2001: A Solutions/Imaging /Connectivity (and Maybe Some Space) Odyssey6 Mar, 2002 By: Lester Anderson imageSource
2001: A Solutions/Imaging /Connectivity (and Maybe Some Space) Odyssey
Every article you read
about 2001 will tell you that it was a unique year, but everyone is glad it is
over, and 2002 should be different and better.
Our industry was affected
very dramatically in many ways. The economy took a downturn in our area,
especially as it pertains to capital equipment expenditures. We all knew that,
but it took the economists until the 4th quarter to realize that we
had slipped seriously by March. The tragedies of September 11th
impacted everyone in the industry, especially those who were themselves
affected, or knew someone that was personally affected by the disaster. Some
Xerox employees were lost in the World Trade Center while they worked at their
posts. Meanwhile, Ricoh had tons of equipment and many employees in New York
City, all ready for its digital showcase. After the attacks, Ricoh quickly
donated all of this equipment to facilitate the rescue efforts.
Despite the negative
events of 2001, however, the year did have a distinct positive aspect. Players
in the industry had begun their transformation into solutions providers before
this year, and 2001 was certainly a year of significant expansion into this
field. New partnerships will benefit the customers by providing custom solutions
to meet their business document needs. Some partnerships were formed between
different companies, while others were formed between different divisions of the
same company. Many of these partnerships served to provide a unified customer
solution. Traditional industry companies and some newcomers introduced software
and service products that will benefit customers. Solution product improvements
were announced, and possibly, most importantly, those in the industry increased
their knowledge of customer network and connectivity environments to help them
understand the needs and deliver creative solutions. It is exciting to note that
this was not just a vendor initiative. Distribution channels, dealers, and
branches took the initiative as well, then, ran with it during 2001.
This article highlights
some of the notable milestones of 2001 that came from or affect our document
industry. In many cases, these milestones are product or alliance announcements,
but some are new ways of looking at old problems to better serve the customer.
If there is one common thread about the positive changes of 2001, it is that the
changes and innovations are focused on a better relationship with the customer.
Service providers are working to better understand the customer’s environment
as well as technology and business needs to provide a solution. This change
means that our industry is beginning to sell value rather than price. Our prime
customer benefits are not measured in mils per page, but in improved
productivity and efficiency of a customer’s operation. While this document
certainly does not cover all the announcements from 2001, it discusses a
selection of major announcements from the past year. As you will see, it was a
very full year on the announcement front.
The alliances that were
formed during 2001 were the “hot topics” of the year. While security was
important before September 11th, it is now front burner critical. Often wrapped
around solutions, software for remote monitoring or tracking of the image
devices on the network has attracted vendor and customer interest. The
management and storage of documents and their workflow was important to
customers and yielded many vendor offerings. Expanded operating system
environments on the desktop and the network required the image industry to
properly address these customer needs. Innovations in software and solutions
formed the biggest category. These innovations are beginning to create some new
markets within the image market. The market announcements frequently crossed
multiple categories, especially in the alliance area.
many alliances this year, internally and externally. HP consolidated storage
management offerings by merging its storage solutions organization with its
OpenView Business Unit. Later, the company consolidated the knowledge from Dazel
and its exceptional output server/document router technology into its mainline
Canon expanded its
relationship with eCopy across the ImageRunner line. The EFI and Canon continue
to demonstrate a close and exceptionally good relationship with their ColorPASS
controller line. Canon also showed its new strategic partnership with T/R
Systems, and showed a number of other partners at its Digital Solutions
conference. The conference served as a forum for Canon to demonstrate its
commitment to partnerships to the dealer channel. The company also showed its
own COMET (COMponent Extensible Technology), a network architecture with
appliances for background monitoring and management of devices.
In a move to properly
address the individual needs of its customers, Xerox formed alliances with EFI
and its Velocity Suite as well as with T/R Systems to distribute the M@estro
software suite. At Comdex, Xerox’s entire booth was devoted to solutions. It
showed very positively the direction Xerox is taking in the future.
Toshiba America Business
Solutions (Toshiba TABS), which already had an impressive list of solutions to
offer, announced an integration agreement with Quest Software. The Toshiba
Solutions Group is offering Quest’s Vista Plus Enterprise Information
Management solution through its nationwide network of dealers. Toshiba TABS also
entered into a strategic agreement with Prism Software to market and support
Prism’s complete line of data transformation, forms management, and online
document repository solutions.
