Printing in the Era of Digitization

Exclusive Interview with Simon Howells, General Manager of Xerox Emirates

Printing industry is at a crossroads while Corona pandemic also accelerated many trends that were already transforming graphic arts industry. To find out how one of the biggest providers of digital printing technology is responding to the new realities of graphic arts industry we talked to Simon Howells, General Manager of Xerox Emirates. Here are the excerpts:

Do you think print media is at a critical stage? If yes, how should companies that are directly or indirectly involved in printing industry adjust amid the rise of digital media?

The printing industry has seen unprecedented change during the pandemic. This has led to organizations from print service providers to end customers quickly adopting digital platforms and solutions to stay connected, drive business and accelerate digital transformation.

The first step to adjust is a shift in thinking.  There are more opportunities within digitization for printers to expand into digital technology, collaborate with solution providers and become a strategic partner to customers.

For print houses, it is a critical time to re – think their business strategy. With almost everything going digital, the need for offset printing has drastically declined and will soon become obsolete. By adopting digital strategies, printers can now produce high quality jobs quickly and in smaller volumes. Another area that print shops can look at is Inkjet technology which can lower cost per page, maintain right level of IQ due to lower ink coverage and is certainly a future – proof technology as the scalability allows it to grow with a business operation. With digital, comes the opportunity to drive better customer segmentation through personalised communications and omni-channel engagement.

What kind of Automation solutions you offer printers to streamline their operations?

Xerox Emirates partners has been streamlining and automating workflows for over 15 years in the UAE. We leverage our expertise in areas like Enterprise Content Management, (ECM) IT and Digital services, Cloud and Automation services and Predictive analytics to help people and organizations optimize and drive efficiency.

Xerox® IT Services: From technology procurement and managed IT services, to cloud migrations and critical information security management, our end-to-end services and solutions take care of the tech—so customers can focus on their business.

Xerox® Robotic Process Automation: Puts tedious processes on autopilot, so teams can focus on their areas of expertise. It’s a money-saving and easy-to-implement solution that creates a better work experience for all helping businesses stay agile.

Workflow Automation for SMBs: Capturing and digitizing documents to setting up automated infrastructures, Xerox Emirates experts help businesses automate processes to make their business more intelligent and ready for what’s next.

Digital Workflow solutions- Print provider customers aren’t just print shops; they are in the business of delivering marketing and communications services. With the emergence of digital media, Xerox created FreeFlow®, a digital workflow solution and added personalized multichannel marketing software from XMPie®, a Xerox company

As a company that sells a huge number of printing devices around the globe while at the same time helps businesses change their processes from analogue to digital how do you see the future of print?

Print is evolving but there are significant changes that are set to take place in the years to come. Print companies need to adapt to change by investing in new innovations and advanced technology.

The graphic arts industry will need to expand into high – value printing operations and focus on value adds they can offer to customers such as specialty inks (Xerox Iridesse Press), digital enhancements, variable data printing and personalization (XMPIe). Inkjet Technology retains most advanced print technology and is set to grow business opportunities for the future.

Within the packaging and label space from smart packaging to folding cartons, every digital print segment is expected to see rapid growth and Xerox have the expertise to deliver big value for clients.

Print Service Providers are also expanding from just equipment sales to solution – based models such as Software as a Service (SaaS) which enhances a customer print environment.

Xerox iGen4
The Xerox® iGen® portfolio represents the most widely adopted range of digital folding carton printing solutions in the market

The Covid pandemic disrupted many established trends and created new ones in different industries including printing and packaging. For example, there are more demand for books. In 2020, over 200 million print books were sold in UK alone– the highest number since 2012. In US According to the latest sales data analysis from NPD, volume in 2020 rose 8.2% year over year to reach 751 million books. The demand for packaging and especially e-commerce packaging is skyrocketing, so amid all the hype about digitization it seems that printing is still pretty much in demand and its future is secured, what do you think?

Retail is on the rise, bringing e-commerce up with it. This means the demand for folding cartons, customizable and high-end packaging with labels and printed tapes is opening a huge opportunity for printers.

Just as e-commerce revolutionized retail, the pandemic revolutionized e-commerce with an explosion of small-scale businesses selling through online storefronts on places like Amazon Marketplace, Shopify, Etsy and eBay. These entrepreneurs have unique needs that only digital print can meet and for this reason, the Xerox® iGen® portfolio represents the most widely adopted range of digital folding carton printing solutions in the market combining the advantages of digital print with automated pre-press and digital finishing solutions. The result is the ability to deliver short runs, versioning and customisation — providing big value to brand owners and folding carton converters.

There have been pivotal changes in publishing technology through digital print — enabling nimble response to market needs, emerging trends and economic factors. Since books can take on many forms (workbooks, booklets, perfect bound books and more), printers will continue using technology such as the Xerox® digital presses that has the flexibility to keep up and grow with future demand.

