Saturday, April 25, 2009

More about broken Textbooks and Newspapers. It's about space/time.

Textbooks (and newspapers) evolved in a value chain economy. Real life happens in a user network economy. Learning happens when just the right content in just the right form is inserted into just the right space/time. The right space/time for learning is defined by the yellow circles in the second illustration.

Print is the best artifact for learning in a specific space/time.

Thanks to ed4wb the illustrations.

Learning in a value chain economy
Traditional Learning  Paradigm

Learning in a facilitated user network economy

Networked Learning Paradigm

To see more about how I think this plays out for the value of Print in general, check out my post at Digital Nirvana. The title is Print is better than the web. Discuss.

Broken textbooks. . . Part 1

from ed4wb

Introducing Plearn
In their book, Disrupting Class, authors Christensen, Johnson and Horn state that innovation and change often happen when individual actors work outside of the regulated sectors, offering goods and services through independent commercial channels, eventually getting noticed by the regulatory systems once enough people, through their own choice, opt out of the dominant offering. The authors mention that change rarely happens from within institutions, being that those institutions are more likely to hammer down the sharp edges of innovation to fit their current way of thinking, in the process, sustaining the approach it has always used.

Stimulus Package Will Not Change the Laws of Physics
"It’s less likely they are learning about cutting edge thinkers like Amory Lovins, who’ve yet to be fossilized into a textbook. With a little probing, and with education based on tackling real issues, it’s not hard to find brilliant thinking."
Are textbooks good vehicles for the promotion of diverse thought, or are their business ties and testing objectives too limiting for this type of task? What do you do to provide yourself with a richly diverse mental ecology?

MPS: New money in Education. Here's how to get some of it.

New money
Education Department Releases Guidance Specifics on Impact Aid Stimulus Funds
from New America Blogs: "Impact Aid funds cannot be collected and saved - they must be obligated by September 30, 2011. Preference is given to projects that can be started quickly and will result in job creation. In cases where Impact Aid funds are not enough to fund a project completely, the funds can be combined with other sources including State Fiscal Stabilization Funds."

How to get it
Help your favorite school district write the grant proposal to the Dept of Education.

Here's the outline:
Wikinewspapers and wikibooks to replace one-size-fits-all instructional material with a print based intervention tool that has implicit process metrics.

Path to scale
The project will be implemented on a classroom teacher by classroom teacher basis. This will manage the buy-in problem by using the proven process of early adopters to demonstrate effectiveness.

The Teacher Experience
Teams will be formed consisting of a teacher, a journalist from a local newspaper, a local graphic design firm and a local digital print provider.

The teacher will explain to the journalist the plan of study for the year. The journalist will work with the teacher to gather content at a ning site. Using a design theory approach, the designer will create machinable print products. Depending on the teacher's plan of study and time requirements, the print product will be produced on the desktop, at the CRD, or at the local print provider.

All the necessary hardware and software to insure a seamless customer experience will be supplied by the MPS.

The Process Metrics
Given the communication abilities of the hardware/software combination, the project will be able to keep real time data for when different print products were distributed in class.

As appropriate, print pieces will include machine readable tests to supply in-process feedback. The quizzes on the print pieces will be scanned and the information uploaded to a secure web site. That data will be used for real time feedback for each student in a form that can inform appropriate interventions. It can also be used to share with parents, co teachers, curriculum supervisors to build a 360 degree of each student.

In addition, at the beginning of each unit, each student will receive a 64 page paperback that includes the ideas to be learned. The paperback has blank outside columns on each page for notes. The students will use a highlighter and pen to write their comments in the margin and highlight either interesting or to-be-better-understood paragraphs or sentences. On Thursday of every week, the teacher will collect the books to get an idea of each student's diligence.

At the end of each unit, students will be required to "solve a mystery" posed by the teacher. Students will write their answer in the form of a non fiction essay at the ning site. The teacher will comment as appropriate. If the writing reaches the appropriate standard within the time allowed, some selections will be published as a book and presented at a book publishing party.

The ning site and the finished books will supply the portfolio that will be combined with high stakes test results to measure student progress as appropriate.

Job Creation
Since the MPS, print provider and newspaper are all community based, dollars spent will have the multiplier effect that is missing when a global takes the money out of a local community. An added benefit is that high school students can practice a new career path as journalists, designers, print providers or teachers.

One driver to replace textbooks is going to come from Washington. On Wednesday the games continue. . .

Since politics drive education policy and education policy is what reveals new opportunities for the Education Printernet, I've added a news feed about politics and education right here at Tough Love. It's just below the Table of Contents in the right hand column.
from Politics K-12:
House Education Committee: Don't Leave us Behind on Common Standards:
Common standards is the twitter, the Wii, and the Twilight book series of education policy right now -- the latest, hottest thing that everyone (President Obama, Arne Duncan, state leaders) can't stop talking about.

Well, next week the House Education and Labor Committee is getting in on the action. On Wednesday, they'll be holding a hearing on common (not national!) standards."

Google is not a search engine. Google is an advertiser's platform

When Print realizes that it is an information platform for learning that speeds and edits information to serve business and education the various printernets will coalesce and my IRA will be much happier.

Inside AdWords: Introducing Google Ad Planner:
"To make your life easier, we're introducing Google Ad Planner, a research and media planning tool that connects advertisers and publishers. When using Google Ad Planner, simply enter demographics and sites associated with your target audience, and the tool will return information about sites (both on and off the Google content network) that your audience is likely to visit. You can drill down further to get more detail like demographics and related searches for a particular site, or you can get aggregate statistics for the sites you've added to your media plan."

Xerox Q1 Earnings Call

It's actually a very interesting call, if you eliminate the profit forecasts. Profits depend on revenue depends on the size of the addressable market. Addressable market size depends on effective market size. No one can predict the size of effective markets in a Black Swan world. Everyone can make educated guesses. I assume our management team can make pretty good educated guesses.

If you can predict effective markets, then you can predict revenue streams. That works in value chain economies. It does not work in user network economies. It you imply that you can predict the future, you're either Bernie Madoff or kidding yourself.

If you believe, as I do, that Print is in process of going through a tipping point, future effective market size is much too pessimistic. On the other hand, I've been saying this I read about the docutech in the WSJ in the 1990's. When a friend decided that I was a "thought leader," instead of just another creative, I did a series of columns at What They But consider, even a stopped clock tells the right time, at least twice a day.

Anyway, you can read the full transcript of the earnings call at Seeking Alpha. There were some smart questions and good answers.

If I were in the room, I would have tried to drill down on at least two issues:

Issue Number 1
Q snippet: . . . "You also talked last quarter about going back and renegotiating some of your supply agreements with Fuji Xerox and hoping to get a little bit of benefit there."

A snippet: ". . . but also we have an agreement with Fuji Xerox and within that agreement, like any agreement, within an agreement there is room for negotiations around it. We are constantly revisiting that where we try to limit the amount of exposure we have."
Issue Number 2
A snippet: . . . IGen4, both our populations on machines in the field and our installs grew in iGen4. So, clearly there are some upgrades or paths forged from iGen3 to iGen4, but we have a significant amount of new placements as well. So, MIPs grew and installs grew.

An important data point for digital newspapers and reinventing textbooks.

Of course, it's noticed in the UK. But I'm getting used to that by now. In snippet two is the reason the window for good margins is going to close in about a year. Snippet three is one path to reinvent textbooks. It's most definitely worth the click to read the whole article.

Digital print steps up to the plate
by Adam Hooker, PrintWeek, 24 April 2009

"It recently transpired that when newspaper giant News International was in the planning stages of what would eventually lead to a £600m web press investment at its UK sites, it seriously considered including digital presses in the spend.
The plan centred on placing machines to produce The Sun and The Times in commercial print firms in some of the more remote areas of the UK. The rationale was simple: rather than spend time and money shipping products from one of its main production centres, it could simply produce the papers locally, reducing costs, cutting CO2 emissions and, importantly in the internet age, saving time.

