An added dimension

Posted on Aug 9 2017 - 8:30am by Editorial Content

As YSoft partners roll out the latest version of the company’s print management solution, PITR finds out what makes SafeQ6 special

Nick Parkes, Senior Regional Sales Manager YSoft

Nick Parkes, Senior Regional Sales Manager YSoft

Print management has been good to YSoft Corporation. The privately owned company was founded in the Czech Republic in 2000 and introduced its SafeQ print management solution in 2003. Since then, it has gone from strength to strength, to the point where it now has annual revenues of $30 million (US), 370 employees in 16 offices around the world and 14,000 customers (700 in the UK).

YSoft sells SafeQ through approximately 30 partners in the UK, among them seven leading print vendors and their networks of resellers. This includes three Platinum Partners, Xerox, Konica Minolta and Sharp, plus HP, Lexmark, Ricoh and Toshiba.

Historically, SafeQ has provided public and private sector organisations, enterprises and SMBs with everything one would expect from a print management solution, including cost recovery, document security, more efficient/productive processes and environmental benefits, such as reduced paper use and lower energy consumption.

Faced with the challenge of maintaining growth in a mature market with strong downward pressure on prices, YSoft has recently announced two developments of great significance for the future of the company and its partners. One is the establishment of YSoft Ventures to mentor, encourage and support Central and Eastern European start-ups. The other is the latest version of its print management solution, SafeQ6, now available from YSoft partners.

In addition to two major enhancements to the core product (see box), SafeQ6 provides a platform that will enable YSoft and its partners to diversify their offerings and develop new market opportunities.

“With SafeQ6, we have produced a platform for the first time,” explained YSoft senior regional sales manager Nick Parkes. “There are three pillars to it: one is print management; the second is document workflow – we are looking to attract new customers and new partners through document workflow; and the third is 3D printing. We both manufacture 3D printers and develop software to support 3D printers, just as we have been doing all these years for the 2D market.”

More options

In all, SafeQ now has seven modules, available individually or collectively as a suite licence. This, says Parkes, gives resellers more flexibility when selling to customers.

“If a customer needs four modules, it’s more cost-effective for them to buy just four modules, but if they require five or more, it’s cheaper to go for a suite licence. There are two ways to approach this: one is for the partner to lead with modules to keep the price down and get a foot in the door. Then, after proof of concept, to take the opportunity to upsell to the suite. The other is for the partner to lead with the suite, so that if there are price objections they can suggest buying just the required number of modules rather than the whole suite.”

Parkes adds that SafeQ’s modular approach also makes things simpler and more affordable for customers. “Document workflow is a brand new market for us, but already, through our feature set, our platform gives end customers a genuine all-in-one solution,” he said.

“A lot of customers will have a print management solution coupled with document workflow from a different supplier. Yes, they are integrated and have single sign-on. But they have two different sets of licence agreements and two different sets of terms and conditions; quite often you are paying for the same modules twice; and you have two different support paths. SafeQ6 really is a genuine all-in-one solution,” he said.

3D Printing

Unlike the SafeQ document workflow module, which is a logical extension of YSoft’s traditional business that dovetails nicely with partners’ own evolving service offerings, 3D printing is a completely new opportunity.

Next month, YSoft is planning the soft launch of an end-to-end solution developed specifically for the education sector. This includes be3D printers, manufactured by YSoft itself following its acquisition of 3D printer company be3D in 2014; the SafeQ print management solution, which allows schools to manage and control 3D printing for the first time; and be3D Academy coursework, developed by YSoft in conjunction with Telford-based Tablet Academy and educational organisations in the Czech Republic.

Whilst schools are introducing 3D into their curriculum, many are not really pushing it as they have no control over costs, security and productivity,” explained Parkes.

“3D printing takes time and schools don’t want students to send a 3D model to print and then stand over the printer for three hours to make sure no one walks up and takes their model or stops the print job. With our solution, users send models to print through YSoft SafeQ6, the world’s first 3D print management solution; walk up to the 3D printer and authenticate using a card, PIN or password; and then walk away knowing no one can touch their model because the 3D printer is fully enclosed. All the doors are mechanically locked so no one can break into 3D printer whilst it’s printing unless they are the owner of that job. And, because that job is going through SafeQ, we can measure its cost in time and materials.”

This capability has already proved successful for YSoft in the world of 2D printing. There is every reason to suppose that it will be just as compelling in the emerging 3D sector as well.

What’s New

In addition to the workflow and 3D print modules, SafeQ6 incorporates two important enhancements to the print management solution:

Client-based print roaming (CBPR), which removes the need for multi-site organisations to deploy a print server in every location. Parkes cites the example of an organisation like Birmingham City Council (not a YSoft customer), with many locations across the West Midlands. Some will have hundreds of users and quite a few MFPs and would benefit from a print server-based environment. Others might have just one MFP and a handful of users and wouldn’t warrant a dedicated print server. SafeQ6 allows you to keep a print server in larger buildings, but store print jobs on (and release jobs from) a user’s workstation in satellite locations. “This,” explained Parkes, “reduces costs, reduces infrastructure support and administration and, because you can’t always guarantee that the links between the satellite office and the data centre are going to be strong enough, mitigates any latency and time-outs by keeping documents local.”

Multi-tenancy, which lets a holding company, e.g. Kingfisher Group, have one installation of SafeQ that they can push out to their subsidiaries, e.g. Screwfix or B&Q. Rather than having multiple installations of SafeQ, they can have one installation and create two tenants, B&Q and Screwfix, that can each manage their own devices and their own users and generate their own reports.