Advertisements

Archive

Tag Archives: customer centricity

ValueCheck HDU.001

Photos: Heidelberg / HDU. Collage: Andreas Weber, Frankfurt am Main

 

“We’re remodeling customer interfaces for Heidelberg and creating a seamless digital ecosystem for its customers.” Rainer Wiedmann, Head of the Heidelberg Digital Unit (HDU) and Chief Marketing Officer at Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG.

German Version


New digital ecosystem for the print media industry

The new “leading light function” of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG heralded by CEO Rainer Hundsdörfer midway through 2017 is increasingly taking shape and making dynamic progress. “The new Heidelberg Digital Unit is boosting the company’s e-commerce business, online presence, and digital marketing expertise,” said member of the Management Board and Chief Digital Officer Dr. Ulrich Hermann just recently.

What exactly does that entail? Rainer Wiedmann discussed this publicly for the first time in an interview for ValueDialog. A successful digital pioneer, Wiedmann took charge of the Heidelberg Digital Unit start-up company (HDU for short) on April 1, 2018 in parallel with his role as the Heidelberg Group’s Chief Marketing Officer. – The interview was conducted by Head of Value Andreas Weber.

 

Info box

About the new Heidelberg Digital Unit (HDU)

 

Bildschirmfoto 2018-06-09 um 07.03.50

Website: https://hdu.heidelberg.com

Location: Wiesloch-Walldorf, with branches in China, the United States, and Asia

Initial workforce: 50

Objective: To enjoy dynamic growth and establish the number one digital ecosystem in the print sector

Partner: Internet specialist iq!

 

As CDO on the Heidelberg Management Board, Dr. Ulrich Hermann is a dynamic driving force behind the company’s digital transformation. 

 


 

Digital business models inspire the customer journey

Mr. Wiedmann, you were already a digital pioneer over 20 years ago when you founded the argonauten group, a multimedia agency that was an immediate success. What has changed since then?

Rainer Wiedmann: Back then, I was already heavily involved in shaping customer interfaces. This approach led by way of marketing innovation to e-commerce. Nowadays, the focus is on end-to-end digital business models. Thanks to IoT (the Internet of Things), machine learning, voice control, and similar innovations, a complete digital customer journey is now possible for the first time – not only sales & marketing, but many other parts of the value chain are being digitized. 

So you see this as a linear dynamic development?

Rainer Wiedmann: What I see is an extremely dynamic process. An online presence is no longer the be-all and end-all. Access to customers and interaction with them are the most relevant things. Based on the new approach, an optimum customer interface is essential if digitization is to generate value. 

What’s your motivation for treading new ground with HDU in the mechanical engineering sector, of all places?

Rainer Wiedmann: I started out as an engineer and, following my studies at the University of St. Gallen’s Institute of Technology Management, I gained vital experience with a large number of industrial customers. New forms of connectivity are rapidly transforming mechanical engineering, and Heidelberg is extremely well placed to benefit from this development. 

How so?

Rainer Wiedmann: Our machines have long been networked. We also have our own global sales and service organization with a portfolio incorporating hardware, software, and consumables. 

What’s more, the executive management team at Heidelberg understands exactly what transformation through digitization means, as demonstrated among other things by the new subscription model – a first in the industry. As I see it, all this creates the perfect conditions!  


 

HDU in a nutshell

 

How is the newly founded HDU positioning itself in this context?

Rainer Wiedmann: Our goal is to design customer interfaces for Heidelberg that create a seamless digital ecosystem for the company’s customers.

What are HDU’s core values?

Rainer Wiedmann: HDU is all about creating added value based on permanence, consistency, and relevance. Its main value lies in getting the maximum number of existing and potential customers to use the Heidelberg offering on a weekly or, better still, daily basis. It’s not simply a case of registering a large number of nominal users in the system, but of having as many active users as possible. As I see it, content, function, coverage, and interaction are the key to success.

Does your new approach with HDU fit in with the Heidelberg culture?

Rainer Wiedmann: On the one hand, the people at Heidelberg come across as being open and innovative. On the other, they like to follow precise rules. In the digital transformation context, however, I feel a more target-driven approach is vital for employees.

What does that achieve?

Rainer Wiedmann: One advantage of HDU that can be transferred to Heidelberg is that in order to achieve specified goals or optimize target achievement, we work as a team on the structure of rules so that we can make adjustments as and when required.

Heidelberg is indisputably strong when it comes to technical innovation. But what about the company’s customers? Are you aware of any reservations about digitization?

