Saturday, March 14, 2009

The New Opportunity for Print is the PRinternet: Ground>Cloud>Print

I've been on a soapbox recently about the "PRinternet" and business news. The argument is that business journalism is very broken. We all know what misinformation is spread by the business press. In the last couple of weeks, Kodak has been the primary victim, but it is an ongoing expensive problem for every large organization.

In case you missed it, the issue is going mainstream. It started when John Stewart went after Cramer. Then it was continued in the New York Times. Last night, March 13, there was a 15 minute segment on PBS with very serious people from the Journalism schools discussing the failures of the business press.
Update from Meet the Press Sunday March 15: The business press and the now the role of "Journalism" in the run up to the war in Iraq gets 5 or 10 minutes is now even more mainstream. The window for bypassing the press with a PRinternet solution is now open.
One strand of the discussion is about "exposing" business. The much more important thread, most clearly articulated by Stewart, is about the media using hype to increase the eyeball count with no regard for the effect that hype was having on real people. This dovetails with the growing realization in the marketing world that the game is no longer about "eyeballs."

The financial implosion of the over leveraged organizations of the newspaper industry is focusing a much larger discussion about the nature of news (information) delivery in our advanced industrial society. Since they are having such a hard time getting anything to work a moment of innovation might be at hand.

Over there it's about Kodak. Over here it's about the PRinternet.
Yesterday, my regular "Print Correspondent" column appeared at PBS.Media Shift. In that venue I'm talking to internet focused journalism people. They are still trapped by "Print is Dead" story so what I'm saying here would not make any sense over there. Over there, I pointed to
The Newspaper Association of America reports that the Chicago Tribune's uses Kodak's Microzone Publishing Solution to create 35 websites and eight weekly newspapers catering to diverse, hyper-local neighborhoods in suburban Chicago. The full run of the eight weeklies is 100,000. In the language of "versioned print," that means eight versions, 12,500 each.
And that the real problem is fixing the ad sales process.
As journalism is going through fundamental changes, the system for selling print ads is mired in the past. For print ads to activate the presently under-served large market of small business, it means ad sales people will need to be accessible to small and micro-business people for a quick conversation to do the deal. Few small and micro-businesses have the time to focus to buy on the Internet.
It's about the new value that can be created by the "PRinternet"
PRinternet is a term I'm using to capture one vision of Distribute and Print. It's related to "Ground > Cloud > Print." Consider the value created if the PRinternet existed. It could print and deliver more than 700,000,000 "News-on- Print Product" - versioned for micro communities - with a minimal carbon footprint in a couple of days. (Note that "700,000,000" is a stand in for a gezillion. You'll find the thinking behind the "math" in a previous post.)

The micro communities might include a "market segment", or a school building or a hospital or a local political party. For me, this passes the all important "how cool would that be" test.

Getting from here to there
The most plausible path is that this will be driven by the needs of the newspaper industry and/or the political campaigns of 2010. The other possibility is that will be driven from corporate communication departments working with their Public Relations firms.

From now until then -when there is real evidence of demand pull - the opportunity is to do as many low risk proof-of-concept projects as possible. The speed and repetition can be sustained if they bring new work into our PSP's and be a laboratory for business development. "If there is no path to scale, don't do it."

In education, I know that Oce and Xerox have a long history of doing publishing projects for students. I would not be surprised to find that others have done the same. In addition to doing the Good Work, every one of these publishing projects can be framed in getting the systems in place for resilient local networks that can be plugged into growing nodes of the PRinternet.

In the News business, as I point out in my column, hyperlocal news is going mainstream.
The New York Times is going into the hyper-local news business, as reported by Zachary Seward at the NiemanJournalismLab. It is just one example of hyper-local -- also called community journalism, beat reporting, or representative journalism -- in action. Other instances include Kennesee State university Professor Leonard Witt's Representative Journalism in Georgia and community news site It's not clear how successful the Times' move to start hyper-local blogs will be, since, as long as a strategy is web only, it's going to be hard to get to sustainability.
The Hard Part is Changing the 20th Century Business Culture
In a value chain business environment, secrecy and "proprietary" IP is a competitive advantage.
Now that input-transform- output has moved much closer to the ground, large value chain organizations are being pushed into becoming facilitators of user networks. But the closed culture of value chains is exactly the opposite of the open culture of user networks.

No one organization can control a network. The internet has made that completely clear. AOL, the undsiputed leader at the start tried to apply that thinking. It failed not because of the Time Warner purchase. It fails and continues to struggle, because their abiding pride that they could be the 'Portal" to the Internet. Portal strategy does not work in a user network economy.

