14 July 2013 Commercial

HP closes print MIS division, Ricoh steps in with investment

HP is closing Hiflex as cloud fails to materialise, but Ricoh spends to invest in Canadian MIS supplier.

HP was looking to enable cloud printing through Hiflex investment.

HP was looking to enable cloud printing through Hiflex investment.

HP IS SHEDDING ITS HIFLEX MIS operation little more than a year after buying the German software developer. The company’s website tells prospects that the “HP MIS and HP Hiflex web to print solutions are no longer sold”.

While there is no explanation for the decision, coming quickly after buying the business at the end of 2011, HP has pledged to support users. “Both products will continue to be supported and services for years to come,” says Ronan Zioni,
“Existing cutsomers will have access to support for Hiflex MIS through December 31, 2017 and web to print unit June 30, 2016. A team of highly qualifies HP solutions experts will continue to support existing Hiflex users through to the end of life dates, including professional services for related products such as workflow enhancements and new release deployments.”

HIFLEX HAD BEEN OF THE MOST ardent supporters of JDF and had built links into production systems to drive digital process control and ensure close links between the web page, MIS and the press. Hiflex would also have been able to manage routing across different sites and currency issues from working in different countries. At the time of the purchase Vyomesh Joshi, then HP’s executive vice president for imaging and printing said the acquisition was a key component for the future. “HP wants to break the traditional barriers of how and where business customers print, making it easy for them to produce custom or personalised materials anywhere, anytime. Hiflex’s technology provides a powerful platform to deliver on this goal as part of our overall cloud printing strategy.”

It would appear that business customers either do not have this print anywhere, anytime demand or else that implementation around Hiflex has not proved feasible. A great part of the appeal lay in the cloud based infrastructure that HP saw might add to its other cloud services and help it gain traction with corporates looking to manage their print requirements. It is not clear whether HP is retaining any of the Hiflex functionality and code in other tools it offers.

HIFLEX'S BACKGROUND, HOWEVER, was in offset printing and it had picked up 18 awards for its work at implementing JDF. Latterly it had developed mobile versions to operate its system from a tablet or a phone. Outside of Germany there was a thin customer base despite efforts to increase penetration ahead of HP’s acquisition. There is one known UK adopter and only a handful in France.

HP’s move away from MIS has coincided with Ricoh making a substantial investment in an MIS supplier. Its new partner is Avanti, a Canadian provider which operators at the smaller business end of the market. At the last Ipex it exhibited as part of the Xerox stand.

Ricoh says its multimillion investment will add to a portfolio that already includes a similar investment made last year to acquire a stake in PTI and its Marcoms Central marketing management application. Avanti has “hundreds of users” in commercial printers, small offset and mixed technology printers across North America.

« »
HP was looking to enable cloud printing through Hiflex investment.

HP was looking to enable cloud printing through Hiflex investment.