Executive Q&A: Sam Hosoe, associate director and deputy general manager, Ricoh Production Printing Business Group, Ricoh Company, Ltd.

QP: Since revealing its expanded goals at drupa, Ricoh has made a number of moves that reflect its stated goal of moving toward services. Please explain the company’s strategy as it relates to the print-for-pay market.

Hosoe: Ricoh is committed to delivering our customers the hardware, software, consulting, and services they need to take their business to the next level. The objective behind our business approach of Print and Beyond is to actively add new and innovative technologies—like Clickable Paper and new wide-format innovations—to our portfolio to help our customers branch into new markets, explore new business opportunities for their customers, increase efficiencies to lower their costs, and become more competitive—and that is just the start.

 

QP: Tell us about the company’s recent investment in PTI Marketing. How do you think it will benefit Ricoh’s commercial print customers?

Hosoe: As mentioned in the previous question, Ricoh is fully committed to our corporate initiative of Print and Beyond. This strategic investment is yet another route we’ve taken to continue to offer our customers a best-of-breed portfolio.

Ricoh intends to globally accelerate business for a new solution that will integrate Ricoh Pro series production printers with PTI software. This alliance is part of a broader strategy to strengthen and broaden the solutions and services offered in the production printing business.

This investment will help PTI expand mainly on two fronts: to increase their engineering presence around the world, and to create new and enhance current portfolio offerings. Specifically, PTI will expand its global capabilities with an international infrastructure, develop new end-to-end workflows targeted for both PTI’s and Ricoh’s customers, and increase staff in engineering, sales, and customer support, among other initiatives.

 

QP: Since the first time I heard about it, I’ve been intrigued by Clickable Paper. How does it work and do you think it will take the place of QR codes?

Hosoe: Clickable Paper is very exciting for us here at Ricoh and to the customers we’ve shown it to. Developed by our Ricoh Innovations, Inc. team in Silicon Valley, Clickable Paper is a cross-media platform that enables integration beyond one click to one online destination. Its capabilities go well beyond those of a QR code.

With Clickable Paper, an end user can click on an easily identifiable logo on any printed surface and be transported to a wealth of online content that can include social media, videos, websites, coupons, and much more. What makes this truly revolutionary is that this technology is not restricted to documents that have yet to be printed. Because the Clickable Paper content sits in an online database, it can be added to already published content as well on any printed surface.

This technology is especially relevant to commercial printers, in-plant users, and publishers as it has the potential to empower them to provide rich cross-media content to their customers. Consumers will be able to instantly recognize a Clickable (or Clickable Paper-enabled) page with an easily identifiable logo.

In our view, QR codes were on the right track, but lost their way. A much more versatile technology needs to exist to realize the promise that print and digital can not only coexist in harmony, but also mutually benefit each other. And that is Clickable Paper.

 

QP: Despite the philosophy of moving toward services, Ricoh has recently introduced a wide-format Latex printer as well as a print head for 3D printers. What drives these types of diversification in the print field?

Hosoe: Ricoh continues to evolve into a true, end-to-end Print and Beyond technology company, and with this move towards services we need to maintain and expand our product portfolio. With that said, we continue to leverage the innovations within Ricoh and via our technology partners to remain at the cusp of future solutions. Wide-format offerings are a part of expanding new application portfolio such as signage, POP, poster, and so on, which are emerging thanks to innovative technology such as Latex ink, which is very environmental friendly. New technology enables us to produce non-paper substrates such as polyester film and rigid media.

Many people may not realize this, but Ricoh also has a strong presence in the inkjet print head market as well with our Ricoh production printing business group in Japan and Simi Valley, CA. We provide printheads to many of the world’s largest inkjet providers. The Ricoh L4000 solution leverages the latest generation print heads that have come out of this group.

 

QP: What is your vision of the commercial printing industry in the next five to 10 years, and how will Ricoh fit into that picture?

Hosoe: Commercial printers are beginning to realize that a shift is occurring. We can no longer maintain leadership and customer acquisition without transitioning to a more well-rounded marketing service provider position. Traditional print service providers need to expand their portfolios to offer more value-added services to their customers to keep them coming back for more and to keep them competitive. This shift needs to be underway now to ensure that commercial printers are still players in the next five to 10 years. Ricoh is committed to helping them make the transition to become marketing service providers with our “Ricoh Business Booster Program”, which provides businesses with the tools, resources, and processes to execute a successful transformation strategy.

Learn more about Ricoh Production Print Solutions at www.myprintresource.com/10006023 or about Ricoh Americas Corporation at www.myprintresource.com/10007712.

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