Saturday, May 2, 2009

Thinking Point: Grown Ups Play Hard Ball

The battle of the titans is between globals and nation states.

For the last 8 years the most important nation state was run by "too busy being busy" children. Now that the grown ups are in charge it's being played by equals. After a while, it might be sooner than later, a new ecology will emerge. Value chain government and globals are morphing into user network government and globals.

Winners can be plausibly predicted in user networks using systems thinking and the lens of evolutionarily stable strategy. It's the strategy that describes biological evolution. It also describes the evolution of user network economies. The faster globals move to ESS game theory to make decisions, the more likely they will thrive.

When changes happen they present as Black Swans or Tipping Points. Lehman, AIG, GM, Chrsyler. Kodak's Market Cap went under $1 billion on Friday. Years in the making, months in the presentation. It was not that "no one could predict. "It was the powerful people were "too busy being busy" and reaping proximate rewards from command-and-control value chains that are too slow, insulated, expensive and vulnerable.

Consider that Amazon, Google and Walmart continue to grow nicely.

As for the snippet below, I'm going with the thing about the ongoing GM negotiations. It's why I'm betting that GM stock is a reasonable bet over the long term. Consider what happens when the entire US car inventory has to be replaced with fuel efficient vehicles. Then consider the Volt and FIAT engines in Chrysler bodies.
Chrysler vs. Debtholders: Who Will Win? --
from Seeking Alpha:
"Why was the government (lender) advised by lawyers to NOT settle with debtholders. It would have taken just another 600 million to settle as these holders were asking for 60% recovery. Why were they instead advised to take the course of Chapter 11 (with all it's drag, loss of confidence to the overall economy), even though they appear to have weaker case? I really don't have an answer. I can only speculate.

Maybe Fiat insisted on it as it may allow dealerships to be restructured.

Or maybe the government was setting a precedent to influence the stakeholders in GM's (much bigger elephant in the room) case to negotiate and come to terms."

Versioned Newspapers. A Sales Opportunity. + How Textbooks will be reininvented.

One my favorite bloggers has been missing for the last couple of weeks. This morning he posted this:

Wow. My poor neglected blog has one post from the month of April. If you’ve been wondering where I was, wonder no more. I’ve been launching Columbia Tomorrow, a context-rich website on growth and development in Columbia, Mo

Then I followed the links and got to this:

Columbia Tomorrow is a product of the Reynolds Journalism Institute and the Missouri School of Journalism. We wanted to serve residents of Columbia with a new type of news site — one that emphasizes not just the latest headlines, but how those headlines fit together into a larger story. To create this site, students and editors from the Missourian, KOMU and RJI spent months researching, reporting, storyboarding, writing, coding, shooting and producing all the content you see here.

In many ways, this is an experiment — one of many to come out of an innovative university — so we ask you to pardon our dust, and to send us your thoughts on how we can improve. But we hope this can also be a service of enduring value to you and the Columbia community.

Then I went back to the blog, and said this:

Just to get on your radar, Consider the results of outputting topics in Print for the local high school teachers. Teachers go to the site, choose the topics they want for their class. Three days later they get 30 paperbacks to give the kids. The kids use highlighters for the interesting and confusing stuff. The teacher collects the books to base instruction and as evidence that the kids did what they were supposed to do.

Trust me. The print tech is well defined and pretty easy to implement. I would be very happy to volunteer with some online PM and mentoring as long as there is an evangelist on the ground. The potential upside is that the newspaper might find a new market in a weekly reader on steroids that is focused on local economic development. Supported by ads from non profits, health organizations and government public service announcements.

Score one (actually 8) for Big X

from InfoTrends
The Impact of the Economy on Digital Print Volume:
April 24, 2009, Earnings Call..

Xerox noted that demand for its iGen4 product remained strong. The company highlighted the placement of eight iGen4s to Bowne."