Rainer Wiedmann: Given that all kinds of print production have long been based on digital data, our customers are well advanced with the process of digitization, and e-commerce is nothing new to them either. Online printing has created a huge new growth market. Our approach of working closely with customers to offer a comprehensive package providing peace of mind has therefore proved very popular. If you know what needs to be done and the goals are clear, digitization in printing is regarded very much as an opportunity.

Digital print shop processes are one thing, but the go-to-market strategy in the digital age is another matter entirely. I see a weakness here. Am I right?

Rainer Wiedmann: The important thing in my eyes is for Heidelberg to demonstrate the positive effects of digitization as effectively as possible to customers who are in dialog with us. Only personal experience gives a proper impression of how print shops can also put this to good use in their own customer relations.


 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Screenshots from the Heidelberg Digital Unit’s new website.


HDU mission statements

“We develop innovative digital sales, marketing, and service solutions for all stages of the customer journey and deliver measurable results with a multidisciplinary team and external partners focused on success.”

“We contribute to the operational excellence of all Heidelberg units by offering a digital, state-of-the-art ecosystem that sets new standards in this area.”

“We don’t shy away from any risk. We rely on our entrepreneurial skills and make unexpected, disruptive decisions that enable us to score points with our customers.”

“We won’t let anything stop us achieving our goals and dreams. Continuously pursuing them and measuring our progress will see us succeed.”

“We embrace the digital age. We enjoy working with people who leave the office happy because everyone has done their best and is proud to be part of the team.”


 

It’s all about clear goals and measurable successes

HDU started out with 50 staff and is aiming to expand rapidly. What skills do you require?

Rainer Wiedmann: Around 80 percent of our initial team are very experienced and highly skilled in the print market. We’re adding new people who have experience in areas such as e-commerce, digital marketing, and social media. 

What’s special about your team?

Rainer Wiedmann: We have the right mix! The mutual respect and common goals of our “mixed” team make us particularly effective. The excellent market position enjoyed by Heidelberg and our geographical proximity to the company are very helpful and motivate us all. We are “Born in Heidelberg” – a statement that perfectly demonstrates our unshakable commitment. It also boosts our credentials as an employer beyond the confines of the sector.

How is HDU’s work being integrated into the Heidelberg Group’s everyday operations? And how is the collaboration going?

Rainer Wiedmann: We’ve gotten off to a very promising start because we actively approach Heidelberg staff, provide them with all the information they need, and listen to what they have to say. We have contacts for the individual Heidelberg business units and access to all the sales units. Our global Growth Hacking Tour has already started. We’re using it to raise the local profile of our portfolio in key markets, offer training on our new tools and software solutions, and introduce e-commerce initiatives that we’ve developed.

 

HDU Growth Hacking Tour 2018

Roadmap of the Global Growth Hacking Tour in the startup phase of the HDU. (Photo: screenshot from the HDU website)

 


Focus on maximum competitiveness and market relevance

Does that effectively mean HDU is offering in-house consulting and agency services at Heidelberg? 

Rainer Wiedmann: Yes, but we’re not uniquely a service provider. We offer support with customized tools, efficient campaigns, and in-depth know-how. And we enter into clear target agreements. Our task is to create measurable results and boost e-commerce sales. We focus closely on figures to deliver success. And we achieve results as a team when we generate leads and sales. 

What is the response to the Growth Hacking Tour? 

Rainer Wiedmann: People are immediately seeing that we’re coming to them with the offer of added value for their day-to-day work and demonstrating a true community spirit. As a subsidiary, we have a clear advantage. We’re creating a trusting relationship from scratch for joint success.

Looking beyond Heidelberg, competitors on the digital printing market are claiming they provide their own digital platforms as ecosystems for print. What can and do you want to do differently or even better?

Rainer Wiedmann: Yes, we have our rivals, but in our segment – commercial and packaging printing – we have the highest market shares and by far the largest installed base. What’s more, we’ve had the world’s largest database for presses for over ten years. 

And that means what?

Rainer Wiedmann: It enables us to offer even better functions and optimum access to our entire portfolio along with detailed knowledge of specific customer interests that is always up to date. Our extremely strong service is now helping to expand things again on the operating side.

So does that mean the HDU ecosystem must make it possible, based on the Heidelberg platform, to significantly improve all aspects of performance?

Rainer Wiedmann: We don’t simply want production to run smoothly at print shops. At the end of the day, we’re improving our customers’ competitiveness and market relevance – not just here and there but at all levels as far as possible. 

Hand on heart, as a digital expert, what do you say to the boss of a print shop whose customers tell him printing is outdated and they no longer want to use it?

