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PrintAction - 1415 (Page 7)

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PrintAction - 1415
think that managing a printing business in
these tough times leads many to frustra-
tions, even to rage. You can easily start to feel
like Howard Beale: `I'm mad as hell, and I'm
not going to take this anymore!" But where
are you going to direct that rage? I hope it won't be
toward your perceived enemies, be they the Web,
digital printing, or these still challenging econom-
ic times. I recommend that you direct them
inward, toward your organizations, and say: It's
finally time to make the drastic changes that are
necessary to stay in the game of communications.
A recent economic study from the U.S.
International Prepress Association (now called
The Association of Graphic Solutions Providers)
contains a fascinating article on what it takes to be
a profit leader in the graphic arts. It turns out that
there's no magic bullet, but rather a series of small
steps, that need to be well executed. These steps
affect every area of a print operation, from sales to
manufacturing. The profit leaders execute these
steps across the board.
Theories aside, there are really only two ways to
improve manufacturing productivity. Either you
train and/or motivate your existing staff to pro-
duce more, or you buy better technology for exist-
ing staff to use. Training has always been an elusive
pursuit for corporations. It's hard to determine the
best training procedures, and it's hard to measure
the ROI on training. By comparison, buying a new
machine is so much easier to define, plan and
measure. Of course it's essential to follow both
Staffing is the most underrated problem that
printers face. In a recent survey, 77.2 per cent of
web printers rate this as their number-one prob-
lem (second place goes to a 75 per cent rate for
low competitive pricing). Human resource man-
agement can no longer be assigned to junior man-
agement. It has become a top management
Printing is manufacturing
The printing industry is changing rapidly, but
from my perspective, just not fast enough. Try this
phrase, and see if it rolls comfortably around your
tongue: The graphic arts industry must get its act
together from a manufacturing perspective. Are
you willing to give up five centuries of craft-based
print and accept that the printing process can and
should be controlled?
What we've learned in the last few years is that
technology has finally afforded us the opportunity
to control print production. Computer Integrated
Manufacturing (CIM) is the cover-all name for it.
Specifics include colour management, content
management, colour control and job control (JDF
­ the Job Definition Format).
I believe that a prerequisite for remaining in the
print game is to fully embrace CIM and its associ-
ated components. For the first time print has a real
competitor ­ the Web ­ and only by simplifying
the time and cost associated with print manufac-
turing will it be able to compete.
What about technology?
After a decade and a half of investing in new digi-
tal prepress technology, printers are at a cross-
roads. Despite the many millions of dollars that
printing companies have poured into digitization
throughout this period, profitability has remained
essentially constant. You've transformed a signifi-
cant part of the manufacturing process, without
making it significantly more productive.
There are two kinds of technology that matter to
printers. The first is technology on the market
today that improves quality and/or productivity.
The second is technology that takes you where you
need to go in the future. Too many printers ignore
the first category; most ignore the second.
From another perspective, technology invest-
ments fall into two broad categories: incremental
improvements and major capital investments.
Both require careful scrutiny. Few printers are
doing everything they can to explore digital asset
management, colour management and PDF
workflows. For relatively minor capital invest-
ments, printers could be operating more efficient-
ly, with fewer errors and with greater customer
The press has always been the ultimate work-
flow bottleneck. Most printers didn't expect to
make money in prepress ­ it was often offered
more as a customer service than a profit centre.
The IPA report referred to above proved that top
financial performers perform well in prepress too.
But the pressroom represents a completely new
technological and financial challenge. New offset
presses are at least 25 per cent more productive
than the equipment they replace. You can have as
much productivity as you can afford. The param-
eters become: who has the best access to cheap
capital and the best staff to implement new tech-
nology as it is installed.
Most printers need ­ soon ­ to confront the
large investment challenges of the new millenni-
um: CTP, digital printing and new offset presses.
These are not simple decisions, but they are neces-
sary decisions. They can only be postponed for so
long until competitive challenges will make them
Media Agility
PRINTACTION ­ March 2004
By Thad McIlroy
So I want you to get up
now. I want all of you to
get up out of your chairs.
I want you to get up
right now and go to the
window, open it and stick
your head out and yell,
I'm mad as hell, and I'm
not going to take this
­ Howard Beale (actor Peter Finch)
in the movie Network 1976
In this game, manufactur-
ing discipline will win.
The craftsman who has to
leave his thumbprint on
every page will lose...
We are a decade behind
in manufacturing best
­ William L. Davis, Chairman,
President and CEO R.R. Donnelley
Since the collapse of the
boom, the generally held opinion is
that internet advertising has
collapsed also. In fact the opposite is
true. The 2003 year-end report from
the Interactive Advertising Bureau
records "the highest quarterly
revenue growth since the IAB and
PricewaterhouseCoopers began
tracking interactive ad revenue in
1996." Online advertising revenue in
the United States for Q4 2003
totaled an estimated $2.2 billion, with
revenues for the year 2003
estimated at $7.2 billion.

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