An Interview with Mike Jackson, CEO of eLynxx Solutions

By: Skip Henk, EDP, President/CEO of Xplor International

I was recently introduced to Mike Jackson, CEO of eLynxx Solutions and although I was not familiar with eLynxx, Mike certainly had some interesting insight on some of the relevant issues in our industry.

I decided to go back to Mike, ask a few more questions and share them with the E-Document News audience.


Skip: For our readers who are not familiar with eLynxx, give us your 15 second elevator pitch.

Mike: eLynxx Solutions provides cloud software that serves a very specialized need in the marketplace. Our software is purpose-built to help organizations plan, source and manage the acquisition of custom marketing materials such as direct mail, publications, POP signage and all things print. Our platform connects stakeholders and coordinates all steps from planning to payment. In short, it strengthens the marketing supply chain by bringing complete order and transparency to a process that’s usually managed through a maze of emails and spreadsheets.

Skip: Can you tell us about eLynxx itself and perhaps a short history?

Mike
: I’ll try to give you the short description of a long history since eLynxx has been around since 1975. Throughout our forty year history, we’ve helped buyers and producers of custom print work more effectively together to the benefit of both parties. We have extensive experience and expertise working initially with printers to help them compete for GPO projects and later expanding our focus to work with private sector print buying organizations.

A pivotal point in our history came when we invented and patented a method for sourcing custom print. This method solved the so called iron triangle, allowing print buyers to achieve required product quality, on time delivery and lowest price – all at once. Conventional wisdom had previously been that you could only achieve two out the three at any given time.

Today’s eLynxx is principally a software company offering the most robust cloud software available to help print buyers and their organizations achieve cost and operational efficiencies.

Skip: From a positioning stand point, where do you see your products and services in the industry?

Mike: When it comes to buying and managing custom print, organizations have to decide whether they want to have responsibility for it or if they’d rather have someone else do it for them. If they want a third-party to take everything over, there are plenty of capable firms but that’s not our business. When an organization wants to maintain full control of everything and manage it themselves, we can greatly assist them with a solution that’s rather unique in the market.

The concern over working with a BPO or broker that I most often hear in the market is that it requires relinquishing control. Decisions over critical elements like what vendors are used, how much is paid and so forth, are placed in someone else’s hands. Depending on the arrangement, there may be limited transparency or access to information. But on the surface, the business case may look attractive because their buying power likely brings economies to the table.

When organizations maintain control by employing people to directly source and manage projects, they have the benefit of being in charge of everything but typically lack tools made for the job. Too often it’s a highly manual process that relies extensively on spreadsheets, memory, and email. That’s where we come in. As a purpose-built tool built for print buyers, eLynxx software positions organizations to have the control they want and the economic benefit they need. It’s not one or the other.

Unlike third-party arrangements, eLynxx has no print capabilities or vendor relationships. Our clients use our software to empower their own people, streamline their own process and work more effectively with their own trusted vendors. When working directly with print vendors, the inherent profits of the broker model are eliminated. And when our patented sourcing method is applied, the cost of print is reduced to levels that are often favorable to what the third-parties achieve through volume discounts.
So in short, we’re positioning organizations to have the best of both worlds – full control and the most competitive cost. We sum it up as your people, your process, your vendors, better results.

Skip: Let’s talk a little about the technology. How can enhanced workflows change an organization?

Mike
: When it comes to custom print, every organization has some level of prescribed or required workflow in the lifecycle of a project. The stages typically begin with planning and then move to sourcing and production management before concluding with approvals and payment. When they’re planning they may be going to vendors for budget pricing. When they’re ready to buy, they may do so under a contract, through a competitive bid and award process or they may even hand it to their favorite vendor without competition. And once a job is in the hands of a vendor, someone has to monitor whether the project is being produced on time, at quality standards, and ultimately ensure that the vendor is paid the right price.