EFI acquired FAIR’s
publishing solutions group, giving it the experience and technology to expand
its Variable Data Printing applications for the expanded development of
one-to-one marketing solutions.
In addition, EFI partnered
with Authentica on an innovative document security suite. This is an example of
an ideal partnership; EFI’s document knowledge and Authentica’s security and
page recall technologies make a great combination to produce a true solution for
Pitney Bowes Office
Systems took a new name as an independent entity, Imagistics. The new
organization can now focus directly on the solutions needs of its customers, and
is doing very well as an “established startup” with origins in a very
Imaging Portals was
created through an alliance, by joining with Dealer Source to form a new entity
in the marketplace. Throughout the year, Imaging Portals added technologies and
capabilities with alliances or mergers of significant companies in the field.
Probably the most significant is the merger with Montel Products, a company with
experience and patents in remote monitoring of print devices. Imaging Portals
has become a premier vendor of solutions-based consulting, but even more
significantly, the leader in the D2B (Device to Business) concept of monitoring
and collecting information from devices to better serve the business needs of
customers and dealers.
Xerox expanded the
capability of CentreWare by delivering CentreWare Web Device Management
Software. Focused on IT managers and designed for even the largest environments,
this is a new component of device management tools that a network manager needs.
Significantly, Xerox announced that the next version will be developed on
Microsoft’s .NET platform.
MANAGEMENT OF DOCUMENTS
EFI expanded its Velocity
Suite with Balance 2.0, which was announced at CAP Ventures’ On Demand show.
This workflow solution integrates with the rest of Velocity, in a common
interface. The comprehensive suite is an end-to-end solution that provides
integration with scanning, building of documents, variable data printing, and
At CAP Ventures’ On
Demand show, T/R Systems announced its enhanced MicroImager. This software
solution is a workflow and efficiency module. It works within the T/R Systems
product architecture, its well-established MicroPress product line. It has the
capability for “hard” output, as well as for electronic distribution via
e-mail in PDF.
Manufacturers want to
ensure that their own staff and their distribution channels understand the
complexities of their technology, especially as color becomes more pervasive.
The major vendors all enhanced their efforts in training and certification.
Canon USA launched the CIP (Color Imaging Professional) program, providing color
training leading to certification at its sixth annual TECHNET conference. Ricoh
enhanced its digital systems training along with Ricoh University for in person
and Web enabled training for its entire digital line. Xerox has made a big push
with regional Solutions sales executives in its branches to guarantee that
training and knowledge are locally available to match customers’ needs with
Ricoh Silicon Valley
dramatically enhanced its eCabinet product line, offering heavy duty
enhancements to the basic software, partnering with Kofax for an eCabinet/Ascent
capture solution, and perhaps most significantly, releasing a rack-mounted
enterprise version of its document appliance system.
PX Technologies, a
software company headquartered in Brazil, has begun addressing the US market
with local staffing as well as product enhancements for the market. Its
Wintility document management software comes in three versions:
A basic workstation version
The Wintility Pro version for workgroups
A Web version for document and collaboration capability, with full security,
over the Internet
The document image area
expanded further beyond the conventional copier/printer market. RISO made some
significant announcements in the software to properly insert and manage images
into its system, and in designing systems with built-in controllers that serve
as ink-based network printers for high volume runs.
Over the course of the
year, Linux became a bandwagon that everyone in the market wanted to join. HP
announced Linux-based software offerings for the security and intelligent device
market. Sendmail announced that all its products for Linux would be available on
the IBM mainframe line running Linux. This gave a comprehensive, world-class,
enterprise e-mail suite, availability on some of the most capable mainframe
servers in the market. Virtually every major device manufacturer has some form
of Linux driver support.
The online document
storage environment was given new meaning with Ricoh’s Web-based Document
Mall, a document repository that can be accessed by its new technology MFP
Devices. The especially innovative twist is that Ricoh designed the solution to
be sold by the dealer channel, just like an accessory to a print/copy device.
INNOVATIONS IN SOFTWARE
Lexmark started the year
by announcing the availability of Optra Form Director software. Optra Forms is a
printer-based batch document formatting and electronic forms printing solution,
consisting of five modules:
Design: Lets users create new forms or edit existing forms.