Data point: If you don't measure all the costs, you can't get a decent margin when you sell ROI

Pitney Bowes Launches Managed Address Services
from WhatTheyThink:
"On average, each piece of return mail costs the mailer $3.00 in operational expenses, according to Pitney Bowes research. That includes printing, postage, inbound handling, analysis, and re-mailing costs. It doesn’t include the cost of missed marketing opportunities, uncollected receivables and lost USPS discounts. In addition, unless the mailer pays for a special endorsement, undeliverable Standard Mail� is destroyed by the USPS."

Data point: Xerox, Schools, MPS

Canadian School Goes Green with the Help of Xerox
- from WhatTheyThink
Thursday, April 30, 2009

Schools looking to be more environmentally friendly can learn from our neighbors up north. Canada’s Niagara Catholic School District Board (NCSDB) was recognized this week by IDG’s InfoWorld as a part of the InfoWorld Green 15 Awards. The awards applaud the 15 most innovative IT initiatives that fall under the umbrella of sustainability.
. . .
The Board saw many more benefits beyond reducing paper consumption. The HR department alone digitized 800,000 documents and is now entirely digital, and the Board was able to save $38,000 annually by publishing a monthly newsletter online.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Thinking Point: managed Print solutions

Following a tweat on Greg Walter's blog, I got to this interesting article. From the UK.
to fully outsourced deals that manage all aspects of the print infrastructure."
"Fully outsourced deals" is what I'm trying to capture with the Printernet. The real obstacle is the cultural divide between MFP folks and commercial printers. Whoever solves it first is going to have a too-much-demand problem, in my not so humble opinion.

Fully outsourced deals is BPO. Start with the internal print piece or start with the external print buy. The end game is the same.

Channelling managed print solutions -
01 May 2009 - CRN:
"The MPS market is nebulous due to manufacturers’ varying approaches – which range from entry-level services wrapping up hardware sales with supplies and maintenance, typically on a cost-per-page contract,
By the way, she thinks that the Xerox XPS is quite good.

In effect, instead of building their own service infrastructure, they can resell an MPS as a white-label service provided by a manufacturer.

Examples include HP Smart Printing Services (SPS), Kyocera UK’s KYOprint Pack, Lexmark Value Print and Ricoh’s @Remote programme.

One MPS programme that stands out in relation to its range of training and support for resellers to manage multi-vendor environments for SMBs is Xerox Printing Services (XPS).

MPS: Learn from the Print Centre in the UK

It sounds like a great non MFP Print software system. It's still missing the fleet management piece. But sooner or later or maybe now, but not known to me, there will be/is a VAR who will put that piece in the mix.
The Print Centre at the University of South Hampton, UK:
"The Total Managed Print Solution

Our ethos at The Print Centre is to provide our customers with a printing service that offers value for money, with services and advice that meets and exceeds our customers' expectations.
Featured services:

* Digital Copying for Black and White and Colour from A5 - SRA3
* Digital Printing for Black and White and Colour from A5 - SRA3
* Variable Data and targeted marketing projects
* Large format posters and display stands
* PDF Workflow and Environmental platemaking
* Litho Printing on 4,2 and single colour presses
* Finishing and Mailing service" resells Press-Sense iWay in the U.K. iWay looks like it's a pretty simple solution for the non MFP Print piece.
Press-sense iWay was a product that would actually do the job out-of-the-box. It seems to have a a reasonable adoption path.
. . .
The University of Southampton, Print Centre has decided to move into this new e-business system in stages. They started with more simple jobs such as stationery, business cards, and now, after three months, are working on advancing to the next level. At present the Print Centre is taking advantage of the Transeo Media iWay Managed Service (ASP) and thoroughly enjoys this hosted solution although they do plan to eventually upgrade iWay into a stand- alone application.

Go Xerox! (India)

If Xerox trained their excess talent to do call centers in the US for India they could get a lot more people in the Cloud to help the feet on the ground.
Xerox to focus on digital printing market in south
"As part of its strategy, Xerox will create more awareness about its recently launched certified economic value (CEV) facility, which helps customers get their second-hand or used digital printers recycled or upgraded at lower cost. “CEV facility saves at least 50 per cent cost on technology upgradation and refurbishing of old printers. We will create more awareness about this facility in remote parts of the region,” he said.
Xerox will take the initiative of developing the market in at least 70 smaller cities and towns in the region through road shows and advertising to popularise digital printing and will also associate with state-level printing associations. “We had tied up with Karnataka State Printing Association to launch our first digital printing learning centre in the state two years back,” he said"

Wow...My IRA is really in Love with Oce..