The steps that happen along the way usually involve a lot of people and there are often change orders after the project is in production. So there are a lot of moving parts. When you are in the spreadsheet and email world, you rely heavily on people’s gray matter to insure that details are cared for, that boxes are checked, and that things are done in accordance with policy. Technology can effectively deal with all this complexity and transform workflow. For example, our eLynxx software allows organizations to streamline complex workflows and dependencies in a way that creates full accountability, transparency, and record keeping without adding friction. This allows our clients to embrace the complexity and deal with the workflow in a way that assures compliance. When people are freed from chasing tactical details, they’re able to focus on strategic actions.

Skip: Two questions that are somewhat related. First, what impact is the cloud going to have on how we do business and second, how will the cloud affect communications management?

Mike: The cloud is having a bigger impact on business every day. One obvious attraction point is that organizations don’t have the traditional investment in infrastructure and support costs. One common concern is that their information is being stored somewhere outside of their own four walls, so to speak. But we see a growing number of organizations, even ones who not long ago were averse, coming to embrace cloud-based solutions.

From an operations standpoint, I think the fundamental opportunity with the cloud is that it provides a means to access information, execute actions, and collaborate from anywhere, at any time. With our software, for example, all you need are internet access and credentials to login. This means people are no longer tethered to their desks or phones. The ability to see and do things from anywhere at any time makes people more productive.

Skip: Do you believe that more companies will be looking toward the software-as-a-service model?

Mike
: Absolutely. I think that not only will more companies look toward it, but those companies who are already using it will look to do more things with it. I foresee a day, not too far out, where the majority of activities are happening through cloud software.

Skip
: Compliance is a major issue for organizations. What challenges do organizations face and how have you been able to help them?

Mike
: In print procurement, the biggest challenge I see with verifying compliance is that it’s usually done on a spot-check basis. If an organization wants to pressure test whether they’re meeting compliance objectives, they have to pick random samples of jobs. The next step involves grabbing data in many forms from a lot of disparate systems. This often includes auditing email trails and may even require doing interviews to document recollection of phone conversations. So when compliance is monitored through a manual, spot-check process it’s time consuming and by definition incomplete.

What we have done with eLynxx software is insure that all jobs are managed through the same system allowing all activities, communications, and approvals to be indelibly captured in one place. Whether metrics or actions are based on time, quality or cost, our clients always have an up to date single repository. This not only affords uniform compliance monitoring, but it also means you can proactively see when a job is about to go out of compliance. It’s a very powerful business tool.

Skip: What is the importance of balancing compliance with operation efficiency?

Mike
: Getting back to my example of a more manually driven environment, if you want 100% compliance, the only way you get to that is by sampling 100% of the jobs. That means you have to add more personnel in the form of analysts and auditors. All that adds excessive administrative cost to the point where you can’t afford to get to 100% compliance. Compare that with using a purpose-built platform that automatically monitors and measures compliance as work is being done, not as a separate effort after the fact. Not only can balance be achieved, the return almost always exceeds the investment.

Skip: If I am looking for software, should I build it, buy it or both? What are the pluses and minuses?

Mike: I meet many organizations that have progressed beyond using spreadsheets to procure and manage custom print projects, often by creating an in-house system. The thing they have in common is they believe that if they build something they will get exactly what they want but not have to pay for things they don’t want or don’t need.

Now, if you’ve ever been involved in one of these projects, and I have, what you find more often than not is that, they take longer than anticipated to build, they end up costing more than expected, and you never end up with everything you’d hoped for. There’s also a requirement for operational people to be heavily involved in the design and acceptance testing which detracts from their ability to do their core jobs. So organizations typically end up dealing with trade-offs anyway, so what they get in the end is something that is less than 100% of what they wanted.

Assuming you get all this right in the first place, more unforeseen issues loom on the horizon. If they haven’t made a commitment to continually support and upgrade the software to meet their changing business needs then it will start to fall out of phase with requirements on day two. I have met organizations that are working with 10 year old home-grown systems and tell me that because it was never updated they’ve had to create numerous manual workarounds. It’s a back to the future scenario.
I think the advantage of buying it is that you are typically dealing first of all with software that was purpose-built for solving the common problems of many organizations. This brings broader perspective. And because the software is the core business of the provider, they are always looking to innovate and keep pace with changing market demands. Access to these upgrades typically comes at little to no cost to individual clients because the burden is shared across the provider’s entire client set. In the case of eLynxx software, for example, upgrades are included in the subscription price so our clients are always using current software.

