Canon Solutions America PPS Leadership Forum

I, Kemal Carr, recently attended the Canon Solutions America PPS Leadership Forum at its Poing factory on March 18th & 19th and took the opportunity to catch up with the Oce team.

Canon Solutions America, formerly Oce, frequently hosts customers, and prospects at its newly redesigned Customer Engagement Center (CEC), an entire hall in its manufacturing complex. The user friendly CEC environment included a coffee bar, tables for small group discussions, a lounge area, meeting rooms, information & hospitality desk, as well as a floor map to aid visitors in finding solutions of interest. The CEC was thoughtfully arranged and included the newest product announcements from Canon Solutions America, the Oce JetStream 5500 and Oce ColorStream 3900s with fast MICR and invisible ink.  .

The agenda included a flexible schedule with industry tracks led by industry analysts & experts. Oce clients and prospects were allowed to select the most appropriate sessions and have deep interactions with both Oce staff and presenters.

Here are a few important take aways from my visit:

  • Canon integration appears complete. Canon’s integration of Oce production printing, especially for North America appears to be successful and complete. I dined with Toyotsugu “Toyo” Kuwamura, president of Canon Solutions America, and he outlined his vision for the future Oce. His plans of continued investment and pursuit of new markets with the combined Canon/Oce solutions will extend the reach of both organizations into new markets.
  • Migration to Color Inkjet successful. From virtually zero market share in 2008 in the inkjet market, to the identified market share leader (>35%) in both placements and images, Oce has successfully reinvented its product line to stay ahead of the market demand.
  • Continued technology advancements. Canon Solutions America is not content to rest on past successes, and is extending its Oce ColorStream & Oce JetStream product lines to support additional applications. The introduction of new security inks, including MICR, Fugitive and Invisible, extends the toolset for secure document creation already available from Canon Solutions America.

While not new, but still visually impressive, are the clean lines and paper path of the Oce ColorStream 3000 series. During our demonstration, the front doors were left open, and the speed, image quality, and simplicity of the device was readily apparent. An Oce ColorStream prospect present noted “it’s no wonder these are the leading placement devices in its class”. Here is a photo of the inside:

Screen Shot 2013-04-10 at 10.21.27 PM


Note the new, refined and slimmer drying unit. By using less water, there is less liquid to evaporate, and therefore no need for industrial strength drying units, and their power consumption and heat byproduct. In fact, Canon Solutions America reports that the Oce ColorStream 3000 series uses up to 1/3 the power consumption of alternative inkjet solutions.

Canon Solutions America VP of Marketing, Francis McMahon, summed up their progress well when he noted “2012 was an incredible year, several new clients saw the advantages of our inkjet solutions and we’re on pace to break those placement records again in 2013. The product has been very well accepted.” In fact, Canon Solutions America continues to ramp up its professional services capabilities in direct response to customer requests for faster solution deployments and increased application complexity requirements.

Madison Advisors research has shown that 20.5% increase in image counts since 2009 for customer documents, however a 14.2% decline of envelopes during that same period. Increased demand for images, and color, are adding pages to the envelope, while eDelivery and astute mailing enhancements has reduced the total number of envelopes delivered. Canon Solutions America product line looks formidable for the long-run.

Within Madison Advisors recent study, Multi-Channel Delivery Market Study, we provide full market review of the market dynamics around the migration to eDelivey and Enterprise requirements for color inkjet printing.


Posted in General

Can you differentiate your printing business?

Originally posted at

Real Talk

Real talk. I’ve seen a lot of it in print industry sources over the last few weeks. It’s refreshing to see some of the industry’s most respected and experienced leaders talk about the realities of the maturing print market and the critical issues that thousands of these small and mid-sized print service providers have to seriously consider.

Wayne Lynn’s excellent article at What They Think last week is a must-read, if you’re even peripherally involved in the print industry. It’s a great strategy primer for the small and mid-sized print business, and specifically addresses the go/no-go decisions that many are facing. Another article posted yesterday covers similar market prediction data. None of these experts are predicting sunshine for the print business, unfortunately.

The Winners Have Already Started Their Transformation

For the last decade, some PSPs have managed to survive and grow in this challenging market by expanding their services and becoming more entangled with their customers, often moving from “print” service provider to “marketing” service provider in the process. Others may have found a specialty niche or advantage and built a business around it. The successful PSPs have added channels, technologies, capabilities, flexibility and new interfaces to surround those print assets with extra value and stickiness. They’ve found and built the valuable role that they play in their customers’ business.

Regardless of which scenario described in Lynn’s article your business is pursuing, from an exit strategy to a grow, consolidate & win strategy, the hard facts are that your print/mail assets and the pages they create have become a commodity that you must continue to surround with other valuable products & services in order to survive, grow, and achieve your business’ target value.

So, I believe that the adaptability that got you here can serve you well going forward.  But it’s critical to realize that the market ecosystem, of which “print” is just a part, is growing and changing at a rapidly accelerating rate.

