Good vibes at Connect’s ePS revamp

Richard Stuart-Turner
Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Just prior to the 2022 Connect event, the last with EFI branding, the business spun off its Productivity Software manufacturer into a standalone venture, with the division acquired by private equity house Symphony Technology Group and renamed eProductivity Software (ePS).

Fast forward 12 months, and prior to the doors of Connect opening once more at the Wynn in Las Vegas, ePS – now free of its shackles and able to integrate and collaborate with who it pleases – had promised to take the event to the next level by evolving it from a user conference into a wider industry affair.

And while the giant wide-format presses of years gone by were nowhere to be seen in the Lafite Ballroom, in their place was a stacked roster of partners and exhibitors, ranging from HP, Ricoh, Agfa Offset, Canon and – still part of the new-look show – EFI, through to print and packaging associations and universities offering courses with a print element.

More than 650 attendees came to Vegas for the event this year, and many joined CEO Gaby Matsliach for the opening  keynote speech where he hailed the success of the company’s first year on its own, and laid out its future aims.

“We definitely drove good momentum [in 2022], we’ve brought some good talent into our teams and actually extended our team in select areas, and I’m very hopeful that the people we’ve interacted with have been continuously collaborating, and hopefully with bigger smiles.”

He added: “We’ve accelerated investment in technology and cloud in select areas and we’re planning to make additional investments going into 2023, and we’re hopeful that you’re going to see that value in the progress as we continue along the year.

“We drove some good organic growth and we spoke about M&A activity that we would like to have, so we definitely built a good pipeline of inorganic M&A opportunities, and I would expect as the year progresses to be able to share more results on that area.”

Among the various new  products shared during the four-day event was the upcoming  Q2 release of Midmarket Print Suite 11.

One of the company’s biggest evolutions, meanwhile, is the ongoing move to browser-based interfaces that will be rolled out across its whole product  portfolio from now through to  the end of 2024.

There was also much talk of  the “modernisation” of the Monarch MIS/ERP system, while iQuote demos showed the software’s enhanced e-commerce quoting ability.

The capabilities of the new PrintFlow 4D scheduling system, that can schedule equipment,  the people required to run it, and the tools that need to be used, were also highlighted, as was a new module in Monarch – Material Director – which was described as “a play on a wireless warehouse tool”.

On the MarketDirect e-commerce side, ePS spoke about the new, redesigned Storefront 2.0 portal. It said this makes it easier to design customised storefronts, with added dedicated product and category pages.

Integration with Picsart is also on the way, which will enable access to thousands of templates and images for quick content creation, and Picsart’s AI-powered photo editing tools.

Visitors and exhibitors appeared impressed on the whole with Connect’s new format, its multiple networking opportunities, and informative user sessions and customer panels.

Charlotte Tueckmantel, ePS general manager and vice president of global e-commerce and enterprise print, said many visitors had told her the show had “a really positive vibe” and that there had been a recognition “of becoming ePS, and that things are different”.

“We have preserved the goodness that people come back year after year for but we’ve also added to it so there is newness for them and excitement for people who are here for the first time.”

Tueckmantel said 2023 will be about “the high-level evolution and growth of ePS as a company, what we can do, and what we mean to our customers and the industry”.

“The technology partnerships that we talked about last year we started to forge, and you’re seeing the fruition of that this year with folks you might not have seen at this event in previous years – what is the next level of those partnerships?

“At a more granular level, the continuation of the modernisation – looking at taking the technology and tools that our customers know and love, but evolving the tools for the way their businesses are evolving.”

GM of packaging Aleks Zlatic oversees the packaging side of ePS, which has a smaller customer base than print, as there are fewer packaging companies than printers, but makes up around half of its revenue.

Zlatic said he was most excited about the modernisation of Radius and the Packaging Suite  in general.

“The biggest challenge we’ve had for years is in making the software fun to use – why does it have to be boring and ugly looking? So I’m very excited about the fact that we have closed the circuit on the majority of use cases that the user would have with the Radius platform and the new UI.

“That means that not only is it nice to use, everything is in one screen and it’s much more user friendly, the UI is also completely web enabled.

“When you look at other industrial software like ours, it’s usually outdated and ugly looking, so I think we have one of the first platforms that is completely modern, looks great, feels great and is really appealing to the user.”

On feedback received about the event, he added: “Customers are extremely happy with the new format; the fact that we have many more partners so they’re getting a better benefit and return of investment on their trip here.

“I think they’re also recognising that under our new ownership we have a lot more focus on software and better reinvestment in the platform.”  

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