(From the editor: Enjoy this post from guest author Cary Sherburne. This article was originally published in WhatTheyThink.)
In January, the split of Xerox Corporate took effect. So what does that mean for software development in what is being termed the New Xerox? I spoke with Jacob Aizikowitz who has taken on the role as head of the new Xerox Software Products Group, while also continuing as President of XMPie, to find out more.
WTT: Jacob, thanks for speaking with me. As the New Xerox continues to take shape, the formation of the Software Products Group seems to be a significant step. Can you tell us a little more about that?
JA: It’s an exciting time, and it is all about new energy and a new focus. We took the decision to put the FreeFlow suite of solutions – minus the server which was sold to EFI – and XMPie into one group, which I have the honor of leading. The purpose of this is to expand our addressable market, making sure we are addressing the market with the right value propositions to the right people. In addition, we will benefit from synergies across our software development and marketing teams.
WTT: With the print server pulled out of the FreeFlow mix, what is left?
JA: The FreeFlow Suite includes several key offerings.
One is the FreeFlow Core platform, which is a suite of workflow components, covering the basic and advanced needs of modern digital printing and classic operations…
Another is the VIPP suite of offerings, which is focusing on transaction-oriented variable data printing. This is complementary to XMPie’s solutions, which are focused mainly outside of the transactional printing domain.
The third area is digital publishing with FreeFlow Digital Publisher developed in collaboration with Xerox partner GTxcel. This enables people to make content that is ready for print to become available digitally.
There are other elements in the FreeFlow Suite, some of them more legacy but still in the market, and those elements will have life for some time.
WTT: What happens to the transactional printing software elements? Xerox has been in that business for many years.
JA: And we will continue to be. That is also part of the Software Products Group, the VI Suite, VIPP, etc. This is an area that is a little disconnected from what XMPie addresses, for example, but there are interesting opportunities for combining all those capabilities to expand our market reach.
WTT: So how would you characterize the overlying strategy for the Software Products Group?
JA: As a unifying workflow concept focused on automation for printing companies, both in streamlining their operations and in using solutions like XMPie to look for new business opportunities
WTT: How is Xerox thinking about the current state of the industry?
JA: If you take a step back and look at the market today from a high level, you see that both printers and marketing service providers are challenged with the need to transform their businesses. We aim to provide them with state-of-the-art technology that will help them tackle this challenge, and become the digital-savvy businesses they all aspire to be.
One trigger for transformation is the need to receive many short-run jobs over the web and handle their processing with the utmost efficiency. This requires powerful workflow automation that is integrated seamlessly with high-quality print ecommerce, and that is a key focus for us as we work to support our customers.
The other trigger for transformation is broader. It’s the intersection of enabling marketers to practice personalized printing as part of their multichannel strategies, and enabling print providers to create and manage engagement – customer journeys and experiences, across time and media touch points (including print) – rather than just being an implementer of, say, direct mail, or even just email.
Many marketers in enterprises have become accustomed to using digital media – email, landing pages, web pages, mobile – and they don’t necessarily see how to blend them together with print, even though print media has value as part of the mix. At the same time, many print service providers still think in terms of a single document, a single print piece, or just web-to-print. Such thinking and business practices will not allow a print provider to engage a marketing executive, and this will eventually lead to decline in the printer’s business.
Our goal in the software business is to enable omnichannel experiences, where print media is one of the channels in the mix of touch points, and also, to bring to the service providers the ability to engage their customers with a value proposition around campaigns, marketing automation, and overall customer journeys, rather than just print or email or landing sites alone.
All of this, of course, with a high degree of personalization as needed and with utmost attention to quality, creative, reproduction, and experience.
WTT: A decade ago, you and I wrote a white paper on this topic, focused on the cross-media concept; and at the time; it seemed quite visionary. Now it is all coming to pass.
JA: Yes, in our work (and in the technology direction of XMPie), we made the point that consistency across channels is a critical requirement for cross-media. This was – and still is – the key challenge: putting together campaigns with a print piece, an email piece, and, say, a landing site piece, when there is no guarantee that these individual touch points will be consistent and synergistic is relatively easy. Doing the same with a guarantee of consistency and synergy – which is the ultimate dream – is challenging, and that was where our software made a big difference.
Today, this is exactly what people mean when they talk about omnichannel. It’s about experiences where all touch points are reflecting one view of the customer. So I am obviously pleased with us being there to make omnichannel a practical reality for our customers. These ideas are also fleshed out in a more recent white paper we created.
WTT: So it looks like the new Xerox is moving quickly to put together that unified view to bring all those efficiencies to customers.
JA: Yes, that’s our task; and I think there is good recognition of that at Xerox. In the new Xerox, there is more focus on a particular set of customers and solutions; and it is easier to navigate within that more defined space.