Thursday, July 9, 2009

Why being a printer is better than being a "service" provider from Jeff Immelt and Dr Joe Webb

See snippet below from the FT for excerpts from Jeff Immelt's column and excerpts from Dr Joe Webb's column at

It all depends on what you mean by "service." There is personal service. There is business service. Print can be both. Photobooks are personal. Business cards are a business service.

Print thrives as a business service.
Business services make it faster/better/cheaper to make stuff. It is about making tools that people can use to make/distribute/sell stuff. The better/faster/cheaper people can make/distribute/sell stuff the less resources it takes.

The less resources it takes, the more we have left over to provide for our children and have a nice day. Everyone on the planet wants to provide for their children and have a nice day.

The health business makes stuff in the form of healthier people. The education business makes stuff in the form of people who can elegantly solve life problems. The financial business makes stuff in the form of credit that keeps the whole thing going. The consulting business makes stuff in the form of tips and tricks that make it easier for other people to make/distribute/sell stuff.

Print thrives as a business service. Job one is for the craftspeople and engineers. Print stuff has to be better/ faster/cheaper to make/distribute/sell. That's VistaPrint. That's Transcontinental. That's That's Apple and Google.

Job two is to keep on the look out for the new ways that Print can work in harmony with other networked communication to help more people make more stuff. That's the innovation part. It's not about "educating" people about what they should do. It's about supplying the tools that let them do what they already want to do, only better/faster/cheaper.

I think I'm trying to say the same thing that Dr Joe Webb said in this mornings, Dr Joe report. It's behind a Premium Subscriber pay wall, but some snippets below:
Many times, the reporting procedures for data are to blame for the confusion.

the number of freelance graphic designers was 20% lower than the number of people employed by design firms. Today, there are 40% more independent designers than there are employees in design firms

The pressure to outsource is mistakenly considered an effort to reduce cost, or a surrender to competition. There is more than one kind of outsourcing. The one that never gets any news coverage is when it is an effort to employ skills that cannot otherwise be accessed.

Value added” comes from the capabilities that your business has in reducing a client's long- term costs, or in your ability to increase their long-term returns

Those nine dreadful words, “Print can be a legitimate spinoff from the Internet,” came to mind as I looked at's offering. They had figured it out. They made print a spinoff, and it was a new service.

A reminder that content is still growing comes from recent employment data. Both publishing (excluding newspapers), agencies, and designers have been increasing their hiring for the past few months. They would only be doing that if they had more work than they did before. This foreshadowed some of the increase in print shipments a few months ago.

Exactly! Same story, different words. Below are the excerpts from Immelt's column.
Innovation can give America back its greatness
From the

"Over the past few decades, many in business and government bet that the US could transform itself from an innovative, export-orientated powerhouse to an economy based on services and consumption – and that we could still expect to prosper. For a time, it looked like a can’t-miss bet.
. . .
The challenge ahead is not impossible. The first step is recognising that we cannot simply go back to the way things were. This downturn is not simply another turning of the wheel but a fundamental transformation. We are, essentially, resetting the US economy.

An American renewal must be built on technology. We must make a serious national commitment to improve our manufacturing infrastructure and increase exports. We need to dispel the myth that American consumer spending can lead our recovery. Instead, we need to draw on 230 years of ingenuity to renew the country’s dedication to innovation, new technologies and productivity.

GE plans to help lead this effort. We have restructured during the downturn, adjusting to market realities, and have continued to increase our investment in research and development. We are reinvesting in American jobs in places such as Michigan and upstate New York. We plan to launch more new products than at any time in our history.

One place where GE is reaping the benefits of this strategy is our plant in Greenville, South Carolina, where we make turbines for gas and wind power generation. We are now selling their products around the world. In fact, their biggest customer is Saudi Electric Corporation . . .

The rest of the column is here.

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