Keeping It Going

I believe that what the data and predictions are telling us is that there’s an urgent need to think outside of the box, and an opportunity to transform the “print” or even the “marketing” service provider into a “customer experience” service provider. Bringing sharp focus on the complete value that you can deliver to your customers – and to their customers – can help you redefine your business and your market. With a fresh look, some agile print and marketing service providers can leapfrog the “me too” competitive stance, and establish completely new battlefields.

Understanding the Unique Value of Print

First, let’s be clear about the value of print. Printers, especially digital printers, represent a unique and valuable part of the customer experience strategy that your customers want. They are the devices that translate the digital world into the physical world, and the material coming off of them is often the most dominant physical representation of a B2C relationship in today’s increasingly online and mobile world. It’s likely that you spend much more time with a bank statement in front of you at home than you do in the lobby of your bank, for example. Printed “products” are an essential part of the customer experience, and PSPs bring vast knowledge and skill to this part of the equation.

Just One Of Many Customer Experience Tools

But what your customers really want from you is to combine, multiply, and amplify that physical output with an increasing array of electronic outputs, integrated workflows and interfaces, and specialized services. They want a coordinated, integrated experience that allows them to use your capabilities to drive what their customers see, hear, and touch across as many communication channels as you can give them. They see print as just one of many tools in an overall customer experience toolkit, and that means you should begin to see it that way too.

Going Beyond “Multi-Channel”

Customer experience is a concept that encompasses the popular “customer communications management” concepts, and goes beyond them to include a strong focus on how all customer touch points can coordinate in a way that drives the entire lifecycle of the customer’s interaction with the business. It includes business strategies, supporting technologies and workflows that create a compelling consumer experience. Your customers buy from you to create at least part of their customer experience. A real opportunity may lie in helping them (and yourself!) understand how you can deliver a much broader customer experience, that is deeply integrated with their print.

Of course, almost every print customer wants some form of “multi-channel output” as many service providers think of it today – primarily print-centric document streams with associated e-channel delivery (and sometimes, response).

But customers are increasingly setting broader and more comprehensive objectives for a coordinated, compelling customer experience.

They want to break down silos and coordinate their marketing & transactional communications, their online web & mobile presence, their social media content, alerts and messages, their customer and self-service capability, and their ability effectively match the use cases and workflows of their customers. Businesses intuitively understand the value of these things, but need you to provide tangible solutions that demonstrate the value of wrapping them around the physical customer experience of print.

Who Are You, Really?

This is why I believe that, as counter-intuitive as it may sound to a print service provider, one way through the next phase of consolidation and closures of print companies is to stop thinking of yourself as a print company or a marketing service provider, and start thinking of yourself as a customer experience provider, who has the unique value of print in its arsenal.

Posted in General

Digital Mail Advisory Council

On January 24th, the inaugural Digital Mail Advisory Council was launched. Co-sponsored by Madison Advisors and Digital Postal Mail,  several Sr. Executives from major financial services organizations, and leadership from Fortune 500 telecom/cable and insurance firms met with the objective to collaborate, strategize, and drive best practices for the delivery of digital mail.

Madison Advisors has been tracking the Multi-Channel delivery migration since 2003 through our Operational Viability Assessments, and more recently through our targeted Enterprise research studies on paper suppression and migration to eDelivery channels.  The industry trends show stagnation in customers migrating from paper to electronic delivery.  All of the participants indicated having similar customer reporting migration issues to the new digital mail platforms. The group acknowledged the plateauing of electronic adoption within customer base, and shared best practices for incremental improvement. While several pockets of impressive improvement are available, in total the market has not moved significantly in the past 2 years.

During that span we’ve seen postage increase, along with other operational costs in supporting paper delivery of statements, invoices, letters, notices and checks. Even the US Treasury has adopted a print suppression strategy – don’t print and mail. Starting in May 2011, all recipients newly applying for benefits will receive only electronic payment, and as of March 1 of this year, all Social Security recipients will no longer receive a paper check. However, Enterprise mailers under the same cost pressures don’t have that luxury due to consumer preference pressures, and are forced to continually trim costs, or reduce service.

Banks, by nature of online banking and bill payment services, have some of the highest online enrollment of any business sector. Yet half of those enrolled have not turned off paper statements, throttling eAdoption at roughly 25%. Other verticals varied by application (trade confirms having high suppression, insurance policies having low suppression), and demographics. While all who participated indicated that several tactics and methods had been used to drive electronic adoptions, most had resolved to the fact that the low hanging fruit had all been harvested.

Several key issues were addressed, including reversion rates, conversion offers and methodologies, new account handling, customer education.   Somewhat surprisingly, the consensus was the desire for some level of teaming to achieve the digital mail density challenge facing enterprises & customers today.

The common belief is that consumers don’t subscribe to Digital Mail Box platforms for lack of content, namely their mail – statements, bills and letters. Enterprise’s, constantly looking to cut costs, are reluctant to take on project expenses to support new Digital Mail Platforms for lack of customer traction.