The benefit in this regard, with eLynxx in particular, is that our software is designed to be tailored to fit each client’s specific business. By that I mean clients don’t have to change the way they do business to fit our software. Instead, our software is configured to fit the way they do business. That’s one of the many things that make eLynxx software unique in the marketplace.

Skip: Mike, thanks for taking the time to speak with me and share some additional thoughts and insights. Anyone wanting to learn more about eLynxx can go to their website at www.elynxx.com or can reach Mike at michael.jackson@elynxx.com.

After 5 … People Do Amazing Things

Submitted by Skip Henk, EDP, President/CEO of Xplor International
March 19, 2015

After writing about technology I decided to deviate a little and talk about some of the amazing people in our industry that do amazing things, for others, after 5 (and on weekends).

A few weeks ago I was honored to speak at the Neopost USA sales kick off meeting in Dallas, Texas. I spent three days with hundreds of people from across the country, observing first hand who Neopost was, their culture, and the people that drive the success of the company.

Mike BogadAfter 5
At the end of the day a group of us met in the pub to relax a bit which is when I met Mike Bogad, Director of CCM Channel Development.  After talking about his role in Neopost, our conversation drifted from work to our families and onto the things we do outside of work. Mike spoke passionately about his support of The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers, providing survivors long, healthy lives.

His involvement started when a high school friend invited him to a “shave event.”  His friend’s son played hockey with a boy named Dawson who died from childhood cancer. Mike is on one of the hundreds of teams across the US who help raise money for childhood cancer research. His team, Dawson Hairless Heroes, is based St. Louis, Missouri.

What differentiates being a member of the “Dawson Hairless Heroes” is that some of the more daring ones volunteer to have their head shaved by participating in “the shave event”. Mike is one of those daring individuals.

Amazing Things
Already in his fourth year, Mike’s goal for 2015 was to raise $7525. He finished at $8750, 121% of his goal and secured the #4 spot in fundraising out of 613 “shaves”!  Their event raised 500K. On Saturday, March 7th at 4:45 pm, he stood in solidarity with kids being treated for cancer and had his head shaved!

In Mike’s words, “When I started 4 years ago, I never imagined we could surpass $3000, now we’re over $8,000! My involvement is because of a friend who invited me to a shave, I knew I had a lot great friends that would help!  Since then, families we know and love have been impacted, thus pressing me forward to remain involved.”

This year’s event is over but the need still exists. To learn more about St. Baldricks visit www.StBaldricks.org or if you would like to visit Mike’s site go to http://www.stbaldricks.org/participants/mypage/739394/2015

To Mike Bogad and all the others in our industry that do great things after 5, thank you.

Next up …. Ken Leslie, (Former Xplor Chair) and founder of 1Matters.org ,whose mission is to house as many homeless veterans nationally as they can, as fast as they can


skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

Do You Wanna BOK?

Submitted by Skip Henk, EDP, President/CEO of Xplor International
March 17, 2015

When you read the title, what was the first thought that came to your mind? I am hoping some of you were asking yourselves “What is he talking about? What is a BOK?” That was my dilemma.

Although I have been active and involved in the industry for many years, I did not know what a BOK was or why it was important to our members and the industry in general.

According to our friends at Wikipedia:

a body of knowledge (BOK) is the complete set of concepts, terms and activities that make up a professional domain, as defined by the relevant learned society or professional association.

EDBOKMaking It Relevant
I must admit I was a bit slow to come around to the whole idea of having a BOK for the association. The idea that a document could or would contain the “complete set of concepts, terms and activities” for our industry was difficult to conceive. Looking at the “complete document lifecycle” and all of the inherent components, the different technologies, methodologies and disciplines that put end to end defines our industry would be a monumental task.