Rainer Wiedmann: Print media will never disappear. In fact, we’re seeing growth in areas such as packaging, labels, and mass customization. Yes, there are shifts from analog to digital – in particular when it comes to company marketing – but new applications will keep on emerging. For me, HDU’s main task in the long term is to unlock this new potential and enable customers to act flexibly, proactively, and sustainably as times change.

How do you personally think HDU will fare in the short, medium, and long term?

Rainer Wiedmann: I’m more than confident. We’re sticking to the vision and mission we formulated for HDU. And we’re measuring our progress, then responding immediately.

– Thank you very much for this interview. 

 


 

My take on things – a solution of striking simplicity

It’s enough to take your breath away. Heidelberg is putting in an impressive sprint on the home straight, hurtling forward in a completely new guise – the Heidelberg Digital Unit (HDU) – and showing the competition quite clearly who’s in first place when it comes to digital transformation. 

It’s official! A traditional company has without doubt completely reinvented itself – in record time –demonstrating the courage to take risks based on its wide-ranging expertise in printing and all things digital. Rather than abandoning much of the previous system, the company is using and optimizing it to benefit from new developments. One important additional aspect: Heidelberg has realized that in the digital age it’s no longer sufficient to aim for success with best-in-class product innovations.

Launching HDU in this form is a real stroke of genius in my opinion. A subsidiary designed as a start-up – fast, flexible, and firmly anchored with an excellent network – it provides new, user-oriented “digital” services for the Group and at the same time becomes a pacesetter with measurable results to make sales, marketing, and services permanently fit for the digital age on a global level. In my eyes, that’s the perfect way to firmly establish highly innovative products and solutions on the market on a lasting basis.

The biggest winners are Heidelberg customers and the market as a whole because, for the first time, they have access to a well thought-out, effective ecosystem in the form of an exponential platform that takes industrialprint production to a whole new level in the digital age and makes it fit for the future. To sum up, this is a real win-win situation – especially for Heidelberg staff, shareholders, and numerous new partners. 

The “crux of the ‘digital’ transformation problem” I identified in my #ValueCheck is thus soon set to be resolved!

 


 

Rainer Wiedmann

 

Rainer-Wiedmann-Kopie-1024x1024-700x700

 

Rainer Wiedmann comes from Stuttgart and is one of Germany’s great digital pioneers. After studying at the universities of Stuttgart and St. Gallen and gaining several years of professional experience, he founded the argonauten group (350 employees at 11 international locations) in 1996, the aquarius group (100 employees based in Munich, Hong Kong, and Shanghai) in 2005, and the iq! group (based in Munich and Palo Alto) in 2014.

The iq! group maintains close links with the new Heidelberg Digital Unit (HDU), which started operating on April 1, 2018 with 50 employees.

HDU is a start-up company and a subsidiary of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, where Wiedmann plays a dual role as Head of HDU and Chief Marketing Officer. 

From 1999 to 2003, Wiedmann was President of the Deutscher Multimedia Verband e.V. (now BVDW e.V.). From 2003 to 2004, he was on the board of Gesamtverband Kommunikationsagenturen GWA e.V. in Frankfurt.

 


About the author

Andreas Weber has been a print expert and internationally renowned business communication analyst, coach, influencer, and networker for over 25 years. His activities focus on transformation for the digital age and include lectures, management briefings, workshops, analyses, reports, and strategic advice. – His blog www.valuetrendradar.com inspires readers from over 140 countries worldwide.

About ValueBlog IMG_9105

 


 

Advertisements

 

ValueCheck Lufthansa 2018.001

Photos: Lufthansa

 

By Andreas Weber, Head of Value | German Version

Note: As a teenager, I made my first flight experience with Lufthansa. That was great! Over the next 45 years, I have had some ‘Ups & Downs’ with the Kranich Airline (also a few years as a premium customer with Lufthansa Senator status). — I watch relevant news as an analyst always highly interested.

With a big bang, millions in advertising revenue and full of fervor, Lufthansa is re-branding itself. At the heart of this is an elaborate re-design – above all the crane as its symbol – which according to estimates has taken at least seven years to be fully implemented.

According to Group CEO Carsten Spohr, the new brand world is the icing on the cake of modernization, he says with pride and joy. It works. Experts are not tired of holding forth about all the design aspects of the new brand identity. [The newspaper HORIZONT provides an overview].

However, the news channel n-tv rightly noted, with the help of media expert Thomas Koch, that whether the redesign will actually bring in new customers and give the business wings is debatable. According to Koch, it’s the customer who decides on the performance [quality] of the offer. A redesigned logo as a trademark is more incidental. 

