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Avanti Launches Avanti Slingshot: The Next Generation Print MIS (Commentary from Cary Sherburne)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Press release from the issuing company

TORONTO – Avanti Computer Systems Limited, a leading provider of Print MIS and Web-to-Print solutions today announced the release of Avanti Slingshot, the company’s next generation Print MIS product.  The new product, which can be cloud-based or hosted onsite, will be demonstrated at PRINT13 in Chicago. 

Avanti Slingshot has been in development for over three years and was built from the ground-up to handle multiple lines of business, including large format, digital print, conventional print, mailing and fulfillment workflows, as well as creative, marketing and data management services from one platform. 

“We are very excited to be launching a product that will help take our customer’s organizations to the next level,” says Patrick Bolan, President and CEO of Avanti. “Avanti Slingshot leverages advice from industry thought leaders, customers and a rich 29 year history in this specialized market,” adds Bolan.

Avanti Slingshot is an entirely new product, designed for commercial print providers, enterprise/in-plants and franchise operations. Its modular and flexible architecture enables organizations to scale as they grow and add new services. It is browser-based, providing printers with the ability to securely access the system anytime/anywhere from any device, through an easy-to-use Graphical User Interface (GUI).

Avanti Slingshot incorporates business intelligence (CRM, dashboards and reporting), production planning (estimating, imposition, automated purchasing, sales orders, inventory management and scheduling), warehousing, shipping and billing into one easy-to-use and easy-to-implement system. 

Historically, one of the barriers to implementing Print MIS systems has been the amount of effort required to take a new system live. Avanti has invested heavily, as part of the development of Avanti Slingshot, to reduce the level of effort and amount of time required to get the system up and running. Each Avanti Slingshot system ships with a QuickStart Database, an Estimating Standards Library, and migration and import tools, dramatically streamlining the transition from an existing system. 

To prepare for the general release of the product, Avanti has installed Avanti Slingshot in several companies (both commercial and in-plant sites) over the past nine months. According to Bolan, “We wanted to make sure Avanti Slingshot was bullet proof and ready for prime time before the general release to the market.”  

Arizona State University (ASU) was a Beta customer. “Avanti Slingshot has been a great fit for ASU. I no longer need to be tied to my desk in order to manage effectively. I can create an estimate right in a customer’s office, or access my operation from any laptop or mobile device using just a browser,” says Cathy Skoglund, Manager of Operations and Business Development at ASU.

“I find that Avanti Slingshot is so intuitive, anyone with a small amount of training, can create a job ticket in minutes and easily track the job’s progress throughout the shop,” adds Skoglund.  

Integrating the “Islands of Automation”

Avanti Slingshot uses a robust Application Programming Interface (API), enabling the integration of third party applications and the connection of “islands of automation”. The new platform leverages industry standard protocols such as JDF/JMF and XML to communicate with key applications within the shop, such as web-to-print, production workflow tools, as well as post-press and production equipment. “Our goal is to continue to provide the most open Print MIS system in the industry,” says Bolan.

As part of the lead up to PRINT13, Avanti Slingshot has been recognized with a MUST SEE ‘EMS award in the ‘Management Systems’ category.

Avanti will be hosting live demonstrations at Avanti Booth 4242 at PRINT13, as well as “zero-touch” workflow demonstrations in HP’s, Ricoh’s and Xerox/XMPie’s booth.  Please visit the exhibition floor at PRINT13 from September 8-12 for a personal tour and to find out why it was recognized for a 2013 MUST SEE ‘EMS award.

Commentary from WhatTheyThink Senior Editor Cary Sherburne

I spent time with Avanti going through a demo of Slingshot, and while I am by no means an expert, nor do I have to work with this stuff on a daily basis, I was quite impressed with what they have accomplished, including the ease of use and the shortening of the implementation cycle.  Implementing an MIS is not a trivial endeavor, as any printing firm who has gone through this will aver.  Avanti indicates that the average implementation will take 30 hours, which I believe is significantly less than most other MIS systems I have heard discussed.  It also appears that Slingshot will allow users to get going with less training, and perhaps offload some of the tasks to less skilled operators.

The reduced time to implementation is partly achieved by the inclusion of a QuickStart Database and estimating standards library that already includes specifications for many of the presses and other equipment a printer might have on the floor, as well as robust migration and import tools that reduce the amount of rekeying that may have to be done to implement a new MIS. The database and library include some 460 different standards covering admin, prepress, press, mailing, shipping, staging and wide format tasks.

I was also impressed with the range of products and services that Slingshot can accommodate, including creative services. As shops continue to expand the range of products and services they offer and the array of technology they are using to deliver those products and services, combined with the speed of business today, it is increasingly critical that business data be accessible real time, and to the extent it can be consolidated into a single view – which Slingshot appears to do – service providers will be able to better manage their businesses and be more proactive rather than reactive.

Additionally, Avanti has an only storefront offering (eAccess) which one would expect to be tightly integrated with Slingshot, and Avanti indicates that is the case, including the ability for the MIS to be the pricing engine for the storefront, eliminating the need to maintain two different pricing tables.

After having seen Slingshot live, I agree that they deserve the Must See ‘em award they received this year, and encourage you, if you are headed to Print 2013, to take a look under the hood.  With Slingshot and a number of other clean-sheet design or updated browser-based W2P/workflow/MIS solutions being shown this fall at Print 2013, print service providers have a terrific range of options to choose from as they work to streamline their businesses.  One would hope that the availability of solutions such as Slingshot will encourage more printers to add MIS or to update their older MIS systems to better meet the needs of today’s market. 

Plus, ya gotta love the name!


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