When News International were pondering this flirtation, digitally produced newspapers were in their formative years and there were still concerns about the quality, availability of colour and cost per unit (newspaper). But that was three years ago and, since then, the interest in digitally produced newspapers has grown dramatically.

For example, the Daily Mail is now being digitally printed in New York using a Screen Truepress Jet520 on the same day it's printed in London. This is just one of many examples, with a raft of other titles now being produced in locations faraway from their home markets"
The Screen Trupress Jet 520 lives at AlphaGraphics. (another UK owned company." Consider if more AlphaGraphics found the local markets for the Truepress.

Snippet two
Companies such as Océ, Xerox, Kodak, Agfa and Screen have all developed presses with the ability to produce on-demand newspapers.

However, as is so often the case, on the finishing front there are fewer options. Most experts will tell you that there is only one route available for finishing digitally printed newspapers: Hunkeler.

. . .Currently, the UK has one prominent digital newspaper printer, Stroma in west London, which is part of Océ's Digital Newspaper Network. It began producing newspapers around eight years ago and currently handles 400 titles using its Océ kit and one of Hunkeler's original newspaper finishing lines.

According to Stroma managing director Steve Brown, one of the reasons for the lack of options available in finishing is down to the perceived lack of interest in digitally printed newspapers. He believes the only likely rival to Hunkeler comes from hand finishing.

"The main problem is that there are too few people printing newspapers digitally right now," he says. "There is no real incentive for anyone else to follow Hunkeler. It has never really interested another finishing manufacturer. I think Hunkeler spent a lot of money on their R&D and they now have a solution that really works.
. . .
Newsworld chief executive David Renouf . . .(says that) . . . the issue he has is not whether or not they will do it, but how much it will cost and how long it will take.
When the issue becomes "how much it will cost and how long it will take", the game is on in earnest.

Snippet three
This could also be used for more than just newspapers and that is the key for the line, it won't just be handling newspapers."

Once the education opportunity gets on the radar, that is the "it won't just be handling newspapers" piece. And textbooks, as we've known them, wither away.

Nice one for Kodak

Combining offset and digital workflows should be Kodak's sweet spot. If they get it right for newspapers, it could turn out to be a very big deal. Snippet two is about machines talking back. That's the secret sauce of the printernet.
KODAK PRINERGY Digital Workflow Streamlines Digital Print with Improved Automation and Connectivity: "Innovative digital workflow system now available

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Designed specifically for the needs and requirements of digital printing workflows, such as higher job volumes and shorter runs than conventional environments, the KODAK PRINERGY Digital Workflow announced at drupa is now available. Providing a central production hub for digital print service providers, the KODAK PRINERGY Digital Workflow enables full job control with zero-touch automation and connectivity to a wide range of digital presses."
Snippet two:
Via integrated JDF/JMF bidirectional connectivity options for digital presses, PRINERGY Digital Workflow can provide instant live device status feedback, report on job status, and log and track all production history. . . .Integrated support for KODAK Digital Presses, as well as digital presses from other suppliers, makes the PRINERGY Digital Workflow a robust backbone for any digital production environment,” added Judi Hess, General Manager, Enterprise Solutions, and VP, Kodak

Another data point for versioned newspapers

In the snippet below, it's the "feet on the street" in snippet one and all of snippet two, that points to the opportunity for versioned newspapers.
from Terry Heaton’s PoMo Blog
Local web revenue begins to favor local media: "Perhaps even more importantly, this discovery could also encourage pureplays like Google, Yahoo,, Reach Local, Yodle and others to reach out and form partnerships with local media companies instead of competing for local dollars.

“The pureplays need feet on the street, which is too costly for them to obtain,” according to Gordon Borrell. “In the end, they’ll probably fall back on being platform and product suppliers, leaving the local media guys as the promoters, content providers, and sales force.”"
Snippet two:
Through time,” he told me, “local media companies were the ones who seized any ‘new medium’ — whether it was newspapers starting radio stations or the radio and newspaper guys starting TV stations, or the newspaper and TV guys getting into cable back in the 1970s.”

“It’s probably a bit early to declare newspaper and TV companies the probable winners in the ‘local online’ space, but I’m seeing a lot of the right moves being made. And history causes me to believe it’s actually going to happen.”
"Platform and product suppliers is the strategy for global OEM/VARs. MPS is like local media.

Big score for Xerox. Profit in Q1 !

Congratulations! see snippet below.

But why do a forecast and get "but cuts outlook" in the headline at Reuters?

In a world of Black Swans forecasting a year ahead is almost impossible. What happens if the Obama administration continues to get it right? Consider that the 'great financial meltdown" has been pretty much stabilized in less than a 100 days. LIBOR rates are reasonable. The wild swings in the market have slowed down. The necessary elimination of funny money is being managed without a major breakdown.

If healthcare is passed, my bet is that there will be a rush to exits from every global to small business, both start ups and going concerns. The real economy is driven by small business, not globals. Balance sheets without health care costs are going to be much better. Education is about to reorganize. Health is about to reorganize.

Of course, getting the timing just right is almost impossible. If you can't predict timing, all you can do is project from the past. But old economic models clearly don't work. Their predictive abilities have never been more discredited.

In the face of these realities, forecasts of revenue is a game played for Wall Street "analysts."
The game is "beat analysts' expectations" stock is supposed to go up. "Disappointed analyst's expectations" stock is supposed to go down. But stock price is supposed to be about the future, not the past. The only way to win is not to play the game.

Consider that when we announced new profit projections in March, the "analysts" changed their "analysis." Please, give me a break! Independent analysis is useful. Rewriting press releases is not. If we had a printernet, we could cut out the middleman.
Wall Street analysts had expected a profit of 4 cents a share, on revenue of $3.55 billion, but it was not immediately clear if results were comparable. Before Xerox late in March slashed its outlook, citing the effects of the weak economy, analysts had expected a profit of 17 cents a share.
One possibility might be to give forecasts in the form of "If - Then." It would be great if a real analyst would do the work. "If X happens, then we see a revenue of Y. If A happens, then we see a revenue of B."

"If - then" is the appropriate format for forward looking strategy. Forward looking strategy is a set of of "if - then" decision rules. Responsive strategy on the other hand, when you live in an environment of imperfect information, is a strong ethic of customer service and continuous product improvement. As in "if this decision violates these ethics, then probably don't do it.

In any case analysis, like science, is a set of clear "if, then" rules. If the analysts are too busy and overworked, then we should do it our selves.Until then we should say "We don't release revenue projections. That's proprietary information. Our core competitive advantage is that our predications are better than anyone else's. So, dear analysts, make your own best guess, just like you have to do for Google."
UPDATE 2-Xerox flips to quarterly profit, but cuts outlook from Reuters: "
* Q1 EPS 5 cts vs loss 27 cents
* year-ago quarter included big one-time charge
* Revenue fell 18 percent, equipment sales down 30 percent
* cuts 2009 EPS view to 50-55 cents from $1.00-$1.25

NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - Xerox Corp (XRX.N) flipped to a profit in the first quarter, but the leading provider of digital printers and document management services forecast a second-quarter profit weaker than analysts' views and cut its full year earnings outlook nearly in half."

The real problem with K-12 textbooks in the States is the Texas School Board

"Guiding curriculum for the next decade" because the Texas School Board thinks X? see first snippet below. Countries without the disadvantage of having to satisfy Texas are free to take different approaches. see second snippet below.

As long as textbook publishers have to create K -12 textbooks to satisfy Texas, it's going to be very hard for them to make the transition away from one size fits all education in print. They need textbooks to be reinvented more than any other player in the game.

Given the economics of the business, the only path I can see is to move away from the advantages of a protected market. The cost and risk have become greater than the benefits. Satisfying Texas is very time consuming and thus expensive. It has more to do with politics than with learning or education.

Meanwhile the exploding market for learning and education remains out of reach.