I will wait until the 17th of May to post the IRA score, but as of this morning at 10:02 EST Oce is up 104.68% since Feb 17. Ain't life grand? My bet is that their Board of Directors is busy doing their jobs. But then again, it's a lot quieter in the Netherlands. Better signal v noise ratio.

What happens if you miss the next phase

Bloomberg and Klein have done more than anyone in recent memory to improve NYC schools. But it seems they were'nt prepared for success. So instead of building the brand, they've given an issue on a spoon to Mike's political opponents.

Just goes to show:
1. No good deed goes unpunished.
2. Be prepared for success as much as for failure.

It's a tough job. But that's why Boards of Directors and CEO'S get the big bucks. As the late Smith Barney used to say about money and earning and old fashioned way...."we earn it."

Stop firing people. Figure out a way to repurpose them. When this turns around you are going to feet on the ground. Everything else is blablablablablabla.

Waiting Lists for Kindergarten Put Manhattan Parents on Edge -
from the "As a growing collection of Manhattan’s most celebrated public elementary schools notify neighborhood parents that their children have been placed on waiting lists for kindergarten slots, middle-class vitriol against the school system — and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg — is mounting.

Parents are venting their frustrations in e-mail messages and phone calls to the mayor, local politicians and the schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein (“You have unleashed the fury of parents throughout this city with your complete lack of preparedness,” read one father’s recent missive, which he shared with The New York Times)."

Datapoint + Thinking Point: The shape of TV to come

If you think printing has problems, how would you like to be running a TV network? Keep on eye on Youtube for prosumers and DIY. Hulu for the professionals.

Disney Climbs Aboard Video Site Hulu, Teaming Up With Other Networks Online -

Walt Disney Co. took a major step to reshape the Web-TV landscape by jumping aboard video site Hulu, a move that brings together three of the biggest broadcast and cable network owners under the same banner."

MPS; Learn from

It's exactly the right model to be able to compete against the globals.
10th Anniversary - Free Gift -
: "We founded in 1999 with a vision: Managing sales reps should be as easy as buying a book on—and the best way to grow our business was to focus on the success of our customers."

Directors on the Board get fired!

General Motors, Chrysler, AIG, Bank of America. It's getting nasty out there. It would have been nice if the institutional investors and hedge funds would have been doing their job all along. But when grown ups are running the ten ton gorilla in the room . . . .I guess the grown ups in Washington are being busy doing their job, instead of just busy being busy.

Maybe the real secret sauce of the United States of America, is that it's not that hard to fire Board Members . . . once everybody focuses on the real problem.

Meanwhile the hedge funds whine about economy blablabla and performance and blablalba and profits. There is no whining in business, just like there is no crying in baseball. If the big investors were doing their jobs, we wouldn't be in this fix in the first place. But I'm betting they were also too busy being busy.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Score for EFI !

You have to love headlines like lower revenue and profit. And no excuses about the economy blablablablabla.

EFI Reports Profit on Lower Revenues
from WhatTheyThink:
Thursday, April 30, 2009

FOSTER CITY, Calif. -- Electronics For Imaging, Inc., the world leader in customer-focused digital printing innovation, today announced its results for the first quarter of 2009. For the quarter ended March 31, 2009, the Company reported revenues of $96.1 million, compared to first quarter 2008 revenue of $136.6 million.

GAAP net income was $26.7 million or $0.52 per diluted share in the first quarter of 2009, compared to a net (loss) of $(5.2) million or $(0.10) per diluted share for the same period in 2008."

Thinking point: To the fast goes the prize

When the rebound happens whoever has the best ground game wins. At the top of the pyramid they only see the air war. It's easy to do an air war. But Obama's campaign showed that you win with a ground game. Air wars are usually lots of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Passion on the ground always beats resources from the air. Until a global can direct, nurture and focus passion. But that's the Obama thing again.