Lufthansa’s head of marketing, Alexander Schlaubitz, emphasizes that it is about more than that [or even about everything!] As his Group CEO has said, Lufthansa needs modernizing. For corporate marketing, this means doing away with anything which cannot be optimally digitized in order to do justice to the digital transformation and mobile communication, right down to the last pixel. [See interview by Fabian Wurm].

 


Kranich vorher nachher 58181-detail

Photo: The Lufthansa logo since 1990.


 

This was actually something that the godfather of the design, Otl Aicher, had his eye on at the start of the 1960s when he created the crane as the trademark as part of a comprehensive CI. But his demand for clarity, conciseness and simplicity ruffled a few feathers at the time, and compromises had to be made in the tradition. Surprisingly, now, almost 60 years later, the results that have been reached hark back to Aicher’s original intentions. [Note: I became aware of this first-hand because I personally spent a few years working closely with Aicher on his Rotis typeface project and he often spoke of Lufthansa and other clients.]

NOTE: A great review of Lufthansa’s design was already published February 8th, 2018: Feeling Blue.


Much ado about nothing?

As is often the case, the customer’s experience of the brand is very different to how marketing assumed it would be. Lufthansa simultaneously sent out an email (presumably to all customer program members, in modified form also used as a manifesto by advertising motif), which is thought-provoking as it overdoes it with self-praise while in many staccato sentence fragments manage to forget possible customer benefits.

  • The introductory sentence starts with “We” (in terms of “We at Lufthansa” and not “We as a community”).
  • From the outset, the customer is stylized, to put it bluntly, as the “flight attendant”.
  • It is assumed that customers must follow the Lufthansa claim.
  • The advertised claim, in modern hashtag dexterity, #SayYesToTheWorld is laughably banal and implies that Lufthansa customers can best take off by being a yes-person.
  • Last but not least, the key visual in the email shows the tail fin of a plane, as if the person in question had just missed his flight…
  • And last but not least: It’s not personal! An option or even an active request for the email recipient to give immediate feedback to the modernized Lufthansa “outfit” by return is not included. What a shame. Or is it? Because this goes against the values that the digital world stands for in the social media age.
  • Note: It should be assumed that many hundreds of thousands of customers have received the email, in any case presumably significantly more than had received it at the time of the email being sent by re-branding via the media customers.

In my view, the “crassly modern” digital electronic mail-shot back-fired because it does nothing for the customers – instead it wants to create a good impression. This brings to mind unsettling experiences which, as a long-standing senator of Lufthansa, I was continually subjected to.

 


Better late than never: reverse the communication course!

If it really is about the Lufthansa brand (its self-image as being a “premium” brand) being brought into the digital age, Lufthansa’s thinking and mode of communication needs be changed radically.

In my view, these aspects should be considered:

  1. It is crucial that the innovation and technology mechanisms be made use of so that dialog or conversations with customers take place in real time, to serve the optimization of services and products so that they are aligned with the individual needs of the customer.
  2. The brand itself is no longer at the center, instead it becomes a kind of mutual vehicle for companies and customers. Mass marketing becomes customized mass marketing. If, like the majority of established brand companies, the focus is placed on brand experience, to impress customers using the hopefully strong charisma of the brand through mass penetration and thus motivate the customer to make a purchase, in the best case, costs can be covered but it is barely possible to make profit from organic growth or to achieve profit margins in double-figures.
  3. The reality is unavoidable Customers are increasingly disappointed when brands have clearly lost personal contact with them.

 


 

My take

Sometimes the stork appears like a swallow which has not yet brought the summer with it. To avoid dissatisfaction and loss of loyalty from customers, in my opinion, what is needed is not necessarily a change in brand identity but first of all a change in the mission and a change in thinking by those in charge. By acknowledging globalization, cosmopolitanism and curiosity”, a start has been made. – But at least, put the customer first! – This is all the more important since Lufthansa, according to its own statement, is starting the largest investment in advertising in the history of the company” – after the company had the best financial year in its history in 2017, with 130 million customers recorded.

Supplement

As of June 5, 2018 Lufthansa does not come from the negative headlines. An embarrassing mishap at a football World Cup spot for Russia as well as constant improvements in the redesign are already more than amazing. Sounds like intended, but not skillful. — By the way, who, as I recently observed a Lufthansa jet in the new look at the start, notes that even at low altitudes above the city with the naked eye does not recognize that its a Lufthansa airplane … It just lacks the yellow! Ouch!