Learn from the Internet
Open source. Modular functionalities. Growth happens from the ground up, not from the top down. Explosive growth happens when people on the ground have the choice to use the best tool for the job they want to do today.

The newspapers took a long time to change their culture. They are paying dealing for the time it took. But that is now changing.

The interesting new functionalities include a group of "competitors" in Ohio, who are now freely exchanging their stories and trying to get out of their commitments to the AP. In Iowa, a private held local media company, has reorganized their operation so that the general editor is "a conductor of the information orchestra." The print piece is not yet mainstream, but that is the opportunity for the industry. Reuters meanwhile has released Calais, and the most recent developments built on top of it, were reported today at Nieman Journalism Lab.

Free advice
Consider the "PRinternet" not only as the silly buzzword it might be. Look past the word to the reality it is tryng to capture. I'm seeing a very large, under served, addressable market and eplosive growth opportunities for Print going forward at least for a decade.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Holy Smokes. 2 Biz Press stories on Print in the same week!

added after orignal post on Friday at 6:51 pm est
Ooops! My bad. I thought it was the same story MSNBC picked up earlier in the week. So I got a bit snarky about the business press rewriting the rewrite of someone else's rewrite of a press release. In fact, it seems there were two separate press releases that were each picked up and re written independently. faith in the business press has been restored.:-)

So I changed the headline to: Holy Smokes. 2 Print stories in one week.
Here's the link to the story at the Wall Street Journal

Here's the pitch:
C'mon vendors, let's all get together to use the Printernet to by pass the financial press. InfoPrint did the Press Release on March 10. The WSJ re reported on March 13. If someone printed 200 copies of a full color 4 page newsletter, distributed it the 200 people on Wall Street who care, we could get them information better, cheaper and faster.

And cut out the middle man! And stop wasting our people's time and money, managing the Press.

You can read the original PR release here or the Wall Street Journal below:
Leading Cable Provider Selects InfoPrint and CSG Systems to Enable Personalized, Targeted Communications -
BOULDER, CO -- (MARKETWIRE) -- 03/10/09 --
InfoPrint Solutions Company, a joint venture between IBM and Ricoh, today announced it has successfully implemented a colorful, customized and . . .
to LG - thanks for the point to the WSJ.

Ricoh/IBM: Not the Print Output Network. The Printernet.

In the Printernet, like the Internet before it, sales "channels" become sales nets. In a user network, the resiliency comes from robust activity at the edges, not value creation at the middle or the top. The real competition for Ricoh/IBM, HP, Xerox, KM, Oce, Canon, etc. is not from each other. It is from independent networks on the ground.

They talk with the minimum of spin. The talk is amplified through the internet. What I just heard about Ricoh should be fixed sooner rather than later.

This conversation is happening over at MFD's, MFP's Printers and Copiers. The opening post is titled Are Ricoh’s employees paying for the Ikon aquistion? a snippet follows.
It sounds like Ricoh is trying to balance their budget on the backs of the rank & file workers. Does Ricoh really think that they will keep there best & brightest people with this plan? I think not! Especially with the Large Independent Canon Dealers & CBS growing like crazy. Hey guys (& girls) come on over the water is fine over here.

We, the Independent dealers have continued to be fiscally responsible. We don’t buy our market share, we earn it. As a result we are growing and we are hiring. In this economy that’s a certifiable miracle!

And then some selections from the ensuing thread. Note the time stamps.

March 12, 2009 at 12:50 pm
Oh by the way, Ricoh cost cutting moves did NOT apply to IKON employees, only ‘Ricoh’ workers
March 12, 2009 at 1:32 pm
Mr Anonymous,
Isn’t that a slap in the face to the loyal Ricoh employees? Many of whom stuck with the company through the Savin & Lanier mergers. It does seem to me that Ricoh treats the people at the companies that they buy better than the people whom work for them directly. I worked for Ricoh after the Savin merger and up until just after the Lanier merger. It surprised me that Ricoh would purchase a failed company (Lanier) for pennies on the dollar and then take a large number of the people who ran that company into the ground and put them in charge of a large part of the Ricoh operation. I think that you will see the same thing when they integrate the Ikon personnel into the Ricoh organization. Let’s hope that these same people who ran Lanier & Ikon into the ground will do the same for Ricoh.

