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GREAT LAKES INTEGRATED -- Web Puts Clients In Driver's Seat

May 2005

Technology Editor

Any claims of being "first" practically beg to be disputed. That inherent risk didn't scare off Great Lakes Integrated (GLI) from adopting the one-word declaration—FIRST—as a brand identity for its mix of marketing communication services.

The Cleveland-based organization is comprised of three divisions. GLPrint provides offset and digital printing services. GLDirect is a mailing and fulfillment operation. AKSESS provides a suite of Web-based marketing communication solutions based on an ASP (Application Service Provider) model.

Those latter database-driven tools are central to the company's marketing claim and provide a backbone for its integrated service. They are designed to be used by customers and also to drive internal operations.

AKSESS was formally started almost seven years ago, reports James Schultz, GLI president and CEO. "We had a major account that was having a real struggle in managing its digital assets," he says. "We ended up working very closely with that client to develop an online digital asset management (DAM) solution. At that time, there weren't a lot of existing solutions we could tap into, so we started hiring programmers and developers and the effort became AKSESS."

After the DAM solution was in place, the organization next turned to addressing client requests for the ability to manage their inventories of printed materials online, Schultz says. This effort led to the near simultaneous development of two solutions: Document Driver and Inventory Driver.

Betting on a System

Dean Hanisko, chief technology officer, explains that the DAM system is designed to deal with individual objects and document components, such as images, logos, illustrations, etc. "Whereas the Document Driver piece manages the complete document, including components from the DAM," he notes. "It, in part, enables clients to manage documents for restocking."

Inventory Driver is not a warehouse management system, but it does sit on top of GLDirect's internal management system, Hanisko continues. One of its key functions is to provide reports and alerts pertaining to the replenishment of printed materials in the warehouse, he explains.

Schultz says he decided to form GLDirect almost 15 years ago. "Since we did not print everything that went into our distribution and fulfillment center, our customers were sensitive about asking one printer to ship into another shop," he explains.

"AKSESS is a similar situation," the company president continues. "A lot of our clients are working with agencies and other printers that are putting information and content into our systems."

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