Don't you sometimes wish that instead of destroying your ground force by firing them, you would have harnessed your ground force by helping them become passion driven mercs?

Oops! Chrysler plans to file for Chapter 11, Lewis gets fired from being the Chairman of the Board, and Kodak posts a loss in Q1.

And, Time Warner plans to spin off AOL. Now if only the globals spin off their Print, my IRA would be much happier.

But until then, it's going to be interesting to see how this all plays out. Here's the link to the Kodak story. If you go to, you'll find the links to other stories.

My bet is that conversations between GM and their bondholders will take a different twist in the next couple of days. I put down a small bet on GM common a while ago that the bond holders are going to blink first. I can't see how the UAW and the Federal Government are going to pay less attention than the institutional investors and hedge funds. For the last couple of years, they've obviously been too busy being busy to focus on the task at hand.

I figure that the grown ups in Washington are ready to let GM reorganize in bankruptcy. It's plausible they have to put the legal stuff in place to make it as quick as possible. Meanwhile, FIAT can wait until Chrysler comes out and pick up the brand at probably a better price.

If I could figure out the situation, I would also place a small bet on Quebecor World. But I think the common is going to get wiped out.

Meanwhile, I'm particularly interested in the "separating CEO from Chairman of the Board" story. That never made much sense to me anyway. As far as I can tell, those jobs have two very different job descriptions.

As expected, the Kodak story has the usual "the economy is blablablabalbalbla.' Sorry guys, you get the big bucks because your job is to keep the ship profitable no matter what the economy blablablablabla. No doubt, it's a very, very hard job. But consider that you are very, very richly rewarded, have amazing perks and great pensions.

Plus you chose the job. You didn't get drafted. As in government so it is in global publics. The buck stops at the top. It's the way grown ups play the game.

The no hire, no fire strategy

From WhatTheyThink:
Creating Opportunity Out of Adversity
By Mike Grasso, PrintLink USA
. . . Thus, for new hires, PrintLink works with our client companies to uncover candidates who will arrive with as much of the requisite knowledge and skills as possible. Additionally, although it has always been important to invest in training, in our current challenging times it is more critical than ever. So we advocate the regular in-depth review of job descriptions and their accompanying skill requirements, then maintenance of a practical plan to fulfill both."
The new rules are the old rules. Keep fixed overhead to the absolute minimum. Get as far as you can from the risk of "machinery." Once you make the nut, your marginal profits are great. If you don't make your nut, your either in debt or go out of business. Just ask any of the globals that have crashed and burned.

The under appreciated fact is that web technology makes much of the fixed costs unnecessary. When it was hard to manage information, a value chain organization makes good sense. It passes the "easy for me, hard for you" business litmus test. But when information is easy to manage the rules change. Now "it's easy for mSB (micro small business) and hard for you (globals, et al with legacy rules and incentives.)

Some globals solve the problem, Google and Walmart are my examples du jour. P&G and Kelloggs seem to have it right. It's usual the secret sauce that separates the winners from the losers.

So stop thinking about hiring. You probably can't afford it. Plus who knows what the world is going to look like next month, year or decade.

Stop mass firings
Firing classes of people means destroying very expensive human capital. It is the Wall Street common wisdom, but every small business knows that it is the very last option before filing Chapter 11. If that's the case, then you have no choice. But if you're not preparing to bail out. Don't do it.

Instead give your present employees the choice. "EITHER we will help you transition to the next phase of your life OR we will help you set up an off the overhead networked business, and we will be your first customer. It's what lots of people are doing anyway.

Very, very few people want a 9 to 5 or 9 to 9 job. The good news is that knowledge work happens in short bursts. Nobody can do knowledge work in industrial time/space. Ask a designer or a writer or an analyst. You're on 18/7. But you "work" at 20 minutes at a time. If the situation demands it you work 12 hours straight. Then you take off as much time as needed to recharge the batteries.

Besides, when the health care system in the States gets even a little fixed, you better be ready for the rush for the exits. Then the problem is going to be how to get them back. But trust me, masses of knowledge workers are not going to be lining up for jobs. They will be in their own businesses and you will have to pay for them when you need them.

