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Battle Shaping Up Between Printers and Dotcoms Over Access

July 2000
CHICAGO—In what could be the beginning of a serious struggle for control of their customers' access, four of the top commercial printing conglomerates in the U.S. have joined forces in an effort that could leave the new crop of dotcom print facilitators on the outside looking in.

R.R. Donnelley & Sons, based here, along with Banta Corp., Quad/Graphics and Quebecor World, have announced that they are "working together to create supply-chain efficiencies for industry participants worldwide by establishing standards and leveraging enabling technologies."

According to a joint statement, "by building a foundation for industry standards, the four companies will enable customers who frequently work with multiple print providers to streamline the print process in areas such as job planning and administration. The companies will also address standards and common interfaces for administering the procurement of materials such as paper.

"The group will encourage broad participation among printers, customers and suppliers worldwide with the goal of enhancing industry relationships."

Leading these efforts are Donald D. Belcher, chairman and CEO of Banta Corp.; Jonathan P. Ward, president and COO of R.R. Donnelley; Harry V. Quadracci, founder and president of Quad/Graphics; and Marc L. Reisch, president and CEO of Quebecor World North America. All four say the printing industry "will benefit tremendously from an industry-wide effort and have chartered a team to develop detailed implementation plans."

However, Pewaukee, WI-based Quad/Graphics is already a step ahead. It has created a business-to-business (B2B) customer Website, called Smart Tools, at QG.com, an interactive portal that officials say gives its clients easy, immediate access to online, real-time print production information at Quad/Graphics. By logging onto Smart Tools, clients can simultaneously work online with their Quad/Graphics service team members, making the site the ultimate collaborative tool.

Another company looking in this direction is New York City-based Bowne & Co., which has entered into an agreement with M2Networx Inc., a San Francisco-based broadband services company, to co-develop and pilot a global, real-time collaboration network. M2Networx officials say they are the first service provider offering broadband desktop-to-desktop connectivity through a private global IP-based network.

The first phase of the project will include Bowne's offices and the offices of investment banks and law firms in New York and in Los Angeles, Palo Alto and San Francisco, as well as Bowne's printing facilities in the U.S. and Europe.

One company that seems to be casting its lot with the dotcoms is Englewood, CO-based Mail-Well, which has signed a multi-year subscription agreement with business-to-business e-commerce and supply chain solutions provider printCafe.

Under the multi-year agreement, printCafe will provide custom branded Mail-Well Websites, and business and production management systems for Mail-Well's 140 printing facilities throughout North America and the United Kingdom.

According to William Guttman, CEO of printCafe, the agreement calls for printCafe to "integrate the Mail-Well Websites with their back-end information systems to provide increased efficiencies for both Mail-Well and its customers."

"With printCafe, Mail-Well will be the first North American printer to offer its customers a fully integrated e-commerce solution," said Paul Reilly, president and COO of Mail-Well. "Mail-Well customers will be able to design, order, estimate and check the status of jobs online, as well as collaborate among all those involved in a print job. The printCafe solution will allow Mail-Well to service its customers through one, integrated network."
 

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