I think you are starting to see “merger fatigue” at Ricoh. With these new cuts I think that you will begin to see a “talent exodus” from Ricoh. The smart ones already have their resumes polished up and circulating. I bet that the On Demand show will be a great place for all that Ricoh talent to start looking for their next soft place to land.
March 12, 2009 at 6:25 pm
There has indeed been a “talent exodus” occurring at Ricoh, for some fortunate people such as myself, who had other available options in this tough economy. My concern is also for the Savin / Lanier / Ricoh Independent dealerships that are now being treated as badly as the Ricoh employees. In the words of Nori (a former Lanier guy) to one large Dealer, “I won’t need you in fours years.” That was two years ago, by the way. Get ready for competing with IKON who will offer 3 years of free service to upgrade IKON Canon machines to Ricoh products. Keep on growing, my friend!
Solution shops, value chain, facilitated user networks
"The Print Output Network" sounds like a value chain industry. Printernet better captures a facilitated user network business. Google has learned how to monetize a facilitated user network. AOL, Yahoo didn't get it. They thought they could own the network. The users own the network. The facilitator makes it easier for them to use it.

The reality is that whoever tries to own the network, loses. Ask Microsoft.

Clay Cristennsen in Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns writes that
"the three business types (are) solution shops,value chains, and facilitated user networks. Disruption can occur within each of these types of business models. When the disruption entails solution shops giving way to value chains and value chains giving way to user networks, however, the change in the industry is more profound."
Print shops on the ground have been moving from solution shops to value chains. From the dying business of employing "experienced, intuitvely trained experts whose job is to diagnose problems and recommend solutions" to the growing businesses that "bring inputs of materials into one end of their premises, transform them by adding value, and deliver higher-value products to their customer at the other end."

But many vendors have yet to take advantage of the transition from value chain to facilitated user network. They are still trying to "control the message" and "manage the channels." Undertandably they are having a hard time reorganizing a business that has produced nice predictable profits for many years. The lessons of the internet and Lehman Brothers are hard to integrate.

What might be the effect two years out, of the following:
2009 Managed Print Services Conference
This is the first conference dedicated to Managed Print Services (MPS). The objective for this conference is to provide MPS decision makers, dealers, and vendors the opportunity to share experience, insights, and war stories regarding the in's and out's of MPS engagements. The conference features case studies, panels, and interactive sessions which will highlight experiences and learnings from actual MPS engagements
Sunday, April 26, 2009
San Antonio, Texas 78205

Xerox - No good deed goes unpunished

I got this from AlphaAlert this morning. The title is Companies Facing Pension Deficits and EPS Impact On the chart called Estimated 12/31/08 US Pension plan funded stats ($mn) (3 tier yield curve), I found this:
XRX Corp
Liability 9.889b
Assets 7,659b.
Deficit 2,230b.
Market Cap 6,960b.
Good pensions are a good deed, But during this deep recession it's going to take some time and effort to get this fixed. $2,230 mn. is real money.

Free advice:
Consider setting up your own degree granting education program.

The cost of an undergraduate degree can be $250,000. Over $100,000 for graduate degrees. Degrees in information management, web/print design,document IT and teaching create real life opportunities going forward.

At PARC you already have the smartest people around. Get state certification. Do a combination of on line and on site education. Train the next generation for our industry, instead of trying to get colleges to do it. And retrain our generation so that they can truly benefit from the experience they've earned and lead the industry going forward.

Imagine how many applicants you would get for the Xerox Parc Graduate Institute or the Xerox Parc On Line Career Training Program delivered through Community Colleges

The short term payoff
is to offer upcoming retirees a package of free education + a health care net in return for changing the terms of the pension obligation. The really right thing to do is offer the same deal to folks who have had their pensions cut or eliminated as you try to get this fixed. It's hard to tell how many would take the deal, but if it is designed person by person it should get traction.

That takes a liability and turn it into seed money to go into the education business. That means no more money spent on "educating the customer." If they want education, do an online offering with a real world certificate attached. Give it to your customers for free or at a reduced cost.

It also might make you eligible for some of the stimulus money and more important - the education money that is going to be in the budgets going forward. Plus it should give a very nice boost to the brand in the education space.

It should be "a doing well, by doing good" and a "win-win-win" solution all around. Given the way the world works, it will have unintended consequences that will occupy the time of top management for years. But hey, that's you get the big bucks.

Is AlphaGraphics going to be the Starbucks of the printernet

Updated March 15, 1:25 EST
The original title was Is AlphaGraphics going to be the Starbucks of a Print Output Network.

To see what I mean by PRinternet here or here or here
The difference is that Starbucks controls the customer experience from HQ. That's not working out so well right now. But, AlphaGraphics worries less about a one-size-fits-all "brand" and more about balance sheets, R&D, sales per square foot and generating more cash and EBITDA.