Lufthansa-Logovergleich-240575-detailp

Lufthansa recently had to change the blue of its new livery because it was too dark (Photo: Lufthansa)

 


 

About the author

Andreas Weber has been working as an internationally renowned business communication analyst, coach, influencer and transformer for over 25 years. His activities focus on ‘Transformation for the Digital Age’ with lectures, management briefings, workshops, analyses & reports and strategic advice.

In his current ‘Think Paper’, Andreas Weber presents provocative thoughts on ‘Brand Experience vs. Customer Experience’. With the key questions: “What does a brand mean to a consumer? What does a consumer mean to a brand?”.

In case of interest, please send an email to receive the above-mentioned think paper: zeitenwende007{at}gmail.com

 

XUG Christian Kopocz Key Visual.001

 

Multichannel demands quite a bit new from our members as marketing service providers: Focus is on business transformation and expanded expert knowledge on the impact of digitalisation.“ —Christian Kopocz

 

Christian Kopocz struck out in a new direction from being a businessman with marketing experience. Some 10 years ago, he became a multichannel communications entrepreneur and has been involved in his own small companies ever since. At home and abroad, he campaigns for the dynamic development of multichannel services. In his many years as a member of the Board of Directors and since January 2016 as the Executive Director of the XMPie Users Group (XUG), he took a firm stance: Market and customer orientation are the measure of all things, coupled with consideration of cultural peculiarities. In summer 2015, he initiated the 1st European XUG Conference on the topic of multichannel innovation in Berlin, doing so in a very short time using multichannel communication. More than 130 participants came from 17 countries! The response was overwhelming. Bingo!

Interview: Andreas Weber | Click to access the german text version

You have an excellent overview through XUG of highly topical issues surrounding multichannel communications. What is of greatest concern at the moment?

Christian Kopocz: We have been successfully supporting our members for years through the XUG in the use and marketing of campaigns and solutions created with XMPie. Technical implementation, tips, tricks and closeness to the XMPie developer team are always in great demand. Since last year particularly, we have noted increased interest in case studies, practice-oriented approaches and marketing support.

Bildschirmfoto 2016-02-06 um 17.13.39

What new challenges do you derive from that?

Christian Kopocz: Multichannel demands quite a bit new from our members as marketing service providers: Focus is on business transformation and expanded expert knowledge on the impact of digitalisation. Another thing is that access to the customer is no longer what it used to be: In place of or in addition to the purchasing managers, marketing managers as well as decision-makers for CRM, social media, web, e-mail marketing, etc. need to be in on the talks to be able to act powerfully. In addition to time and patience, all that requires the corresponding knowledge, which we will be focusing on with XUG this year in particular. Especially with regard to drupa 2016, the world’s leading trade fair for graphic communications, where multichannel is positioned as one of the six themes highlighted.

How do you personally define the term multichannel?

Christian Kopocz: The customer decides how, when and where he would like to be addressed. For me, multichannel is the communication of relevant content to the preferred channels of the customer!

XUG Neu 01

Where do we stand today as to how the whole topic of multichannel communications will change with regard to the IoT/Industry 4.0?

Christian Kopocz: Fridges that order lactose-free milk from Amazon… A horror for some, a blessing for others. The concept of the IoT can indeed make our lives easier and more comfortable. As long as everyone knows how to deal with it, that is. If in the end, it is not even noticed how and where IoT simplifies our lives, then it has fit in. This requires intuition in the development phase, and particularly when it comes to market positioning. To know what the customer needs and from that develop an application, that is what the requirement should be — not “do or die!” These changes in customer demand caused by digitalisation and automation are clearly on the table!

What are the consequences for service providers?

Christian Kopocz: Both today and tomorrow, service providers are and will be constantly required to think ahead and become pro-active. I see that as a real mammoth task since up to now, even with multichannel innovations, everything was undertaken in a very linear manner: Investment was made in a new business model that was brought to market and then practically, like a loan repayment, was worked off monthly. Less thought was given to continuous, 100% customer-oriented, sustained development and none at all to it as an investment in the future. The result was then often in the form of bad figures. It doesn’t have to be that way at all: Stay curious and don’t let the contact with your customer flag – that will always take you to your goal!

Thanks for the inspiring talk.  Happy to keep in touch and to see you at drupa 2016 in Düsseldorf.

XUG Neu 02

 

 

Read as well great insights shared by XUG members:

ValueDialog —  Renato Vögeli, Vögeli AG, Switzerland:
Multichannel turns communication into a personal experience!

ValueDialog — Patrick Donner, TraffIC Print Online Solutions GmbH, Germany:
New take on multichannel communications:  “There is no either/or!” 

