A featured post from our counterparts at the Ricoh Europe Business Driver blog:
As another Hunkeler Innovationdays is upon us, we at Ricoh have been looking at the past year’s technology trends and how they’re impacting you. One area where we’ve seen a lot of movement is the shift from color to monochrome inkjet systems. While this step might be unintuitive, or even backward, as color applications are dominating the conversation about where print is headed, this fact still remains: 85% of books printed are black and white (and this stat also applies to all print impressions beyond the book industry, including the insurance, transaction and regulatory industries). Couple that with inkjet’s flexibility of accommodating different applications, the shift towards shorter runs, and the opportunities to take on more types of work, and you have the formula for monochrome inkjet being a quiet, but powerful tool in modern printing.
Rural Wit and Wisdom
So why the shift, you ask? The book market as a whole, especially trade books, have transitioned to producing books in very short runs as part of moving to a weekly replacement model in an effort to reduce costs by avoiding keeping inventory on hand. This trend has caused a shift from conventional toner-based printing presses to inkjet systems, which are designed to handle variable applications. There are thousands of toner machines in print shops that have been in use for ten or more years, becoming even more costly to operate as time goes on. Printers are often adopting color inkjet first to accommodate their more graphic applications, and after realizing the significant efficiencies and cost savings they’ve gained in productivity, they want to match that productivity for their monochrome work, which isn’t as cost-effective to run on a color system.
To read the full post with our insights on why color users are turning to monochrome , visit the Ricoh Europe Business Driver Blog.
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” - Alan Kay, American computer scientist.
This is a great time to be a brand owner or a publisher. The latest innovations in digital print technology have created new opportunities to re-evaluate the role of print in customer communications, marketing and publishing.
Once focused on forms replacement for transactional documents, production inkjet has blossomed into a versatile and powerful tool that companies like yours are using to take advantage of cutting-edge applications – and even create new ones. The marketing landscape’s shift to digital is spurring new demands from brand owners, making it imperative for the industry to shape the future of print, rather than simply responding to the status quo. Here are three ways that production inkjet – and the printers who use it – are innovating print applications and technologies:
In today’s world of immediacy, companies are expecting what they want, when they want it, no questions asked. For a print shop, this requires digital technologies that are nimble enough to deliver a transactional production run just before one for direct mail, with minimal downtime.
Throughout the past ten years, production inkjet has evolved into an affordable and effective route to white paper in, full color out applications. Whether it’s a full color transactional document, glossy direct mail piece or graphics book, inkjet technology can meet the needs of each demand with precision and high quality.
Being able to produce short runs of varied output is also a key advantage of inkjet. In the case of books for example, while offset is still the go-to technology for producing high quantity runs of books, inkjet is enabling book printers and publishers to produce shorter runs that are just the right amount for a given purpose. Review copies used during the editing process and marketing copies distributed during the promotional phase of a book launch are two such applications where low quantities are needed. What’s more, inkjet is enabling books to never truly go “out of print” by making it easier for printers and publishers to meet one-off demands for old and rare books from consumers. In the educational market, class-customized booklets that might be used only by one or a handful of professors, and versioned textbooks are yet other opportunities to put inkjet’s short run capabilities to use.
For example, we will be showing at the Hunkeler Innovationdays show this month in Lucerne a full colour book, The Cult of Porsche: In the Beginning. This is digitally printed on offset stock, delivering the impact and quality that, until now, has been associated only with offset printing. Originally produced in short runs and shown at last year’s London Book Fair, it will be inkjet printed for the first time for Hunkeler Innovationdays.
The opportunity to customize direct marketing output has never been greater. As more transactional communications transition to intangible, digital forms such as email and mobile apps, the value of printed communications is increasing. The clients of printers are demanding high quality output that grabs attention with relevant content and interactive elements such as QR codes and interactive print solutions. By virtue of the sheer amount of customer data available to agencies and their brand clients, items like coupons can be customized with items that go beyond the usual name and gender information. Deeper demographic and psychographic information can be incorporated and reference the recipient’s recent purchases, buying habits, and other information that ensures the direct marketing content is being received at the right time, by the right people with the right message. Inkjet’s heritage in variable data, coupled with its continued evolution as a graphic communications tool that rivals the colours and print quality of offset, further empowers marketing agencies and brand owners to take advantage of this opportunity. Have a look out for the The Bianchi catalog on our stand. With its challenging brand colors and high quality bike imagery it will demonstrate the results inkjet is capable of such as readily reproducing work previously the preserve of offset.
