Using Their Data To Create Your Future, Now

He who controls the data wins ….

I started to look at content for the upcoming issue of E-Document News and I was not surprised that I ran across yet another article on the demise of the transactional document industry and the impact on print service providers.

I must admit I am a ½ glass full guy but many of these doomsday scenarios and the demise of whole industry or markets is a bit distressing to me as many times the industry or market does not go away, it just looks different.

Let me say this: If you are a print service provider, your best days could still be ahead …. It is up to you, not the post office. Let me share my thoughts.

Let’s make (5) assumptions:

  1. The amount of transactional data is not going down it is going up
  2. The need for that transactional data to be communicated/distributed  to customers will NEVER go away
  3. Volume for printed statements and bills will decrease over time (not tomorrow)
  4. Volume for delivery of electronic documents will increase
  5. Some applications being done on presses will migrate to digital, so digital print volume will increase

So given that today you process transactional data, print and mail bills and statements using digital print technology I would think:

  1. In the future you would have more data to process
  2. That data will have to be distributed
  3. Some information may need to be mailed, sent via email, text  or sent via mobile
  4. There will be more digital print volume as print quality and costs improve
  5. There is HUGE opportunity in information and output (not just print)

So what do you need to do?

Think data and specifically think “who controls the data wins”. What print service providers need to be is the keeper of the data. They want to be the ones that process and format the data but also distribute it: print and mail, email, send SMS, text or support whatever new delivery phenomena comes in the future.

Print service providers should be educating themselves on these ancillary technologies and offering them as a service, one that can generate revenue.  If you just want to print and mail start figuring out your exit strategy. However if you want a bright future become a distributor of information.

Becoming an information distributor

  • Keep abreast of how people communicate
  • Get familiar with all the methods of output and the vendors who offer these products
  • Spend time keeping up to date on the latest digital print technology
  • Invest in yourself and company employees by attending industry events, webcasts, etc.
  • Remember “he who controls the data wins”

By the way, I told the folks at Rollsource that their future is bright also

P.S. –  Since this is my blog, I will shamelessly say you need to attend the upcoming Xplor Users Conference and Vendor Forum April 16-18 in St. Pete Beach Florida. In one place you can:

  • Hear the latest trends and best practices that are driving customer communications
  • Meet with the companies who have made this transition and who are happy to share
  • Spend time with the vendors who can provide the products to grow your business
  • Hear the latest trends presented by the Gartner Group, InfoTrends and Madison Advisors

Visit http://xplor.org/upcoming-events/annual-conference  to view a complete agenda and registration options. Or call 813-949-6170

For my blog readers, (PSP’s and end users) if you are interested in attending please email me at skip@xplor.org and I will send you a promotion code to save on registration. First (5) will save big.

To Blog or Not to Blog, That Is The Question

Over the last several months I have personally questioned the effectiveness of social media as tweeting, posting and blogging can eat up your time. As such I wondered if my time was being well spent.

At this year’s XDU On the Road I have consistently asked “How many people have a twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook account? Write a blog?” The majority of the people raise their hands for Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook with one or two writing a blog.

Then, I asked how many people tweet, use LinkedIn and Facebook AND how many people read blogs. Significantly fewer people raised their hands.

So as I was evaluating how I wanted to spend my time and resources in 2013 Deborah Corn of Print Media Centr sent me a report on my blog. Now, to make sure everyone knows, Deborah helps with my social media including Twitter and the Xplor Facebook page. As far as my blog, I write it, she makes it look great and then posts it for me. So, back to my blog.

The report I received from World Atlas stated the following.

  • My blogs had 5,300 views in 2012 on 26 posts – Average 204 per post
  • The busiest day of the year was September 30th with 261 views. The most popular post that day was Printing is not dead, it is different.
  • The top referring sites were: Facebook, Twitter, networkedblogs.com, globalnews.printmediacentr.com, linkedin.com
  • Blog was read in 117 countries (there are 193 countries in the world depending on what source you reference http://www.worldatlas.com/nations.htm)
  • Most visitors came from The United States, India & The United Kingdom

Now these numbers pale in comparison to many others but a couple key things came from them:

  • I know someone has been reading them, so there is an interest
  • It give me a base line to expand ….. My goal for 2013 is 15,000 views read in 140 countries
  • REALLY has motivated me to really see what I can do with it

Hope all of you had a Happy Holiday Season and I extend my best wishes for a happy, healthy, joyous and prosperous 2013.

Thank you for reading my blog, and don’t forget to pass it along if you think it is worthwhile.

Being Part of The Community: Oce’ North America

Last week I had the honor to attend the OCE FUTURE AUTHORS PROJECT book signing in Boca Raton Raton, Florida. I make the drive to South Florida each year and attending this event never gets old.

