by Patricia Ames
The Imaging Channel sat down with Frank Mallozzi at EFI’s Connect conference in Las Vegas to catch up on the company’s activities in 2014. Here’s what we discovered.
I heard you have been through a bit of a transformation within your sales organization and how you are servicing the channel — talk to me a little bit about that.
EFI used to have the sales teams organized in groups of six, seven or eight people. The problem with this approach is that when you are covering the entire U.S., you are not as frequently involved in deals because you have to cover patches that are so wide and vast. So we decided to change things up a year ago.
The decision was made to organize by geographic territory instead. One EFI rep represents a particular geographic market now, not a particular client. In the designated region, the EFI rep is the EFI resource. EFI wants their reps deeper into the channel and involved with the dealers more frequently. So now EFI has the framework and the people on the ground. Our relationships with our partners across the board have never been better.
EFI has traditionally been about “push” — EFI responds to what the channel indicates that its needs are and what the sales person dictates that they want to sell. Now EFI has also assigned a number of end-user customers to their rep in each geographic region to help EFI create “pull.” If the customer is not educated about what’s out there, they can’t know to ask for a particular solution. At that point the salesperson decides what to offer, and it is a lot easier for the salesperson to present the less expensive offering or maybe the one that doesn’t have the technologies that that customer might need later on. EFI now has roughly 75 people in the field that are in place to create mindshare and help the channel sell-through. EFI is constantly working with our partners to ensure they are selling value and offering EFI products and making sure EFI is getting that mindshare.
One of the biggest challenges in the channel is that there is a lot of turnover — you typically see anywhere from 35 to 45 percent turnover within the sales teams at the dealerships. You have a new sales force constantly coming into the channel, so what EFI wants to do is shorten that onboarding process as much as possible. EFI has made it a priority to be an integral part of that whole onboarding process. We are constantly educating the reps about Fiery, understanding the value proposition so they are upselling — not just selling on price. There’s a differentiation there.
What are some of the important themes EFI is focusing on in 2014?
Relationships. The theme for our annual sales kick-off meeting this year was “Road to a Billion by 2016.” By 2016 our goal is to be a billion-dollar company. One thing EFI wants to make sure we don’t lose is the intimacy in our relationships we have created in the field when we are a billion dollar company.
The relationships are key for us at EFI. As an example, at the kick-off, I pulled a couple of salespeople from the audience and shot some video of some of their customers articulating the impact our relationship has had on them. (One of those customers spoke about) EFI salesperson Greg Dalton, who is based in the northeast and has been with the company for 23 years. The relationships that he has built and the people that depend on him, and what he has created, is so powerful. As we continue to grow and become this billion-dollar company, we don’t want to lose that intimacy. EFI really depends on those relationships, and is part of the value EFI brings as an expert in the business.
The shift from analog to digital. We’ve done it on the display graphics, we did it on the desktop years ago, and we have now moved to a niche where we are improving productivity. We are all-in on digital transformation.
When you talk about workflow in the office there are derivative workflows. Implants, web tools, dashboards, workgroup printers — all that workflow and functionality sits in the Fiery, which is the digital front-end processor. The Fiery is the glue. The way EFI packages it, and the appliance that we provide to the customer, is what EFI is offering.
Keeping up with technology. EFI wants to build faster to support our partners because the new engines coming out are faster and the quality is constantly improving. Our partners give us the opportunity up front — a place for Fiery and a place for what EFI front-ends. The way EFI re-engineered our company and the balance we’ve created — it allows us to go in and optimize the verticals our partners play in. Does it really make sense for EFI to come out with a workflow tool or an MPS offering and bring it into the channels that offer it themselves? No — it makes no sense. Instead, we need to continue to find technologies that complement what our partners have and leverage the infrastructure EFI has in place. That’s what EFI is trying to do and that’s why we have the balance that we do in our organization. We have the dealer channel, and we work through our partners.
What are you excited about right now?
One technology is “smart sign analytics.” It’s being brought to market with signage but it could actually be with any POS. In this case it consists of a camera that sits on a sign and streams video. When you walk by the sign it can tell your gender, your age, what part of the sign you looked at, and it detects emotion. The concept of taking an analog message and pulling that information and merging those analytics like you would doing a search on Google is exciting.
Using this new technology, dealers that sell EFI products like print and turnkey POS solutions can now add value by working with the client to do test marketing before rolling out a whole nationwide campaign. Perhaps they are working with a large national retailer — they can test market the signs in four different cities and use different ads and pull data and tell the client what the best return is.
Here’s a tremendous statistic — Netflix moves 2 billion hours of streaming video a month, which is equivalent to only about 5000 Fierys. EFI has about 1.7 million Fierys out there. The amount of data that EFI moves is tremendous. In the gaming industry you’d need a massive amount of NVIDIA chips to equate with that power.
In the worlds of ASIC technology and data capacity, there is a lot of need for what EFI does. There’s just a lot of need for EFI’s engineering and R&D in general. It’s what sets us apart and makes us a good partner.
What markets hold the most activity and growth for EFI?
I spent most of my time last year growing the international markets. EFI has moved into a lot of new markets with our ceramic tile printing solutions portfolio, which was originally acquired in late 2012. Cretaprint is now in Vietnam, Indonesia, India, China, Brazil and Mexico, to name a few countries. China is exploding — Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong — we are seeing some incredible expansion.
There is a lot of growth in display graphics and therefore Fiery as an extension. We just launched a new Fiery front-end that color manages for Cretaprint. It’s called Fiery for Cretaprint. We showed a new platform and new engine with a Fiery front end when we exhibited in Italy last year, and the market was blown away. They were more interested in the front end and the tools we provided than the engine itself. Customers now don’t want it any other way.
We took the same strategy with VUTEk and wide-format products when we built a Fiery front end for these machines, and this has grown into a very nice business where now we bundle Fiery and all the tools with it into the package. When it came time to devise our strategy for the ceramic business, this same approach made perfect sense.
Because of Fiery we have been able to move into markets where we didn’t have a presence before, like Poland, Russia and Turkey. EFI has hired great talent in these regions. Our market share and connect rates are going through the roof in these markets.
Any final words?
There is a lot of interest in what we do in production and commercial printing, which is wonderful, because we love sharing that. But there is also a lot of interest in wide format and display graphics. That’s great, because Fiery is a part of all of these products and channels. We constantly think of how a partner can transition from one offering to another and where there are similarities, so we can determine what additional value we can bring to their channels. We want to stay in front of adjacent market opportunities for our dealers to tap into where our technology and R&D have some leverage.
There are always lots of new opportunities presenting themselves in the BTA channel and we will continue to innovate to meet them.
Patricia Ames is senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 10 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community.