- Graham Moore, Director Business Development, Ricoh Europe
In recent years, many of our customers have expressed a desire to branch out into multichannel marketing solutions, hoping to stay ahead of today’s competitive marketplace by combining the value of print with established and emerging digital channels. Your demand for services such as web-to-print and targeted marketing solutions will only continue to grow, and we realize that you’ll need intuitive and seamless solutions at the ready to help you stay on top of your game. But how can you make that jump?
Ricoh, working closely with recently acquired PTI Marketing Technologies, is here to help. PTI, a premiere software-as-a-service marketing asset management and marketing solutions provider, has been helping enterprises and commercial printers improve control of their marketing assets and workflow for more than a decade with impressive success. Now, as we further strengthen our relationship with their team, you – our customers – will see increased benefits as PTI’s excellent set of tools are more fully and seamlessly incorporated into Ricoh’s array of offerings.
Ricoh has long been committed to helping customers leverage leading marketing and business development tools to help them quickly develop and enact more productive and profitable business strategies through initiatives like the Ricoh Business Booster Program. Now you’ll be able to leverage PTI’s marketing capabilities in collaboration with Ricoh’s software and services to expand your portfolios from just one print channel, such as direct mail, to a full spectrum of multichannel communications, driving value and growth for your businesses and your clients via multiple points of attack.
This acquisition has further cemented our working relationship with PTI, augmenting its global engineering presence and support systems while further improving our ability to provide you with unmatched end-to-end production print solutions for customers. That means more solutions to fit increasingly varying market demands, working toward comprehensively fulfilling your business’s specific needs – no matter the size of the business or the need – in ways we could not effectively pursue separately. We’re excited to serve you in this newly expanded capacity. To learn more about how we can work with you, please visit http://www.ricoh.com/about/
- Ted Takahashi
Senior Vice President, Production Print Global Marketing Center, Ricoh
An interview with Ryan Kiley, Director of Strategic Production Services, Ricoh Americas Corporation
At Ricoh, we realize that each of our customers is unique, and no two organizations are exactly alike. Our recently launched Customer Innovation Center exists to explore our vast portfolio to find a connection between a customer’s specific needs and Ricoh’s capabilities. The goal is do to do this through collaborative efforts, two-way conversations and hands-on demonstrations. Ryan Kiley, Director of Strategic Production Services at Ricoh Americas Corporation, shares with us the vision for the Customer Innovation Center, why it was created and what the customer feedback has been to date.
What devices and types of jobs can a customer see at the Customer Innovation Center?
The Customer Innovation Center offers customers and potential customers the chance to see Ricoh’s complete line of production engines, solutions and service offerings in action. That includes the recently announced RICOH Pro VC60000, RICOH Pro C7110X, RICOH Pro C9110, RICOH TotalFlow BatchBuilder and TotalFlow Path. Customers can also experience multiple lines of InfoPrint 5000 and solutions such as the award-winning RICOH ProcessDirector and RICOH ProcessDirector Express, which are components of our Critical Communications solutions suite, along with TotalFlow Prep, Path, Print Manager and Production Manager. We use and can demonstrate our strategic solutions suite including PTI MarCom Central and Avanti Slingshot. The Customer Innovation Center truly brings Ricoh’s comprehensive, diverse offerings to bear, allowing visitors to see firsthand not only what we have to offer but also how it works and, in the same vein, how it can help them.
How does a visit to the Customer Innovation Center benefit a customer? What will he/she learn there?
In our industry, learning is really what it’s all about. A briefing at the Customer Innovation Center is a collaborative exercise between our customers and the subject matter experts that we bring to the table. Our job at the Customer Innovation Center is to foster communication between these two parties. We learn about the visitor, and they learn about Ricoh. Ultimately we work together to understand and solve the specific challenges they face, whether they’re looking to fulfill production print needs, workflow requirements, or various business goals – there is no topic off the table during this experience.
