Mobile Technologies: Bringing New Life to PrintFebruary 2013 By Erik Cagle, senior editor
In the constantly-evolving world of hand-held electronics, it is difficult to identify a long-term trend with any certainty. New versions are released every six months, it seems, and anything older than 2010 is considered antiquated.
Ink-on-paper, as the church choir well knows, has been as steady and consistent as the Swallows at Capistrano. Sure, the manner in which ink gets attached to substrate may have taken on various iterations in the last 100 years alone. But, at its core, ink-on-paper is the primary vehicle.
So what happens when the happy feet of electronics collides with the stay-at-home consistency of printing? Printing becomes more dynamic and interactive, and mobile electronics become a greater e-commerce tool. The pairing is anything but smooth, and it is bound to become completely unrecognizable in the next five years. But, the concept that printing and electronics can be catalysts for each other's growth to perpetuate the ultimate goal—delivering messages that are efficient and effective at turning clicks into cash—underscores the belief there is room at the communications table for both channels.
A number of technologies have rumbled across the printing spectrum during the past five years, some of which are fairly common, while others have largely untapped potential. Their history is being written now, and while some of these technologies might not have staying power, they're certain to be replaced in short order.
Keeping an open mind, recognizing profit potential and identifying a point of entry was all the fodder that Quad/Graphics needed to embark on its mobile technologies platform, Interactive Print Solutions (IPS). Actually, it was a direct result of QIC (Quad Idea Catapult)—the company's innovation process management framework—vetting the technologies and creating IPS as a vehicle toward delivering mobile technologies to customers.
It helps that Quad/Graphics CEO Joel Quadracci not only gave the endeavor his full blessing, but acts as an evangelist for the mobile technologies.
"Consumer media preferences are changing rapidly and our customers are trying to keep pace, but it isn't always easy," Quadracci says. "Every day our customers are bombarded with offers to use the latest and greatest app dreamed up by a couple of guys tinkering in a garage. Sure, these apps may look cool, but our customers don't necessarily know what to do with them. They are asking, 'How do I tie this in with my core print vehicle(s) in a way that supports my marketing plan and drives measurable business results?' That's where we come in."