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Hybrid Software's Mike Rottenborn on trends in data usage, MIS, and web-to-print

Published on March 15, 2013

Mike Rottenborn, President & CEO of Hybrid Software, talks to Eric Vessels about the trends he's seeing in the industry relative to data usage, MIS systems, and web-to-print.

Eric Vessels:  Hi, it’s Eric Vessels with WhatTheyThink and I’m here with Mike Rottenborn who is President and CEO of Hybrid Software.  Welcome, Mike.

Mike Rottenborn:  Thanks, Eric.

Eric Vessels:  So I wanted to see if you could tell me just a little bit about Hybrid first off.  You know, kind of how long have you guys been around and some of the things you do.  Just give us some background.

Mike Rottenborn:  Absolutely.  So Hybrid Software was founded in 2007.

Eric Vessels:  Okay.

Mike Rottenborn:  Really to bridge the gap between Workflow, MIS and web-to-print.

Eric Vessels:  Okay.

Mike Rottenborn:  So we have a background in all of those areas and decided that it was time to create a company to help facilitate the integration of orders from placement through to delivery.

Eric Vessels:  Sure, and I know in the digital age and the transformation of the industry that that’s becoming more and more important.  So maybe you could tell us a little bit about the trends that you’re seeing with your customers relative to how they’re using data, MIS systems, the whole importance of the prepress process and getting stuff on the web.

Mike Rottenborn:  Absolutely.  And I think it’s critical to start with the web.  We call that order lifecycle management.  So how do you manage an order from the time there’s a need to the time that need is fulfilled.

Eric Vessels:  Right.

Mike Rottenborn:  And more and more that does start on the web.  The real trend we’ve seen for years is the growth in web-to-print in all segments of the industry.  I think it started in commercial printing.  Now we see it in packaging and wide format as well.  So, to begin with the creation of an order on the web and to be able to process that in an automated fashion, not just to Workflow but to MIS. 

Eric Vessels:  Right.

Mike Rottenborn:  To me that’s the missing link is as run lengths become shorter, as the lifecycle of an order becomes tighter you need to be more profitable in how you process that.  And we need to reduce the administrative overhead involved.

Eric Vessels:  Absolutely.  And maybe you could talk a little bit about how you see printers using data and the importance of that data in their business process.

Mike Rottenborn:  That’s a great point and, you know, there’s multiple types of data but the two that are important here – one is graphics data and the second is the metadata about that order.  We call that campaign management.  You know, how many do you need to ship, where do they ship to, when are they due, when are the reorders due in the warehouse and things like that.

Eric Vessels:  Right.

Mike Rottenborn:  So on top of that you’ve got the version control of the actual graphics themselves.  So how do you know you’re printing the right order?  How do you know you’re printing the right version of that order to send to a specific customer?  And, again, as run lengths become shorter, the number of orders becomes greater and greater.  So the data management becomes…

Eric Vessels:  And that’s a lot of data to keep track of.

Mike Rottenborn:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.

Eric Vessels:  So…

Mike Rottenborn:  Databases are the key and if you look the database driven workflows are very common at this point.  Every MIS system has a database underneath it and Hybrid’s products actually communicate at a database level.  So not necessarily through JDF, although we do support JDF.

Eric Vessels:  Sure.

Mike Rottenborn:  But we communicate at a database level with MIS, with Workflow and with web-to-print.  So that’s absolutely critical to capture that data once so it’s never reentered throughout the entire process.

Eric Vessels:  That’s great.  Well, what are some of the new things that Hybrid’s doing?  What’s the latest and greatest?

Mike Rottenborn:  Latest and greatest that Hybrid is doing at this point – we are doing more with web corrections and approval.  So soft proofing’s been around for a long, long time.

Eric Vessels:  Sure.

Mike Rottenborn:  But when you link that into an automated workflow process there’s always a correction cycle and typically that correction involves going back to the agency or back to the creator to have changes made.  Our newest products here at the show actually allow some of that to be done by the client over the web in a last minute correction cycle.

Eric Vessels:  And that’s where the versioning is important.

Mike Rottenborn:  That’s exactly right.

Eric Vessels:  Keeping track of what changes are made and where it’s at in the process.

Mike Rottenborn:  That’s exactly right, yes.  So we keep track of the versioning and allow our clients to approve and make changes to the files at the last minute.

Eric Vessels:  Awesome.  Well Mike, thanks a lot for taking some time out to tell us about your business and some of the trends in prepress and MIS.  We appreciate it.

Mike Rottenborn:  Thank you, Eric.  I appreciate the opportunity.

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