What we could learn from Benny Landa

By Andreas Weber, CEO of Value Communication AG, Germany’s leading Business Communications Analyst and Innovation Expert

Illustration by Lidia Wey

Imagine it is 2016 and no one visits drupa anymore. Quasi in nano-technology-style the exhibition area will be reduced to the shoebox-size. And on top of the box is an oversized Benny Landa, the genius, the visionary, the only one who knew even in 2012, where it’s all going. And all the enthusiasm stuck on the lips when he performed his Hollywood-style mega-show.

What happened?

No question, 2012 converted the drupa into drupalanda. Landanano attracted trade show organisers, trade fair visitors, exhibitors and the press under its spell. If the Indigo founder Benny Landa was not present in 2012, there would have been no sensation at drupa. Although the media and analysts are falling over themselves in the announcement of ‘new innovations’ (sic), drupa 2012 offered vast amounts of (product) innovations, but basically no innovations. Apart from just Landa, but Landa is still quite a distance away from market-ready products and solutions. He showed this in a preliminary-type, prototype version. But already incredibly vivid. Hundreds of decision-makers were enticed into placing advance orders and paid deposits. Sweden’s leading global printing group Elanders was the first signing a LOI for three Landa machines, as CEO Magnus Nilsson and Board of Directors member Peter Sommer announced on 9 May, 2012.

Landa’s innovative approach is based on three main aspects:

• A new technology concept for all types of printing machines that print via NanoInk with digital printing on all types of substrates.

• A completely new user interface for printing presses, which works on the simplicity of the iPhone and iPad and oriented by mega-huge touch screen display.

• A cost calculation that will allow both the total costs of ownership, as well as the price per page to produce cheaper, than it is now possible.

Where in the future will the new print volumes come from?

Landa was able to get the leadership at drupa. And he was so smart as to close, shortly before the exhibition opened with Heidelberg as the most important drupa exhibitor, a co-operation, and to say at the same time that he is still a good friend of HP. What might this mean? Landa is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or the do-gooder who wants to save the industry (technology suppliers such as printers)? Perhaps the charm lies in the fact that Benny Landa could be both in one. So the do-gooder in sheep’s clothing, like the wolf, mangled the status quo. He is willing to undertake the ‘Kerner’ work, to renew the industry radically. In other words, he is willing to be an Evangelist to do the basic work to renew the industry radically.

My question directly asked to Benny Landa he leaves open (he wouldn‘t like to talk about it): Where will all those print volumes come from in the future, which takes the form of increasing it in order to generate growth? Currently it looks as though the global print volume will remain almost the same, but the value decreases, per unit, with pressure from month to month. Discounts of up to 25 per cent are not uncommon. Many printers do still make profit with their printed materials turnover, but profit tends to lean towards zero. The same is true for many of their suppliers: they sell, but earnings before taxation (ebita) is very, very low…

Learning: Don‘t try to be mainstream by optimization of the existing. Be an innovator! Change the rules!


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