Climbing The Mountain
At Xploration® 13, a group of Xplor EDP members got together and determined that it was time our industry had a Body of Knowledge for the Electronic Document Industry. The “Limited Edition” was presented at Xploration® 14 with the first edition being published and released last year at Graph Expo. In all, almost forty people contributed in one way or another to the creation and delivery of our industry BOK. The scope of the book is impressive and includes:

  • Document Development Lifecycle, requirements gathering, business analysis, technical analysis, stakeholder agreement, architecture, information design, project design, development, critical communications recovery(disaster recovery), test and QA, production launch, maintenance
  • Document Production Workflow, data, data objects, composition, print streams, transformations, print management, electronic presentation, web and mobile delivery, archiving, print technology, inserting technology, delivery process.

The end product has become the basis for our industries knowledge and the platform that now drives Xplor’s educational mission.

Who Cares? You Should.
Anyone in our industry, no matter what role you play, will benefit from reading it. If you are in a technical or operations role, this book pulls it all together, filling in the blanks and expanding your overall understanding of the electronic document industry. If you are in sales or marketing, it will give you an end to end view of the industry, the various components and the knowledge will certainly differentiate you from your peers.

Special thanks to all those responsible for bringing this ground breaking document to fruition.

The project team: Matt Riley edp, Project Chair, Neil Merchant m-edp, Project Manager, Pat McGrew m-edp, Editor, Scott Baker, Roberta McKee-Jackson edp, Chad Henk eda

The technology contributors: Paul Abdool edp, William Broddy m-edp , Franklin Campbell edp, Tim Ciceran, Brett Dashwood edp, Christine Durfee, Carol Fiore, Franklin Friedmann edp, Neal Gottsacker , Chris Halicki edp, Cheryl Kay, Kevin Lantaff edp, Robert Linsky, Wendy MacMillan m-edp, William McCalpin m-edp, Linda McDaniel edp, Roberta McKee-Jackson edp, Neil Merchant m-edp, Denise Miano edp, Tim Nelms, Stephen Poe edp, Rebecca Rodgers m-edp, Kevin Tondreau edp

So, Do You Wanna BOK?
For more information on the Electronic Document Body of Knowledge (EDBOK) visit the EDBOK information page under Career Development.


 

skip_Henk_Photo_2011
Skip Henk, EDP
President/CEO
Xplor International

Want To Earn More Money? Attend A Conference!

Submitted by Skip Henk, EDP, President/CEO of Xplor International
March 2, 2015

A couple weeks ago I read the 2015 InPlant Salary Survey and certainly was heartened to find that salaries are in fact on the rise. In fact, in the InPlant world, they have risen 9.9% over the last two years.IP_Clip

The survey was very well done and included a wide variety of statistics. InPlant did their typical great job. Of particular interest to me was that of the 231 usable responses, 44% of the managers who attended conferences (up from 27.5% in 2013) made 17.2% more than those that did not. That is a significant number.

The question is why?

Today, one can go to the internet and find almost anything they wish. The internet has become the go to source for information but as Albert Einstein once said “Information is not knowledge.”

To experience knowledge one must not only find facts and information but also acquire skills through experience or education.

So it simply makes sense that those who invest in expanding their knowledge by attending conferences, and learning from the experiences of others are more invaluable to their company.

Besides making more money, Why Attend A Conference?

  • Conference attendees benefit from people who have the same challenges and are willing to share them in order to help others learn from their experience. To learn what to do as well as what not to do.
  • Meeting people face to face and expanding ones professional network has many benefits that will impact your career. Your professional network can become a sounding board, a venue for new ideas, a place to find solutions or in some cases a future employee (or employer).
  • A good conference is a great place to keep up on all the latest technologies and trends.

Just one idea from a conference event can save or make a company a great deal of money. Here is what just one attendee stated after a conference.

