If it’s just print, it’s a commodity thing. It’s based on cost per page and you may or may not be competitive with distributed office MFPs. But if you can start to incorporate some value add for the content that’s being printed—the variable content or maybe a campaign associated with that concept—that’s the way you differentiate yourself from those office devices.
Q: What should printers know about the new generation of monochrome digital devices that they may not be aware of?
A: I started to think about the latest technology enhancement, how many dpi, what sort of inline finishing, or what kind of media can you support. And there have been a lot of announcements from different people from a technology perspective about the hardware. But I don’t think that is the most important thing for the Quick Printing audience to realize about digital monochrome devices. It’s more to do with what they can do with it to drive their revenue up or their costs down. I think the most important thing they should know about is how to differentiate their services.
They can’t do that with an offset device. They can probably do it with any digital device as long as they buy one of the latest from any one of the competitors, including us. But if they want to simply get a digital device to put in their shop to handle requests they might get that they can’t do on a traditional offset, then they’re really waiting for a commodity type customer to come in and say, “Hey I need to get this digital job run. Can you help me?” And that customer may be price shopping between two different quick printers.
But if they can start to learn the techniques and use the tools to help them manage the customer’s job and leverage the customer’s content in different ways—whether it’s what’s printed or what’s tracked after it’s printed—measuring results of campaigns, tracking the responses, and mining data, that’s where the digital device can become a real tool. But it really doesn’t matter which one you choose. I think that’s really the most important thing.
Every time I talk to a customer about what are you really going to be printing on this device, most of the time it appears as though it’s just, “We need to print some commodity print.” They aren’t saying, “We’re going to try to set ourselves up as a differentiator or try to build our relationship more tightly with our customers and make it hard for them to move to someone else.”
Bob Schalberg, Director Current Product Marketing B&W
Q: There is a lot of confusing terminology describing digital monochrome output devices in the current marketplace. How do you differentiate between a printer or copier/printer and a digital press? (For example, is the determining factor the duty cycle, speed, resolution, service reliability, or something else entirely?) Or is it all just marketing semantics?
A: I could take you through a brief history of how we got to where we are and it’s probably a summary of how the industry got to where we are as well. Many manufacturers that make high speed, high productive digital printing equipment started out as copier manufacturers. Then they morphed into copier/printer manufacturers. Then our industry went through a transition from an analog based technology to a digital technology, not unlike what has occurred in other industries.
As we achieved this sophistication of moving into the digital age, and we achieved the reliability to support productive, high volume print environments, we pretty much evolved into characterizing our product as a digital press. There are a number of reasons why we would consider it a digital press. When you talk about presses, you think about ink and water, offset type environments which have historically been known as high volume, high production, high quality type devices. As we manufactured these products, we’ve met the productivity requirements of the marketplace, we’ve met the speed requirements of the marketplace, and we’ve also met the image quality demands of the marketplace for the most part.