EFI has used its Engage online user conference to detail updates across its range of sector-specific Productivity Suites of MIS-based workflow tools as they collectively reach version 9.

Presenting the ‘state of the products’ review and update that in recent years has become a staple feature of the annual Connect event in online form, EFI’s general manager for productivity software Gaby Matsliach ran through the updates in the various suites. Collectively, EFI says these provide comprehensive, validated, end-to-end business and production management workflows for commercial print, mailing, display graphics, publication and packaging, and are based on EFI’s various MIS/ERP platforms, including Monarch, Pace and Radius.

The Mid-market Suite, which is the most relevant to general commercial printers, now includes Business Intelligence capability for analysis and dynamic ‘dashboard’ views of key business and production metrics, plus finishing optimisation planning tools, including support for production of irregular shapes in display graphics work. There are now entry-level fulfilment capabilities from EFI’s expanding MarketDirect range of software tools for defining and managing complete goods workflows from order to delivery. These are complemented by support for 24/7 customer e-service functions, allowing customers to proof and track their jobs’ status through production as well as review invoices and previous orders.

The MarketDirect suite itself grew considerably in 2020, with user interface improvements, enhanced administration features, the addition of fulfilment tools for building products from multiple components and managing inventory, and the introduction of the AutoEngage feature to create promotions and issue reminder emails for abandoned online shopping trolleys. These were complemented by the ability to create design templates for print and online materials directly in Adobe InDesign and the addition of the Ship Express module which gathers real-time shipping rates from major providers and provides tracking, reports and analysis, including Google Analytics. For 2021, we’re promised rental and reservation management tools for events, including the management of event signage and fixtures, SmartCanvas variable data publishing (VDP) tools for direct marketing automation, plus the integration of fulfilment tools and functions with the Mid-market Suite as above.

Mailing-specific functionality has been added to the Enterprise Suite, allowing ‘carousel’-based selection and definition of mailing products, plus customisable ‘smart notes’ and event management tools in the iQuote component. The other Suite elements are EFI’s PrintFlow scheduling and management module, AutoCount4D shopfloor data collection and Monarch MIS, though integration with third-party MIS solutions is also now possible.

Customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities have been added to the Publication Suite, enhancing search and tracking functions and giving sales staff access to key documents such as quotes. On the production side, new imposition views function in the same way as those found in prepress, and PrintFlow is able to batch short-run jobs that require similar stocks for efficient production on digital presses. Shopfloor data collection now offers its ‘classic’ mode or via AutoCount 4D; barcode scanning support for inventory items is also supported.

The Packaging Suite sees the first implementation of a new ‘user experience’ roll-out, and has features focused on business continuity in the face of pandemic-related issues, allowing work orders to be transferred between sites, companies or countries as necessary. For the first time, Microsoft SQL Server will be offered as an alternative to the Progress database that has hitherto underlaid Radius. User interface in Radius has been improved, particularly around its search capabilities. Enhancements were also made to the Corrugated Suite, which is focused on production and converting of corrugated board.

EFI Engage runs online until 5 February 2021, with a wide range of general and product- and sector-specific sessions and demonstrations.