In its 7th year the Océ Future Authors Project, is a free program offered to middle and high school students. The eight-day summer workshop covers writing and editing to digitally publishing books.

The writing workshop is designed to help students become published authors. Students improve their writing and critical thinking skills, develop an understanding of how authors are published, and learn about today’s digital print and publishing opportunities.

Each of the kids creates a short story, they are compiled and put into a beautiful digitally published and bound book. The 2012 theme was “Pens and Papers Our Weapons of Mass Construction”.

There is nothing better than standing in line to have them turn to their story and sign their name. These kids get it.

Xplor became aware of the program four years ago. For the last three years Xplor International has been a sponsor as part of the Xplor Member Scholarship program. The program is a partnership between the School District of Palm Beach County and Océ North America. Other sponsors include grants from the Lawrence Sanders Foundation and Maroone, an AutoNation Company.

Congratulations and thank you to Oce’ North America.

I love writing about the good works that companies do within their communities. If your company is involved in any “give back” efforts, I would love to hear about them. Send to skip@xplor.org

Congratulations to the Graphic Arts Show Company

Well the Graph Expo 2012 is history, and the Graphic Arts Show Company should be extremely pleased with the results. I had the opportunity to see Ralph Nappi and Chris Price on the show floor and both had this kind of “Cheshire Cat” look on their face of satisfaction.

Attendance on Sunday, was the best I have seen in a couple years. Not sure whether it was the later start at noon, due to the Chicago Marathon or pent up anticipation to look at the latest and greatest technology, or both. Whatever it was, it worked.

Monday and Tuesday also had impressive traffic. (I left Tuesday afternoon to get back for a school activity for my daughter.)

The Xplor at Graph Expo Seminar attendance was down from 2011. Not sure if it was the day or time or the fact that there were a lot more educational events in 2012. We had great speakers, great feedback. Looking at doing something a bit different for Print 13.

Every year I say I am going to spend more time on the floor and every year I never get to see enough.  I will apologize to the dozens and dozens of vendors I did not get to but a couple highlights I saw in between meetings:

  • Congratulations to Deborah Corn and PrintMediaCentr on the first Printerverse – a new Show Floor Feature at Graph Expo! Went there on Monday and ended up designating it as my official meeting area. Neat application of the documobi technology, Girls Who Print and some great speakers including Kevin Keane. (If you ever have the opportunity to talk to him, it is certainly worth your time.)
  • Was great to see Delphax on the floor with new technology. Since I spent 10 years there I have always pulled for the company. General Manager, Steve Hubbard showed me their new elan™ System technology, which appears solid and puts them in the heart of the transactional document space again. For more information check out http://www.delphax.com/?s=products&c=elan
  • While visiting the RICOH booth, Eric Staples, Senior Product Manager gave me a glimpse of their new product “Clickable Paper”, which appears to have a great deal of potential.  For more information http://ricohinnovations.com/clickable-paper/
  • At the Kodak booth I spent time with Peter Bouchard, Paul Schiller and Rick Mazur looking at what was new at Kodak. Once again, as an alumni, I am always interested in see old friends and seeing what new things they have going on. I was particularly impressed with the samples they showed  from their “Fifth Imaging Unit Solution” on the NexPress. Fundamentally a host of different finishes which included gloss, spot gloss, red flourecing, linen, dimensional and watermark finishing. The samples popped. Check it out at: http://graphics.kodak.com/ca/fr/product/printers_presses/comm_sheet/digital_color/fifth_imaging/default.htm

Once again, I apologize to all of what and who I missed, but if you have any highlights you would like to share. Join the conversation.

Until next time.

Is gopost the future for rural America?

At a recent PCC Day (Postal Customer Council) in Tampa, the USPS spent some time reviewing a pilot program called gopostAlthough designed for package delivery it does not take too much imagination to envision this expanding to mail delivery.

In a nutshell, the post office places automated secured parcel lockers in convenient locations. You register on-line to get your account number/access card and PIN. You have your package shipped to the gopost address, they notify you via email or text that your package has arrived and you simply go pick it up at your convenience. For more information go to gopost.com

There are approximately 3700 post offices in the United States that serve 100 or less residents. The cost, certainly needs to come into play. Would it make sense to expand gopost to gomail?

In an article written in July 2011 by theeagle.com, it talks about the idea of Village Post Offices and more interesting is the discussion on the social aspects of the post office in rural areas.

http://www.theeagle.com/article/20110731/BC0101/307319991

For many people, especially seniors, getting out, going to the bank, post office or barbershop is a social event. I remember cashing my check on Friday and having a beer with my friends. Lost its luster with auto deposit somehow, kind of took the celebration out of it.