It will be more expensive in the short run. But since the cost will be built into the sale price, that should work just fine for everyone. Why not get a jump on what's going to happen anyway?

It's not how Print can fit into the Internet. It's how the Internet can fit into Print.

This morning I got into an interesting email conversation with a colleague in Australia. It started from a comment at my most recent column at
27 comments in a day or so. It's just amazing what happens when you go directly at the internet blablablabla. Some people get very excited. It's no wonder that Print has been so defensive for much too long. But enough is enough.

Anyway, I wanted to share an edited version of the email with my viewers here. I mostly added the subheads.

For visitors here, I would only add that focused intelligence is what every business leader needs. Intelligence without focus is useless. Focus without intelligence is worse than useless.
Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. It's pretty funny how much discussion you can start when you directly take on the blablabla. Imagine what might happen if "How Print can find it's place in the Internet" were changed to "How the internet can find it's place in Print. Keep posted at Tough Love, I feel a blog post coming on . . . .

I responded to your comments at the post. Even for an info junkie like me, the absence of a voice from beyond our inevitably parochial borders is such a breath of fresh air. I remember during the 1960's I had to struggle with my high school French to read LeMonde.

I'm right with you on the role of journalists. The contradiction that is now being resolved, in my not so humble opinion, is that the marriage between newspapers and journalism is turning into an affair. I think the divorce will benefit both.

During Vietnam the reporting I relied upon was done by IF Stone. He did a modest 4 page 8 1/2 by 11 (A4?) Today he would have a blog to much greater effect. The real value add was focused intelligence. It's similar to the fact that the best analysis of War in Iraq was done by a study group with no privileged information. They focused on using their experience to see the patterns in the mass of data points in books, newspapers and on the web.

The way I see it is that journalists are paid to focus, see patterns and use words and pictures to communicate what they've seen. It could be on the ground or in the newsroom or at wherever on the internet. Once breaking news is no longer the only way to aggregate an audience they will be more free to do the job they are really paid to do.

Versioned newspapers change the constraints of the press deadline.
The new thing is that the appropriate content for publishing in Print can be determined by the audience combined with the news cycle. The content no longer has to constrained by the press schedule. The press schedule can be fed by what's important to the relevant audience at that time in that space.

The news cycle focuses attention. It creates the teachable moment. For example, this swine flu thing is a perfect "teachable moment" about science, evolution, epidemics, how different governments respond, the relationship between "homeland security" and public health and many other mysteries that should be better understood.

The amazing thing about a news printernet is that it could enable taking advantage of teachable moments to help build a global understanding that is local and global. Specific - in the sense of the using just the right words and narratives for a specific time and place - and global in the sense of understanding the mysteries of life on the global scale. If one doesn't think on the global scale, the source of problems cannot be seen.

The Learning Printernet
The proceeding is a pretty good statement of how I think printernet publishing can significantly change education results at the bottom of the pyramid for high school kids. I have lots of experience with K-12 education teachers and students. Directly at Parsons, with my work with The Grow Network, in my 1998 dot com start-up,

What I think I've learned is that issue for learning is not about content or curriculum. It's about learning to focus. And having the time to practice new behavior. While everyone seems to want to stuff in more, the irony is that what you do is much less important that doing it with reflection and long term focus. Reflection and focus is a full time job for a paid journalist. That's why I'm not a journalist, just a blogger. Anyone can have insights or be funny. But only a trained dedicated professional either a journo or a comedian can do it on demand.

Datapoint: Textbooks are hosed

From a comment at Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard
. . .For a college student (I am not one), I would *kill* for the free no-monthly-charge Wikipedia access alone, provided by Kindle."I would *kill* for the free no-monthly-charge Wikipedia access alone, provided by Kindle."
And a high school teacher would be very happy to be able to hand out copies of wikipedia in print as a newspaper, book or handout.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Print to the Cloud via . . . Designer QR Codes in Japan

Once Print talks to the Cloud and the Cloud talks back, everything changes, again.

Imagine teaching material for High School Kids that had designer QR codes that take them to a pURL to take a quiz on the material. Time stamped, personalized, immediately accessible to teacher and administration.