The technology is well defined. Customized print drawing from the over abundance of content from newspapers, non profit research organizations, government added to the textbook publishe's IP. The pressure for change is mainstream given the new administration in Washington. There are various business models that are appropriate to a facilitated user network economy. And pressure keeps building from educational users on the ground.

It's a perfect storm. The possibility is to miss the opportunity because the Texas School Board has to approve what is going to "guide curriculum and instruction for the next decade.
fromEducation Week:
Retooled Texas Standards Raise Unease Among Science Groups:
. . . The new document, given final approval March 27, is expected to guide curriculum and instruction for the next decade.
The document's reach, moreover, will likely extend far beyond Texas. The state’s academic standards guide textbook content, and publishers tend to write textbooks for other states to conform with Texas' expectations, because of that state’s large share of the market"
To give a sense of scale, Australia has 3.3 million K-12 students. New York City alone has over 1 M students managed by one municipal school board. If you consider New York State, my bet is that is more than 3.3 million. The invention advantage will go, for a time, to more manageable government structures around the world.

As mass customization comes on stream, it will come back to the States.

Australia: This country likely has more similarities with the United States than any other—school system structure, language, challenges serving disadvantaged students, equity issues, strong teachers’ unions, and national assessments in reading and math. And now, it is introducing a national curriculum.

Slovenia: Since gaining its independence in 1991, this part of the former Yugoslavia has made major strides to become one of the top performers on international exams in Europe.

South Korea: The East Asian nation ranks near the top on international mathematics and science exams.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Donnelley: Mittal Steel of Print?

Donnelley has built a printernet. If they go from top of the pyramid to smb/ hyperlocal newspapers in the middle and bottom and release OPIs they could turn out to be the 900 lb gorilla.
fromInfoTrends InfoBlog:
The Move to 30″ Webs and Modular Design for Color Continuous Feed:
"Donnelley is also promoting its CustomPoint proprietary customer print portal, which leverages the company’s digital and offset print capabilities. It has been building an asset base in digital print for five years and says that it has a mix of 1,000 proprietary and commercial printing systems across 60 sites."

Now it's Germany with the coolest new thing

They've run the first public tests connecting print to a local cloud. It's all about RFID for events and concerts and . . . .

Oh well. Luckily Print is an international language. After they test it out, we'll use it . . .a couple of years later. Looking for innovation? It seems we have to keep looking across the oceans, at least in print.
from Beyond-Print
First public uses of printed RFID tags:
"(April 22, 2009 – G. Alexander) Completely printed RFID tags (“printed smart labels”) have been successfully used for the first time in public tests. The tests represent the culmination of “Project Prisma”, a consortium assembled to develop and promote printed electronics."

Might tell more about the voters than the brands, but interesting anyway.

From the website
The Print4Pay Hotel averages 80,000 page views a month, with over 210,000 hits, and over 60,000 threads, we are the Global Resource on the Web for Copier Sales Professionals.
Today's post:
What "brand of copier/multifunctional" device would I pay more for?
from Print4Pay Hotel's "MFP Solutions Blog":
"The title was a recent poll that I posted on the P4P Cafe Message Boards. We asked, What brand name would you pay more for? The players.....Ricoh, Xerox, Canon, Panasonic, Sharp, Toshiba, KonicaMinolta, Kyocera, Canon and Oce. To say the least, I was taken back with the polling so far.

Here's the results:

Ricoh 21%
Xerox 3%
Canon 3%
KonicaMinolta 48%
Kyocera 18%
Sharp 0%
Toshiba 6%
Panasonic 0%
Oce 0%"

Espresso machines in school district CRDs?

Since Lightning Source runs on Oce boxes, is this the wedge to open MPS in Education for Oce?
Publishers Participate in Espresso Book Machine Pilot Program
from Book Business:
"Lightning Source has launched an Espresso Book Machine (EBM) title pilot with OnDemand Books, the proprietor of the EBM.

Participating publishers in the pilot include John Wiley & Sons, Hachette Book Group, McGraw-Hill, Simon & Schuster, Clements Publishing, Cosimo, E-Reads, Bibliolife, Information Age Publishing, Macmillan, University of California Press and W.W. Norton. The pilot initially was offered to a small group of publishers that currently work with Lightning Source to enable them to enhance the availability of their titles at point-of-sale EBM locations."

Science Magazine does fine in Print. "Print is Dead?" C'mon.

Consider what might happen if the printernet were up and running. All that Print with a low carbon footprint and much less money for postage.

added 2:30 EST: If school based printernets were running the AAAS could deliver customized print content directly into the classroom and support it with ads from public health organizations. Get biology info into their hands and tell them and their parents what they should do about it. It could do wonders for the childhood obesity epidemic. Someone should get this on RWFJ's radar. Might be a perfect fit for the Xerox Foundation or InfoPrint. They could do an experiment on this,with the same rigor as their transpromo work.

Probably alot better, faster and cheaper than textbooks. It's win-win-win. Win-win-win always passes the "why wouldn't we do that?" test.
The AAAS—publisher of Science—has seen stable ad revenue and growing readership amid publishing’s recent upheavals.
By James Sturdivant from Publishing Executive
"While online advertising has grown at a double-digit rate, ad spends for print products have remained stable, Rosner says, adding that the majority of the organization’s ad revue still comes from print.

“We still have a strong print product that our advertisers deem as very important,” she says. “We’ve become much more international in our focus, and that goes for advertising sales as well. We see our reach as more global than we did 10 years ago, and that’s brought in all kinds of new advertising opportunities.”"

Print beats web for mine magazine. Print is Dead? give me a break!

Whats Mine Is Yours: Time Inc. Media Group President Wayne Powers on the New Magazine That Allows Readers to Choose the Content :
By Janet Spavlik from Publishing Executive:

"INBOX: How has the response been in terms of print versus digital? Are you seeing a far greater response from one over the other? Has it been inline with what you anticipated?

POWERS: It was particularly interesting to see that the number of people requesting print editions of Mine has, to date, far outweighed the number of people requesting the digital version."

C'mon Quebecor, you can do it!

A "multi-plant, multi-product North American platform" is one more piece of the printernet falling into place. If they build open APIs by learning how to work for the gezillion Print VARs that could be organized by a functionality and we are just about there.

Given that Quebecor has Canadian DNA, they have a lot less noise up there. Maybe they will be the ArcelorMittal Steel of Print.
Quebecor wins $100 mln deal with Boardroom -
from WhatTheyThink:
"MONTREAL, CANADA -- Quebecor World Inc. has signed a multi-year agreement valued at approximately $100 million with Boardroom Inc., covering the printing and distribution of millions of newsletters, books, special reports and more. The agreement with the Stamford, CT based company represents a more than six-fold increase in Quebecor World business volume with the company, taking full advantage of Quebecor World's multi-plant, multi-product North American platform."

Where's the market for versioned newspapers? Part 7 Not necessarily from newspapers.

Your Guide to Local Watchdog News Sites
by Mark Glaser @PBS: "Probably the biggest question in journalism circles these days is: What's going to happen to hard-nosed local reporting as newspapers shrink and close?

The answer is happening in so many places online that it's hard to count them all up. There are place-blogs, citizen journalism reports, video outfits, podcasts, and Twitter feeds galore."

Free advice to HP, Oce, Donnelly, AlphaGraphics , et al
HP: get this on the radar of your OPM/VAR on the west coast doing digital newspapers.
Alphagraphics: get this on the radar of your OPM/VAR doing digital newspapers.
Oce: get this on the radar of all your OPM/VARs with uneven press loads and anyone in Florida.
Donnelly: stop looking at the top of the pyramid, and get one of your brand new sales people to take the link, and get in touch with whoever is more convenient.
Transcontinental: You have the capacity get in touch with anyone 150 miles from San Francisco.
Xerox: get this on the radar. Do 4 page 14 by 20 newsletters for education. Keep your eye on delivering versioned digital newspapers into bottom of the pyramid high schools.
InfoPrint: get this on the radar of anyone with 150 miles of your innovation center, in between doing transpromo experiments you can test out digital newspapers.
Kodak: get this on the radar of the newspaper people who are using Creo workflows, or if you have a Stream ready to demo, do it with that. Or..start making the deals now so that when the Stream is ready, the market will be waiting for it. If you can deliver the machine and the customers, printers will be lining up at the door to buy it and you'll get some decent margins.

