Jennifer Matt got my attention this month with this excellent article in ‘What They Think’. Titled ‘Print Software Strategic Planning’, I found myself enthusiastically agreeing with Jennifer’s key points:
- Printers need to step back and think from an overall and strategic perspective, not just point software solutions
- A print software strategic plan should start with print MIS/ERP at its foundation
- Software is becoming so important in printing that printers need become as comfortable purchasing software as they are purchasing hardware, like presses.
As a print MIS supplier, agreeing with Jennifer may seem too easy. So let me add my own thoughts.
First, regarding strategy. Strategy starts with goals. Typically in printing the goals are some combination of cost saving, flexibility and quality. Deciding on which goals to pursue (all of them?) and how to achieve them is where the strategy comes in.
In the past, a hardware (press)-only strategy was possible. Today, it’s impossible.
Today, printing technology is a sophisticated integration of hardware and software. It’s no longer operator driven, it’s technology driven. Every stage of the business-process is impacted - from order entry to workflow to shipping.
As a result, point-only solutions are increasingly irrelevant because unless they are integrated, they are inefficient. The effort and cost to operate each independently is anathema to the process for staying competitive and making money.
Which is where print MIS come in. Whether it’s a case of integrating existing point solutions (a specialty of Avanti Slingshot) or starting from scratch, ERP/MIS provides the vital backbone that links all the system pieces together and orchestrates the process in a co-ordinated, money-making fashion.
That’s not just an MIS supplier talking – there simply is no other way around it.
I think it’s time to recognize the printing industry for what it has finally become - a technology industry. It’s become an industry where the best businesses in the industry are lead by technologists who do printing - not printers who use technology. This leadership they’re providing drives their:
- People – who they hire for their technology expertise, not their printing expertise
- Competition – that comes from other technology companies, not other printers
- Opportunities – that are enabled through technology and limited only by their technical skills and expertise – which makes almost anything possible.
As Jennifer concludes, thinking strategically about software purchasing is imperative. We are all technology businesses now. Software is what drives us.