In this morning's, Cary Sherbourne has a great interview with Art Coley, Senior Director of Franchise Development for AlphaGraphics. It's behind the subscriber pay wall, but well worth the read. Meanwhile, here are two free snippets for our viewers:
. . . more than half of all the restaurant locations in the U.S. are franchised and they account for 75% to 80% of the revenue for the industry. In the printing industry, less than 10% are franchised, and the unit economics for independents are about the same as for franchises. As I said, the industry average is $650,000 in annual revenues for print franchises; at AlphaGraphics, the store average is $1.1 million.
. . .
As you may know, Pindar owns AlphaGraphics. Tom Pindar, (said): “What I want you to know is that the current economic environment has perfectly teed up the opportunity to expand for you. You should be adding sales people and you should be looking to do acquisitions of independents who have not kept up.”
About a month a ago I did a post about AlphaGraphics. In it, I quoted a story in from Beyond-Print -
"(February 12, 2009 – G. Alexander) London’s Daily Mail is now being printed in the US using inkjet technology. Alphagraphics is handling the production work, using a Screen Truepress Jet520 and Hunkeler finishing equipment.

The system is installed in northern New Jersey and serves the New York metropolitan area. It can produce hundreds of copies of a 24-page paper each hour. Initially, there will be excess capacity but, according to an article at, additional titles will be printed on the machine by the end of March."

"Hundreds of copies of a 24-page paper per hour." 250 print output nodes on the ground.Each one run by a trained and successful business person. It is worthy of note, that the newspaper purchased the equipment and installed it to be managed at AlphaGraphics.

Imagine the power of a distribute and print network:
As of today, AlphaGraphics has 250 standards based, professionally managed print nodes. Let's say, half of them have a Screen Truepress Jet520, or the Kodak Screen when it gets introduced.

They print 400 12 page tabloids an hour. With one shift, each node produces 7 x 400 = 2800 newspapers. If the work is there, they go to 2 shifts, 5,600 12 page papers a day. Total network production at 125 nodes is 700,000 12 page papers.

As demand increases, more nodes adopt the ink jet newspaper output device. As AlphaGraphics grows, the nodes increase to 300. As non AlphaGraphics nodes come on line with the box, in a couple of years there are 500 print nodes on the ground. In a couple of years, the boxes get 2x as fast and the successful nodes purchase two.

So . . . a couple of years out.
500 (nodes) x (10,ooo (400 @2shifts 1 machine) + 20,000 (100@2 shifts 2 machines))
500x (400K +200K) = 500 x 600K = 300,000,000 12 page newspapers a day. With no mailing costs and with money going to every network node. Minimal central billing. Electronic payment.

Local delivery that builds the brand of each node so they can increase their balance sheets, invest in R&D, maximize their sales per square foot and generate more cash and EBITDA.

Who is going to use the power of this awesome print network?
National brands that need to print for hyperlocal communities. The K-12 education system that will replace textbooks with a subscription based, print + web model education support. Public health systems that have to communicate with everyone. Politicians trying to get elected. Government at the Federal, State and Local levels that have to communicate with everyone.

How to get from here to there
1. Vendors have to compete on product and service, not spin. Forget about Wall Street for now.
2. Harness the power of your in-place networks by incenting the ground forces appropriately.
3. Nurture each print node to grow them into being well managed and self supporting. Stop looking at PSP's as the source of cash. The growing business model is a facilitated user network, with the vendors as the facilitators. The dying business model is value chain enterprise, with deals being made at the top of the pyramid.

It worked for the internet. I can't see why it wouldn't work for us.

My bet is that highly leveraged publicly owned newspapers are going to drive this. When everything else isn't working, the only choice is to try something new. They need a growth story for the stock valuation. Microzone publishing for news and sustainability. Micro local as the growth path to make real money for the next decade.
A private note to JW- That's the part of Kodak I love.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Is Ricoh + IBM going to be the Walmart of Print?

In yesterday's post, I shared some data points about Ricoh and the different parts of the Print Output Network - copiers +MFPs + (MPS?) + Production equipment. I haven't yet found a PR release about a move into MPS, but I can't believe that's not happening. Ikon? IBM? The independent MPS segment?

Today I came across a piece about newspaper production and Fuji. The snippet is at the end of this post.

The last piece of the network is commercial print. Soon hybrid print and a frictionless flow between offset and digital will get to the ground. At the top of offset print are newspapers. That's what I love about Kodak.