A user network deal
Figure out a win-win revenue share deal that lasts about a year. If necessary give your OPM/PSP some kind of in-kind trade comp to make sure he doesn't have to bear all the risk. If the ad revenue grows to something that works for everyone, you renegotiate the deal and get to charge what the traffic will bear. Or build in an upgrade path so that everyone who shares the risk gets some of the reward.

Devry beats estimates, but analysts downgrade the whole private ed space

Is this the canary in the mine shaft about reorganizing education to make it better, faster cheaper? Maybe that it's a data point that says education is in for a major disruption.

And the difference between a Ponzi scheme and what passed for I Banking is . . .?

JPMorgan Kept Quiet on Madoff’s False Returns, Investors Allege -
"April 24 (Bloomberg) -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. was accused in a lawsuit by Florida investors who lost $12.8 million of conspiring with Bernard Madoff after learning that his investment returns were false."

It's not the economy. It's management's response to the environment.

Some companies make money. Apple, Amazon, Walmart, Google. Some companies don't make money. And yet, they all live in different parts of the same environment. Why exactly do we waste valuable management time on "forecasting revenue" when it could be much better spent making money.

Google doesn't. Caterpillar decided not to. If you don't know, just say you don't know. It will make the "analysts" job a little harder. But we've got our problems, they have their problems.

Anyway, what exactly changed between the first guesstimate to March 20 that allowed it go from 16c - 20c to 3c - 5c.? The great "financial meltdown" must have been clear before the first numbers. The "economy" was already in the crapper.

Why do I think that if someone in the middle of the pyramid got is so wrong, they would be in for a pretty dismal performance review.
Earnings Preview: Xerox -- Seeking Alpha
"Xerox Corp. (XRX) is expected to report Q1 earnings before the market open on Friday, April 24 with a conference call scheduled for 10:00 am ET.

The consensus estimate is 4c for EPS and $3.54B for revenue, according to First Call. On March 20 Xerox sharply cut its Q1 earnings forecast to between 3c and 5c, compared to the previous guidance of 16c to 20c. The company blamed it on “the increasingly more challenging global economic environment.”
Plus what's all this about
Xerox said the reduction included a 6c impact arising from costs of restructuring the Fuji Xerox joint venture. . .
I guess we'll have to wait until after the conference call and see if any of the "analysts" drill down on it. If not, there is always the meeting on May 29th.

Wouldn't it be really cool if the Board would do a blog, where investors could get an answer without the "media" in between. And of course there is always the possibility that the corporate blogs would from time to time be printernet published to get some money in the hands of PSPs instead of giving it to magazines and caterers. It would be a much faster, better and cheaper way to get the message out, without having to cow tow to "reporters" and "analysts."

Ah, I can always dream . . . .

MPS: Print Management with low risk/nice margin . Another business model for a user network economy. But so far it's UK only

In the snippet below it says, "the print management profits of the future". I say that is MPS.

There is probably a copy cat here in the States. Or maybe Cenveo or one of the other roll ups will start one. The right person is Donnelly, but they're probably too busy focusing at the top of the pyramid. It could be for Kodak, but they're too busy on InSite. It could be Xerox, but they're too busy being busy. Maybe AlphaGraphics? or the production folks at Staples? I'm pretty sure the folks at FedEx must be trying to figure out what to do next.

Maybe someone will give the webmarts people a call? They are already doing £37m t/o. They say they are "print management for printers, not against them." It's possible that webmart could become the walmart of print. Lots of little spread around the world. Very, very close to the printernet, I've been preaching about from my little soapbox.
WEBMART® are the most efficient print management company in the UK so even offereing this free service and the highest quality print management we only build intot he prices you receive an average 8% for our PM service to you, so you know you win and we win tegether.

takes the order off you and passes it onto the right printer. We make sure the quality and service is 100% acceptable - after all that is all we do. Our current client satisfaction rating is 9.71 / 10 and we have grown to £37m t/o by doing just this, so you can rest easy.

We benchmark the market and get the best price / quality price instantly and then give it to you. We also show you the price that a good print buyer in the market would get to show you what profit you can make via the PM² margin-o-meter and put them in an estimate to make it dead easy and FAST.
Maybe they want to be the printernet for global education. From their website, it sounds like they have exactly the right DNA to get it done.

There is a very similar but siginficantly different business model. But that's in Australia.
Gosh, I hate being stuck in an overgrown, too noisy, too busy being busy Print market.

Anyway, here's what's going in the UK.
Simon Nias,, 24 April 2009

Webmart has relaunched its free self-service print management portal,, as a 'trade-only' site in a move that it claims will help give printers "the print management profits of the future".

The website gives printers the toolkit to work out prices for jobs that they are unable to produce in-house and to place the job should they win the contract.

Use of the site is free for printers, although Webmart charges an "average print management fee" of 8%, which is automatically included in the prices.

I love Xerox. My IRA loves Oce and likes Ricoh.

As of yesterday's close, OCENY is up 79.73% since February 17. RICOY is up 19.5% . The other two guys not so much yet. But I figure they will get their acts together sooner or later. I buy and hold, so what the heck.

Meanwhile I'm making money from a little guy in the Netherlands and an 800 lb gorilla in Japan. It's sort of doing the globalism play in reverse.

If HP spins off print, I can bet on them. If Ricoh spins off InfoPrint and lists it in NY than I can get a clearer picture of what I'm betting on. If Kodak spins off consumer from print, I can bet on them with more confidence. As for my home team, all they have to do is to focus and stop being busy being busy. Then I can recover that 62.22% of bets placed in 2005 and 2006 that went down the tubes.

Imagine the returns when someone emerges as the AlcelorMittal of Print?

Go Print!
Go Printernet!

Why 20th century textbooks will go away. It's not the internet.

It's because their manufacturing cycle time is too slow.

The value of Print for learning is to stop time see previous post. The new purpose of education is learning, not time training. The internet/multimedia is for talking and buying, not learning.
That still means lots and lots of versioned and personalized Print.

To get the learning thing to happen for everyone, not just the kids that naturally learn anyway, it means print on the demand of the teacher. Just the right content in the just right media at the just the right time for just the right classroom and just the right student. See Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation will Change the Way the World Learns.

To see how an MPS or a printer/OPM can crack into the education space, see previous post.

The Value of Print in Education and John Audobon's Birds

Print stops time.

Birds in motion are a joy. Watching them soar, dive, glide and gather is like being part of a great conversation. But they are moving too fast to see. Audobon didn't have the benefit of stop action cameras, so to study them, he had to kill and stuff them. Once so fixed he was able to do the exquisite paintings that could be printed and shared. His images use the information artifact that is print to stop time so that it could be used for learning about birds.

Information is transferred in time. In the classroom and on the web it moves too fast to step back and let the words rumble through the student's head. Learning happens when disparate words and feelings combine in unexpected ways. That needs the time to reflect. Time is a measure of the relative simultanaiety of events. There is no better technology so elegantly stops the flow of events. When representations of events are fixed by print, it stops time.

Schools were designed in the States to train agricultural workers to be able to work in factories. It was not about content. It was about moving people from farm-time to industrial-time. Back in the day when industrial-time was similar to business-time and corporate-time it worked good enough. But today industrial-time is more like business-time. Corporate-time is not fast enough for the interconnected world. It has lost it's economic advantage. It is withering away. If people trapped in corporations are allowed to function in business-time, the corporation will thrive. If people remain trapped by corporate-time, the business will wither.

As corporate-time dissolves the jobs they supply will disappear. SMB lives and dies in business -time. That's where one finds new growth. But only some of our schools have made the transition. Bottom of the pyramid high school kids naturally live in business-time. That's where they live and much too often die. The problem is that managing business-time, in schools and in corporations, is made very hard because people are busy being busy. They think they don't have the time to reflect.