Xerox have successfully implemented a number of on demand book factories which fit with the changing requirements of publishers and customers. We see this as a future growth area, and one in which Xerox Emirates excel.

Now that many people are working from home, people’s home is not just a home, it is an office and work environment, are you offering products tailored for these new breed of digital equipment users?

The way the world works is changing.  Instead of “people going to work”, 2021 has seen “work going to people”. In a hybrid work environment, employees expect to be able to communicate, print, and access information where and when they want it.

From the home office to commercial environments, our business solutions and services are designed to make every day work better for clients — no matter where that work is being done.​

Homeworkers can be split into 2 broad categories; users with simple print-centric needs that create, share via email and print documents and a second category of users that need to process documents as part of their job and need to mimic the operations available at their office, follow company procedures, approve or review documents and pass them on to others. These workers need remote access from their device to their office systems.

  • Home Office Xerox® Connectkey Printers powered by Apps provide tools to ensure a secure, productive, connected and supported home office environment.
  • Home devices cannot connect to the office network, so you need apps that can create secure connections or send documents as if they were sent from an office device. Apps like Connect for Exchange Online connect the MFP to your chosen email server remotely allowing employees to email documents securely with recipients knowing exactly where they came from.
  • Apps allow for direct and encrypted connections to business-critical systems, whether it’s a Content Management solution, ERP, CRM or other system employees need access to documents.
  • The new workplace cloud home worker print tracker brings print management tools into the home office. Whether the printer is company supplied or personally owned, jobs sent using a company laptop can be centrally tracked with our cloud service and analytics tools, giving visibility of business-related printing. Print jobs can then be assigned to project codes for recharging or allow employees to recover costs for personally owned printers.

Based on Xerox Quocirca’s Global Print 2025 report the print industry is poised for profound change as we head towards 2025. Automation, robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will become more pervasive. To survive and prosper in this rapidly evolving landscape, print manufacturers must develop new products, services and business models that will sustain and drive growth. So, what are Xerox answers to these challenges?

Today, organizations are experiencing massive growth in data and content, where IDC estimates an incredible 61% CAGR in data now through 2025.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is among the fastest-growing areas of technology because it can extract, integrate and organize data from multiple formats and systems to increase business process efficiency. Robotic Process Automation gives your organization the ability to automate repetitive process activities. When coupled with Artificial Intelligence, organizations can reach new levels of productivity and efficiency.

At Xerox, innovation is the core of what we do and who we are. Innovation is used to drive growth in Print & Services, IT and Digital Services, as well as in our new disruptive businesses like CareAR and in several transformative endeavors. From 3D printing to advanced Artificial Intelligence applications, Xerox is not only thinking about the future, but we’re also making it.

Xerox has been moving from a hardware-centric to a process- and service centric business model and MPS has been a substantial part of Xerox revenues, however it seems that due to pandemic and working from home trend many companies are less interested in MPS solutions, is this true?

The pandemic has accelerated the proliferation of cloud services, opportunity for digital transformation and work style changes where the continuity of operations and pressure on cost control & efficiency have become the main concerns for businesses. Investing in supporting technologies to enable a hi-tech powered workforce is now making its way to the IT decision makers top priority list.

The pre-2020 office will likely never be the same and now Xerox MPS enable “work going to people” instead of “people going to work”.  This means that instead of being device and office centric, we shifted to an app and content centric model enabled by the cloud. Within the hybrid workplace, our ConnectKey technology and productivity apps transform Xerox multi-function printers (MFPs) into workplace assistants that help users automate time-consuming processes.

Managed Print Services (MPS) is still in demand where businesses utilize our portfolio of analytics, cloud, digitization and ConnectKey® technologies to help optimize their print infrastructure, secure their print environment and automate related business processes. It uses data and analytics to save money on print infrastructure, increases employee productivity, reduces security concerns and creates a more intelligent workplace.

One of the major consequences of pandemic and the social media explosion is the huge increase in mobile print volumes, do you see this trend increase in upcoming years and what are Xerox solutions to tap into this lucrative market?

Xerox is a trusted source for digital office solutions that improve productivity in many ways.

With Xerox Mobile Print, businesses of all shapes and sizes can help their workforce be more efficient. It provides a high level of security to ensure information stays confidential and eliminates the need to rely on others to print sensitive documents.

Whether customers are looking for a server-based suite or cloud-based service, Xerox Workplace Solutions offer convenient, secure, affordable mobile printing. Its modular design helps save time and reduce costs, while enabling mobile working across entire printer fleets. The Xerox® Mobile Link App can scan, fax and print or capture, manage and send from any phone or tablet through this mobile app.

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