“XPLOR one year gave me answers to take home a $500 Million dollar savings to my company! That being said, I was nominated employee of the year!” – Gene

All conferences are not created (or executed) equally

Attending a conference is an investment, one that can pay big dividends but all conferences are not created equal. When choosing a conference you should look for several things.

  • Does the agenda have topics of relevant interest?
  • Are there sessions that will take you beyond what you are doing today? Expand your knowledge of the industry.
  • Are the educational sessions a blend of users and vendors speaking?
  • Are there plenty of networking activities?
  • Does the agenda include best practices and industry trends?
  • Will you walk away with new ideas and motivation?

Yes, I am a bit biased. 

Being the president of Xplor, I may be a bit prejudiced but I believe Xploration® 15 is a unique event that encompasses all six points mentioned above “when choosing a conference”, because it was designed that way.

“The conference content is selected by our members, Xplor HQ just handles the logistics.”

Xploration 15 is April 14-16th at the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive in sunny Orlando Florida. Check out our digital brochure.

  • 60+ Educational Sessions
    • Featuring end users, industry analysts and subject matter experts
  • Daily Networking Events: The number one networking conference in the industry!
    • (2) evening events, (2) lunches and (1) breakfast
  • 35+ Industry Partners in the Vendor Forum
    • Meet with leading edge vendors
  • Motivational & Industry Keynotes
    • Devon Harris, three-time Olympian and 1988 Jamaican Bobsled team member which inspired the Disney movie “Cool Runnings”
    • John Biehler, Top 10 Influencer in 3D Printing
  • Acadami’s Electronic Document (BOK): Production Workflow Basics Track
    • A great program for anyone who wants to get a better “end to end” understanding of the document lifecycle.
  • Optional Pre-Conference Courses
    • Print Media Centr – Rescue Your Printshop ROI Workshop
    • Madison Advisors – CCM Intensive

For more information, or to register, please visit the conference website.

Hope to see you in Orlando April 14-16, 2015 ….. (If not, at some conference somewhere)


skip_Henk_Photo_2011

 

Skip Henk, EDP
Xplor President/CEO

2015 Annual Conference

Xploration® 15 is the perfect blend of internationally recognized education and networking events tailored to meet the business and personal needs of document and customer communication professionals. Join us in a casual Florida setting and be prepared to share your experiences, learn from others, and have a bit of fun!

Join us for:

– 60+ Educational Sessions
– Daily Networking Events
– 35+ Industry Partners in the Vendor Forum
– Motivational & Industry Keynotes
– acadami’s EDBOK 101 Track
– Optional Pre-Conference Courses

Don’t take our word for it . . . listen to our attendees!

“Xplor provides the roadway for me to create business alliances. For me, I am the only one in my company who does what I do. Being around ‘Birds of a Feather’, helps me make the right choices for my company. Xplor, one year, gave me answers to take home a $500 million dollar savings to my company! That being said, I was nominated employee of the year, that year!” – Gene

General Session

“This was the first time I attended an Xplor conference and was extremely pleased with the event. The variety of educational sessions gave me the ability to see different viewpoints and ideas on how we could reorganize some of our processes. I enjoyed the panel discussions and the passion and knowledge the members expressed in their views.” – Diana

“It was as if two of the presentations were written just for my company’s situation. My company sent four people new to Xplor and all came away with ideas they can apply within their lines of business. They realized their challenges are not unique, that other companies and the vendors have ideas and solutions to overcome those challenges. The networking sessions and unscheduled networking opportunities are invaluable. The connections and friendships made, and ideas shared will help me be more successful leading change in my company.” – Ken

The ALS Challenge … Creating a Movement

If anyone ever doubted the power of social media you only have to look at the success of the ALS Ice bucket challenge. To date they have raised $79.7 million dollars significantly more (over 4x) than the $19.4 million in total contributions the ALS association received during the year that ended January 31, 2013.

Watching this phenomena unfold reminds me of a Ted video I watched four years ago on “How to Start a Movement”  A movement takes a leader, the first follower, second follower, more followers (more people less risky) … and it must be public.

