Short-Term Print Impact Has Opened Doors for Digital Transformation

Short-Term Print Impact Has Opened Doors for Digital Transformation

In an exclusive interview with Print Pack MEA, Simon Howells, the General Manager of Xerox Emirates LLC, speaks about how companies can prepare themselves for a post-COVID world, the growth in the packaging industry, the scenario of the print industry, and more

How according to you can companies prepare themselves for a post-COVID world?
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an adverse effect on most businesses, and organizations have had to make fundamental changes to secure their future. Companies must have an agile strategic plan considering their current position amongst other challenges, such as; decline in demand, disruptions in supply, loss in revenue and profits, regulatory guidelines, and the economic stability of the market.

This is the time to be agile and adapt to the ever-changing market, which will help futureproof their organisation. After pivoting to a new set of strategic pillars, it’s all about speed and execution, removing barriers, and overcoming challenges. As ever, a customer-first approach will always ensure that the business is aligned to it as an important task.

We are beginning to have a sense of a ‘new normal’ with the gradual return to work and markets opening up; however companies must continue to be vigilant and take all necessary precautions to protect their employees while conducting business.

With advanced technologies available, organizations have adopted remote working which will introduce new cultures within some organisations; perhaps even making ‘work from home’ a permanent solution for some. Events and meetings are now virtual and the need to ‘go digital’ is critical, now more than ever. Knowing the end point, and getting there are two different things however, a clear roadmap aligned to the strategic objectives of the business is essential.

Where employees are expected to return to the office, organizations will need to ensure that they maintain a clean and sanitized work environment reassuring employees/customers of their health & safety. They should also take other precautionary measures such as maintaining a safe distance, getting temperature checks, the introduction of rotational shifts, limit meetings/events or large gatherings, and screening for COVID-19 symptoms while adhering to the UAE laws. Communication is critical during this phase and many print providers have been working with internal comm’s teams to provide social distancing and COVID-19 messaging for their employees.

What sort of growth has the packaging industry seen, considering the growth of online deliveries and the e-commerce market over the past couple of months?
The packaging industry has seen an impact due to the COVID 19 pandemic with a decline in demand for areas such as luxury/retail but an increase with the growth of e-commerce and online businesses. From day-to-day groceries to online services, consumers are now able to make online purchases with the click of a button demanding robust packaging solutions. 

Due to restrictions arising from the pandemic, both consumers and businesses are exploring different channels to sell and buy products and services. With the demand for online purchases, there is a growth in the ecommerce business leading to a growth in e-commerce packaging solutions. 

Growing access to the internet and adopting the latest technology has created a huge revenue stream for e-commerce and packaging providers which has led to an increase in market share.

What is the scenario of the printing sector in the region? Have you seen any major diversifications in other areas by major players in the industry? 
The print industry has seen a short-term impact to print volumes for some specific applications, some of this has been offset however by the immediate demand for COVID19 relation print as mentioned earlier. Within the enterprise space, this has in turn opened doors to quickly adopt the digital transformation trend. Digital Transformation was already one of the top goals for all regional CIO’s, this has only been accelerated during the last six months.

Across the print industry, we see all major players are moving away from boxes and offering digital solutions and customized printing services. Diversifying to adapt to shorter runs, increased personalization and value added services, all lean towards digital.

Tell us about how Iridesse can help printing presses diversify into new areas for business continuity?
The Xerox Iridesse Production is the world’s first inline, six-color digital platform that delivers breathtaking image quality, jaw-dropping spot embellishments, and stunning metallic hues — in a single pass that turns ordinary applications into commodity-crushing opportunities. With this production press, customers can create lucrative applications with spot colours, metallic and mixed gradients as well as specialty enhancements creating unique iridescent patterns to deliver outstanding results, drive growth and differentiate themselves from the competition. Customers that have invested in the Iridesse are able to create new high margin revenue streams due to its truly unique capabilities. Increasingly there is a trend for offset print to fade away, with the volume being transferred to the new ‘Iridesse world’.

Chris Fernando

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