My two cents to not-IBM and not-Ricoh
In previous post, I wrote that the Print Output Industry is the Walmart of Information. But given what I've been seeing lately ,I think it's going to be Ricoh that is going to be the Walmart of Print. They have a long range vision, very deep pockets, not too worried about stock valuations, once they move they can execute.
Consider they bought Ikon in October, it is today reported that Ricoh copiers have replaced Canon with a 90% share. That is execution!
Meanwhile, HP looks like it's going to be Tesco. Xerox, Kodak, Oce, Konica Minolta, and Canon are going to have to fight for what's left over. When you get to a large collection of niche markets it turns into a mass market. When the niches in the mass market incent each other, it becomes a value producing network. The more value the networks produce, the more revenue for the facilitators of that network.

Free advice to not-Ricoh nor IBM
HP - keep on keeping on. Nothing wrong with being Tesco.
Kodak - newspapers, newspapers, newspapers and network the photo sites with best of breed for everything else
Oce - books, books,transactional printing and network with best of breed for everything else.
Xerox - education, health, government and consider Xerox -Fuji in the US, India, Russia and Brazil and Fuji-Xerox in Japan and China.
Konika Minolta and Canon I haven't started following your companies, but from the little I've seen so far, consider tight collaboration with, or buying a piece of, Kodak, Oce or Xerox.

What will Google do?
To all, consider building alliances with Google. Become Google Apps resellers, Your sales channels will love you for it, plus it won't cost you a cent. Get your geniuses to start talking to Google's geniuses about the next version of Google Print Ads and about how Google Apps can be more closely connected to all kinds of Print Output.

And get ready for the crystallization of the Print Output industry in the next year or two.

Tipping points take many years for the groundwork. Then they happen in internet, not corporate, time. Consider that itt took 10 years to prepare the ground for the financial meltdown. It took a couple of months for Lehman to disappear.

FUJIFILM Intros New Thermal Plate for Newspaper Market - Printing Industry News
from WhatTheyThink:

"Thursday, March 12, 2009

VALHALLA, N.Y. -- FUJIFILM Graphic Systems U.S.A., Inc. announced today an addition to the company’s family of printing plates for the newspaper segment. The Fujifilm Brillia LH-NN2 thermal plate, which is designed specifically for longer runs, is now available nationwide."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

There are no new ideas. Just better ways to implement. Pt 2.

From Ad Age.
Walmart Sets Massive Public-Relations Review
Retail Giant Wants to Blend 'Power Category Marketing and PR
LinkThe kernel of PR is
Get your story on the radar of people who might be interested in it.
No spin. Just the facts, ma'am. Timing is everything.

WalMart has their own in store TV channel that reaches 200 million people every week. We could have a newspaper or newsletter that gets on the radar of most of the people interested in what we do. Distribute and Print and distribute through everyone's PSP, MFP and MPS networks. Think of how much SG&A everyone could save.

We've got great writers, production people and Print output centers. So . . .what exactly is the value add of the trade press or the financial press?

There are no new ideas. Just better ways to implement. Pt 1.

The kernel of "interest-based targeting" is
Get your offering in front of people who might be interested in it.
No spin needed. Just the facts, ma'am. Timing is everything.
Google Turns to Behavioral Targeting to Beef up Display Ads - Advertising Age - Digital: "The company today announced it will launch a beta test of 'interest-based targeting,' which lets advertisers target web users based on where they've been surfing across the internet. If a user is reading sports articles on and also visiting, for example, it could get lumped into a sports audience bucket, which advertisers can target."

When MSNBC picks up a Print story, something is going on

Free advice to all not Ricoh or IBM
I am seeing a train that is going to leave the station in 2009 - 10.

I would put this on the front burner and forget about layoffs or the stock price for a while. Reschedule a couple conference calls. Don't "educate" your customers. Figure out a way to incent your network. Whoever fixes the "silo" problem first, is going to have the lead for a decade.

Item #1
InfoPrint Solutions Company Establishes Global Leadership in TransPromo - @
The story is a PR rewrite. But the subhead gets it almost just right.

Sub head as written,
Combination of Global Innovation Centers and Successful Pilots Continues to Drive Uptake of the Marketing Technique
Sub head I would have written,
Combination of Global Innovation Centers and Successful Pilots Continues Expansion of the Print Output Infrastructure
Item #2
Meanwhile on the copier side, at,

* Ikon clients switching from rival gear to Ricoh's smoothly
* Aims for 2009/10 profit growth despite headwind
* Holds onto 2010/11 opg profit target of 250 bln yen

TOKYO, March 5 - Ricoh Co Ltd said its products accounted for 90 percent of sales at Ikon in January, up from 30 percent before the office equipment distributor was acquired by the Japanese copier maker last year, underlining a smooth consolidation of the key U.S. unit.

