This year’s EFI Connect conference took place in Las Vegas at the Wynn Resort and Casino.

The sold out event recorded a 10 per cent increase on last year’s attendance.

Guy Gecht, chief executive at EFI, celebrating his 20th anniversary at EFI, delivered a lively and humour filled keynote presentation to open the event.

He said, “I want to talk about the forces changing our industry. To do that, I am going to relate Star Wars, one of the biggest movies of all time, to what we are seeing in the industry.

“You know, it is really difficult to predict the future, or as Yoda says: ‘Impossible to see, the future is.’ But we can look at the forces in place now.”

Gecht gives six guidelines for becoming a Jedi in the business of printing. Number one: you can bet on changes in market forces to accelerate. As examples, he mentions driverless cars and the speed of technology change.

He says, “The online world makes collaboration easier. It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million people; television, 13 years; the internet only four years; and Facebook only two years. More text messages are sent each day than there are people on earth. The lesson here is: don’t be the last to buy an analogue press.”

His second guideline: when facing a stronger force, use the Jedi (or Judo) strategy. He says, “Use your opponent’s strength. The online force is stronger than the print force. Use judo principles: be nimble and adaptive; have a balanced product portfolio; use your competitor’s strength to overcome challenges. Don’t fight the online force: use it. An example of how this is done is how hardware catalogues were close to closing down but they used online technology to grow their business. Now they are stronger than ever. Web to print is another example.

His third guideline: take the short runs road to long profit. He says, “We see this in fashion for example, short run brings profit. With online and digital you can take advantage of short runs. We are in the people business. Personalisation and customisation are all the rage and for this, digital printing is an enabling force.”

Guideline number four: look beyond paper. He says, “You want to appeal to a bigger market so let’s expand the definition of print. Printing used to be all about documents but that has changed. So if you want to address the issues today, go beyond paper and consider the imaging of things. This is really exciting. We can influence many industries.

“Inkjet is an enabling force. It is the only technology that doesn’t touch the media. Creative customers are leading the imaging of things revolution. Customers print on anything like carpets and create new business. They come up with great applications and they can share ideas with print buyers looking for innovative applications. This helps generate new leads.”

Number five: Don’t touch what you can automate. He says, “The online world has given us the capability to move away from making mistakes manually. Manual non-automated work belongs to the dark side. Non-automated work is a trap, a profit trap. We humans make mistakes and we cost more. Well integrated products are preferred over ‘islands.’”

His last guideline: not placing a bet is giving in to the dark side. He says, “Learn to move with the window of opportunity; standing still is not an option.”

He also unveiled the Imaging of Things exchange, an online customer applications gallery designed to help EFI customers and print buyers grow their network and business relationships.

The online exchange, free for EFI customers, provides a venue for them to post images and videos of their work in a forum targeted to print buyers looking for innovative application ideas. Gecht says, “The Imaging of Things exchange addresses the network effect online communities have in accelerating adoption of new technologies and applications. As a result, EFI customers can better promote their EFI print applications and generate new business leads.

Story telling provides a recipe for success 

RESORT industry and Las Vegas business legend Steve Wynn shared some of the secrets of his enormously successful career in resort and hotel development and management.

Speaking more like a favourite uncle sharing advice over a coffee, Wynn provides a business lesson built on his success. He stresses that, despite the luxury of his resorts, success really depends on creating a culture where employees gain a sense of pride and enhanced self-esteem through their work.

He says, “We built this pretty building and we shouted out to everybody, ‘Come here. You will have a better experience.’ The EFI printers around this room are not the cheapest you can buy. Our rooms are more expensive than our neighbours because we say they are better just like the EFI machines; they are better.

“We are all hustling our stuff and we are charging more. God knows there are a lot of rooms in Las Vegas and all the blackjack tables are the same. When we say they are better and we promise the experience will be better, is it true? Or is it BS? Is it true? Or is it developer speak? Is it true? Because underneath every major business franchise is this: Is the price justified? Well I’m sticking my chin out. There are 1500 people in this room who can say that. You get to decide; not me.

“In this building we have learned a lesson. The crystal chandeliers are fine, the marble is great but that is stuff and the stuff is only 10 per cent of the franchise. Really, it is only people that make people happy.

AT the conference, EFI announced an expansion of its Productivity Suite strategy. Gaby Matsliach, senior vice presidente, says, “We introduced the EFI Productivity Suites, a comprehensive, best-of-portfolio workflow platform at Connect 2015. This strategy improves users’ productivity, efficiency and profitability through Suite Certified workflows for specific segments.”

EFI has doubled its productivity suite offerings with three new certified suites for the quick printing, publication print and corrugated packaging segments. Matsliach says, “This goes beyond a product portfolio offering. It is an attempt to change the way we operate and the way we partner with you. We are trying to do a better job in partnering.

“Whether it is marketing, acquisition, management, pre-production, production, or post production, this strategy will give you more efficiency. You can eliminate touchpoints and optimise the eco-system you have developed over the years. Whether you are trying to grow the business or trying to diversify your product portfolio, there is a need to eliminate errors.”

He agrees with Guy Gecht that print businesses need to make decisions. He says, “Making no decision is the worst strategy. Our obligation is for us to find ways for you to evolve gradually, to get you where you want to go. How to enable a better ability to operate is high on our agenda.”

He sees consultancy services as something that is needed. He says, “In the software world, we see more cloud capability hosted, scalable solutions and reduced infrastructure needs.

“Packaging is a growing market. Within packaging, digital becomes an important factor. Our responsibility is to provide better support for these packaging opportunities.

“With the productivity suite strategy, the promise behind it is to provide an end to end offering that you can get out of the box so you don’t have to put all the pieces together. On top of that, we complement the product offering with consulting services. One year in, I can see workflows in action, real products. How we can transform the space looking at it from an end to end perspective.”

He sees this as a major shift in the way EFI looks at how it serves its clients. He says, “It is the end to end workflow that drives our improvement. We ask what is really needed. So it is no longer a bunch of products. It’s really building the end to end capability.

“We have made massive investment in living up to what is needed. We want to be a partner, to sit down with you and look at your needs and how to work out a road map do for you. You may choose to work with with someone else but at least you will have some idea of what you can do.”

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