By Pat Taylor, Proactive Technologies JDF merits our attention, but we must plan for its deployment. May 17, 2004 -- "I couldn't go to drupa. For the first time in a long time, I have customers sending me business," said Hank. He didn't even look up from his lunch--he was as casual in response as if I asked about his weekend. "Anyway, they say it's the 'JDF drupa'." "Well there's a lot to learn about JDF, Hank," I responded. "You'll want to know what's goin' on." He looked me straight in the eye and locked me with his stare. "I've got a book in my office by Romano himself announcing the importance of PDF to the industry. That book is getting close to ten years old, Taylor, and we still don't have it right. Our company and our industry are more 'digital' now than ever before, and we intend to keep moving forward. But I'm going to take the time it takes to do it right. We'll study JDF, and my team will lay out a plan for its deployment. And we will execute our plan when we're ready. That sound alright to you?" Relevant, but not Urgent Abrupt and abrasive as he appears, Hank is usually right. I finished my meal in silence, thinking about his clear and succinct position on the subject of our limited conversation. He understands JDF as well as most people in the business--which is 'not enough'. It is a relevant technology, but it does not create a sense of urgency. It merits our attention, but we must plan for its deployment. There is a great deal of preparation required in order to move forward successfully, seize opportunities to consolidate resources, and invest in an infrastructure that will enable JDF. JDF will describe the details of a printing job to all of the devices performing work on the job. But how will those devices communicate? Do many printing companies have a highway to support the flow of JDF information amongst compliant devices, and is the common [job] data available to the different departments of the business? Why is there a server with its own data storage system (and its own data backup system, as well) on the Business side of the business, and a second or third set of sub-systems on the Production side of the business, and why don't they share data? Is the business properly connected to communicate--within itself and with its customers? Can anyone in the business cycle access a single data pool to retrieve the information specific to their part of the operation? There is a great deal of preparation required in order to move forward successfully, seize opportunities to consolidate resources, and invest in an infrastructure that will enable JDF. (We'll talk about Comprehensive Support in a separate article…) Drink Slowly When we're ready, we will deploy JDF-capable products that make sense for our company and our customers. "So, basically, you are telling me that you're limiting yourself to what you can do now?" Hank looked at his watch before deciding he had time to tolerate my thick-headedness. "Listen closely, and I'll try to make it simple for you. We're consolidating our resources. We're adopting standards and building our own infrastructure. Then, when we're ready, we will deploy JDF-capable products that make sense for our company and our customers. In the meantime, it's business-as-usual." Measured steps down a path to success. I guess there is no substitute for the wisdom that comes with experience. Hank has a plan for a big data pool, and a network that allows each department to dip into the data pool for the information it needs. A single data pool costs less, and is easier to manage and share and protect, and standards-based applications can be plugged into the system whenever and wherever appropriate. Hank is setting limits on his plans for growth and--in time--JDF will fulfill its promise. If turned loose too soon, however, Hank and his crew could be drinking from a fire hose.