If you’ve been in the print business for more than a decade, you have to be noticing how software decisions are becoming the norm rather than the exception in running your print business. Remember when software decisions were made annually; for example the upgrade to the Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, or your desktop operating systems?

You are not alone, Marc Andreessen (Netscape founder and venture capitalist) famously said, “software is eating the world” back in a Wall Street Journal article in August of 2011. With the advent of software companies like Airbnb eating hotels and Uber eating the taxi industry, what he saw in 2011 is happening faster than anyone expected.  

Why is this happening now?

“Six decades into the computer revolution, four decades since the invention of the microprocessor, and two decades into the rise of the modern Internet, all of the technology required to transform industries through software finally works and can be widely delivered at global scale.”

How does this apply to your print business?

Print, like all industries is being “eaten” by software. For one, print has lost its hold as the primary communication medium for marketing messages. Digital messages (web, e-mail, text, audio, video) will be the dominate way organizations communicate with their prospects and customers moving forward. Operating a print business is being “eaten” by software. You’ve heard my colleague Jane Mugford and I say this hundreds of times, you need a trusted system of record (Print MIS) in order to compete in this data-driven world. Customers are looking online first, hence your online presence in the form of your website, your social channels, and your ability to transact with your customers (web-to-print) are all based on software.

In order to thrive in this software dominated marketplace, the attention, study, and analysis you placed on outfitting your production floor for decades needs to be brought to the study of software and its impact throughout your entire business.

What Should You Do About It?

One word: LEARN

Here’s the challenge, we tend to migrate to topics we feel comfortable with, hence most print educational events are dominated by presses and production-related challenges because that’s what printers feel comfortable with. Do we go to sessions on topics we’re already comfortable with or do we seek out topics we’re clueless about? Think about the print businesses that are thriving today, are they thriving because they bought better presses than you or are they thriving because they have used software to innovate their way into new print markets and deeper into their customer’s business processes?

At this year’s Dscoop in San Antonio, TX on April 14-16, we will be trying something new. Maybe you don’t want to commit to a full session about software topics like; SEO (search engine optimization), optimizing your Print MIS to make data-driven decisions at all levels, software integrations, using new business tools like Slack, or the importance of responsive design for all things you do on the web. Dscoop is introducing a Collaboration Station on the show floor where we can deliver 15-20 minute talks on a wide variety of technical topics – then, most importantly, open it up for questions and discussion. No experience required to attend, no question is too basic or too advances, and if we don’t know the answer, we’ll find it out for you or we’ll give you the resources to learn it yourself!

Think of it as a TED talk format with Q&A. Here’s the method to our madness. We have the gift of time constraints so we want to make sure what we deliver is worth it.

What is the biggest mistake you can make in this topic area? Collaboration is about collectively learning from others mistakes. We will give this a lot of thought – present you with the top mistakes we’re seeing and then make sure you know how to avoid them! Now that you know what to avoid, the next step is giving you the direction to determine the next actions you can take to leverage this area of software in your business. The final step in our delivery framework will be giving you direction as to where you can learn more.

  1. One mistake to avoid
  2. Three recommended next actions
  3. Where to learn more
  4. Q&A 

Most importantly, collaboration isn’t about sitting in the audience. Collaboration is about making the connections that can be a resource for you when your business hits technology challenges down the road. The Dscoop Collaboration Station is creating the space to make those connections. We are all on the same steep learning curve together; we can make the journey a whole lot more comfortable by working together. This means Dscoop members sharing their challenges, with some solutions coming right out in the Collaboration Station or more likely over beers later that evening!

We hope to see you at the Dscoop Collaboration Station. My team will be presenting the Tech Talk Series at Dscoop, San Antonio, TX on Friday, April 15 from 10am – 1pm. If you have topics you feel are important to cover in the Collaboration Station, please don’t be afraid to comment to this article or e-mail me directly [email protected]