 

 

XMPie Jacob Key Visual.001

Interview by Andreas Weber | Click to access german version

It is always a great honor and pleasure to carry on a conversation with Jacob Aizikowitz, President XMPie, a Xerox Company. He was a pioneer in one-to-one communication solutions driven by technology innovations when he started XMPie to enable Cross Media, VDP and Web-to-Print applications. His expertise is unique because he is able to bridge his profound technical knowledge with market needs that anticipate customers’ demand. No wonder that XMPie today is one of the most advanced multichannel solution providers around the globe. Nevertheless there are a lot of news to talk about. —Note: right at the beginning of 2016 Jacob and his team sharpened what they do. They created a new Web platform to share their state-of-the-art multichannel knowledge, headed by the claim: MANY CHANNELS. ONE CONVERSATION.

At a glance:

  1. Discover: Multichannel gives the smart collaboration of print and online a new dimension.
  2. Participate: XMPie’s Cross Media 2.0 opened the door to everybody doing digital media to contribute / participate in multichannel with print using XMPie personalization technology.
  3. Crucial: to understand the business and to understand the technology.
  4. The biggest challenge: automation of the conversation.
  5. The Target: to achieve ’One Conversation’, practically with no constraints on what and how one does in the digital media.
  6. Outlook: embrace digital innovation to transform applications. Best example: packaging. Via multichannel, packages will become the starting point of a conversation between the brand and its consumers.
  7. drupa 2016: a great place to experience the power of multichannel!

 

Jacob’s key message:
”It is all about to enable creating individually relevant and timely interactive customer communications that span time and a mix of digital and print media touch points”.

 

 

Bildschirmfoto 2016-02-05 um 16.47.25

 

PART 1

Focus on multichannel innovation

Before we start our conversation: What is your definition of ”multichannel“?

Jacob Aizikowitz: Interacting with your audience — customers, partners, prospects — with individually relevant and timely communications across time and along touch points that span the media spectrum from print to digital. — One should say: “One Conversation”. — Without that, the communications might be technically multichannel but not appear to the audience as a continuous interactive and relevant individualized dialogue. Achieving “One Conversation” is the tough part (especially when multichannel includes print). This is exactly where technology comes in to make it possible without endless and impractical team coordination that sometimes spans different organizations (e.g., the brand, its print agency / provider, its digital agency …).

Back to the future: You started more than 15 years ago as a pioneer with a 121 approach to innovate print production and marketing services processes. Nowadays it is all about multichannel in a digital world. How does that matter?

Jacob Aizikowitz: Good question. First of all, in a digital world it is so important not to forget that Print is still important. For all of us. It would be great if more enterprises and brand owners point that out. Secondly, in founding XMPie we observed that for the marketing professionals personalization equated with Internet. And we knew that personalization is also possible in digital printing. This triggered our vision to bridge print and digital for personalization. Such a vision enabled the marketing professional to practice personalization as a strategy and not as a media choice. Such a vision enabled the evolution of Multichannel. 

Cross-media communication

What kind of changes in mindset or improvements did you made?

Jacob Aizikowitz: Now, through the years, we evolved our direction, adding Web2Print, adding analytics, and adding campaign planning and automation (Circle). We realized that these business applications became relevant to the marketing professionals and to service providers who want to upgrade the type of services they provide. Most recently — end of 2015 — we changed dramatically our approach to cross media, introducing Open XM and Cross Media 2.0 (all with our 8.0 software release for PersonalEffect).

Read as well:
”Ten Steps to Hitting the Sweet Spot with Your Multichannel Campaign“

 

What is the benefit?

Jacob Aizikowitz: With Cross Media 2.0 we opened our solution to enable our customer to use any choice of web design / development tools, not constraining them to one specific tool that comes with the solution. This made our solution an open platform, enabling state-of-the-art digital while still using the XMPie personalization so that print and digital — while being each state-of-the-art — will be synergistic, consistent, and effective. The heart of Cross Media 2.0 is the Open XM Technology stack. It allows one to use, say, WebStorm, WordPress, just plain HTML, and also, our Dreamweaver plug-in, all interchangeably, while developing communications for digital. It also allows to develop mobile apps and responsive designs. In a way it allows the digital designer / developer to continue using their tools and their workflows while developing individualized communications that are automatically consistent and synchronized and synergistic with the individualized communications that are developed for the print media.

Creative Tools.png

… so your focus was always on technology innovation?

Jacob Aizikowitz: Yes and no. Most important was that we learned through the years what the customers of our customers wanted. Those are business people and they need business tools to manage marketing and communication campaigns properly. So we integrated responses via Web/PURLs and we established business analytics available via dash boards. Finally we learned and promoted: multichannel includes multitouch functionalities!

