By Michael McCarthy of Presstek Migration to bundled solutions is not only an imperative for the print service providers, but for the suppliers to that community. March 14, 2005 -- I read with interest Barbara Pellow's recent column in OnDemandJournal called The Shift to Packages. In it, she points out that delivery of high quality and timely printed materials is "the price of staying in the game," and asserts that successful printers will follow the example of the high tech industry in migrating its offerings to a set of packaged solutions that address a wider range of customer needs than simply laying down ink on paper. This is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. I joined Presstek from the high tech industry, and lived through that industry's migration from a focus on point solutions to bundled offerings that not only addressed customer needs more fully, but stood to differentiate the company's offerings in the marketplace. I see a definite parallel between the two industries. As Pellow points out, both high tech and printing can be thought of as mature industries whose products can easily slide into the commodity zone. At the top end of the market, providers like RR Donnelley, Banta, QuadGraphics and others have already made significant progress in moving in the direction of offering bundled services. But for the vast number of printing enterprises--those with less than 20 employees--that migration has been much slower. My belief is that a migration to bundled solutions is not only an imperative for print service providers; it is also an imperative for the suppliers to that community. As leader of the integration team following the acquisition of ABDick by Presstek, I made the development of bundled solutions a top priority, and you will be seeing the results of that commitment over the coming months. As suppliers to the industry, it is incumbent upon us to leverage our market research dollars and our market knowledge to put together programs that educate especially the smaller print service providers about the resources available to them to leverage the transition of their businesses to that of full service providers of packaged solutions. This imperative has three stages: First, we must help them learn how to gain a deeper understanding of the needs of their served market and the opportunities they have for expanding into new markets. We can accomplish this by sponsoring seminars, publishing case studies, making our trade show booths more educational and establishing user groups that facilitate the sharing of best practices among our customer base. Secondly, we can structure our product and service offerings to address the effective delivery of packaged services. In effect, we, as suppliers to the printing industry, must also package our products and services in a way that makes it easier for printers--especially the smaller operations--to acquire and deploy the right combination of hardware, software and services to effectively bring a packaged offering to their served markets. And finally, we must help them learn how to market and sell these packaged offerings. At the same time, print service providers have a responsibility to take advantage of the educational opportunities and marketing support being offered by the supplier community and to use that information to transform their businesses and position themselves for future success. Suppliers to the industry must shoulder the responsibility of disseminating market-based education to printing establishments for whom market intelligence can be hard to obtain. A good example of a supplier who has been proactive with this type of market-based approach can be observed in one of our most valued distribution partners, KPG, who has organized its business around three market segments--commercial print, packaging and newspapers--and has developed a set of bundled solutions specifically designed to serve the needs of each. They are to be congratulated on the level of investment they have made in assembling this market-based approach. At Presstek, we have historically played a leadership role in bringing new and innovative technologies to bear on the age-old art of offset printing. And we have done that by delivering to the market a suite of offerings that reduces the complexity of offset printing and eliminates process steps. At the same time, we have done this with a view to bringing more environmental responsibility into the industry. None of this should be news to the readers of OnDemandJournal. Moving forward, we view as a critical next step in our evolution the development and delivery of an innovative set of packaged offerings to the printing industry--including the type of marketing support I have described above--and are marshalling our resources to do so, including restructuring our sales and marketing efforts to become even more market and customer focused. To launch that effort in 2005, our ABDick distribution arm is holding a series of open houses around the country to offer an educational experience for printers on a local basis. And we have much, much more planned as we continue to add to our world-class portfolio of products, services and partner offerings. We view this approach as not only our responsibility to our customers, but as our responsibility to our shareholders as well. It is a market-based approach that printers should not only expect, but demand, from suppliers in this increasingly complex and competitive age. Many of our colleagues who are also suppliers to the industry have initiated these types of efforts on some level, such as the KPG example I have cited, and I call upon them to escalate those efforts as we are doing. As suppliers to the industry, we must shoulder the responsibility of disseminating this type of market-based education to the vast majority of printing establishments for whom this type of market intelligence can be hard to obtain. By doing so, we can help to stem the tide of business closings and make significant contributions to the effort to maintain print as a viable and competitive means of business communication far into the future. The printing industry has demonstrated its resilience time after time over the years. Let's work together to ensure the continued resilience of the industry.