DataMap: Allows users to specify variable data.
Style: Allows users to select media type, paper size, input tray, output bin,
and orientation, then downloads forms to the printer's flash or hard disk
Manager: Enables administrators to manage and distribute forms to multiple
printers over the network.
Web Filler / Filler for Windows: Allows Optra Forms users to enter data into a
form using a browser and merge the data into a printer resident form.
Optra Form Director
software is an excellent example of a manufacturer offering a revenue producing
software that provides customers with a complete solution to their print output
IKON Office Solutions
Already a leader in legal
document services, IKON Office Solutions announced a formal offering of its
digital scan to file services, targeted at this paper-intensive marketplace.
IKON offers not only the scan services, but includes a suite of viewing and OCR
capabilities within the service.
Adobe introduced Acrobat
5.0 software, its standards-setting portable document format. Like all previous
versions, the Acrobat 5.0 reader is available as a free download. The Acrobat
creation software integrates seamlessly into Adobe and Microsoft products. It
can be used by almost any software product that produces print output. First
shown at the CeBit show in Germany, the new version offers added security and
efficiency features that will benefit document creation users.
Adobe is not the only
source for PDF creation now. FinePrint software, known for its workflow-enabled
print driver system, has released two versions of a PDF creation software
Toshiba TABS got into the
document appliance business by using the established Toshiba Magnia SG10
appliance server customized into a small business network and document
management tool. This document management implementation was formally shown at
the Comdex show in Las Vegas in November.
BMC announced enhanced
versions of Patrol, including PATROL ASRM (application storage resource
manager). Later in the year, the company discussed alliances with Xerox at XPLOR,
and showed integration of Patrol with ImageRunner monitoring at Canon’s
Digital Solutions Forum in December.
eCopy announced new
versions of its solution, supporting the ImageRunner line of Canon MFPs. It also
supported integration with Lotus Notes, Lotus Domino.Doc, and an innovative
delivery through UPS Document Exchange. eCopy also announced integration with
I.R.I.S to integrate its OCR solution. This integration offers a full solution
that can OCR, de-skew, de-speckle, and enhance degraded images. eCopy also
announced the expansion of its distribution network through an agreement with
Minolta created a
solutions marketing group to better address the solutions business. At its
dealer conferences in early 2001, the company demonstrated Minolta-created
solutions like PageScope and PageScope Cabinet. Minolta also has collaborative
and co-labeled software, which it supports in the dealer channel.
availability of Ricochet Coversheet, a new document capture utility for Ascent
Capture. Ricochet Coversheet enables remote offices to capture documents with
nothing more than a Web browser and their office copiers or multifunction
EFI announced PrintMe
Networks, an Internet printing solution that allows mobile professionals to
print while away from the office. Partners announced at the product’s launch
included Adobe, Xerox, Yahoo!, Sir Speedy, and Troy groups. Sir Speedy has
already deployed PrintMe in seven major markets.
Prism Software announced
Valeo Forms, an innovative software solution for legacy systems. Without
requiring a customer to change their legacy software, Valeo Forms allows users
to rearrange information, combine forms, or use new device capabilities in the
creation of print output. This solution allows a dealer to work with a customer
to solve a customer’s business problems on the content of the output as well
as the devices upon which to print it.
Ricoh was one of the
solutions providers to show a full suite of software solutions at Comdex. The
new versions of ScanRouter Pro and Desktop Binder Pro were shown, as was
SmartMonitor, a network utility to better manage the Ricoh devices. In addition,
Ricoh also demonstrated its new printer cost and security management (PCSM)
solution. The company also announced its partnership with EFI and Velocity
Suite, in addition to Troy with its wireless WinConnect solution:
How To Cope In 2002
The year 2001 was a very
busy year, and 2002 will be even busier. How can a dealer keep informed? One of
the best ways is to attend shows like ITEX, which was held for its second year
this past February. Articles in Image Source magazine during 2002 will be
designed to keep you informed. In addition, CAP Ventures publishes a monthly
solutions highlights newsletter. By special arrangement, readers of this
magazine can purchase the complete set of 2001 newsletters at a 40% discount.
The key element is to keep
learning. To stop learning is not an option, because you are truly in a race
with technology, your customers, and your competitors. Those who keep learning
will stay ahead in the race.