McIlroy--New Year, New Media Trends
I wish that the vendors would focus on some meaningful educational and market-development issues. But I doubt it will happen, so I predict only modest growth in this market in 1998.
I wonder if all of the current suppliers will be able to survive the slow uptake—I doubt that they can. But we'll still see a host of "faster and better" print engines in 1998. New technology tends to appear when the engineers complete it, not when the market demands it.
We've been talking about workflow for years now, and the only thing clear is that no one knows what they're talking about. I know that workflow has to do with making work flow better—faster, more efficiently, with fewer errors—but beyond that there's not much agreement about what workflow is, and particularly what a "good" workflow is.
The industry has to get together on this one too and come to some agreement on terms and concepts. At Seybold Publications we're spearheading one project to try to encourage this agreement, but I suspect it's not enough to bring the issue into the bright spotlight it requires. Workflow is still a couple of years from becoming a meaningful product category.
At the heart of controlling workflow is controlling the digital elements that are processed into a digital workflow. That much is clear. And the market is waking up to this very rapidly. While I don't know of a single "workflow" system I can recommend, there are several digital assets systems that are drawing raves, including Canto Cumulous on the low-end, and MediaBank from Archetype, now a division of Bitstream, for more demanding users.
Most printers and prepress shops now advertise "digital asset services" to their customer base—though most don't really understand what they're advertising. I think that many providers of graphic arts service will master the learning curve in 1998, while their customers will wake up to the value of digital asset control. This product category should continue to grow rapidly in 1998.