At the end of the visit, we trust that they will have experienced the full breadth of our capabilities, which are significant. We help organizations achieve their business goals by first understanding them. We then identify and quantify barriers and propose solutions that meet their needs and overcome those barriers. Hardware, finishing, software and services all contribute to the discussion and demonstrations.. There is a lot to learn about, see and touch here at the Customer Innovation Center.
The learning experience is absolutely bidirectional. If we catch ourselves talking more than listening, we’ll adjust. The entire idea is to be driven by a briefing methodology, where we’re fostering conversation and collaboration. It brings out the very best of both what we can offer and what we can learn from somebody visiting.
Could you walk me through a typical visit?
To start, a visitor will come in and sit down in our Executive Briefing Center, equipped with Ricoh SMART Boards, communication systems and projectors. We sit down together and review the agenda, introduce executive sponsors, engineers, and other resources we leverage to drive a productive briefing. We make sure both the Ricoh team and the customer know what to expect from the visit, which usually lasts one or two days.
Visits will often have a pre-set agenda. To develop that, we’ll collaborate with the customer’s local Ricoh team – no matter if that customer and their local team are based in Iowa, or Israel, or Italy, we work with the team closest to their needs. Our briefing staff will collaborate with the local account team to determine the fundamental goals of the experience. That is, what do we want them to walk away understanding, and what do we want to learn from this experience? Once we know that, then we’ll layer on the additional aspects of Ricoh’s value proposition, so we can ensure that they walk away saying, “I didn’t know Ricoh did all that. But now I want to incorporate it into my operation.”
Once we’ve reviewed the agenda together, our experts will lead conversations about our portfolio, relating their uses back to what we learned about the customer’s environment and needs during the preparation process. This provides both parties a chance to get a greater understanding of the other’s background, and it often highlights Ricoh’s unique understanding of customers’ industries and how we’ve addressed past cases that may share similarities with theirs, and the exchange of information opens things up to a consultative approach.
Some visitors may show up with a particular engine or a software solution in mind they want to learn about, and we’ll certainly show them that, but we do so in context of the fuller Ricoh portfolio, without distracting from their stated mission. Seeing our hardware, software, solutions and services all working together to accomplish actual goals often opens up new avenues of collaboration in customers’ eyes, which is always great.
While at the Customer Innovation Center, visitors will see the solutions we use to run the print center day to day, but we can also demonstrate our available solutions and equipment that may not be called upon for that day’s regular jobs, so visitors can see those specifically. If they’d like, we can run their jobs on their paper to show exactly how our portfolio can handle their needs, while making operators, engineers and architects available to answer any questions they may have.
What actually happens day to day at the Customer Innovation Center? What makes it different than other showrooms?
While Ricoh has dozens of show rooms around the U.S. that focus on demonstrations and education, the Customer Innovation Center goes beyond that to operate as a fully operational print center. It doesn’t exist behind plate glass for you to look at. All of the samples that find their ways to our sales professionals around the world are produced in that room, so it’s not quiet. It’s not pristine, and it’s not a museum. Every process in there is operating at high capacity and high quality, and people can see that for themselves.
Not only do visitors get to see Ricoh’s solutions at work, but they also get to speak with operators, engineers, and architects that worked together to develop the platform they’re now considering for purchase. No matter how deeply a visitor wants to dive in, we can provide that knowledge from someone who was involved in its development firsthand and works with it day in, day out.
Do I qualify for a visit? How do I book one?
Any interested party can visit the Customer Innovation Center. We see visitors from Fortune 500 companies looking to keep up to date on the latest developments, and we see visitors from very small businesses. To book an appointment, contact your local Ricoh production printing specialists or visit http://rpp.ricoh-usa.com/about/executive-briefing-center.
Vivid, vibrant graphics in unconventional formats can go far in differentiating your company from the competition. Understanding the business importance of wide-format graphics to our customers, and wanting to further engage in the space, Ricoh made its debut appearance at this year’s SGIA Expo.
