Close Your In-plant?
Are in-plants obsolete? The folks in charge of the 1998 On Demand Digital Printing & Publishing Strategy Conference seemed to want the world to think so.
I attended this five-year-old event last month and was upset to hear a not-so-subtle message being repeatedly stressed to attendees: outsource your printing.
Right from the opening keynote session, outsourcing was glorified. If you listened to speakers Frank Casale, of The Outsourcing Institute, and John Stuart, CEO of IKON Office Solutions, you would have thought that sending all printing to an outsourcing firm was the only viable path for a company to take. And that's exactly what these organizations want gullible corporate and university leaders (who often know nothing about printing) to think: "Close your shop. Send it all to us."
At various tutorial sessions and regular conference sessions throughout the show outsourcing continued to be glorified ad nauseam. The biggest slap in the face came at the end of a session entitled "Building a Print Services Center for the 21st Century," which featured three in-plant managers describing their excellent efforts to keep their in-plants successful and up to date. Then came the fourth speaker, John Jones of Xerox Business Services. Rather than sticking to the topic and providing attendees with useful information, Jones had the audacity to tell the audience not to bother preparing for the 21st century, but to shut their shops and outsource all their printing to his outfit.
"But why?" you ask. "Why would CAP Ventures, the conference organizer, be so interested in closing in-plants?" Could it be because of the money that outsourcing firms like Ikon Office Solutions paid to exhibit at the show?
CAP Ventures says no. It focused on outsourcing because its data showed outsourcing firms were performing strongly and this was one solution for companies to consider. Does CAP Ventures feel in-plants aren't competent enough to do the work? No again, says Charlie Corr, senior consultant. But in-plants must provide a number of services; if they can't do them in-house, they should partner with an external provider. CAP Ventures merely wanted to show outsourcing as an option; the speakers themselves controlled the pro-outsourcing content of their talks.