Management Information Systems — A Hit with Printers
The printer has written some custom software and integrated solutions from several vendors in order to offer sophisticated Web- to-print capabilities. Through personalized stores, customers can place a straightforward order ranging from stationery components to complex variable data projects with 10 to 15 varying elements. This system is interfaced to the MIS.
In researching the options, Mandarino says he found that the pricing and functionality of complete MIS solutions tend to be very similar, which can make it tough to pick one. He recommends doing research on the vendor to try to get a sense of whether it will be there for the long haul to provide ongoing support and development of the product. “We interviewed the owners (of Avanti) and checked out the users group to see if the company really listened to customers’ needs,” he says.
JDF integration is still expected to be one of the important areas of development in MIS technology. The creation of Interoperability Conformance Specifications (ICS) and the establishment of an independent product certification program are seen as key steps toward broad implementation of this cross-vendor, job data communication capability.
Last summer, the CIP4 (International Cooperation for the Integration of the Processes in Prepress, Press and Postpress) organization and PIA/GATF announced the latter would be launching the first JDF certification program. Certifications based on the ICS for “MIS to Prepress” and “MIS to Conventional Sheetfed Printing” were supposed to be among the first testing being offered.
In the intervening time, Dr. Mark Bohan, PIA/GATF’s vice president, research and technology, says a strategic decision was made by the vendors, predominantly, to wait for new ICS documents to be written for the JDF 1.3 revision, rather than pursue certification testing based on JDF 1.2. There were some functional changes introduced in JDF 1.3 that were considered especially valuable for MIS-related operations.