The ALS challenge has all the components a leader, early participants and tens of thousands of followers. But is there more to it? Why did this turn into a social media bonanza?

ALS is no doubt a great cause but there are a lot of great causes. However, this campaign was the perfect storm. Take a great cause, couple it with a interactive media that reaches 500+M people, throw in the opportunity to do something a bit off the wall AND share it with your friends …. you have a movement. Successful marketing is about creating a movement. No matter what the channel(s)

Has your company created a marketing movement?

Since Xplor International is the association for the electronic document industry AND we think ALS is a great cause we are going to donate $5.00US to each of the first 300 people (up to $1500) who share their ALS video on the Xplor International Facebook Page – have some fun and help raise more money for ALS!

Here is my ALS challenge video: Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 12.48.11 PM

Donate to ALS: http://www.alsa.org/

Until next time …. Get wet!

 

Describing The World B.G. (Before Google) Can Seem Unbelievable!

The other day my son and I were having a discussion about the similarities between dolphin and mahi mahi. It came to a point in the conversation where he asked me a question and I quickly had to admit I did not know the answer, a real downer for a father. Immediately he took out his cell phone and “Googled” it getting an almost instantaneous answer to his question.
Looking at me quizzically he asked “what did people do before google?” I smiled and said “you went to the library or if you were fortunate enough looked it up in your home encyclopedias. “ (His eyes began to cross)

He was 16 when “the last entry for Encyclopedia Britannica in book form” was announced. However I was excited to share my knowledge of life before Google as I went into my story about how after high school I sold the Encyclopedia Britannica’s. How expensive they were and that you received a beautiful wood bookcase when you bought them. And, every year you could purchase the update volume to keep your information current. I also laughed at how short my career was with one sale, to my parents. (I still have the books in my attic)

At this point he was in full “are you kidding” mode, eyes crossed and asking questions like; What if it was not in the encyclopedia? (You go to the library) What if it is something trivial that you don’t want to spend the time to look up? (Then you didn’t.)

Our discussion shifted to the “value” of Google. Being antagonistic I took the diametrically opposite opinion of my son. He claimed Google gave people instant access to information allowing people instant knowledge, very good points. I however argued Google can be inaccurate in many cases unlike an encyclopedia. It is contributing to the demise of face to face social interaction. It over complicates our lives introducing minutia in an already complicated world. Case in point, did learning about the difference between dolphin and mahi mahi change your life?

As far as the difference between a dolphin and mahi mahi.

The common English name of dolphin causes much confusion. This fish is not related to the marine mammals also known as dolphins (family Delphinidae). Additionally, two species of dolphinfish exist, the common dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) and the pompano dolphin (Coryphaena equiselis). Both these species are commonly marketed by their Pacific name, mahi-mahi.

Don’t believe me? Google it!

 

Not a cloud in the sky…

At Xploration™14 in March we had several sessions on the cloud. Fortunately I was able to attend a couple of them and came back with more questions than answers as to how vulnerable Xplor would be if the cloud suddenly disappeared.

My conclusion to my brief sixty second assessment, we would be in deep trouble depending on the length of the outage and the ability of our provider to get us back up. Xplor’s email system is in the cloud as well as our event registration, website and members hub, which is just about all of Xplor.  We backup our database but if the rest goes down it is still a really big  problem.

Wozniak Agrees?

In further researching I read an interesting article the other day by Steve Wozniak regarding the cloud that made me think. In the article he stated “The more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we’re going to have control over it. With the cloud, you don’t own anything. You already signed it away.”  Read the article.

The term that really caught my attention was You already signed it away.”  Yes, that is what we often do when we check that terms and conditions box in addition to absolving the provider of most if not all liability.

The Need to Ask Questions

What if your cloud provider goes out of business, is a victim of hackers or cyber terrorists. What are their safeguards? How do you get back up and running?  How do you recover? What is their liability?

Xplor as an organization is going to be asking the three vendors that control our “clouds” these questions.

