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An Interview with Jeff Jacobson of Xerox

In order to bring you, our readers, the best information in the industry, we are constantly seeking ways to dig deeper and speak to the people that develop and work with the very technology we write about. We were recently granted the opportunity to speak to Mr. Jeff Jacobson, who was recently promoted to the position of President, Xerox Technology Business. He joined Xerox in July 2012 as the president of Global Graphics Communications Operations and worked in that capacity until his promotion in July 2014. Below is the transcript of our interview which was conducted via email.

1)Obviously as an industry veteran, you have seen innumerable changes in print and graphics over the course of your career. What do you think have been the biggest wins/developments to this point?
It is amazing to think 20+ years have passed since the introduction of digital print and yet, it is difficult to imagine our industry without it. Clearly, digital has transformed print in ways no one could have expected in 1993. I have been privileged to watch this change from different perspectives— from my days at Presstek and Kodak Polychrome Graphics—and especially now at Xerox, where we live and breathe digital.

Digital and offset have found ways to coexist, and that’s good for print service providers who have made significant technology investments. We all know there are applications that are more appropriate for digital and vice versa. What’s interesting now is watching digital coexist with today’s multi-media marketing campaigns. Print makes emotional connections and memorable impressions in this fast-paced, always-on world. And applications printed digitally fuel these connections with personalized messages, colorful graphics and innovative substrates.

2) In your current position, you oversee Xerox's efforts over a number of different customer segments. Is there any one in particular where you think we will see the biggest boom over the next few years?
It’s not necessarily a customer segment, but a market segment that is poised for the biggest boom—the inkjet market. By 2015, InfoTrends anticipates that color inkjet will account for about 40 percent of digital color pages. And as the industry’s fastest growing print technology, it’s getting a lot of attention in research labs, accelerating the transformation. We anticipate rapid advancements in image quality, speed and cost controls, and in press formats, offering wider page widths, higher speeds and cut-sheet output that can boost productivity.

The most dramatic impact will be in the higher volume band, where inkjet will bring the on-demand and personalization benefits of digital printing to longer runs than xerography can reach cost effectively. That will bring new momentum to the dominant trends in graphic communications today, including mass personalized, multi-channel communications campaigns; applications that combine transactional and marketing functions; and short-run, on demand books. Inkjet is the print industry’s next transformation technology and there is great potential for partner technologies to help advance the adoption of inkjet in the next few years.

3)Mobile printing as a result of the boom in the number of people working in more places at more times has certainly made an impact on the industry. What can we expect from Xerox moving forward in this arena?
Gartner says mobile workforces are doubling, even tripling—which isn’t a surprise given that work no longer exclusively takes place in an office…we now have the collaboration tools and mobile devices to get work done in an office, at home or on the road.

There’s really no technological reason not to offer mobile print because secure, convenient solutions exist. It needs to be top-of-mind for the IT department because it’s certainly top-of-mind for employees. Xerox teamed up with Canon, HP and Samsung Electronics last year to launch the Mopria Alliance—a global non-profit membership organization formed to promote, simplify and increase accessibility of wireless printing from smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. By standardizing mobile printing technologies, the Alliance will enable mobile app developers and other industry players to focus resources on innovation and new features beyond maintaining basic print functions.

The Mopria Alliance is all about simplicity. If a person is at home, in the office or traveling on the road, they want a simple, secure mobile printing experience. The Alliance embodies the freedom to print from anywhere from any device. It’s that simple.

4) Some have suggested that as printing moves forward, we are getting to the point where it’s not just about ink/toner on pages anymore, but about a whole document eco-system where access to information comes in many forms, including the cloud. What comments would you have about that, if any?
How we get work done is changing rapidly—driven by cloud access, social media, virtual collaboration and other technologies and communication vehicles. So, it’s only natural that the way we interact with information—hard copy or digital—changes. In many ways information is the currency of business—it can be worth more than cash on the books. And getting the right information to the right people at the right time is the only way for a business to operate successfully.

Organizations large and small recognize that, and are looking for ways to simplify how work gets done. Their north star is to become more productive, mobile and secure. Where Xerox can play a pivotal role, is helping organizations manage information demands better.

Whether it’s through our multifunction office/enterprise devices, our managed print services offerings or our high-speed digital print portfolio, we’re helping our clients automate, simplify and get the most value from their information.

5)Lastly, what other things do you think we will see happening in the industry in the next 5-10 years?
Print will continue to evolve and respond to the requirements of a challenging marketplace. To do so it needs to be smart, intuitive and inspiring—and digital printing will make that all possible.

Here’s my take on five ways print service providers can thrive in the future:
1. Explore how inkjet can transform business by gaining access to new pages. This is a fast moving opportunity and market leaders will likely capture the largest growth.

2. Consider where and how workflow and digital capabilities can create high value in a personalized, cross-media world. By doing so, print service providers can open doors into digital publishing platforms and Web-to-print. Answer clients’ demands now with the ability to incorporate digital print into integrated marketing campaigns.

3. Think about wide format, one of the fastest growing segments of the graphic communication market. Our wide format customers are experiencing quick revenue returns and new profit opportunities.

4. Push digital cut-sheet presses to their limits. While print service providers explore new revenue opportunities within the inkjet or wide format markets, don’t forget what cut-sheet can offer: fast production time, repeatable image quality and application flexibility.

5. Invest in business development tools. Learn how to sell personalized print to retailers, secure vertical market business or manage a successful sales force and increase margins.