Interview: EFI's Frank Mallozzi in conversation with Output pt 1
What do you think?
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By James Matthews-Paul
8 May 2012
Frank Mallozzi at drupa 2012 – which he describes as 'ink-jet drupa'
Last drupa was the 'workflow drupa'. If you had to put an adjective to this drupa, what would it be?
The safe thing would be to call this the 'ink-jet drupa' because of what Landa is doing, but if you look at the real hidden message I think it's integration. The biggest take-away from Nanography is the UI, which gives you a command workstation of your environment. Customers walking onto the EFI stand who are interested in a wide-format or label machine are coming back asking and wanting to understand about e-commerce solutions – how to manage them, how it works from a banking perspective plus data and colour management, and how can it all work together? Digital enables us to do that.
What has the geographic reach been?
We're not seeing the US well represented, although we do have a lot of our larger customers over here: large commercial conglomerates, such as Staples and FedEx Office, have come to visit us. What's been amazing outside our core European presence is the attendance from Eastern Europe, where we've had a lot of visitors from Russia, Poland; customers from Asia, in particular China and Indonesia; and there's been a huge contingent from Australia, which is fantastic. Next is Central and Latin America; there has been a tremendous showing from Brazil, Mexico. That's a big transition from 2008. Latin America has been slow over the past two or three quarters but the local market's print councils have been marketing drupa and the technologies.
Your acquisition path in MIS over the past year reflects that move towards control and data. With your positioning and product development there, is EFI becoming the next Cisco?
It's a part of our vision; one of the things we learned, when we implemented SAP years ago, [is] that a lot of business efficiency is based around your ERP solution. Part of that vision came to fruition where we could do the same thing within the commercial environment but bring a lot more value through content, business analytics and tools to bring that data together. Customers didn't embrace that for years but recently it's become a competitive requirement. They need the analytics in order to survive, to optimise their profitability, and because there's so much technology at their fingertips identifying efficiency is key. Today, Fiery is an appliance sitting on the front end that enables you to bring incredible colour fidelity, web content and the other intel you have on a document, feeding your ERP systems.
Ours is one of the last manufacturing industries to have adopted lean manufacturing. Tying all that together, it's a question of positioning, timing and our legacy, and how we go to market with our partners. I don't want to be self-proclaiming and say 'this is Cisco' but I think the industry is recognising that there's a need for what we have.
Lots of your competitors have gone down the route of green marketing, with messaging of reassurance and environmental responsibility; EFI hasn't so much. What is your ecology message?
There are two things that EFI really prides itself on: one is its tech, the other is our people and our reach in the marketplace. We don't have the big marketing dollars that the big guys have out there; we need that to create that market, so our approach is to go out and participate. When we talk about UV-curable ink-jet technology we talk about VOCs, about versatility, but we speak through the technology; when you use LED curing, it consumes less electricity than mercury arc lamps, which you also throw away more quickly.
When buyers go out and look at a print provider they do look at the green technology [offering], but they ask, is your plant green? Are you offering incentives to your employees for car-pooling? Are there outlets outside for electric cars? Is your plant running solar? Are you using recyclable materials? Are your employees working virtually? Some major brand buyers shared that with me years ago and we decided on a consultative approach. On the Fiery side we've introduced Fiery View, a UI that enables you to pre-flight your applications, choose how to print, and see how much paper you save. Lastly, we're doing our part; our headquarters is energy efficient – for example, we built it with a great ventilation system to take advantage of the breeze.
Continue reading this interview here.
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