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In this interview Abdallah Obeidat, sales director MET, OKI Europe – speaks to Venkat Raghavan - assistant editor of PrintWeek MEA

How did your career start? What did bring you to the printing industry?
I started my profession as a computer engineer. But soon I realised that I had a passion towards colour which pushed me to study more about them. I did research and read about colour management, colour phenomena and related facts for two years. After gaining the knowledge in colour management, I ventured into printing industry. I received several offers to work for networking industry and server industry. However, I chose to proceed with printing industry as I already had identified it as my destination.

What are all your plans to ensure success for the coming edition? Are you planning to cross venture into other industry to make the event bigger? How many exhibitors are you expecting for the coming edition?
Well we have re-branded it, created new ideas, implemented new marketing techniques and invited new participants. We strongly believe that our event is doing better so there is no requirement to cross venture our event with other industries to make it bigger. It is going bigger by itself and its uniqueness in this sector makes it very special. Since, we have opened our bookings for the next editions we have received a lot of inquiries across the market and with all the efforts we hope to pass the line of 150 exhibitors.

In December last year, you did start your new role of sales director for the Middle East and Turkey region of OKI. What are the additional responsibilities you are handling in this role? Could you please share your pre and post experience after taking the role?
Well, if I list each of my obligations, I can publish a book of it so I am offering you a brief explanation. In my new role, I am aggressively identifying the countries which have the growth potential to develop. Ultimately, I need to develop our company as a whole. Whenever a new product is about to launch, I analyze the product potential for each country by considering various factors and we plan the launch accordingly. In addition, I have to train staff and partners and build up the market.

It’s been more than 13 years with OKI. What is the difference you felt working with OKI and other companies?
A few unknown persons in the region may think that we are just a print machine manufactures. For them, I would like to clarify that OKI was the world’s first company to develop Cash Recycling ATMs in 1982 and we did even develop the first desktop colour printers. When you are working for such an organization, you become addicted to work and that’s the thing that has transpired. I cannot contrast OKI and other organisations, as we are pioneers in numerous enterprises.

How OKI is doing in the Middle East compared to other countries?
We are growing in all aspects and that has been our key always. I assume that development is the main component that will empower us to maintain and have it in the movement. OKI is growing in the Middle East market and other countries. In some countries, the growth rate may be more, but in general, we always deliver everything what the market expects from a reputed brand like OKI.

What are the key factors, market trends and market specific requirements considered in developing OKI solutions?
The market keeps on changing with their prerequisites. Earlier, customers wanted to have individual printers and in a short time later they moved their priority to centralised printers. Later, they decided to have centralised printers as well as individual printers and now they have moved to MPS. In addition, now the customers are talking about machines which would help the companies to grow. Our smart multi function units allows you to do archival, linking to your workflow, it can even correct examination papers, therefore we have solutions which can go around the market. Also, we have upgraded our machines to the next level. Again, we are building up our products in office printing, professional printing, graphic industry, and wide format industry to fit all the market requirements. Last but not the least, with a specific end goal to fit the short run prerequisite in packaging industry, we have unveiled a label printer.

What would be your comment on the Seiko acquisition?
Seiko and OKI share the similar ideology always and that is one of the reasons we made the acquisition. Moreover, the acquisition allowed us to enter into a new arena where we haven’t been previously. The Seiko products enabled us to double our market share within a short span. Amid the acquisition, we had a couple of challenges and since the customers know about Seiko, we crossed them effortlessly in a short period.

OKI has a range of products and out of all, which segment is doing great and which segment needs extra attention?
We don’t do business for consumers, we make printers for the needy. We make products to satisfy all the necessities for the low, medium, & high volume users in order to cover every segment.

Are you planning to unveil any new solutions at FESPA or is it going to be a normal participation to promote the existing line-up?
We always have something new to show for the market. For that reason, we have huge interest in events. Likewise, we have taken Gold sponsorship in FESPA by knowing the competency of the show and particularly we will showcase our wide format printers & their capacity.

What are your new marketing strategies to take OKI to next level?
Marketing strategies dependably originates from the organisation and our methodology is to develop. The bearing is to develop and we have to comprehend that we can’t develop on all segments. But, we want to sustain our position in the countries and ideally to grow where printing is done massively. In general, we need to have a reasonable development and mainly not the one which demonstrates a development but rather rapidly diminishes on year on year.