Ricoh, the world's largest copier maker, said it aimed to raise its profits in the year from April despite a tough business environment, thanks to bigger contributions from Ikon and its high-end printer business.

Item #3
And in the midrange MFP and workgroups
New EFI Fierys Drive Line-Up of Ricoh Aficio Color MFPs, Enabling Office Users blablablabla

"Ricoh Americas Corporation, the leading provider of digital office equipment, and EFI' (Nasdaq:EFII), the world leader in customer-focused digital printing innovation, today launched two EFI Fiery� controllers for the recently launched Ricoh Aficio mid-range digital color multifunction products (MFPs) designed for the office environment. The Fiery controllers deliver exceptional color, automated, visual workflows, and impressive speed to increase return on equipment investment for Ricoh customers."

I haven't found anything about Ricoh and MPS, but I figure that's the other side of the Ikon buy.

An 800 pounder comes to Times Square

I'm thinking that some people in New York will remember Ricoh's name the next a salesperson makes the cold call.

read at Brandweek.
"In the next few weeks, Japanese copy and photo manufacturer Ricoh will launch a Times Square spectacular powered by wind at 42nd and 7th Ave. The sign, using wind turbine technology developed by WePOWER, will be powered by 16 wind turbines and 64 solar panels, saving 18 tons of carbon per year and about $12,000 to $15,000 a month in electricity."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It's going to be a busy day for Kodak Communications Department

In today's Wall Street Journal
Moody's is pushing into a gray zone, singling out some firms that say they're in decent fiscal health. On Monday, imaging company Eastman Kodak objected to being on 'the bottom rung
My personal take is that Moody's has come up with some new statistical tools to give some credence to lots of blablabla to try to revive their brands before Congress turns them into public utilities. Meanwhile, back in the real economy:
Any speculation, however informed, suggesting that Kodak is less than financially sound, is irresponsible,' wrote Eastman Kodak spokesman David Lanzillo in an email. 'Kodak is financially solid, and we are taking the right actions to ensure that we remain a strong and enduring competitor.'
But as we all know, if you keep score by the stock price, every time Wall Street opines,and it's picked up by the media, lots of real people have to leave behind creating value and do the blablabla with "analysts."

It was the Wall Street Journal that reported that Kodak was selling NexPress. That consumed hours and hours of time and focus to straighten out. Unfortunately Kodak can't bill them for the time.

Free advice:
All the vendors should get together and take a page from the Obama campaign and WalMart. Talk directly to investors (read: customers or voters) instead of trying to educate and manage the media.
A. The vendors have all the printing tech on the ground around the globe.
B. Everybody's PSPs needs marketing material and new business.
C. The vendors have the street address of their investors.
D. Our people are at least as talented and alot more focused than anyone at the ratings agencies or the newspapers.

So... how about an industry wide versioned newspaper, distributed and printed with a clear version of our side of the story delivered to the people who really care about it. And eliminate conference calls and analyst events and information kits that they mostly won't understand any way.

It could be printed at InfoPrint's Innovation Centers, HP stores, Xerox Premier Partners, Oce's DNN partners and every PSP on the ground that wants to get involved.

The hard parts
1. The vendors have to play nicely with each other. Compete with products and offers, not with blablabla.
2. It means no spin. No attempt at spin. Not even a hint of spin. But spin takes so much time anyway. Eliminating it would probably cut the SG&A. And replace the "one size fits all" annual report with versioned, transpromo, customized, personalized print product, delivered through a network of Distribute and Print networks.

In any case, Moodys ratings might be useful or no useful. "True" changes so fast, that I know it's not "true." In this one, I'm going with David Lanzillo at Kodak instead of the "analysis du jour" from Moody's.
Moody's Aims to Be Ahead on Defaults -

Pilloried for missing credit problems in the nation's mortgage markets, credit-ratings firm Moody's Investors Service is trying to get ahead of corporate bankruptcies. The firm on Tuesday is publishing a list called the Bottom Rung, detailing the companies that Moody's says are most likely to default on their debts.

With 283 companies, the list holds nearly every sector of the economy. The dominant industries on this at-risk list include much of the U.S. auto industry, the casino sector, and many retail chains, newspapers and broadcast-TV and radio-station networks. Energy firms, airlines and restaurant chains appear often. . . . "Yet Moody's is pushing into a gray zone, singling out some firms that say they're in decent fiscal health. On Monday, imaging company Eastman Kodak objected to being on 'the bottom rung.'

'Any speculation, however informed, suggesting that Kodak is less than financially sound, is irresponsible,' wrote Eastman Kodak spokesman David Lanzillo in an email. 'Kodak is financially solid, and we are taking the right actions to ensure that we remain a strong and enduring competitor.'"