But print stops time. It creates the moments to reflect. It fixes the conversations to enable compare and contrast. Compare and contrast is at the heart of learning. Writing for print fixes new understandings in time. When learners see what they've said, they know they've learned something. Learning that you've learned is the way to get to love learning.

That's why print is the key to fixing education. That's why the huge new opportunity for print is the same opportunity that lead to the Renaissance in Europe starting in the 1500's.

It's only common sense.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Independent MPS and OEM's that want to find big markets and reinvent textbooks: It's time to focus on education

Oce and Ricoh/IBM and HP, check out the last three paragraphs of the post, then read from the top.

I'm in the middle of an interesting discussion with Greg Walters over at his the Death of Copier blog. You can check it out here to get the full flavor of the back story.

The problem with selling into the education space is that everyone is too busy being busy to make better decisions. So the issue, as usual, is to get someone to apply the pressure to get them to focus on doing something new. No new thing gets sold into a formal organization without the application of power. Just the way it is.

Applying the appropriate pressure to get the right people to focus
The best way to apply appropriate pressure is from outside of the organization. Boards of Directors are focused on the actions of other Boards of Directors. CEOs focus on other CEOs. Marketers focus on other other marketers. It's just the "people like us, do X" syndrome.

The outside power in the ed system is the government and the teacher unions. So don't worry about getting on the school's radar. Your MPS is not a school system, so no one is going to listen. Since the same condition exists in every school system, until you get your one in a row that's not going to work.

No doubt, big X owns "the one in a row" contest. They've been doing this the longest. They probably do it the best. That's why I keep saying they should be the Learning company. But based on their recent announcements about what they're doing in Europe, it might turn out that they will help in addition to being the 800lb gorilla. They don't have enough feet on the ground to go after a market this size.

Yes, I know about Global Services and ComDoc, but how many of those sales people know enough to sell a school? My bet is not enough. Of course if they retrained people instead of firing them they probably would have more than they need, but that's a different story.

So . . . consider that every school district superintendent is faced with some really hard decisions they don't want to make. The common wisdom about "cutting costs" is to fire people. The people in question - the teachers - don't want to get fired. If you give the unions talking points as to why it would be much better for everyone if they did the kind of thing that Xerox did in Canada they will most likely provide all the necessary pressure while you keep helping your present customers.

Nobody wants to fire people because the blablabla is going to make their day filled up with stress producing stuff. Nobody wants stress. But since people who don't know what to do, do what they know, they go to default common wisdom. If you give them an realistic option that can be implemented with their minimum time investment and keeps everyone off their backs, it passes the "why wouldn't I do that?" test.

Once you get to "why wouldn't I do that?" then you can have a rational conversation where you're talking about price, service levels and upgrade path. Once you get into a grown up conversation then it's up to you.

Sell Reinvented Textbooks instead of Document Mangement
Everyone hates textbooks. Everyone hates documents. If you tell people you can replace textbooks, they will love it, because they don't have to do anything. If you tell people you want to replace their documents, no one is going to believe you. Plus it means they have to do something new. And then you get back to the problem outlined above.

Meanwhile, if you want to bundle hardware into an educational program that gets paid out of Special Ed, instead of Supplies, check out It is sites similar to them that are going to supply the content for Wiki Books and Wiki Newspapers. You can probably find alot of them with the right Google search.

And for our versioned newspaper audience, here's the kind of site that will supply the content for wikinewspapers. It's called

Oce is in the newspaper space, has experience in refurbished equipment and is also try to figure out how to break into the education space, and lead in books, this might be just right for you.

Ricoh/IBM InfoPrint has a huge presence on the ground. Lots of neat new equipment and all those Ikon people need something more to do. Plus I assume you have the big boxes. And given that you have lots of people in Canada, who can make a quick decision, you've got a good shot.

HP, you're the other big fish in MPS. Plus I recently saw your MFP's at Costco selling for really cheap. I know you do a nice business at Staples. If you have people on the ground this should work pretty well for you too. Of course, your top guns will have to stop focusing on fixing the Compaq purchase and at least take a glance at the middle of the pyramid instead of the top and the bottom, but you never know, it could happen.

The market for versioned newspapers . . : Part 6 Gannett goes from Ground > Cloud to little clouds to make rain

I knew there was some good reason I bought some Gannett (GCI) last week. They're almost there. They have an easy way to buy ads. They have a good number of the right tribal cloud sites. Sooner or later they will connect the ads to local news-on-paper. To make real money, you have to go ground > cloud > print. No way to make serious money in the Cloud, unless you are Google or IBM.

Then GCI should get back to some kind of realistic valuation.
from MediaPost Publications Sited:
Gannett Forms Digital Media Network 04/23/2009
"Looking to get into the digital ad network game, Gannett Co. announced the formation of the Gannett Digital Media Network.

Looking to jumpstart sales on its Web platforms, Univision is turning to a service that allows advertisers with limited budgets to place banner ads online, by doing little more than uploading a logo and typing in a credit card number to pay.

The company said it will tie together more than 100 digital communities with a combined reach of approximately 25 million people. This includes its big site from the USA Today national newspaper, as well as a number of local TV/newspaper-based sites, such as and"

This sounds really smart from Xerox

But why does it get released in Europe? "North America and other countries will offer their own versions at the third quarter." I'm hoping that there is a really good reason, not just that USA-time is different from European-time.

It's starting to feel like a niche market here in the States.

Xerox Unveils New Ways for Channel Partners to Save SMBs Money
from WhatTheyThink:
"To simplify for our customers how to better manage their printing, we're taking a brand-agnostic approach to the value we provide to SMBs. Regardless of the type of document device or brand, Xerox Print Services can help lower print and copy costs, reduce IT support and increase office productivity."

"NORWALK, Conn. -- Xerox Corporation today announced Xerox Print Services, a set of services and tools that help small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) better manage their printing infrastructure and reduce costs. Delivered through the company's network of channel partners, Xerox Print Services is based on the company's industry-leading enterprise managed print services that Xerox provides directly to corporations like Procter & Gamble, KeyCorp and Dillard's, Inc.

Xerox Print Services is part of the company's channel managed print services portfolio - which offers a common technology platform and global support infrastructure that is customized by geography to meet specific channel and delivery requirements. Xerox Print Services is currently available in Western Europe only; North America and other countries will offer their own versions in the third quarter of this year."

The problem with Marketing Plans and the War in Iraq

It's taken alot of years to get the American approach to the mess in Iraq on the right track. The "surge" was actually finally using the approach invented by professional military commanders, instead of the Plan generated at the top. The new approach is based on the principle of "protect the civilian population." It is just common sense.

My guess about why smart people at the top made such stupid mistakes is that they were too busy being busy and lived in a bubble where everyone told them they were right. When you're too busy being busy and everyone is afraid to tell you you're making big mistakes, the chances of screwing up royally is much greater. If you don't have time to think, you usually don't think.

The real world happens on the ground, every day, day after day, week after week, month after month. It's not exciting. It's about focusing and persistence. Persistence while being busy being busy usually doesn't happen.

Every shop keeper understands this. Every sales person understands this. Walmart understands this. Google understands this. P&G understands this. The professional military understands this. Warren Buffet understands this. The Obama administration seems to understand this. Children live in now. Grownups live in the past, the present and the future.

Marketing plans usually have the same problem. The launch and planning and design is exciting. But the real world happens on the ground, every day, day after day, week after week, month after month. It's not exciting. It's about focusing and persistence.

Check out the photos in this week's Time magazine. The cover story is Obama's 100 days. They have lots of good pictures of what thinking looks like. It's not about having meetings.

They haven't heard about the End of Print or the economic blablabla in Pawtucket, RI

In the same week, I read about Cenveo closing Anderson in California, I got news this morning from WTT about Matlet Group in Rhode Island.

