Can I get a reasonable ROI from what I’m buying? - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

23 Sep 2016 | By Noel D'Cunha

PrintWeek India (PWI): What has been the post-Drupa feedback?
John Winderam (JW): Never before has Esko presented such a broad range of innovations in its entire product portfolio to the market as at this Drupa. The feedback both during and post-Drupa has been very encouraging from customers, prospects, industry partners and journalists.

PWI: So that’s two new additions to the Kongsberg cutting table at Drupa, plus a new flexo platemaking system and a software update…
JW: Yes, on the hardware side the simplification of our Kongsberg cutting table range has really helped our customers to make better choices in digital finishing and our factory has been working hard to keep up with demand.

The portfolios of hardware and software solutions we presented to increase productivity, boost throughput and improve automation have touched upon a sweet spot. We have received many enquiries from customers in the packaging and wide-format industries requesting help to select which of our new tools can optimise their workflow and flexo platemaking requirements.

Esko robot

PWI: How does the order book look like for 2016?
JW: Our order book was strong going into Drupa, and since then we have continued to strengthen it even further. We expect 2016 to be one of Esko’s best years ever from an order intake perspective in India. Our customers are definitely in the mood to make intelligent investments where these can improve quality or productivity and give them an edge in this ever-competitive marketplace.

PWI: Esko teamed up with X-Rite, Pantone and Enfocus at Drupa, under the banner 'Packaging Simplified'. Why?
JW: It is correct that we teamed up with our sister companies at Drupa. More and more we are finding that all of us are addressing the same customers and we have some unique solutions that when joined together can deliver some exciting result.

Indian Day at the Esko and X-Rite booth

PWI: Esko tweaked its flagship product the ArtPro?
JW: Yes, it’s transformed it into ArtPro+. Not only is this a fully native PDF pre-press editor dedicated to packaging and labels, but more importantly the user operation and interface has been re-invented. A click wheel interface keeps the canvas free from cluttered menus and submenus, and offers functionality in context over the entire layout. This results in the operator being able to learn the new editor much more quickly and work with it intuitively.

PWI: Enfocus launched the Appstore to feed its Switch workflow tool?
JW: Enfocus Appstore has automation functions. It’s a smart and straightforward way to share functionality developed by the community of users and improve a wide range of workflow steps.

PWI: What was the message from X-Rite Pantone?
JW: It was “set a colour once and get consistency far and wide”. Getting a consistent and achievable brand colour through digital communication brings many benefits such as easier communication with supply chain, dramatic cost reduction for on-press approvals, oversight, proof and performance of the supply chain with a unique scorecard.

Esko and X-Rite booth

PWI: We are seeing Indian users of Kongsberg become increasingly creative in their production of in-store signage and free-standing displays…
JW: We never cease to be amazed at the increasingly innovative ideas that our Kongsberg customers come up with. We have users that are of course producing the normal sign and display and point of purchase displays.

PWI: Any favourite jobs in India that you have come across?
JW: One customer is producing children’s nursery furniture that grows as the child grows, and another has produced corrugated boats which proved extremely useful in the recent Mumbai flooding.

Wii booth game at stall

PWI: An impressive 70% reduction in flexo platemaking process time with the new CDI Crystal 5080 and 5080XPS. Your plans for Labelexpo India?
JW: We will be announcing our showings at LabelExpo in October.

PWI: The Esko Software Platform claims to have the largest software as a service (SaaS) platform in packaging with 25 global brands, more than 30,000 users globally and more than half a million uploaded assets. What kind of packaging innovations are you seeing in this space?
JW: Of course what happens in the Cloud with our customers’ data is their property and cannot be commented upon in detail by Esko.

PWI: But what are the general trends with brands, and what’s Esko’s role?
JW: Brands around the globe are making use of our tools to manage their ever-growing number of SKU’s. Each brand, whether from healthcare products, soft drinks or household good, is expanding its offering by many more variations, editions, promotions, and localisation of their products. Next to that it’s becoming clear that the digital world of publishing and promotions is getting closer to the physical world of packaging; campaigns will re-use packaging artwork assets, and packaging uses references and links to digital media with QR codes or other tools.

The new Esko Software Platform provides a set of tools that addresses these issues in a modular form that can be added to as and when our customers’ needs determine.

PWI: Your favourite process among design, artwork and repro, flexo platemaking, printing and ink management, finishing?
JW: My favourite one is everything that has to do with colour.

PWI: Why?
JW: In the packaging world much of the work starts with colour definition and selection, and guiding that through design – prepress – plate making – proofing, printing and finishing is a complex process. If you look at how Esko and X-Rite Pantone today master that space across the entire supply chain, tying all the loose ends together, it’s a great achievement which benefits many converters, trade shops and brand owners.

PWI: Esko's pricing has been a big issue for the Indian industry?
JW: I don’t think it’s the pricing alone that’s been the issue; it’s the customer asking “does this represent good value for money” and, “can I get a reasonable ROI from what I’m buying”.

PWI: How do you address that?
JW: We have addressed this by adding more functionality and automation into our software without increasing the price, and by adding more options as standard into our hardware configurations. Judging by the feedback we have received on this and the growth in our business, it seems like we have made a change that is recognised and accepted in the market.

PWI: What has been the feedback from Esko at the three-day SinoCorr?
JW: The event was a success for us. It’s not a huge show but as it’s so focused the visitors are very knowledgeable and we have been able to spend quality time to discuss today’s needs with both our existing customers and prospects; and perform detailed demonstrations of our new X-Series Kongsberg table and software.

Team Esko and TechNova at IndiaCorr Expo 2016

PWI: Where do you see Esko in India by 2020?
JW: I see Esko continuing to play a leading role in this industry by continuing to launch innovative products that are driven by Indian customer inputs and so are even better able to match local requirements. I also see a further migration from Esko being viewed as an equipment supplier to more of a partner who can not only supply products but can also play more of an advisory role in helping customers design efficient workflows and generally make their processes more efficient and streamlined.

PWI: And the Indian market?
JW: The Indian market is developing quickly and it’s an exciting time – Esko is ready for the challenge.

Tags : Esko,X-rite;