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Providing more than technology

Oct 1, 2002 12:00 AM

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Advertorial by Xerox Supplies Business Group

As never before, printers can choose the technologies that best match their target markets or emerging markets. Digital presses, for example, allow printers — and their customers — to make their investments work harder with just-in-time production, inventory management and print-to-order approaches. These digital presses also provide printers with the ability to customize any print job, from page to page, line to line. Plus the mere fact that these presses are digital allows them to seamlessly integrate into production workflows — enabling complete automation and streamlining the process, from remote job submission, through proofing and editing to finishing.

In spite of these technological advances, printers have sometimes struggled with finding and developing markets for the new capabilities that digital presses offer. The reason, according to a recent study on the migration to digital printing at 149 commercial and in-plant printers by the Rochester Institute of Technology Sloan Research Project, is a poor grasp of fundamental business issues that support the digital initiative. Nearly a third of the businesses in the study were unsuccessful, mainly due to over investment with no clear business model and starting up a business without first identifying a customer base. By contrast, the successful firms had a clear direction for migrating to Internet-based service offerings, and sold successfully to corporate marketing departments.

To help printers capture this opportunity, companies such as Xerox, with its DocuColor iGen3 Digital Production Press, offer not only technology, but also extensive support to printers. Xerox programs focus on helping printers understand the distinctly different implications the digital approach has in three key strategic areas — the nature of the business, sales and marketing, and operations, in both the financial and technical areas. The goal: allow commercial printers to maximize profitability and move into markets within weeks of installation.


For starters, considerable business planning now occurs prior to installation, some even during the selling process. Following the purchase commitment, Xerox helps the printer develop marketing, sales and business plans, and initial target markets — as well as staff training.

To ensure that the DocuColor iGen3 moves seamlessly into workflows, Xerox SmartPress production consultants are available to help out. They analyze the printer's departments, skill sets and workflow capabilities. These operations experts maximize the printer's productivity by enhancing their skill levels, through hands-on training at Xerox headquarters in Rochester, NY and up to two weeks of operator training in the shop.

As a bonus for early adopters of the iGen3, printers who install a system prior to March 31, 2003 will receive two months of the SmartPress production consultant's time at no charge.

In addition to this solid basis for optimizing internal customer operations, the Xerox team and the SmartPress production consultant will help DocuColor iGen3 customers identify specialized applications and vertical markets for printers to pursue. These marketing specialists will look at a printer's current areas of strength, then craft plans for developing specialized market niches. Marketing assistance also is offered that helps printers sell more to existing customers.


One reason for the new, more complete support for developing business with the DocuColor iGen3 is that the system's new quality, reliability and performance benchmarks extend the reach of digital color printing further into what has been the exclusive realm of offset work. To further support — and extend — this expanded scope of eligible work, Xerox continues to develop and validate specialized media that can bring new applications to life.

For instance, if a healthcare industry customer needs membership cards, Xerox offers the DocuCard. To produce brochures, Xerox has one of the widest ranges of coated and uncoated products designed to meet even the most diverse needs. For applications such as direct mail campaigns, Xerox has a suite of label products developed to optimize performance of the DocuColor iGen3. For needs outside of existing product lines, a Xerox media specialist can work with you to develop a unique, customized media solution. All are guaranteed and all are digitally optimized for use with the DocuColor iGen3, ensuring high-quality media that performs consistently at the highest productivity levels.

“Xerox can ensure productivity and quality levels because we dedicated researchers and scientists to design specific media products, in tandem with the development of the DocuColor iGen3,” says Steve Simpson, vice president, Xerox' Document Supplies Business Group. “The DocuColor iGen3 allows the widest mrdia latitutde and our goal is to support the market with the right mix of digitally optimized media, providing the customer with a wealth of options.”

To get printers started, Xerox has developed a special program to acquaint new DocuColor iGen3 users with the wide variety of special media being offered. The SmartPress production consultant and a Xerox media expert will work together with the customer to create sales tools that printers can bring to their markets. Using different types of Xerox media, printers will be able to print “pitch” books directly on the DocuColor iGen3 during the training period. This will enable DocuColor iGen3 users to showcase their capabilities, highlighting the high-quality output of the digital press combined with the innovative and specialized media available.

It's a win-win situation. Xerox will train the printer, assist in marketing to the printer's customers and arm the printer's sales force with exciting examples of products that can be produced on the DocuColor iGen3 using Xerox media. It's all part of the initial orientation program designed to have printers up and running, producing significant volumes on the DocuColor iGen3 within eight weeks of installation.

Today, printers' technology choices are exciting. But the key to success is the business development structuring surrounding the machine. Xerox offers both the technology and the business structure so that printers can maximize profits.