We picked a great year to go. Interest is really heating up in specialty printing and imaging, and this year’s show proved it: it was the most heavily attended SGIA Expo yet. That made for an exciting show experience, but it also drove home just how important standing out has become. Of course, Ricoh came prepared, displaying the RICOH Pro C5100s, the only cutsheet device on the show floor. Show highlights included several of our specialty print offerings, such as our RICOH Pro L4160 wide format printer, and 1to1Create Marketing Services, our turnkey cross-media marketing campaign tool for small and medium-sized Print Service Providers.
Some of the features on display at the Ricoh booth included:
• Multi-channel strategies – In today’s competitive environment, companies need to know how to affordably and efficiently produce multi-channel, cross-media campaigns that are creative, engaging, and personalized. To this end, Ricoh demonstrated how our campaign management software makes it easier to produce consistent, impactful collateral across a variety of channels.
• Diverse output capabilities – Standing out is easier when you have more ways to express yourself. With the outstanding seven-color printing like that found in the RICOH Pro L4160, you can print on clear and backlit substrates, utilize an increased color gamut and offer more to your customers. At the show, visitors saw oversized print output with white and clear inks, along with seven-color printing on diverse substrates.
Taking advantage of these capabilities can help you stay current, remain competitive and address rising trends to meet current customer needs and also grow your business. Campaign management provides especially vital opportunities toward those ends. Given the increased role marketing trends are playing across all of print (including specialty graphics), it’s crucial for you to offer more than just an outdoor portfolio. It’s important to have a comprehensive set of solutions in place that allows you to offer customers a complete personalized marketing package that incorporates signage as one element of a print and digital campaign.
To learn more about Ricoh’s specialty graphics solutions, visit Ricoh’s Production Print site at rpp.ricoh-usa.com.
- Annette McCrary
Director, Production Field Marketing, Ricoh
Yes, that was a comment heard many times over the course of Day 2 of GRAPH EXPO 14. One attendee even said “Now that I’ve been here, I don’t need to go to any other booth!”
Things kicked off with Ricoh’s Ed Wong, director, product marketing, Ricoh Production Printing Business Group, speaking about the transition from offset to digital on the Deciphering Digital panel hosted by Hal Hinderliter. Joined by Konica Minolta, Canon and Mutoh, the panel dove deeply into ways that analog printers can break the barriers of entry into the digital world. Ed, who started out long ago as a pressman’s helper, could easily relate to the audience. He spoke of how print technology has evolved so quickly over the last two decades, availing very advanced technology at a very cost effective price point. Ed’s insightful advice to the print providers included using technology to increase their range of services, and to identify unique applications printers can offer to expand their businesses.
Back at our booth, the Ricoh metropolis really picked up steam with many attendees very interested in seeing the RICOH Pro L4160, our wide-format color printer designed for sign shops and printers providing large display-type print jobs. It offers superior print quality and color matching that’s vital for printing brilliant signs, banners, wraps, and point of sale displays in vivid color on a wide range of substrates. Seven-color printing – CMYK, orange, green and white aqueous latex inks – offers an increased color gamut and the ability to print on clear substrates and backlit substrates. The printer’s aqueous, toxin-free latex inks are also environmentally friendly. In the booth, visitors are experiencing its output with special finishing provided by the GBC Spire laminator.
The new RICOH Pro C7110X and RICOH Pro C9100 series continued to attract attention as well, with visitors eager to learn how we help define production that ultimately helps them grow their business. Attendees were very impressed that the RICOH Pro C9100 can help them break down previously perceived barriers to enter the digital color production print industry due to more affordable pricing, higher productivity, greater media handling capabilities, ease of use and best in class image quality. The RICOH Pro C7110X series, which was producing output including collateral (brochures and flyers), direct mail pieces (coupons and postcards) and even packaging applications, continued to attracted a lot of traffic on Day 2 as well.
Watch this space for more success reports to come, and stop by our booth #1931 to get in-depth demos of this year’s MUST SEE ‘EM-award winning solutions and our entire ecosystem. Stay tuned on Twitter and Facebook to get live updates on #RicohProPrint at #GraphExpo. (And while you’re there, #RunWithRicoh to win a Ricoh Theta 360-degree camera in our social media contest!)