It's a good story about how skilled craftsman work with a professional press manufacturer to create something new. Engineers couldn't do it themselves. The craftspeople couldn't do it themselves. It's an example of what co-creation of value means in the physical world, as opposed to the cyber world.

Man Roland is an OEM. Packaging Graphics is an OPM - Original Print Manufacturer. They are not market service providers. They are printers who seem to be able to focus on following their DNA, their top customers and have a reasonable time horizon. OEM + OPM = innovation. They improved the process to print better, faster, cheaper ( cheaper means lower cost, not lower price.)

The OEM works with the OPM to invent new stuff that creates "innovative solutions for our customers.” It's what Printers have done since Mr. Franklin and Mr. Gutenberg. That's a Printer's DNA. It's also just common sense.

Some snippets from the story. The first one is the co-creation stuff.
. . .Plant manager Brad Hankin and pressroom manager Patrick Gilmartin led the design team responsible for the configuration of the ROLAND 700 Ultima press with In-line Foiler Prindor.
. . . it also allows Packaging Graphics to manage spikes in customer demands with the excess capacity provided by the new press
Once a printer can load balance, they can lower their costs.
. . . Packaging Graphics has many long standing relationships and their top customers have been with them for over 15 years.
Long standing customer take a long time. They are the human capital that powers a business.
They do retail package design, folding cartons, displays and thermoforming for many Fortune 100 companies.
I wonder how much they invest in marketing or whether they use Twitter.
. . . Carafa, who spent the first two of his seven years at Packaging Graphics as the company’s Controller. A former GM with Quebecor, Carafa said . . .
I bet that Quebecor lost this obviously amazing person either in some downsizing or by not figuring out the right working conditions and incentive package to keep him in the mother ship..
. . . Packaging Graphics in Pawtucket, RI, unveiled its new 17-unit, custom-designed manroland foiling press earlier this year . . .Our group visited their Print Technology Center near Chicago when we attended Graph Expo in 2006, and we later went to Germany to test the foiling system. . . . Three year plan . . .

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Go Xerox Canada. I knew my hometeam can get it right for school boards!

As usual I can find neat stuff at the Death of The Copier:

How come I only hear about the really neat stuff in Canada, or the UK or Australia or Europe? Probably because I can't read Chinese or Japanese.
Finally, Good News Around a School Board and Xerox:
"The Niagara Catholic School District Board handles 53 elementary schools, eight secondary schools, six adult education sites, and a central office.

The District is required to hold records for 55 years.

Noticing that file space was dwindling, and as part of Canada's Eco-Schools Initiative, the board reviewed the current process and looked to support Green initiatives.

They settled on an ECM solution composing of software Xerox hardware. From this article:

'...These combined systems gave the district that ability to automate leave-of-absence approvals, substitute teacher scheduling, HR documentation, and payroll steps -- without all the paper or wasted time. For example, processing a teacher leave-of-absence request once took threes pieces of paper and a lengthy approval process. It's now simply done online in about 30 seconds and approved in minutes...'

The new system has reduced fuel consumption, reduced paper consumption and saved $38,000.00 per year by publishing the newsletter online."

This is how the printernet and wiki newspapers can work

It's called the Printed Blog. It started with one person. According to the website, it's going to have a daily 100,000 circulation in Chicago alone. Imagine the possible circulation if it were printernet published all over the world. Technically it could be millions, with a minimal carbon footprint.

The Printernet daily could be used by OPM/VAR/PSP's to stay top of mind of their customers-to-be. Demonstrating the power of print, instead of talking about it.

For a really good description of the printed blog, check out Jim Lyons Observations blog post, Ultimate Countertrend - The Printed Blog.

Printed Blogs and Printed Wikis for learning
If they could do a 100,000 printed blogs for Chicago, 1000 wiki/blog newspapers in a bottom of the pyramid high school should be a piece of cake.

A teacher + journalist + designer assemble content on a blog or wiki. The designer creates the most the most appropriate form for the desktop or at the CRD or the Print for Pay vendor.

Sooner or later the kids write their observations, ask and get answers to their questions on line. The kids content is included in the next issue. At the end of the unit the content is gathered together and published as a paperback book.

Publishing party !!! Teachers, parents and kids celebrate the learning, writing and book publishing event. Learning ensues.
New locations added! | The Printed Blog:
"Hi Everyone! We’ve been growing and we want you to know about some of the exciting changes taking place at The Printed Blog.

Spring is in the air, and we’re happy to announce that starting on Thursday, April 16th, we’re planning to dramatically expand our presence in the Chicago market, from a weekly circulation of 3,000 (nationally) to a daily circulation of 100,000 in Chicago alone, by the end of the year. Starting tomorrow we will be handing out 5,000 copies of The Printed Blog in Chicago alone!"

McKinsey + Thomas Friedman make the business case for eduction...with numbers

Education and learning is often thought of as taking care of poor kids. But that's not the point.

The point is that when funny money goes away human capital goes directly to GDP, according to McKinsey. McKinsey's model may or may not be spot on.

It's why it would be so cool for any of the players in Print called themselves a learning company. Learning is the key to higher GDP. Learning is the key to GDP all over the world.

It turns out the Print is the best learning artifact on the planet and will be for a long, long time.

How about Xerox, The Learning Company?

Or Ricoh/IBM, the Learning Company ( they already have a leg up since IBM is the Think company) they might be able to use the same ads and just change Think to Learn.

Oce, The Learning Company?

Op-Ed Columnist - Swimming Without a Suit - "Using an economic model created for this study, McKinsey showed how much those gaps are costing us. Suppose, it noted, “that in the 15 years after the 1983 report ‘A Nation at Risk’ sounded the alarm about the ‘rising tide of mediocrity’ in American education,” the U.S. had lifted lagging student achievement to higher benchmarks of performance? What would have happened?

The answer, says McKinsey: If America had closed the international achievement gap between 1983 and 1998 and had raised its performance to the level of such nations as Finland and South Korea, United States G.D.P. in 2008 would have been between $1.3 trillion and $2.3 trillion higher. If we had closed the racial achievement gap and black and Latino student performance had caught up with that of white students by 1998, G.D.P. in 2008 would have been between $310 billion and $525 billion higher. If the gap between low-income students and the rest had been narrowed, G.D.P. in 2008 would have been $400 billion to $670 billion higher."

The commodity is not the value. The user's experience is the value.

I can always depend on something interesting at Beyond-Print. This post did not disappoint.

An artifact that contains a memory has a good margin. Just ask Kodak. The memory is supplied by the user. Print is a token, a tool or a toy. The project described is a token. That's the unique advantage of Print in the learning process. It is a token of a real life conversation. Learning happens in real life conversations.
Go to a Dead concert, then get the book from Blurb: "(April 19, 2009 – G. Alexander) Here’s an idea more digital printers could try. Those who attend the current concert tour by The Dead (a band which includes four original members of The Grateful Dead) can get a photobook of professional photographs from the concert they attended 72 hours later, and its cover can be customized with a photo of their own.

The books are being produced by Blurb, a leading photobook site. The photos inside the book are taken at each concert by Jay Blakesberg, a photographer who is known for his many photos of The Grateful Dead. Blakesberg will also provide a cover photo, but purchasers have the alternative of uploading a photo of their own to appear on the cover of their copy of the book."

Yesterday's Citigroup Meeting.

Does anyone really believe that hedge funds and more pension managers are not going to play this out for very public company, sooner or later? They've gotten hammered and need to make sure someone else gets the blame.
. . opposition from shareholder adviser RiskMetrics Group Inc (RMG.N) and the pension fund California Public Employees' Retirement System, or CalPERS.
Citigroup says will pay back U.S.; directors elected | Reuters: "The embattled CEO spoke at an annual meeting that stretched to roughly six hours, where he and lead director Richard Parsons fielded complaints from investors furious about the 94 percent plunge in their shares since the beginning of 2007.
. . .'Your board of directors are too terrible for words -- they're dumb,' said Peggy McMahon, who later told Reuters the declining value of her Citi shares resulted in a $250,000 loss."
. . . Every shareholder proposal failed to pass, but some came close to winning, including one that would allow investors to call special shareholder meetings, which received a little less than half the votes cast.
. . . They also reelected directors C. Michael Armstrong, John Deutch and Alain Belda despite opposition from shareholder adviser RiskMetrics Group Inc (RMG.N) and the pension fund California Public Employees' Retirement System, or CalPERS.

