The printing industry has gone through many changes in the last eighteen months due to the economic slowdown during the pandemic and lockdowns. The situation continues to be turbulent. Among all this digital printing has seen an increase in demand due to shorter and limited print runs in commercial printing.

In-conversation with Digital Impressions, Kuldeep Malhotra, Dy. Managing Director, Konica Minolta India, shares his views on how the company moved forward in these challenging times.

Digital Impressions (DI): A difficult year gone by. How has Konica Minolta addressed the situation of the market during the year?

Kuldeep Malhotra (KM): We followed an agile approach to tackle the pandemic. We quickly went digital using technologies, enabled employees to work from home, and ensured that all safety steps and measures are being taken across our offices during and post lockdowns. We focused on key aspects like managed IT services, security, enterprise content management, business process outsourcing, etc. to keep everyone engaged, motivated and content all the time.

Although it took some time initially to become familiar with this sudden transition, we have now reached a stage where we can proudly say that we have managed everything well. Apart from taking the digital route, what else worked for us was a positive mindset throughout the dark hours. COVID-19 has pushed us to innovate, but that is only possible when you have an upbeat attitude towards work and your goals. These are some of the key factors that make us the leaders in the market. We would continue to follow this approach and use all the learnings that the pandemic gave us to move ahead in the right direction.

DI: How has Konica Minolta supported its customers during the challenging times of Covid-19 and the continuing situation?

KM: We made the overall communication more connected than ever. We kept customers, partners and employees connected and engaged all the time. We even deployed a dedicated point of contact as well as an app, for customers to register complaints - anytime and from anywhere. We also conducted training sessions for new product launches across channel partners to equip them with the right knowledge of the tools. All these initiatives helped us serve customers more seamlessly and ensure retention without any hassle.

DI: Digital Printing seems to have emerged as a preferred option in some sectors of print demand, particularly for reduced budgets resulting in shorter runs during the difficult times since 2020 and this continues even now. How has Konica Minolta benefitted from this situation, and what are your plans to further this requirement in this year?

KM: :Digital Printing also depends largely upon the economic activities. As the overall business activities reduced, the print requirements also reduced. Some of the sectors like Education, Textiles etc., had an impact for a longer duration which had impacted the need for print on traditional offset and digital also. There is an increase in the short run requirement primarily as the multiple of quantities is reducing, including the number of jobs but only limited to certain sectors of the overall business. Some of the sectors have not recovered till date. So overall when we analyze, we are still on the road towards recovery.

Konica Minolta continues to bring a change in the way of products & solutions and business practices to support our customers to be more productive and managing the devices becomes effortless. We brought changes for logging service / toner requests by automating the same.

DI: Your message to printers who want to cater to the need of shorter print runs in the market in current times but are not into digital printing?

KM: Time is changing and so are the business requirements from the customers. Printers need to adopt the best suitable technology to cater to their customers. End customers have a choice but as printers they need to work along with their customers to be relevant to them. Digital Printing provides them an opportunity to cater to all the needs of the customers. Short runs can be done digitally and longer runs using traditional offset technology.

DI: What has been the response to new installations during this period?

KM:: The customers are satisfied with their installs during this period of COVID19. Our customers are happy that they took the right decision with Konica Minolta. They are happy with our New Technology which is helping them to grow their Print volume and Overall Business.

DI: When do you see the industry going back to full scale and comfortable investment for expansion in digital?

KM: We have adapted well to the new normal by taking initiatives like work from home, and with technologies on our back, we would continue to follow this approach in the coming months as well. When it comes to predicting of when things will return to full scale, I think that’s difficult because uncertainty is still out there. All we can do at the moment is embrace the lessons that the pandemic taught us and prepare ourselves with the right tools and strategies to weather any such events, if they occur anytime sooner or later.

DI: Large Format Presses, Print Enhancement and value addition are the most sought-after developments in digital presses. Konica Minolta has offerings for both. How are you addressing this segment of demand in the market?

KM: Technology is progressing to be more automated and productive. There are also additions in the bigger size Digital Press in printing and post print embellishment. There is a demand in the market and because of the pandemic, the need for shorter runs has increase as the run length of the jobs have reduced.

For the post print embellishment, the technology provides a facility to derive a higher value of the print from the customer. The digital spot UV and Foil is helping the printers to maintain the profit margins even when the print volumes or the total number of jobs are not to the same levels as 2019. Secondly, Spot UV and Foil needed lot of manual work and were time consuming. Digital gives the advantage to be fast and effortless.

DI: Do we expect any new introductions from Konica Minolta during the year?

KM: Yes, we have a couple of new launches already aligned in the pipeline. We will soon announce these to the market.

DI: Any CSR activities to help during the Covid-19 pandemic?

KM: RETHINK is our work philosophy when it comes to giving back to society. At Konica Minolta, we constantly strive to question the accepted norms and innovate our existing ideologies with new experiments and strategies. We are highly active in uncovering new problems and address them with advanced technologies. This is what keeps us motivated and pushes us to work harder and think of new possibilities that could exist and have the potential to make this world a better place to live and grow together. This work approach has helped us achieve many recognitions, listing us among the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the world. We are also working with some of the NGOs for our CSR program

For Post COVID 19 affected families. We will kick start this in next 2-3 months.

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