Ricoh defined production print at GRAPH EXPO 14 yesterday, the opening day of the show, which is the largest US commercial and production print show in North America. From underneath huge cityscapes surrounding the booth, hundreds of live demos were seen by thousands of attendees. With seven new solutions announced, and four MUST SEE ‘EMS accolades awarded– a new record – the Ricoh booth was the place to be on Sunday. In particular, the MUST SEE EMS Best in Category winner 1to1Create Marketing Services, and our new cutsheet offerings, the RICOH Pro C7110 series and RICOH Pro C9100 series were very popular among show-goers.
The RICOH Pro C7100X series is getting visitors excited with its fifth color station, which adds the capability for either white or clear ink. With high speeds (90 pages per minute printing), high-quality color and low costs, GRAPH EXPO 14 attendees are excited to learn about how these production color printers and multi-function devices (MFPs) can open the door to new applications and revenue streams, ultimately enabling them to grow their business.
Rubber-necking is a common occurrence on crowded city streets, and the new RICOH Pro C9100 series was turning heads with its feature-rich offering for the heavy production segment. With speeds of up to 110 and 130 pages per minute (ppm) and the ability to print on media up to 400 gsm, visitors were captivated to experience the RICOH Pro C9100 and RICOH Pro C9110’s high-quality output and learn how it can increase their productivity and reliability, and enable them to make the transition from offset to digital. It’s not just stopping traffic in our booth, it’s breaking down barriers in the industry.
Unique to the booth this year are live demos broadcast from our Customer Innovation Center in Boulder, showcasing the new RICOH Pro VC60000, our next-generation continuous feed inkjet platform for the graphics communications market. The booth is bursting with the fullest portfolio of software and solutions on the floor, from cutsheet to continuous feed, from campaign management and workflow software, all complemented by our suite of services offerings.
To close out the first day, our Latin America team hosted an exclusive reception in the booth, offering customers an opportunity to see and hear demos customized for their market.
Stop by our booth #1931 to get in-depth demos of this year’s MUST SEE ‘EM-award winning solutions and our entire ecosystem, including partner solutions from Avanti and PTI. Stay tuned on Twitter and Facebook to get live updates on #RicohProPrint at #GraphExpo. (And while you’re there, #RunWithRicoh to win a Ricoh Theta 360-degree camera in our social media contest!)
GRAPH EXPO is once again upon us and we’re back in Chicago for this landmark event, and sharing some exciting news of our new and updated production print devices, software and service offerings. Our lineup of innovations are (re)defining production at GRAPH EXPO 14 and for the industry, and our booth (#1931) is its own miniature downtown metropolis, full of real world demos!
What will you experience in the cityscape?
We’ve strategically designed the downtown metropolis of our booth to showcase how we’ll will help you define production and can reduce operating costs, increase efficiencies and business revenues, all while getting to the heart of your customers’ ever-changing needs.
Stop by our booth #1931 to get in-depth demos of this year’s MUST SEE ‘EM-award winning solutions and our entire ecosystem, including partner solutions from Avanti and PTI. Stay tuned on Twitter and Facebook to get live updates on #Ricoh at #GraphExpo. (And while you’re there, #RunWithRicoh to win a Ricoh Theta 360-degree camera in our social media contest!)
In our series of blog posts leading up to Graph Expo, we’re featuring insights from our experts on the topics, trends and more that are defining how companies like yours are evolving and adapting to the production print industry. In this installment, we speak with Ricoh’s Tobias Saalfeld,US Director of Color Management Practice for Ricoh Production Print.
Many things have changed in recent decades in the print industry but one thing that has remained the same is how businesses handle color – there are businesses who generate substantial revenue with high-end color, while there are businesses that simply aim to provide ‘pleasing’ color. The key change in color that the industry has experienced is the increased affordability and versatility of color management tools. Once the domain of only high-end print providers, today, you can subscribe to cloud-based services like Adobe’s for $50 a month and gain access to the same tools used by the likes of Marvel Comics and the NBA. At the same, digital devices have evolved in their versatility and affordability, easily matching the standards set by commercial offset equipment. Moreover, the process of color management in digital equipment has advanced to the extent that it is usually much faster, easier, and economical than on offset presses. The versatility of design, equipment, and color management tools comes with a price – not for products, but for training.
