Takeaways from 2013 EFI Connect

Last week I had the opportunity to attend EFI’s Connect conference at the Wynn Las Vegas. Now in its 14th year, EFI Connect caters to graphic arts business leaders' need for continued innovation and education and profitable growth opportunities. Graphic arts professionals had the opportunity to participate in more than 150 sessions covering MIS/ERP software, Web-to-print systems, industrial inkjet printers, and Fiery technology.

In addition to featuring VUTEk, EFI Wide Format and Jetrion inkjet production printers, Connect included a newly enhanced line of JDF-certified Fiery digital front ends, as well as a complete lineup of EFI Productivity Software products. EFI also demonstrated systems from its two recent acquisitions: web-to-print and dynamic publishing firm Online Print Solutions, and Print MIS/ERP provider Technique. EFI Partners participating in Connect included: Bunting Magnetics, Carlson Advisors, Esko, Honle UV America, KIP America, Kodak, Konica Minolta, MBM Corp., Metrix Software, MGI, Ricoh, Xerox, xpedx, and Zund.

A few highlights and takeaways from Connect:

According to EFI’s CEO Guy Gecht, the “window of opportunity” is continually on the move and it is essential to ask this question, “What will your customers need in three to five years?” Gecht anticipates: more on demand printing; smaller but more productive industry; digital moving to non-traditional areas such as textile.

“People are taking a more rational approach to changing market conditions—planning ways to keep business moving in case there are more issues and challenges in the coming months and years,” said Gecht.

Productivity Software overview—"Our production software touches 18,000 customers worldwide every day," said David Taylor, general manager, EFI Radius.

Taylor also emphasized that software needed to be “a safe choice, the obvious choice” for the customer and that’s how developers saw EFI’s productivity software. In a market where 84 percent of software implementation fails (fails = not delivered on time, not on budget, doesn’t do what it says it will), EFI’s software falls into the 16 percent of software implementation that is successful. “It just works.”

Customer success stories included: Monarch user VISOgraphic, Pace MIS user Woolverton, and Radius user Lithotype.

Ken Hanulec, Vice President, Marketing, Inkjet Solutions, EFI, gave the press an overview of EFI's latest inkjet press, the HSPro100. First seen at SGIA in Las Vegas, the press is going into beta by the end of January or the beginning of February. EFI plans to place four units—two in the US, one in Germany, and one in the UK—during this beta period and shoudl commercialize the product by the end of Q1 2013.

On the Jetrion side of the Inkjet Solutions business, Sean Skelly, Vice President and General Manager, Jetrion at EFI, pointed us to a new launch at LabelExpo in Brussels—the Jetrion 5000. Skelly would not release any details about the new product, wanting to leave that for the launch later this year.

During EFI Connect, Benny Landa and three other members of his team had a roundtable with the press delegation attenting the conference. "Things are changing and we have to keep up. One of these are the ways we interact with customers," said Landa.

Landa reported that his company had signed 430 letters of intent (LOI), many with deposits. He reported that the company was on track with product development and expected to have its first product in beta testing at the end of 2013. This will be the Landa S10 cut-sheet, B1-format device, which Landa said was the most popular configuration. Landa also said that the platform’s print resolution has been increased from 600 to 1,200 dpi. They are “on track to crossing into the offset quality range.” For Landa, "quality is not an option. It's not a feature. It's essential."

Landa will not be exhibiting at IPEX (March 26 – April 2, 2014, London), China Print (May 14-18, Beijing), or PRINT 13 (September 8-13, Chicago). Landa said that the printing industry has been reduced in size and that they know all prospects for their equipment, so that there is really little or no need to attend trade shows to capture leads.

Gecht, on the other hand, while seeing the advantage of targeted events such as Connect, sees trade shows as a good opportunity for EFI—especially since many big names are pulling out.

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