Sounds that you made a very interesting journey…

Jacob Aizikowitz: …indeed. But what we never changed is our original design. Our fundamental view was right and still is! From the very beginning we give a lot of value to our customers helping them find the right balance of technology and client needs. It is always important for us to understand the business as well as to understand the technology.

Date Print VDP

In summary, what is the secret of all those technical inventions you made via XMPie? 

Jacob Aizikowitz: There are three main aspects: 1. Understanding the market and where its going. 2. Understanding how to apply technology in an innovative and elegant way in order to enable the market trends and address its emerging needs. 3. A holistic view at solutions, which was also reflected in our tag line: One to One in One.

In my understanding XMPie’s success is a result of a perfect team work. What are the top criteria to characterize that?

Jacob Aizikowitz: I agree. Team work is a must. Our top criteria are: Smart people who bring new dimensions and flavours of technologies. — Alignment which is focused on the customer. — An open culture to exchange opinions frankly and in a very creative way.

Digitalisation changes everything — all kind of biz, marketing and communication processes. IoT and Industry 4.0 make big progress to automate what we have to do. Is this a threat or a chance?

Jacob Aizikowitz: Tough question but not that difficult to answer. IoT means everything is connected. So in fact we have more data to deal with. That works well because we are already familiar in handling huge amounts of data. Industry 4.0 is driven by automation. — What I feel is that personalization and the ability to interact across time and media touch points are very much related to IoT and Industry 4.0. So, these are synergistic trends.

What is the biggest challenge?

Jacob Aizikowitz: The big challenge in my view: automation of the conversation. Therefore we made a big progress and are able to offer a special solution, named Circle which leads you from storyboarding to campaign automation.

Campaign Management.png

Note: Circle is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution for managing your multichannel plus multitouch marketing campaigns. Users can track results and find out which messages are working best with which people, in which context and in which media a.s.o.

 

Circle seems to be the next big step based on a new business level for your customers? Right?

Jacob Aizikowitz: Surely. In any case XMPie is an enabler for Industry 4.0 compatible services. Automating the dialogue with the individual, while keeping it engaging, relevant, and effective is the main challenge; this is extremely challenging when the dialogue spans print and digital touch points. Many in ’Marketing Automation’ are after this — DRIP campaigns, Nurturing, etc. — but the XMPie offering is unique as it blends the automation of the individualized dialogues with the powerful media personalization — including print media (even if not printed — like PDF) and interactive capabilities. All under one roof — One to One in One.

Sounds good for your customers. So, if they follow our advice XMPie customers will become the HUB for new services?

Jacob Aizikowitz: We aim to provide our customers with technology that will allow them to stay relevant and attractive to their customers. We need our customers to have the vision and innovation; our role is to bring them technology that lets them pursue their vision. Some were influenced by our technology innovation to take the visionary view and go after their dreams.

Is that the reason why Gartner Group analyzed end of 2015: ”XMPie’s rating as a Challenger in this Magic Quadrant reflects its strong ability to execute on marketing communications.“

Jacob Aizikowitz: We are happy about being a challenger. Gartner addresses a number of other players who make technology integratable with other systems. Their focus is on customer communication management [CCM]. The notion of CCM was invented as an evolution of transpromo coming from transaction document management solutions. But with XMPie we made already a step ahead: our technology is accessible and much more open following the new paradigm of multichannel and multitouch.

 

drupa 2016 highlights ENG

PART 2

Focus on drupa 2016: time for a change!

A milestone this year will be drupa 2016 end of May 2016 in Düsseldorf/Germany. Multichannel is one of the trade show high-lights. The drupa motto: Touch the future. What is your guideline and vision to create further success? Is the Graphic Arts market or the print industry community still the best target group for XMPie? 

Jacob Aizikowitz: As always drupa delivers a good context for XMPie and our customers. I recognize the fact that graphic arts and print service providers (PSP) are solid customer bases. Going after multichannel vision is now very critical for PSPs. This is because the enterprises — the brands — are shifting at light speed rates to individualization, dialogues, nurturing, automation a.s.o. Except that they have no clue how to properly blend it with multichannel that has print media in it. The PSPs must shift their business and capabilities to multichannel and automation in order to provide their customers with services that match their needs as they (the brands) shift to digital and automatic individualized marketing. Our technology is a critical enabler for these transformations that the PSPs must make; and it is our goal to continuously innovate to make sure that we stays relevant, technology-wise, for our customers!

Web2print

You mean at drupa there are still opportunities to transform established print businesses?