History may repeat itself. Walk into the general store, which is also the post office, buy your supplies, get your mail and get back into the buckboard (wagon) and head home. (and no I don’t remember this).

Analogous to today: go to Walmart, buy your food, hardware, other sundries, pick up your mail jump in your gas guzzling SUV and go home. Could also be a bank, but they are trying to go tellerless. How about the barber? Not good for the follicle challenged.

So what do you think the evolution of the rural post office will represent?

The Typewriter Breathes New Life

A couple weeks ago I read an article in our local newspaper, the Tampa Tribune that I thought would be fun to write about. The article talked about how consumers are “embracing the past” looking for old telephones, Airstream travel trailers and typewriters.

The article notes: “We see this as a manifestation of objectifying objects, the idea of replacing virtual worlds with physical counterparts, people fetishizing tactile things.”

I love technology and simply by my association with Xplor, I am certainly able to keep ahead of the average person (my age).  I have a PC, iPhone, iPad.  I Facetime, Skype, tweet, blog and post to Facebook.  All of which were not around 5-6 years ago. (with the exception of the PC)

I have embraced technology and leaving my virtual footprint.

But are we headed for a reversal? The article continues on to say: “The modern world is so full of perfect flat-screens and virtual, always-connected services from a digital “cloud,” Berelowitz said, that people feel drawn to a low-tech world with a human touch and feel. The imperfection and iron heft of a typewriter or orange glow of an old light bulb suddenly has strong emotional draw.”

I do enjoy new technology and new ways to communicate but I do sometimes long for “the good old days”, when things seemed to be simpler.

This new fascination of embracing the past does provide opportunity to have it both ways. The one product that caught my eye would marry my iPad with a typewriter. I do plan to order one, as soon as I find a typewriter. See website: http://www.usbtypewriter.com/

If this catches on, all those old, dusty typewriters sitting on shelves and antique shops will suddenly be breathing new life and increase in value.

The bigger questions to me are:  Will virtual peak?  Will we be drawn back to more human interaction?

To read the complete article click here: http://www2.tbo.com/lifestyles/flavor/2012/jul/10/namaino1-old-is-whats-new-ar-427546/

Is the demise of QR greatly exaggerated or a lesson for marketers?

RIP QR Codes????? ….. Really?????

One of the things I enjoy most about new technologies and processes is the ongoing debate of their validity, acceptance and predictions of their demise. QR codes are certainly not exempt from the discussion.

In an article sent to me by Mark Bonacorso of Media Ink (Xplor’s PR company) that was published in the Tucson Weekly they actually celebrate what they call the demise of the QR code.

“Due to the rapidly changing nature of information technology, it shouldn’t surprise anyone when a heavily lauded innovation winds up as a relative flop—and after the hype over QR codes, with claims that we’d spend hours each day scanning them to get information delivered to us on our phones, I’m actually sort of happy to watch the obituaries for them pile up.”

Their notable stat is that “Bloomberg News looked at the rapid demise of the QR code this week, and after all of that coverage of the technology, it’s estimated that only 5 percent of Americans scan one any given week—and that’s partially because most of these codes take us to destinations we don’t really like.” (To read the whole article: http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/weekly-wide-web/Content?oid=3436949)

Conversely, I have just finished the latest InfoTrend report “How to Be Successful with QR Codes” and it is full of best practices, case studies, design tips and more.

What I surmised after reading the report that it is not necessarily the technology but the application of it.

Any thoughts?

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If you are interested in ordering the InfoTrends Report, my blog readers receive 20% off the list price of $199 when you check out with coupon code XPLOR20.

For more information, or to order the report please visit: http://store.infotrendsresearch.com/product_p/124380.htm

Thanks for stopping by!

The Cloud Turns 50

Read a brief but interesting article this morning by Denise Miano entitled, “Computing in the Cloud is Trendy — but is it really the next new thing?”

Denise brought up some great points and did a great job defining some of the attributes, benefits and definitions of the cloud.

As she pointed out the fundamental concept of the cloud was derived from “timesharing”, conceptually introduced in 1957 and first suggested in 1961 by Stamford Professor, John McCarthy.

To read the whole article click here

The Auerbach Guide to Timesharing 1973 edition lists 125 different timesharing services using equipment from Burroughs, CDC, DEC, HP, Honeywell, IBM, RCA, Univac and XDS. Think about how many of these computer companies are no longer in business.

So it appears we have gone full circle. Timesharing (the cloud), to centralized with everything on your laptop or desktop and now we are heading back to the cloud. (Ross Perot would be proud).

Of concern is what I call “all your eggs in one basket”. If your laptop fails, and you have not backed it up, the loss can be devastating. But you control whether you do back-ups and the frequency.

It may be because I was young when timesharing was in its heyday but I don’t remember the term computer virus. What could a lethal virus do?

