Confronting the mayhem in Media and Marketing

The Lofty Opportunity of the Printer’s Cloud

Have you heard any of these cited as advantages for using software in the cloud?

  • Reduced on-site IT costs
  • Lower startup costs
  • Faster implementation times
  • No requirement to update multiple servers and workstations
  • State of the art security for your data

While the mileage will vary according to your specific circumstances, any of these could be a benefit of working from the cloud. The single greatest advantage, however, has yet to be realized — instant integration. Imagine the benefit of being able to instantly integrate your CRM with your MIS, your MIS with your prepress workflow or favorite accounting package, your eCommerce solution with your MIS, and so on. Today these integrations are painful and take weeks, if not months, to complete usually through a back-and-forth of specialists from multiple vendors working together.

Enterprise software suites, such as Salesforce, are already in the cloud and offer the ability to add other best-in-class software components easily through its AppExchange. Rajiv Kapoor over at the Marketo blog states that even independent software vendors in the enterprise space are working more closely together to offer seamless integration. The advantage for the enterprise customer, just as it is with the print service provider, is the ability to pick the best software solution for their needs in a mix-and-match method.

Can or will software vendors in the print community offer such turnkey integration after moving to the cloud or will the same integration challenges exist? One can only hope that what is happening with enterprise software provides a navigable template for our industry.

photo: nrkbeta

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Change the Color of the Printed Page

A Los Angeles based company called t+ink is showing off its t-touch technology in the January 2014 issue of Wired Magazine. The technology allowed readers to view the many color options of Motorola’s Moto X smartphone. Check out the video below to see it in action.

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video: Motorola

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6 Print Things to Watch in 2014

JWTIntelligence recently released its annual 100 Things to Watch in 2014 which attempts to find trends in the zeitgeist for the upcoming year. Since many of the annual trends relate to technology and commerce, I identify those in the list that will have an impact on the printing industry. After reviewing the list, there are 6 print things to watch in 2014:

  • #1 3D Printer Retail Hubs
    3D printing is en vogue. Major retail outlets like UPS, Staples, and others are equipping some of their stores with 3D printers catering to small businesses and start-ups. Other outlets are offering 3D scanning and replication for everyday items such as keys. Many printers have stepped cautiously into the market as well. The challenge for PSPs will be to not only differentiate their 3D capabilities and services beyond the retail outlets but also in determining a successful pricing structure for those services. The possibilities of 3D printing are nearly endless, so it requires acute focus on your clients and markets.
  •  #2 3D Printing Accessories
    Many startups are trying to reduce the consumer barriers to 3D printing. An example would be creating the 3D model via 3D scanning instead of the more skilled use of a modeling program. The more accessories that come to market to simplify the process, the more difficult it will be for printers to add value in other parts of the process in my opinion.
  • #6 Ambient Commerce
    Taking the concept of the Internet of Things where smart sensors monitor their surroundings, ambient commerce extends that into anticipating the consumers needs. With sensors dropping in costs and increasing in capabilities, this could have interesting implications for printers who offer remote fulfillment services.
  • #11 Beacons
    Beacons are proximity aware sensors that can monitor people’s movements and preferences via their mobile phones. Beacons is just one technology that retailers and other businesses can deploy to learn more about their customers and push promotions directly to them. EFI has demonstrated a similar technology for wide format signage that can track and perform standard analytics on passerbys such as number of people, gender, approximate age, etc.
  • #29 Delivery Wars
    Jeff Bezos caused a stir at the end of 2013 by testing drones for package delivery. Many other big box retailers are testing other methods for same day delivery of products. B2C trends ultimately impact the B2B space, so expect the pressure on print job turnaround times to continue.
  • #36 Edible Packaging
    Many PSPs have focused on diversification from commercial printing into printing packaging. This could be a niche opportunity within packaging to offer. No doubt food regulations present a barrier to entry for many who would otherwise attempt.

What will you be watching in 2014?

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