Jacob Aizikowitz: Certainly. The opportunities are huge especially when relating to digital printing business models beyond online printing. It is all about bridging concepts and technologies to be still relevant to new customers needs. With our recently released Cross Media 2.0 technology, we make it possibility for PSPs (and their customers) to practice multichannel with print in the mix, while having the freedom to use their tools and workflow of choice for the digital elements in that mix. This opens the door to state of the art digital solutions, to collaboration, and consistency and synergy between the digital and print media touch points in a dialogue.

This new approach for Cross Media, combined with Circle, makes the XMPie technology also directly relevant to the enterprises themselves, and it opens many possible avenues for Enterprise / PSP collaboration and business workflows. In addition for a future multichannel success all kind of brands and enterprises are relevant. We have to continue to involve and to guide them step by step to experience our drupa 2016 presentation.

Holistic View

You serve a range of premium marketing service solution providers around the globe. From your point of view, what make them unique?

Jacob Aizikowitz: Most of our customers are serving their customers in the best way to achieve a sustainable benefit from multichannel communication success. They had in an early phase clear visions to change what they did and are able to transform it into new business opportunities. Very important fact: all of our very successful customers are not afraid of all kinds of digital and/or disruptive technologies. It is all about the readiness to embrace innovation!

Last but not least: In my opinion the main challenge will be ”customer centricity” driven by high-value multichannel capabilities. Do you agree or disagree?

Jacob Aizikowitz: Of course I agree. The digital age is the age of the customer. Why? Your audience is always connected. You have to become part of their conversation and to be connected all the time. The old school marketing methods don’t fit in that scenario anymore. To create reach and awareness by mass media is no longer working in the same way as in the past. Brands are interested in a relationship, a dialogue, on-going, continuous, with their consumers or prospects. 

Overview

This is very clear from the high investments brands make in social media, seeking “likes” and leveraging these likes for marketing. One exciting avenue for such a relationship between the brand and its consumers is something most digital-centric brand marketers have not yet seen — its packaging. The package — a nicely engaging and attractive piece — is the perfect starting touch point for a dialogue with the mobile-holding individual. The ability to offer multichannel in a packaging context is hot and attractive, and we enable this.

So the best and most desirable example comes from the packaging world. Brand owners realized that a package achieved by a consumer is not the end of the story. It is the starting point of a conversation which will be managed by innovative multichannel communication processes. This is a huge opportunity for our customers to develop breathtaking new applications.

 

Ressources

Thanks for the great conversation, Jacob. What is the essence to summarize our talk?

Jacob Aizikowitz: Finally, it is all about strategy and technology. We kept our strategy pretty much consistent through the years. Main changes were adding Web2Print, adding Analytics, adding Campaign Management (Circle), and revising our approach to cross media. This last point is what we call Cross Media 2.0, and it embraces into the XMPie fold the leading methods and workflows of state of the art in digital today. It’s open and ready for collaborations. The reason this last point is important is because a service provider who wants to provide Multichannel services, must recognize that its customers most likely have capability in web design, web sites, etc. The brands most likely have a web team or a digital agency. So, for our customer to offer multichannel they cannot just dismiss the brands web team or web agency. With Cross Media 2.0 it’s now possible to collaborate and share and work together, using the full spectrum of tools and methods available for digital, while still leveraging the XMPie personalization engine — the exact same engine that will feed the print side of the multichannel endeavor.

Services

In summary: It is all about to enable creating individually relevant and timely interactive customer communications that span time and a mix of digital and print media touch points. —Jacob Aizikowitz

—END—

 

Jacob Aizikowitz

About Jacob Aizikowitz, XMPie, Inc. 

Dr. Jacob Aizikowitz is the president of XMPie, which he founded in 2000 with Israel Roth and Reuven Sherwin, as a spin off from Scitex. XMPie has since grown to become the leading brand for integrated cross-media personalization solutions. In 2006, Jacob and the team led XMPie to a successful acquisition by the Xerox Corporation (XRX), where it now operates under the name, “XMPie, A Xerox Company”.

In the early 90’s, while at EFI (EFII), Jacob guided the early stages of the Fiery™ and led the development of EfiColor™ and Cachet™. These technologies, together with work by Adobe and Apple, brought user-friendly, quality-color to desktop publishing. In the late 90’s, during Jacob’s second term at Scitex, he led the early stages of the R&D of the Creo Controller. In parallel, he and his colleagues developed Scitex VPS™ which became a leading, objects-based, page description language for variable data printing.

The success of VPS, indirectly, inspired the founding of XMPie, and promoted the vision of cross media personalization and the democratization of variable data publishing.

Jacob holds a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from Cornell University.

%d bloggers like this: