Customers Taking Control
Customers want more control of the production process. Frank Romano (I think) coined the term “ransom note typesetting” not long after the first Macintosh came out. The early Macs offered 30+ fonts. Suddenly fonts were available to everyone. Customers became typographers and graphic designers.
The problem was that they felt they should use every font on every page. It was fun. It was creative.
It was embarrassing.
We’re seeing a similar trend in print today. Customers are willing to trade what we printers perceive as quality for control, and work we used to produce in our shops is migrating to desktop printers and distributed multi-function devices (MFDs).
I worked with an organization recently in which one of the operating units had purchased an ink-jet printer to produce brochures and flyers. The reason? The print shop took too long.
Another example: A university president’s office hired a graphic designer and purchased a mid-range (sometimes called "business quality") color MFD to print reports, invitations and related material. Why? Once again the print shop was insensitive to the quick turnaround needed by the customer. In short, the in-plant took too long. And in this case the graphics person in the president’s office started designing jobs and selling color prints to other offices in the building, so the print shop lost again.
Bottom line: When customers believe that the in-plant is not sensitive to their needs, they will find ways to avoid using it. And that is never a good thing.
Ray Chambers, CGCM, MBA, has invested over 30 years managing and directing printing plants, copy centers, mail centers and award-winning document management facilities in higher education and government.
Most recently, Chambers served as vice president and chief information officer at Juniata College. Chambers is currently a doctoral candidate studying Higher Education Administration at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU). His research interests include outsourcing in higher education and its impact on support services in higher education and managing support services. He also consults (Chambers Management Group) with leaders in both the public and private sectors to help them understand and improve in-plant printing and document services operations.