Hybrid: Lateral Thinking to Invigorate Print

Go to a Whole Foods and try to get through the parking lot without encountering a hybrid car.

I dare you.

Hybrid comes from the Latin hybrida, or cross-bred animal. It was first used around the turn of the 17th century in connection with breakthroughs in biology. The use of the word has since pushed into electrical power generation, electronics, and so much more.

Today, hybrid is understood to be the mashup of almost anything. It reflects the nature of the world today—multitasking, multipurpose, multifaceted. Mashups such as Web apps combine data and functionality from multiple sources to deliver new services. We use them every day and recognize them as GPS devices, news aggregators, and Augmented Reality. They represent new products, but not necessarily new technology.

There are very few genuinely new ideas, but the lateral application of existing concepts applied differently can lead to breakthrough innovations. In 2003, Phil Kotler, the “father” of modern marketing, along with Fernando Trias de Bes formalized this process with the release of “Lateral Marketing: New Techniques for Finding Breakthrough Ideas.” They established a framework “that offers a high chance of creating new categories or markets.”

In case you’re not a reader, Lateral Marketing focuses on leveraging existing customers to identify and satisfy additional needs, or adding functionality to existing products to generate new applications. In the latter version, new products can be derived from current products.

Have you heard of many new categories or markets developed for print lately? Truly innovative thinking may not be commonplace in our industry, but there have been a few examples.

A couple of years ago, Kodak released the Prosper S10 imaging heads. The new, 600 dpi resolution enabled high-quality reproduction of halftones and images, far beyond the reach of previous 240 dpi technology. At SPC, the new imaging heads were not an option, as a chorus of existing clients insisted on the higher resolution.

A third-generation printer, Dustin LeFebvre delivers his vision for Specialty Print Communications as EVP, Marketing through strategy, planning and new product development. With a rich background ranging from sales and marketing to operations, quality control and procurement, Dustin takes a wide-angle approach to SPC

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