Based on the strategic priority, and the impact to the bottom line, leaders in these Fortune 100 companies have a strategic imperative to drive electronic adoption. The day closed with discussion around next steps, and how to bring the critical, large mailers together to drive mail density and attract customers. A few key banks, a wireless carrier, major utility, and an insurance provider would provide sufficient critical mass to drive significant, incremental adoption.

Look for more new findings here as the council takes form.

Posted in General

Call For Participation

Madison Advisors is examining the current state of cloud based CCM offerings. Click here for more information or call 817-684-7545 to participate.

Posted in General

Goodbye GMC

We are actively launching our 4th edition of our Document Composition CCM market study; our bi-annual assessment of the technologies used to generate and manage customer communications.  Over that time we’ve seen numerous changes in the market since our first assessment in 2002. Our early taxonomies included multiple tiers, as there was clear and distinct differentiation between the product sets, such as Doc 1 and Lytrod. Many of those distinctions are gone, and the tool sets are increasingly robust, making selection even more difficult for the consumer. We continue to provide project support to assist where we can.

Regarding GMC, we knew CEO René Müeller was looking to make a move, as he is closing in on retirement, even saying as much in his letter to the GMC community. The street scuttle was he  had goals to go public, but needed twice the revenue in order for that to be viable.

Based in Appenzell Switzerland, there was a strong national desire to keep it in Europe, so we assumed that few, if any, of the US firms were really in play. A quick assessment of the EU options (back recently from Drupa, continent still in financial disarray), doesn’t overwhelm one with options. Perhaps Oce, before the acquisition by Canon, would have been in the mix (they also have had a long term relationship that ended in 2009-ish), but there aren’t many suitors left, correct?  The Landa Nano press folks didn’t mention software in when we spoke with Benny, and the big iron guys are scrambling to figure out how to remain relevant in the digital age.

While we assisted (and recommended) Xerox in their acquisition of XMPie, most of these software acquisitions by larger hardware vendors makes little sense. When we review the game film, the recent transactions, including Group1 & Pitney Bowes, Doc Sciences & EMC, DocuCorp/Skywire & Oracle, Exstream & HP, and even Kodak with Creo (albeit not exactly the same), it’s hard to find the strategic value in those relationships. In almost every case, the acquiring firm struggles to value sell the components together. Its never made sense to us for most of these relationships.  Even software buying software, as in the case of Metavante buying CSF, the seemingly large cross & up sell opportunities just didn’t materialize. Sure there is always the poster client that bought the entire suite, but we’d argue those are the exceptions, and not the rule.

We know a little about Neopost, however they lack a large US presence. This may actually be good for GMC, as it won’t alienate most of the current N.A. GMC partnerships or relationships. One thing our history of assessments and these acquisitions do tell us is that firms are never the same. Strategies and goals need to align with the parent company, budgets and R&D are more scrutinized, and go to market protocols are modified. GMC was the last “large” independent firm in the market, however there are others vying to take GMC’s spot. We’ll continue to keep watch.

Good Bye, GMC

Posted in Commentary

Company News

Madison Advisors recently hosted multiple senior executives from seven fortune 500 firms in Chicago in our first Customer Communication Management Executive Roundtable. The concept grew from the idea that leadership within these firms needed, and wanted, more peer interaction outside the influences of vendors or product sponsors. The believe was that by removing these external influences, a more open and candid conversation would occur, and these peers would begin to share freely, even though their firms might be competitive. We invited senior leadership from IT and Operations, and we also had representation from Marketing and Line of Business. From the session feedback, I believe we hit a home run.

We established goals at beginning of the session, and captured those for review at the end of the day. Our agenda was structured, but fluid, to ensure we could flex, but keep us on track for the day. It included 3 short presentations with Q&A sessions, with plenty of break time. Marco Boer from IT Strategies started the day off with his read on the future of color inkjet production printing. This was a relevant topic with the audience, as only two firms had full color production capabilities, but all were currently looking at adding that capability in the next 12 months. Madison Advisors also covered current trends in the CCM and Enterprise Marketing Portal space, as well as future trends for the group to contemplate going forward. The bulk of the morning and afternoon was spend in two breakout sessions, each one hour with each group reading back to the entire group for 10 minutes each. It was in these breakouts that much of the interaction and sharing took place; including both what worked and what didn’t at their organizations.

The reception and dinner is where most of the peer to peer interaction occurred. Our 4 course dinner at Takashi was also a highlight of the day, lasting a bit more than three hours. The group occupied the entire first floor, and we had several courses accompanied with selected wines. Both of our dinner sponsors, Xerox and GMC, joined the group for dinner and shared their future strategies for color inkjet production devices.

As much as the information exchange was the draw to the day, the networking and opportunity to meet many of their peers may have been the best take away. The true test of the value of the Roundtable is if they decide to return to Chicago this fall during Graph Expo to repeat the process and continue the dialogue. Look for us there.

Posted in General