In this second installment of our series dedicated to bringing you the thought processes and views of the industry’s movers and shakers, Printing News talked to Ed Ickowski, director of business development and sales at DirectSmile, a company blazing forward in image personalization.
PN: Tell me about your company, the segment of the market it serves, and who you consider to be your “core” users.
EI: DirectSmile is the inventor of image personalization, and one of the leading suppliers of software for variable data printing and cross-media marketing. Our solutions allow users to implement sophisticated personalization tasks simply and efficiently to leverage the power of one-to-one-communications across all media.
DirectSmile solutions are designed for true mass-personalization and can scale to handle million-volume database-driven communications both in print and digital media while tracking and providing detailed campaign feedback. Printers, designers and agencies use DirectSmile to open up new fields of business including selling image personalized print products to the end-customer, producing customized direct mailings, creating personalized response-tracking Web sites and establishing Web-to-print portals.
Our core users are printers, marketing automation companies, agencies and corporate organizations that want personalization in their message to their customers via multi channel technologies.
PN: How did you get involved with the company? What is your background?
EI: I have worked in the printing industry for the past 15 years, and as a result have built many relationships. These led me to DirectSmile about a year ago, and I was excited to take the helm and drive their sales in the U.S. market. Prior to DirectSmile, I worked for eCopy, EFI, TR Systems and Canon. I have held various roles from director of sales and business development, to account management and corporate sales trainer. I have been very fortunate to work with some great people and great companies, all which have helped me become the business person I am today.
PN: What do you consider your greatest achievement in this market to be?
EI: I bring an entrepreneurial spirit and positive energy to every position I have held. When it comes to my customers, I believe in taking action to meet their needs because doing right by your customers is always positive for your business. I strongly believe that by sharing success, ideas and information with your team, you embolden people with a sense of pride and purpose, and from that fresh ideas are molded. I feel privileged to be in a position where I am helping my organization, as well as my customers, build a healthy and successful foundation for their businesses.
PN: If there was anything you could change, either about your career in regards to the print industry, your company, or the market as a whole, what would it be and why?
EI: More time to educate and explore: I would spend more time educating, empowering and helping individuals open up to new ideas. Success is within every organization. Companies have great human capital, but sometimes it lays dormant because there are no ways for employees to share their ideas. What most businesses often forget is that it is new ideas that grow a company, help your customers and drive this industry.
Today we live in an “instant-society” where communication happens at light speed. I see people getting so caught up by this, they never lift their head up to look at what is coming. In my day-to-day work, I try to help customers see the future and the possibilities of what they can do with DirectSmile.
PN: What do you consider the greatest challenge to be for the industry right now? Why?
EI: The greatest challenge for our industry right now is the fear of making a decision or taking a risk. The economic situation has, to an extent, polarized the industry. Companies are either unsure of where they need to go, or they are extremely aggressive in looking for new ways of making money.