Ricoh + IBM gets it. They are putting Print Output Nodes on the ground

IBM in the cloud, Ricoh with the hardware for input and output on the ground.

For now, it's all about Transpromo. The InfoPrint plan seems to be pretty simple:
1. Create the metrics.
2. Sell to CMO's.
3. Have the production network at hand to produce the work.

In the future, the InfoPrint Innovation Centers around the world might turn out to be the backbone of a real Distribute and Print network.

Free advice to Ricoh + IBM
Implement the incentives to make every Ricoh MFP person on the ground, the feet on the ground for the network. You can start with Ikon. While selling the MFPs, they gather (and IBM stores) the actionable information that supports Distribute and Print and MPS and more MFPs.

Free advice to everyone else
Ask yourself if there is any production difference between "transpromo" and digitally distributed newspapers or business service print collateral or customized textbook-like product for education. Then consider the market challenge of independent business selling MPS to Medium and Small business.

From today's Press release at WhatTheyThink
(Infoprint continues). . . an innovative marketing technique combining personalized marketing with trusted statements such as bills. This is via the opening of InfoPrint Innovation Centers, coupled with running TransPromo pilot promotions to demonstrate the business benefits of its use.
. . .
"InfoPrint recently opened a regional Printing Innovation Center in Shanghai, China, alongside its Boulder Innovation Center in Colorado and the CoCooN Center - Color Cooperation Network - at Williams Lea in Germany. The centers each boast state-of-the-art capabilities designed to incubate new solutions and ideas, and are focused on encouraging collaboration around next generation printing infrastructure to address current business challenges both locally and globally.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Individuated newspaper: This is not going to work.

To see why, check out this conversation over at NiemanJournalism Lab at Harvard.

Individuated newspaper: MediaNews Group tests "I-News" - Editors Weblog:
"I-News will be delivered to subscribers via their computers, cell phones, or a special stand-alone printer plugged into a phone line. The printing manufacturer and the publisher participating in the MNG experiment may subsidize ink and paper prices to offset users' costs. MNG will continue research into the role of high-speed digital printers in the future of newspapers, and it is currently working with printer company Oce to develop user-friendly products for I-News and other projects."

Is Oce's DNN ready to go mainstream?

The latest buzz in the great "newspaper meltdown" in the States is about hyperlocal communities. My personal view is that schools are hyperlocal communities.

In any case, is it time to move this functionality from London to Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, Pheonix?

Or even better, how about to every high school in America.

Stroma and Oce celebrate digital newspaper milestone |
"Oce’s network was started up when Swiss newspaper Neue Zuricher Zeitung (NZZ) wanted a quicker route into the UK.

Danish daily financial paper Borsen Dagblad was the first newspaper to roll off of Stroma’s presses and was followed by the New York Times, which has the honour being the five millionth. The company also prints Sydney Morning Herald and the Globe and Mail.

Oce business development manager for digital document services Paul Krisson, who was instrumental in forming the DNN, added: 'Nobody’s pretending that digital newspaper production has been an easy ride. We should know because we’ve been in it from the start and are here for the long run, make no mistake about that. We are delighted that Stroma has reached this landmark in production.'"

Sounds smart. Oce selling media converting assets to CSI

@ InfoTrends InfoBlog
Oce selling media converting assets to CSI:

Tim Greene makes a great point.
" divesting these assets, Oce now has the ability to choose from a wider variety of media sources to get access to the best products available."
It's not only about lower fixed costs. It's about increased freedom of choice for entangled divisions. Hopefully it will eventually get to a pure play on Print, for us players out here.

Score one for Kodak. Score 10 for transparency.

Channels are the most visible string. In the Cloud and on the Ground - not in Corporate - are the fast growing strings. When the strings interact more networks form. When standards are in place, transparency and accountability replace word of mouth, spin, and advertising.

Score one for Kodak
Kodak Recognized as a Business Solutions “Best Channel Vendor” - Kodak's Graphic Communications Group:

"ROCHESTER, N.Y., Jan. 9—Recognizing top performers in the value-added reseller (VAR) industry, Business Solutions has selected Kodak as a “Best Channel Vendor” for its January 2009 issue. To select the top performers, Business Solutions captured significant service data from its most active VAR subscribers, awarding Kodak and other honorees for their excellence in advancing customer reseller needs across the channel. The annual program has created a quantifiable industry standard for reliability and credibility in channel relationships.

