Change evokes fear in some, excitement in others, and dread in many.
What we can all agree on, change is picking up the pace. I met a friend of my fathers who worked at IBM for fifty years, I asked him to describe the biggest change in his work life over his career. He said he used to make three important decisions a week after careful study, towards the end of his career he made ten important decisions a day. The pace of change accelerated without pause for his entire career.
What does change mean to you?
I attend a lot of technology events near my home in San Francisco; I would describe the attitude towards change in the technology sector with one word: opportunity. There is a feeling that no company or market in impenetrable, everything could change tomorrow, and almost everyone feels like they could be the one to make it happen. You can call it exuberance, hubris, or over-confidence but it creates an atmosphere of virtually unlimited potential.
The attitude towards change in the print industry is quite different, for good reason. Print had its run of dominance for decades; the world of digital communications is giving print a run for its money. Change in this industry is often interpreted as a threat rather than an opportunity. Instead of looking for ways to capitalize on a shifting market, many printers are looking for ways to play defense against change (hoping for a return to the good old days).
We are seeing positive signs; printers are getting better at buying technology. Printers are asking more of their software vendors. Printers are moving online with a more concerted effort. My fear is that we’re not moving fast enough. You don’t have to be on the cutting edge, unless your customers are there. You do have to know more than your customers, this requires diving into a steep learning curve – just like you did when the desktop publishing revolution happened and when digital printing went mainstream.