The Future of Automated e-Commerce–Harry Waldman

A real estate agent has just taken a digital picture of that great house she wants to sell. She loads the picture into her computer and, using Microsoft Publisher, creates a four-color flyer she wants printed and mailed immediately. Note that I said Microsoft Publisher and not the familiar QuarkXPress or the new Adobe InDesign. We in the graphic arts community immediately think of these two desktop publishing programs as the giants of the industry.

In reality, they are almost insignificant when compared to the number of copies of Publisher that are out there. And once what I’m describing becomes a reality they’re going to get used. Let’s proceed and see how.

The real estate agent logs onto the Website of her favorite printer and easily fills out the quick quote form that mostly consists of check boxes. She gets an instant quote, which she accepts. The quote, along with some additional information that she supplies (billing, shipping, etc.), now becomes the job ticket. Each quote has a unique number, which becomes the job number. She drags her files onto an icon on the printer’s site.

The icon automatically starts a procedure that flight checks the job. If the job passes flight check, it is automatically sent to the printer’s server by FTP. The quote, which is now a job ticket, is sent to a production control computer. Of course, a copy of the job number stays with the job at all times for identification. The job is RIPed and trapped automatically, and is sent to a digital press to be printed. All almost untouched by human hands in a fraction of today’s time, at a fraction of today’s cost.

Pie in the sky? Not really; everything I just talked about is becoming a reality as you read this. ColorQuick, an exhibitor at Seybold, is working on a system that can do almost all of what I just described. In fact, even though their booth was small, Seybold gave them their coveted “Hot Pick” designation.

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