Target - DRUPA 2000
Miranda Tivey, director of marketing at Vio Worldwide, on the rise of online intelligent workflows.
Just five years ago, the world was a much larger place for those in the graphic arts. Even though satellites, microwave links and leased T-1 phone lines had been used for years to transmit the vast quantities of relatively small packets of data used in general-purpose computing, few in the graphic arts community knew about such technologies, much less used them. Many print buyers still dealt with a handful of suppliers typically within an hour ride by courier; print service providers were just beginning to preflight jobs routinely; and if you used an ISP, a browser and e-mail, you were labeled a computer techie.
Within the past three years, the widespread adoption of digital technology has dramatically changed how quickly print jobs are produced, and where they can be produced. Today, shipping ZIP disks or CD-ROMs by courier or by overnight shipper to more distant locations is no match for the relatively short time it takes a user with a T-1 or ISDN link to transmit or receive a multi-megabyte image file.
What has happened in the past three years will seem insignificant compared to the changes—and the opportunities—that are coming in the next three. We're already seeing an increasing number of choices in high-speed file delivery mechanisms such as cable, DSL and wireless communications, in addition to more standard means. Meanwhile, printers and other service providers who have become more knowledgeable about all-digital workflows, including CTP, direct-to-press and direct-to-print, are more comfortable with the notion of maintaining files in an all-digital form throughout a workflow that increasingly is being distributed geographically.
The acceptance of digital file delivery as a replacement for disks, CDs and couriers, coupled with an understanding of the vast potential inherent in a network as far reaching as the Internet, is paving the way for online intelligent workflows. This next wave will bring an entirely new dimension to graphic arts production through a variety of integrated applications available online, from ad delivery, production job tracking and media asset management to color-managed remote proofing and distribute-and-print for short-run, variable data and on-demand printing needs.