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Recap: EFI Connect 2015

Thomas Quinlan declares print is not dead.

Big Picture

The buzz phrase from EFI Connect this year was “best of suite,” used to describe the company’s strategy to bundle its software modularly, launching updates in single waves rather than one-offs, and featuring a comprehensive portfolio for print and packaging, a modular suite of products and components, and a scalable platform. While it’s clear this will ease upgrades for new customers and help them expand into new sectors as need be, not all current users were sold. One attendee mentioned that, for her, the bundling was too little, too late: she’d purchased software from a handful of companies several years ago.

Total attendance for the event, held at the Wynn in Las Vegas, topped 1500, including vendors, press, and more than 1000 EFI customers from 32 countries. Along with its new software strategy, EFI’s Ken Hanulec said, “When I look at the mainstream display graphics, my only gap right now is textiles ... stay tuned.”

In addition, there was much to glean from EFI CEO Guy Gecht’s Q&As with Thomas Quinlan of RR Donnelley and 3D Systems’ Avi Reichental. Quinlan declared the death of print exaggerated, saying, “It’s not digital or print, it’s digital and print.” Yet, he warned that printers must be prepared not only to print graphics, but also to explain how their target can be expected to think, act, and respond to them. Clearly, print is not dead, though shops that offer print alone may soon be.

On Donnelley’s notorious appetite for acquisitions, Quinlan described “three C’s” he looks for: a customer-first mentality, capacity, and cost. He was mum on any potentials for 2015, likely because Donnelley was brokering a now-completed deal to acquire book manufacturer Courier Corp. – snatching it away from Quad/Graphics.

Reichental’s stand-out presentation made a case for 3D, particularly for personalized medicine, such as simulating surgical procedures, then printing implants, surgical instruments, and guides that fit each patient perfectly. Reichental also projected an explosion of demand for 3D: “The reality is that, depending on which kinds of customers you have, their whole time to market can be compressed, their inventories can be reduced, their supply chains can be localized, and their ability to personalize and customize is unlimited.”

With customization available for shoes, belts, medical devices, even food – imagine customizing flavors down to the pixel level – the only remaining question is whether (or which) PSPs are the appropriate providers of these services, given their current customer base. What Reichental made clear was that if PSPs do not step in, someone else will.
 

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