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Commentary & Analysis

Print It


By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: June 29, 2006

- Straight Talk From the Digital Printing Council Print It By Frank J. Romano June 28, 2006 -- No, not "print it"--Print IT, as in "eye-tee" or Information Technology, as applied to printing. IT encompasses computer programming, networking, digital asset management, hardware and software updating, systems optimization, database operations, variable data printing, organizational workflow, website maintenance, and other functions. In other words, all that geeky stuff that links customers to printers and printing people to printing systems. Workflow is mostly IT-based. The printing industry is IT-based. It used to be that printing companies were run by production people. They knew how to get a job from file to pile. Today, a printing company is really run by its IT systems--from MIS functions like estimating and planning, to Internet functions like ftp and order entry and Web-to-Print, to the Digital Front Ends (DFEs) that drive CTP, printers, proofers and more, to print production software. It used to be that printing companies were run by production people. Today, a printing company is really run by its IT systems. Print e-business, digital asset management, variable data software, automated workflows, and print MIS solutions are rapidly being integrated. The two aspects of Print IT are: * Internal IT: Keeping desktop computers and their software up-to-date, staying ahead of software revisions for MIS estimating, planning, and scheduling systems, maintaining company servers and networks, maintaining customer-facing websites, and implementing and optimizing digital asset management systems. * External IT: Working with customer databases, establishing rules for variable data printing projects, providing plug-ins for customer file preparation, implementing ftp and file delivery systems, establishing Internet storefronts, and working with clients on database projects. In an RIT thesis presentation, Henrik Holm Christensen investigated the relationship of printing companies that retained employees to implement DAM and VDP, two key aspects of Print IT. His research found that 88 percent of the printers who retained such employees grew, while only 53 percent of those who did not retain such professionals grew. The growth of firms with DAM and VDP professionals was across the board, from small- to large-sized businesses. Research found that 88 percent of printers who retained IT employees grew, while only 53 percent of firms that did not retain such professionals grew. His conclusions were that successful DAM and VDP depend on: * Hiring employees with strong IT and printing skills, plus an innovative mindset. * Compensating these employees better than employees with traditional skill sets. * Managing and leading these professionals to "push the envelope." * Delivering beyond customer expectations through sophisticated technology utilization. Print IT is more than just another aspect of print production.



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