Moving Beyond On Demand
Last week, I attended and was honored to participate in a panel discussion at the On Demand Exposition and Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. Kudos goes to David L. Zwang and others for the very fine event offered. I doubt many people understand the difficulties in arranging a complex mechanism like On Demand, especially in, shall I venture to say, economic depressing times like today.
On Demand was co-located with the Publishing Xchange and info360, which is a good idea—comingling is nearly always beneficial.
I toured the show floor and spoke to many of the exhibitors and attendees and would make a single recommendation: it would seem in this world of converging media and endless demands, that the show’s name should change. I have a suggestion—CWYL! (For you SMS neophytes, CWYL means, Chat With You Later.)
The broad base level of exhibitors was notable for those within the printing industry that did not attend and those not from the print space that should have attended. This is by no means a fault of the organizers; it is just a fog-ridden time of understanding who is involved in the communication mix.
In fact, it is my belief that parallel industries should be seeking out events like On Demand; events like On Demand should not be seeking them. As Bob Dylan said, the times they are a changing.
Enough of On Demand the event.
On demand as a term has been driven home to printers and print enablers as being (years ago) the future. But what is the future now? We are living in a post-digital age. Everything is on demand; in fact, you can say that on demand is too slow for this fast-paced, ever-changing world of endless news coverage, endless story variations and, in many ways, an undefined compass heading into the future.
Right or wrong, I have always considered the term “on demand” as one that printers needed to have as the correct reply to a customer’s question—fast presses, quick makeready, digitally enable services. Do you agree?
But what does on demand mean from the printers point of view? I know from research that manufactures ask printers what they need and what they see as the future, but few outside the marketing board rooms of the manufacturers get access to a broad field of answers. There are endless reports on the state of this and the state of that.
So let me open this blog up to the world of interactive communications. If you are a printer, a marketer, a creative firm or a consumer, what and how do you define the term on demand? What does it mean to you?
I, for one, think that printers need to take the lead in this quest for an answer since their neck is on the financial cutting block. In February, when I spoke at Dscoop6, Andy Paparozzi of the NAPL indicated that the printing industry lost about 26 percent of its commercial printer base over the past five years, with additional losses to come. Don’t you think it is time to ask those grunts in the trenches, those getting hit, to define the future as they see it?
Here—from my print-loyal but un-printer-shop view—are my thoughts, not in any specific order but just a list to start the discussion
• “Print,” as a term, needs a new definition. If you’ve read my past blogs, you’ll know I am a strong supporter of “customer centric communications.”
• What is print today and what will it be tomorrow?
• Is print, as I see it, to be an intricate part of the media convergence revolution?
• Will print be viable in 10 years?
• If so, what equipment, support and skills will be needed by a printer to succeed?
• Is database management and data mining an income source for the printer of the future? If not, what will be?
• Will a printer even be a printer in the future? I have been told that a research firm in the U.K. has developed a dynamic white paper that actually says agencies as we know them today will under go the same radial transition that printers have experienced.
I would on face value alone—since I was unable to review the report (Hey Outsell, send me a copy please!)—agree. I have owned an integrated marketing agency for over 30 years and I have seen the writing on the wall for a while. If agencies under go a Darwinian change, who will replace and supplement their support skills?
It is simple to see that in publishing, publishers need to step up and fill the gap, but what about printers? No, they should not become agencies, but there needs to be a hybrid—a firm structured in a way that combines the very best of what each service offers.
Please let me apologize...I lied, I do need to talk about On Demand one more time. Charlie Corr of Mimeo was a keynote speaker at the event and what he presented was the start of the next generation of printer business owners. In fact, on the company’s Website (www.mimeo.com), it presents a broad array of savvy ideas, some print based and others, well, not print based, but all are business supportive and profit based.
Maybe we need to change the definition from a printer to profiteer. I am a strong believer in the concept of mantras, and if you set the bar to profits, well then that will happen. Say 40 mantras a day for 40 days and the wishes are visualized. “I am profiteer,” “I am a profiteer”...in the good sense of course.
So let me repeat the challenge, send me (at email@example.com) your thoughts on what you as a printer, marketer, advertiser or creative need as the tools for the future. What services are needed to allow you to benefit from the changes proactively, not as a secondary passive response?
Where do you think the future is heading? As I mentioned in this blog a few weeks back, THINK DIFFERENTLY! Think profits, think beyond surviving. OK, yes, any manufacturers can send me their thoughts as well; I am open to all communications on this issue.
After all, if we are expecting printers to continue to place their necks on the block, they might as well have the ability to say, “I am ready, drop the blade.”
Sweat equity is a term that I wish would go away; it is such a basic requirement of being in business that the term is almost wasteful. No, not sweat equity, but equity—equity in a marketplace that YOU the print provider have assisted in the design and construction of, then built, supported and accepted. It is about time that you added profit to this list.
If you would like to share the blade with me reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (917) 597.1891.