Dickeson–Making Relevant Data Decisions

Well, friends, that cost accounting idea has worked for printing and other businesses for 70 years now hasn’t it? But now we use our high-speed adding machines, called microprocessors, to produce and track our “costs” at high speed, don’t we? Well, maybe speed really isn’t a factor since we only jigger those “standard costs” and “production standards” once a year…if we get around to it.

Trouble is that those microprocessors that we believed were improving our decisions, but didn’t, were beginning to have a profound impact on our printing process. Computers are for the estimating system, aren’t they?

At first, computers took over typesetting starting in the ’70s. Then one after another, color separating, page composition, platemaking, programmable logic control of our machines, computerized mail labels, and on and on. Our basis for daily decisions was obsolesced by the very black boxes we thought were just fancy adding machines.

General ledger bookkeeping and cost accounting are no longer the real world where problems are solved and decisions made. We’re coming to realize that a printing business doesn’t succeed by controlling internal costs. It must focus on the external world by adding value that fulfills market needs.

Cutting costs may save a faltering company for a time by making it more efficient. But efficiencies of reduced internal costs don’t supply external customer value. Adding value to blank paper makes the printer effective. All the ledgers and sophisticated cost systems a computer can produce are but internal yardsticks that have not a thing to do with the outside world where the customers live.

History tells us the first Information Revolution was the development of written alphabet characters and the second was the use of the characters written down in books. Let’s take a lesson from the third Information Revolution where 10,000 monks illuminating manuscripts lost their jobs because of Gutenberg’s press and movable type.

Related Content