Armstrong and Deutch have been audit committee members, and Belda is a former lead director.

Printing Credits = Frequent Flyer Miles ?

When people are short of cash they find other ways to exchange value given for value received. Meanwhile the community gets some printing for less, U Printing gets access to a new class of clients, and somebody is getting clicks or offset consumables.


Printing credits = press time. Press time is easy for us, hard for them. Easy for us, hard for them is how you get to reasonable margins and value creation. Provides Free Printing for Non-Profits - from WhatTheyThink:
" offers a blanket 10% discount on all online print orders (up to $150) for any eligible non-profit or charity. In addition, the U-Community program offers four different sponsorship programs exchanging logo placement and web links for free printing credits. For example, a non-profit can earn free full-color brochures, business cards, flyers, banners and other products in exchange for acknowledging's support on their website and promotional materials."

Good work Oce! The business model for a user network economy.

Low as possible entry point. Then paid upgrades when it makes sense. See or or

If people want renovated presses, then sell renovated presses. If there is an easy path to sell a renovated press, then upgrade to spot color, then to full color, that sounds like a nice business model for when the economy turns around.
Oce sees sales of renovated presses surge 60%
Tim Sheahan,, 22 April 2009

Oce has reported a 60% boost in demand for its renovated machines during 2008 with the Dutch manufacturer selling 5,000 such printers during the 12-month period.

The figure represents a significant leap from the 3,000 machines sold in 2007, with the company citing the cost advantage afforded by the presses as a reason behind the hike in demand."
Consider a strapped for cash newspaper. "Here's a nice renovated press that you can use to test out the market. If it works out for you, then we'll come back and do the upgrades when business supports it."

The same model should work for MPS. Price at page, not at equipment. Then figure out new valuable ways to use the boxes with a slight upgrade. Then repeat.

The pitch to increase learning (every organization needs to increase learning)
Use the boxes to increase learning. Here's how it works with entry level. Black and white 8 1/2 by 11 connected to a wiki on the Cloud. Then 11 by 17. Then 11 by 17 folded to 81 /2 by 11. Then color. Then a wiki newspaper produced by an outside PSP. Then bringing the production in house....and so on and so forth.

Sell the "value package" at X, the silver package at Y and the gold package at Z. The boxes are just the way to implement the various levels of service.

How I learned to stop worrying and love the commodity

Let's face it, Print is a commodity. That's the good news. Intel makes commodities. Walmart sells commodities. Computers are now commodities. The margin on commodities is low. The ability to manufacture commodities is high.

What's not and can never be a commodity is how a particular user uses your commodity. Combining commodities in a specific way to make a users life easier will never be a commodity, because users are always searching to make their lives more pleasant.

A VAR combines commodities to create new ways to make a user's life more pleasant. The more particular commodities that a VAR + user can combin in new ways, the greater the margins. Unique combinations just need smart. Smart is free.

Think iPod. It's just a MP3 player that is connected to the Cloud. The Cloud makes the iPod valuable. The design makes it cool and pleasant to use.

Cool + valuable + pleasant to use = decent margins.

How to get your MFPs into the education systems

Don't sell them. Bundle them into an ongoing education program that demonstrably works in real time.

The money gets paid from Special Ed. The boxes are there to facilitate a building based printernet that replaces textbooks with wiki books and newsletters. The purpose of this printernet is to improve learning in the building.

This is why it should work:
We find that when we escape the firm and product-/service-centric view of value creation, which is the dominant logic for marketing and strategy (see Kotler 2002; Porter 1980), and move on to an experience-centric cocreation view, new and exciting opportunities unfold. [p. 23] from Co-evolving innovation blog
It's also the reason that Xerox should test out being the Learning Company, instead of the Document Company. Everybody loves learning. Everybody hates documents, except of course people who make their living with documents. It's a classic example of a "product centric view of value creation."

It's a bit confusing if you think the PSP or the channel is the customer. They're not. Everybody in the food chain lives off the final user's money. That's the customer you have to focus on.

The role of Print in education

It's not obvious, but the snippet below is at the core of the answer. It's the part about "artifacts of prior conversations" Eduction is conversation, managed in the service of learning. Print is the artifact in question.

from Coevolving Innovations
The trajectory of systems research and practice: A Fuschl conversation (2008)

: "In addition, artifacts of prior conversations are helpful as references for ongoing research. Ideas from a conversation in 2000 (i.e. on aporetic conflict) resurfaced in 2008, and are being revisited in current research. The path from idea generation to initial documentation to published research to application is ambiguous in its direction and duration. The combination of easily-accessible proceedings and in-person availability of prior participants improves the transmission of knowledge."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Big Score for HP!!

Print4Pay Hotel's "MFP Solutions Blog"

"Hewlett Packard announced it won a managed print services based bid from Novartis International AG:
- A $41.5 billion pharmaceutical company
- 97,000 employees
- 140 countries
- 12 production sites and over 50 locations
- Headquarters in Switzerland
- Originally had 45,000 devices
- Will be reduced down to 8000 devices
- 44% cost reduction
- 400 million pages per year"

It's Oce v Xerox in Buffalo! Let the games begin!

@ "MFP Solutions Blog":
Xerox May Land Buffalo Schools Contract!:
"In a recent article from, they reported that Buffalo Schools may contract with Xerox and no competitive bidding! This Wednesday night the contract could be awarded to Xerox for almost 300 copy machines with out any additional bidders. . . .

. . . If a vendor comes out, like this particular vendor has come out, and makes reference to the fact that they have been treated unfairly, then I have an obligation and so do the other board members to look into it, and that's exactly what we'll do," said Hernandez.

The District Administration says Xerox came in with a price 31% below the New York State Contract Price, which meets the competitive bidding requirements.

The no-bid contract will be brought up for discussion at Wednesday's Board meeting.

Free advice to John Bird and Team Oce:
Find out who's thinking of running for office in Buffalo. Send them an email or make the call. Then get in contact with someone on the school board who wants to run for something else. Then send them an email. Or just call the people who charge you for PR. Let them make the call. Isn't that what they get paid for? I'm pretty sure this isn't the way you would play in the Netherlands. But this is the States. We play ethical free market hard ball.

Free advice to the Big X
Play fair and get this open to real competition before you have another NYC DoE kerfuffle. Sooner or later the brand impariment is not going to be worth 300 copiers.

Free advice to Independent MPS
If you had an education piece to go with the box piece, you could probably beat out both of them and get paid from the Special Ed budget instead of the supplies budget. Wikibooks, anyone? You'd probably save them enough in textbooks so the 300 copiers is a benefit of doing business with you.
'The leasing contract for close to 300 copy machines for the Buffalo School System could be awarded Wednesday to the Xerox Corporation, without any competitive bidding.'

Oce is not pleased with this and offered this 'We can compete with Xerox head on, head on,' said John Bird of OCE Corporate Printing Division.

That doesn't copy well with the OCE company, which wanted to bid on the contract, but was told by the School District there would be not bidding."

A New Metric for Executive + Board of Director Comp

The new metric is % that is SG&A.

Market revenue is beyond anyone's full control. Profitability goes up it goes down. But percentage of SG&A is completely within management's control. So even after the all the layoffs and buy outs and whatever else, our SG&A went up last quarter instead of down.

I think the goal is WalMart 16+%. My bet is that the Craig's List number is closer 3%. But that's only good for new business.

Plus we don't have to wait every quarter to get some info on how it's going.

If incremental changes in the efficiencies of management is good enough for President Obama's administration, I can't see why it's not good enough for everyone else.