I do remember computer bug however, but not virus. For those of you under 40 a little about the first computer bug, which in fact was a real bug: http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/comphist/objects/bug.htm

In a pure cloud environment, what control do you have? What is your cloud providers strategy for disaster recovery? What are your liabilities?

Certainly questions you should ask.  Are our heads in the cloud on this?

Tweeted Autographs – The New Digital Souvenir

The other day I read ashort article titled: “Retweets becoming digital version of autographs”. Being a collector for years of sports memorabilia (hopefully to put in my sports bar one day), I was trying to figure out how the new “digital autographs” will work and what their value is.

The article

Forget standing in line for hours, hoping for a scribbled, barely legible autograph on a wrinkled piece of paper. Or jockeying for spots behind the dugout on the off chance a signed ball or batting glove gets tossed your way.

When it comes to souvenirs from your favorite athlete, the retweet is where it’s at these days.

Fans have turned Twitter into a digital version of the autograph session, asking — sometimes begging or pleading — stars from every sport for a shoutout. Social media experts say the retweet allows fans to feel a “connection’’ to their favorite athletes, erasing the traditional barrier between superstars and the ordinary folks who adore them. Read article here: http://tinyurl.com/6n667yy

Great memories are attached to many of the autographs I acquired over the years, mostly at games with my Dad, my kids or charity events. None of those I would give up for a re-tweet.

I am sure some entrepreneurial person will come up with a way to catalogue and preserve the re-tweets but so what. Can’t look at them, nor display them.

Same holds true for e-books I have found out. My 9 year old daughter published a great hardback book that she wrote and illustrated, autographing it and giving it to me for Christmas.  This is certainly one of my most prized possessions.  On the other hand she recently found a kids program called Storybird, wrote another book and sent me the link. (Great program for kids)  http://tinyurl.com/6t6z52g

I of course loved it, but it can’t replace the autographed hardback in my office.

There is a time and place for digital. But retweets, don’t think so.

Lunch and Learn, information at its best!

Yesterday was the April edition of the monthly “Lunch and Learn” program entitled More QR/AR Fun. Moderator, and industry veteran, Pat McGrew, was her brilliant and charismatic self and once again assembled a great panel of industry experts.

The program, entering its 4th year continues to gain momentum and expand. What is unique about the Lunch and Learn is that it is completely vendor neutral no matter who is on the panel, Pat sees to it. It is 100% information.

The webinars are free and run from April through October 2012 very third Thursday of each month at 1:00 pm EST.

If you have a topic you would like us to discuss let us know. Also, if after reviewing upcoming events you would like to be a member of a panel. Contact me at skip@xplor.org or via phone at 813-949-6170.

Upcoming webinars include:

  • May 17: Back to Basics – AFP, PDF and Transforms! No matter how much you work with AFP. PDF, metacode, PCL and the other print languages of the business world, there is always more to learn and a lot to share. In this edition of the Lunch & Learn’s we’ll talk about what’s new in AFP (yes, there are still updates!), and what’s new in PDF. It’s always lively when talk turns to print streams and transforms
  • June 21: Technology Basics: Designing for Print and Pixel. Last year’s design webinar resulted in a record turnout, so it’s back. Come hear from design professionals as they help us understand how technology impacts your selection of fonts, colors and design techniques. We’ll take questions in advance.
  • July 19: Back to Basics – Workflow (More than just a controller!) When we say “workflow” what do you think of? For some it’s Automated Document Factory, for some it’s the Digital Front End and for still others it’s everything from job creation to insertion into the mail stream. No matter where you are in the mix, we’ll be talking about something that will be relevant to you!
  • August 16: Educating your Team: What do they need to know and how do you educate them? Each year new people come in to the industry and often they have a limited understanding of creating work that will go in to the mail stream, delivered via secure email or digital post services. In this webinar we’ll talk about the basic needs for education and what type of mentoring plan can work to ensure that your team up-to-date and on board with technology changes!
  • September 20: Multi-channel Delivery Alternatives – What should you be thinking about? digital mail boxes, augmented reality, intelligent/smart print, email, web services, SMS and a host of other technologies are available to deliver information to our customers. We’re gathering experts to help sort out the options and help point you to where the best practices are emerging today.
  •  October 18: Fall Wrap Up: What’s New, What’s Emerging. It’s a drupa year, and that always means announcements that get us thinking about the future. For this wrap up we’ll look at the most interesting announcements of the year and talk about how they impact the world that Xplorers live in.

The Lunch and Learn webinars are being produced by the Xplor Document University, the educational arm of Xplor International and sponsored by HP. All of the webinars are complimentary and open to anyone interested in participating. For more information visit www.xplor.org.

Hope you join us.