Why Software is More Important than Ever for Printers

Bryan Yeager, consultant for InfoTrends in Weymouth, MA.

Software touches virtually every person in the print shop, from customer service to the pressroom. It is not just a purchase of a license and an annual maintenance fee or a service subscription; it’s a business investment that needs to be aligned with people and processes to be implemented and utilized effectively.

Software usage in the printing industry has gone through numerous cycles of transition over the past 30 years. We’re all familiar with the timeline—desktop publishing revolution in the 1980s; the transition to workflow-driven, computer-to-film then computer-to-plate in the 1990s; and Web enablement in the early 2000s that continues to grow today. Over this time span, printers have had to keep up with a brisk pace of software innovation and, for the most part, they have adapted well.

Even though firms have gone through a period of widespread software adoption and witnessed how software can be a key business enabler, I still find that software isn’t taken seriously enough by some printers. Maybe that’s due to past experience. Some companies that built their heritage in our industry made questionable decisions that left a bad taste throughout the print constituency. Moreover, I hear about how companies are on their second, third or even fourth Web-to-print product, having to maintain customers on each platform.

These types of experiences with software are obviously frustrating to printers, many of which have more distressing matters to deal with, like keeping the presses running and the doors open.

Nevertheless, printers need to proactively make an effort to get a handle on understanding software technology and the impact it can make. There is a huge promise for success when technology is applied appropriately. The common thread I see among printers I’ve talked with that have continued to see growth and success in the industry—even through tough economic times—is smart investment and application of software in their businesses.

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