The reason selling multi channel marketing has nothing to do with educating customers

The problem is that they are not organized to be able to make the buy, see snippet and follow the link.

Everybody already knows it's what you should do. So . . .if you're trying to sell multi channel marketing, make it easy for them to buy it. And stop trying to impress people with ROI blablabla.

That's why it would be so cool for HP to get Staples to integrate buying newspaper ads into MarketSplash. Why not give a call to
Media Agencies Still Figuring Out Multiplatform Buys, Social Media - Advertising Age - MediaWorks: "During the 'Global CEO Spotlight' panel, the moderator, Advertising Age Editor Jonah Bloom, playing the role of a media owner, took the agencies to task for complicating buys due to their complex internal structure. 'We came with a multiplatform [ad buy] and it was an integrated-marketing solution. And then the [agency's] TV guy didn't want to know about parts of it, or he wasn't talking to the digital guy and the digital guy doesn't even know who lives in the TV department.' His monologue drew applause from the media owners in the audience."

Some win. Some lose. Even when the economy is blablablablab...and Print is dead..

Lateral Group companies post 87% rise in profits
William Mitting,, 20 April 2009

Howitt, Data Lateral, Shift Click and Dialogue Solutions, the companies within the Lateral Group have reported an 87% increase in earnings for the 12 months to December 2008.

As a whole, the group companies achieved earnings before tax and interest of £2.05m on a turnover of £52m.

Its Nottingham-based direct mail arm Howitt performed the strongest, contributing a pre-tax profit of £1.02m – a 79% increase on the previous year.

If the US government converts debt to shares on Citbank . . .

My bet is that lots of folks on Citi's Board of Directors is going to get fired for approving silly executive comp, stupid incentives and most especially the risk committee.

It wasn't that they weren't doing what everyone else was doing. It's just that they didn't do what they were being paid to do. When that happens any place else in the pyramid, they get fired. Now that they got forced into accepting debt from a bunch of grown ups, they have to stop by too busy to do the jobs they are paid to do.

It's going to get interesting to see if the institutional investors and hedge funds get the message that is ok to act like a grown up, once the funny money disappears. Plus I figure that they'll have the cover to act like grownups, once the federales make the move.

It should be an interesting meeting today. Given that Anne Mulcahey is on the Citi Board of Directors, maybe we'll hear the story from an inside source. Given that Chuck Prince is on the Xerox Board of Directors, if anyone understands how this happened over there, it should be Chuck and Anne. Maybe they'll learn from those mistakes and fix Xerox.

Score big one for Ricoh (Australia)

All the cool stuff keeps happening in Australia. But it's so far away from Brooklyn and I truly hate long air flights. Maybe Ricoh/IBM InfoPrint will bring it to Brooklyn. There are some really nice lots available on the Red Hook coastline, right next to Ikea and Fairway.

And it's a free water taxi ride to Wall Street and midtown. All the creatives would make some excuse so they could ride the water taxi instead of sit in their offices. Outfit it with free WiFi and free espresso and you'll never get them off the boat.

Plus Ikea just started a section called Ikea for Small Business and Fairway has the best food on the East Coast.

from Print 21
Ricoh opens Sydney CBD showroom
"Ricoh opens Sydney CBD showroom
Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Ricoh goes on display in the heart of the city with its new Printing Innovation Centre (PIC).

Digital print specialists, Ricoh, opened a new multi-million dollar showcase in Sydney last week and, unlike other similar digital print display centres, this one is located right in the heart of the CBD.

The futuristic centre is being pitched as a cross between a product demo suite, a place where customers can meet and learn, and a software development hub for new print-related applications. It is one of just five such centres around the world and first to be opened in Australia."

Fuji film on the move (Australia)

It's Fuji Xerox in Australia and Asia. How about Xerox Fuji in the States and Xerox Rank in the Euro Language countries?

But I don't think Fuji Xerox is going to give up Australia. Besides Australia is the Euro language outpost in Asia. Plus my bet is that lots of Aussie's speak Chinese or Japanese. Or more likely, the Chinese diaspora Aussies and the Japanese disapora Aussies can speak English as well as anyone.

Note: The Xerox (USA) Market Cap last time I looked was $4.5 billion. Maybe FujiFilm wants to be the Mittal Steel of Print? Or maybe IBM, who got beat on the Sun acqusition could spin off InfoPrint and then they could be the Mittal Steel of Print? or maybe HP could do the same? In any case, my IRA could be so happy.

Then I could blog less about Print and more about education, wikinewspapers and wikibooks and bookazines and see textbooks change into something that really helps.
Fujifilm Sericol snapped up by Fujifilm Australia - News Archive - Print21:
"Fujifilm Sericol snapped up by Fujifilm Australia
Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Integration of ink manufacturer, Fujifilm Sericol gives Fujifilm Australia access to new markets.

From 4 May, Fujifilm Sericol will operate as a business unit within specially built premises at Fujifilm’s headquarters in Brookvale, Sydney."

MPS: Think like a plumber.

If you say you're a plumber in a room full of IT people, you get no respect. If you say you're a plumber to someone with a blocked toilet and guests coming to dinner, you're a savior.

When a client has a blocked toilets and the boss is coming to dinner, they usually need a plumber. If the toilet isn't stuffed and the boss is busy being busy, then they are also too busy being busy to think they need anything. People who don't think they need anything, don't buy anything. They just blabla about the PRICE.

Given the disappearance of funny money, everybody's boss will come to dinner, sooner rather than later. Given the dysfunctional way that print is manufactured and purchased, most organizations have stuffed toilets. That's is the opportunity for MPS.

The reason that plumbers have such good margins is that if you have a stuffed toilet or no heat, price is much less important than getting it fixed now. Plumbers get the respect they need from their families, their bankers and other plumbers. It feels much better than nice words from people you don't know.

They haven't heard about the "End of Print" in Russia

Given that much more of the world is closer to the situation in Russia than the situation in America/Europe, I'm thinking Print will continue to do just fine.

It's printers in America/Europe that have the challenge. On the other hand, in every challenge there are new opportunities. Just got to hear the signal through the noise.

KP Group orders multiple Goss Community presses - Printing Industry News from WhatTheyThink: "KP Group orders multiple Goss Community presses

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Russian media enterprise, KP Group, based in Moscow has ordered three new Goss Community presses for new plants across the Russian Federation. Part of an ongoing expansion project, completion of this phase will bring to ten the total of KP Group print facilities equipped with Community presses."

Who will be the ArcelorMittal Steel of Print?

According to wikipedia,

ArcelorMittal (Euronext: MT, NYSE: MT, BMAD: MTS, LuxSE: MT) is the largest steel company in the world, with 326,000 employees in more than 60 countries.[2][3] The company was formed in 2006 by the merger of Arcelor and Mittal Steel. It ranks 39th on the 2008 Fortune Global 500 list.[4] The company is headquartered in Luxembourg City, the former seat of Arcelor.[5]

My answer, for today, is that Donnelly is part of the equation. But long term, my guess is that another Indian entreprenuer whose company is based in the Netherlands, and managed from London is probably going to wind up getting this right. Or maybe someone from China. Or maybe three guys in a garage.

Consider that as of today, Donnelly's market cap is $1.9 billion. Kodak's Market Cap is $1.1 billion. So for $3 billion someone could buy one of the world's best brands and one of the world's most robust Print manufacturing organizations. Once $3 billion was a lot of money.

More from wikipedia,
CEO Lakshmi Mittal's family owned 88% of the company. Mittal Steel was based in Rotterdam but, managed from London by Mittal and his son Aditya. It was formed when Ispat International N.V. acquired LNM Holdings N.V. (both were already controlled by Lakshmi Mittal) and merged with International Steel Group Inc. (the remnants of Bethlehem Steel, Republic Steel and LTV Steel) in 2004. On 25 June 2006, Mittal Steel decided to merge with Arcelor, with the new company to be called Arcelor Mittal. The merger has been successfully approved by shareholders and directors of Arcelor making L.N. Mittal the largest steel maker in the world.