Given this progress, some might ask how important color is in the grand scheme of things. I think it’s still critically important for businesses of all types. The boundaries of color matching and color manipulation will continue to be expanded by high-end businesses, especially as traditional print services providers transition to becoming marketing services providers. A crucial part of marketing is consistent branding, and a crucial part of consistent branding is color in order to achieve a common ‘look and feel’ across channels. Done intelligently, color management can ensure that banners are highly saturated for visibility, brochures look natural, and even a screen print on a T-shirt appears correctly.
On the more practical level, print service providers who are producing ‘pleasing color’ are also starting to invest more time and attention in color management, because it allows them to do so consistently and predictably. At minimum, smart color management leads to improvements in both, operator efficiency and process control, which cuts down on make-ready and production time and ultimately increases the bottom line of any size business.
Ricoh provides a wide range of hardware, software and services to customers with any level of color management requirement. Production RIPs (EFI Fiery, Kodak Creo) contain basic color management capabilities out of the box. To improve quality and user experience at an entry level, we provide our customers with at least an EFI ES-2000 or X-Rite i1Pro2 handheld spectrophotometer for printer calibration. For high-end color management, we’re engaging with high-end color solutions partners like CGS Oris and their Lynx and Pressmatcher solutions.
Color management products are only as beneficial as they are usable. With this in mind, we’re focused on providing our customers with color management solutions that enable them to run their business and not just a bunch of devices. Ricoh also offers full service color management packages for customers who want to outsource their color management needs. These services are highly customizable and allow any user and any business to receive the full potential of their color products without any color management knowledge or specialized staff.
Ricoh provides color management classes and one-on-one sessions with a specialist force of over 85 IDEAlliance certified Color Management Professional Masters and 16 IDEAlliance certified G7 Experts. These individuals make the true difference in improving a customer’s color management skills and taking your output to the next level.
Want to learn more about Ricoh’s color management services? Read about how our solutions and experts can help you and your company be more colorful: http://www.ricohbusinessbooster.com/premium-services/training-services/custom-color-management/
And stop by our booth #1931 at GRAPH EXPO 14 to witness our color management solutions in action and speak with our experts at the show.
- Tobias Saalfeld
US Director of Color Management Practice
Your customers’ demands are constantly changing, and with the digital world influencing expectations and the way we receive information, understanding these demands and proactively seeking more efficient solutions are key to your success. If you’re facing this challenge, we want to help. And to do that more effectively, we have launched the Ricoh Customer Innovation Center.
The Ricoh Customer Innovation Center provides you with the ability to experience and test equipment while spending quality time with experts who can help customize a solution in order to meet your specific needs – and ultimately, your customers’.
This innovative and fully-operational facility highlights the full line of Ricoh’s production print equipment made available to you including its market-leading cutsheet and continuous feed devices, wide format solutions and software components for transactional, commercial and in-plant printers, among a full portfolio of solutions. Additionally, it allows us to collaborate with you to show you how we can help improve and expand your business so you can support new customers and find new revenue opportunities.
It can be limiting to think about solutions or even map them out on paper without discussing your ideas with others and hearing about possibilities you may not have considered. This is why we also have the Executive Briefing Center (EBC) in Boulder, Colorado, which complements the Customer Innovation Center by providing a forum where you can hear directly from subject matter experts on specific ways that our solutions can help improve your day-to-day operations.
Edward Rothschild, owner of AlphaGraphics in Arvada, Denver and Golden, CO recently visited the Customer Innovation Center and EBC. His feedback of his experience is exactly what we’ve intended: “Ricoh has assembled the most comprehensive set of production print solutions I’ve ever seen and surrounded them with experts ready to listen and collaborate.”
With 170 Customer Showrooms and four Technology Portals throughout the country that offer customers hands-on experience with the full Ricoh expansive portfolio, it’s our goal to bring you together with our experts to solve problems collaboratively. Stop by and see for yourself!
For more information, please visit: http://rpp.ricoh-usa.com/about/executive-briefing-center
- Ryan Kiley
Director, Strategic Production Services Production Printing Business Group