accessible data, and advances in analytics will have a profound effect on our industry. As always, the challenge with data is to turn it into information, and then to transform that information to desired knowledge.

Consumers are on overload today. There is so much information flying at them, and they struggle with sifting through all of this and finding the pearls of knowledge that have meaning to them. Technological advances in the print industry have made it easy to “spotlight” a message on a document or an envelope. Tailoring that message to the individual recipient is the real opportunity. The next step is to ensure this tailored message is consistently delivered across all channels, whether physical or digital. There are a lot of moving parts to this, but those that get it right will be our industry leaders.

Q What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to printers and others involved in this industry?

A Paper is going to be around for a long time, but digital is coming fast. Embrace both of these assertions, and devise ways to help your customers manage the integration of physical and digital communications.

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

A This industry is as dynamic as it has ever been. Embrace change, drive innovation, focus on the fundamentals of communication, and win! pn