The standards for IT channel partners from Business Solutions Magazine:
One of our first steps was to partner with Penn State University to help ensure the survey’s statistical accuracy. read more
Here's the score 10 for transparency
Compare and contrast A and B.
A: "Business Solutions has selected Kodak as a “Best Channel Vendor”.
Then this from Business Solutions Magazine
B. In 12 of the 15 technology categories, vendors whose Overall Average Score was in the top 15% of that technology category were selected as Best Channel Vendor
Now, compare and contrast the scores.
Results for ECM Hardware. In alphabetical order.

Core Product Offering: Document scanners
Top 3 Categories:
Product Reliability: 4.36
Channel Friendly: 4.15
Product Features: 4.08
VAR Comment: “BÖWE BELL + HOWELL has provided some of the most in-depth support on very tangible issues. Better still, they have worked to create profit for VARs.”

Canon USA
Core Product Offering: Document scanners
Top 3 Categories:
Product Reliability: 4.00
Channel Friendly: 3.94
Product Features: 3.88
VAR Comment: “I’ve worked with Canon for more than eight years, and they’ve always gone to the highest level to help us. We’ve been so happy with Canon that we don’t use any other vendor for hardware.”

Eastman Kodak Company
Core Product Offering: Document scanners
Top 3 Categories:
Product Reliability: 4.15
Product Features: 4.00
Product Innovation: 3.79
VAR Comment: “Kodak has a fantastic marketing department, and they work to educate VARs on new products, solutions, and giveaways. They work hard
to put products and services in the hands of the resellers.”

Core Product Offering: Document scanners
Top 3 Categories:
Product Features: 4.26
Product Reliability: 4.21
Product Innovation: 4.16
VAR Comment: “Fujitsu is the best in the industry for acknowledging and supporting our selling efforts in major opportunities. The sales support from each of our Fujitsu Account Managers has been very valuable to us.”

Core Product Offering: Document scanners
Product Reliability: 3.35
Product Features: 3.30
Channel Friendly: 3.26
VAR Comment: “HP has been a great partner, and they have enough variety and innovation to keep them at the top of our list for imaging equipment.”

Core Product Offering: High-speed/high-volume production scanners
Product Features: 3.08
Service/Support: 3.00
Product Reliability: 3.00
VAR Comment: “Whether it’s complex customization or a last minute change, IBML is always there to help us meet our customers’ needs. Add in the superior technical abilities of the IBML scanners, and our customers get an unparalleled, world-class solution.”

Konica Minolta
Core Product Offering: Digital copiers/ MFPs
Product Features: 3.20
Service/Support: 3.20
Product Reliability: 3.09
VAR Comment: “Konica Minolta business executives meet with our management team monthly to review and create ongoing marketing strategy. It is their true partnership approach that has made it possible to expand our reach.”

Core Product Offering: Document scanners/ MFPs
Top 3 Categories:
Product Reliability: 3.41
Product Innovation: 3.32
Product Features: 3.23
VAR Comment: “We work with multiple scanning vendors, but Panasonic has risen above them all and gets an ‘atta-boy’ for best bundled offer this past year.”

Ricoh/ Americas Corp
Core Product Offering: Digital copiers/MFPs
Top 3 Categories:
Adequate Margins: 3.28
Service/Support: 3.22
Product Reliability: 3.22
VAR Comment: “Ricoh’s support has been invaluable. Their training and sales support staff has been available whenever I have needed assistance.”

Core Product Offering: Document scanners
Top 3 Categories:
Product Innovation: 3.40
Channel Friendly: 3.40
Product Reliability: 3.20
VAR Comment: “Visioneer’s products are very reasonably priced, and they integrate well with most third-party capture software, making it easier for us to sell complete ECM solutions.”

Core Product Offering: Digital copiers/MFPs
Top 3 Categories:
Product Reliability: 4.56
Product Features: 4.50
Service/Support: 4.24
VAR Comment: “Xerox’ outstanding product line and their responsiveness to us as a partner have us wondering why a VAR would choose any other vendor.”

If the Market is SmB in the US, you should know about this..

SmB = Small and microBusiness.
microBusiness = Prosumers.
Prosumers times X = Mass Market.

From the National Federation of Independent Business website

The National Federation of Independent Business is the leading small business association representing small and independent businesses. A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded in 1943, NFIB represents the consensus views of its members in Washington and all 50 state capitals.

NFIB's mission is to promote and protect the right of our members to own, operate and grow their businesses. NFIB also gives its members a power in the marketplace. By pooling the purchasing power of its members, the National Federation of Independent Business gives members access to many business products and services at discounted costs. NFIB also provides timely information designed to help small businesses succeed.