So how does your organization handle the cloud and the people you entrust with your information?

What if there was not a cloud in the sky? I am curious to hear your views.

 

 

FACETIME IS NOT ALWAYS AN APP

Tucson-skip-henk-xplorLast week I returned from the Imaging Network Conference in Tucson convinced once again there is no substitution for “face timing” with peers. Not FaceTime the app, I mean the original face time. Sitting down and meeting with your peers, bending an elbow together, sharing ideas and taking discussions where virtual is incapable of going..

With Xploration 14 three weeks away I did not have the time nor did I want to make the time to go. I decided to go anyway.

One Idea, One Contact and One Problem Solved

It would have not only been a personal mistake not going to Tucson but a loss for Xplor as well. My time in Tucson netted me one GREAT idea and a new contact for expanding one of our programs. I was also able to solve an ongoing problem and even had time for a bit of fun. Sounds like I was doing what I am paid to do. My job.

It is too early to tell but my $2000 “face timing” investment has great potential:

  • The idea I came away with will generate $20-40k a year in revenue for the association
  • The problem I solved should save $6-10k in direct expense per year
  • My new contact for expanding online programming could significantly change Xplor’s online model.

It Is All About Face-Time

The internet is great for doing research but it can only take you so far. Could I have been as successful online?  No, I would not. My success in Tucson was about showing up. Face time.

Let’s not forget the bit of fun I had. Some ING attendees simply did a nature walk in the desert. Others a short cattle drive. I elected to do a bit of four wheeling in the desert. Had fun, relaxed and returned to the conference the next morning all in one piece, rested and content.

The Moral of the Story

Getting out of the office and participating in industry events is something you should make time for in order to do your job. It is empowering.  When you do attend, have an objective. A problem to solve, someone you want to meet or just be intent on finding that one idea that will pay dividends.

If you want to empower yourself and enjoy some warm weather there is still time to register for Xploration 14, March 25-27 at the Wyndham Resort Hotel International Dr. Interested, email me at skip@xplor.org and I will give you a special discount code just for listening.

Hope to see you in Orlando.

RR Donnelley Buys Consolidated – Survival or Growth?


Early in my career I fantasized about the possibility that 100% of the businesses in the world, their economic output and profits were all the efforts of one person. Seems a bit farfetched but I always deemed it plausible.

Some of the United States most influential industrialists like Andrew Carnegie and Rockefeller had that dream, although those dreams were eventually dashed by anti-monopoly laws.

The Monopoly of Print?

When I heard of the acquisition of Consolidated Graphics by RR Donnelley I certainly was not surprised. Donnelley with a $3.26 billion dollar market cap acquiring a smaller entity with a $617 million dollar market cap. Each company has very respectable “revenue per employee” numbers in a very competitive market with $182,188 and  $197,919, Consolidated having the edge.

A quick look at their websites reveals complementary technologies and product offerings.  Both companies have lots of locations with Donnelley being more “global” with about 40 overseas locations.  A great fit.

Survival or Growth?

So what is RR Donnelley buying? Customers, technology, unique products, people resources or a corporate culture? Maybe all of the above. I am sure there are many that are simply saying it is part of the natural evolution happening in the industry of consolidation due to a shrinking market.  From the outside it certainly looks like this might be the case.

Appears to be the old “survival growth strategy” when a larger company in a declining market buys up smaller companies. Larger company experiences incremental growth and the industry goes on to fight another day. (Remember microfiche and the Anacomp buying spree?)

Not playing monopoly … Just smart business

My guess, is that RR Donnelley is not playing monopoly with the acquisition but is catapulting their evolution as “distributors” of information. It is about content and the delivery of that content utilizing a variety of channels that are instigated by print.

If you look at their websites there certainly is overlap but there are also plenty of differences which represent opportunity and growth. These two forward thinking companies are simply engaging in smart business and are well positioned for the future.  (Kind of like owning both Boardwalk and Park Place)

Survival, growth, monopoly or smart business. What are your thoughts?

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