The under appreciated reality is that every bottom of the pyramid high school kid I've ever met has a neat cell phone and has learned to write on that little keyboard as fast as older people type on a laptop.

From Creativity on Line
A recent design project from Japan infuses contemporary art into ho-hum QR code graphics. To tout Takashi Murakami's ongoing collaboration with Louis Vuitton, Tokyo-based creative agency SET dispensed with the standard black and white pattern and designed a stylized QR code inspired by the artist's work for the fashion brand.

Big in Japan, quick response codes are graphics used to hyperlink physical objects to Web content or multimedia and are often found on posters, billboards and magazines. The Murakami QR code drives traffic to the Louis Vuitton mobile website and, for SET, demonstrates the possibilities of designer QR codes.
. . .
What are the remaining barriers in North America to widespread use of QR codes (for example, cost to users and the lack of standards or preloaded code reading applications)? Is it a technical/infrastructure question or just a mindset question?

I just spent a few weeks in Australia talking up the codes to brands and agencies there and I guess one barrier is the perceived cost. Once flat rate mobile plans become standard, consumers will spend more time browsing and interacting on their phones. The QR code will provide a gateway between the real world and the digital. I saw codes on the sides of buses in Australia promoting movie releases. It was a kid's film and so that is obviously one way the codes will take off abroad. Kids today seem to have no trouble with technology, so a couple of well-promoted examples of youth brand coding will have everyone jumping on the bandwagon and consumers experimenting. Think Ecko tagging Air Force One with a QR code--The next day everyone would know what they are. The technology is there and the consumers are ready. It's up to the brands to make them interesting enough to warrant a click.

Thinking point: The secret of viral marketing

A gene in physical space is like a meme in cognitive space. Watch the virus gene to figure out how a meme works. see Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene. It also explains the power of the printernet.

Update: Thursday 10:28 AM EST
Notice that the number of cases reported are tiny. Negligible if you don't focus. But they are emerging everywhere on the planet. Today it seems there might be one case in Spain. As soon as a case appears in Europe, the WHO warning signal goes to the next level. Notice who the WHO is scanning for early signals and amplifying that signal to health ministries around the world so they can start organizing the feet on the ground to manage the wave.

Thinking Point: New uses for INKJET.

But who has the time and money to go to Switzerland? In my not so humble opinion, this is a big deal. There's a good summary at

Maybe some will decide to printernet publish so we can all get clued in? Now there's something your customers don't know anything about plus, trust me, it's way cool.

from WhatTheyThink
Ink jet technology components at IMI Europe
"So is that it? Well, all of these companies are willing to help you, but they are looking for customers with vision, who want to revolutionise their industry by offering something new or better than ever before. Is that you or your competitor?

You can meet key ink jet industry suppliers at the IMI Europe Ink jet Technology Showcase Conference in Z�rich, Switzerland June 2-3, 2009. Full details and on-line registration at"

The growth market is NOT advertising. The growth markets are in education, health and government

from WhatTheyThink
INTERQUEST Releases Study of Digital Printing in the Government Market

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Charlottesville, VA -- INTERQUEST, a leading market and technology research and consulting firm serving the digital printing and publishing industry, today announced the release of Digital Production Printing in the Federal Government: Market Update. The study is based on extensive, in-depth interviews with respondents from in-house printing facilities in executive branch agencies and quasi-government organizations. It complements a 2008 study which focused on government print buyers and third-party print providers."

Money is on the prowl

see snippet from today's at the bottom

Small printers (95% of United States print population) will network. Either in franchises like AlphaGraphics, or via websites like in the UK, or through organizations like the PSDA or the new MPS organization or the thing that's going on in Australia, or pull printing MPS in the UK.

Globals should probably get smaller instead of bigger. Give every clear business unit it's own P&L or spin them off. Roll ups should figure out a way to get the benefit of scale, without destroying the DNA of the printers they roll up. Anderson is good example of how Cenveo got it very, very wrong.

It's the user network economy. Andy McCourt has an awesome, closely argued and well written description of the printernet in the current Print 21 print edition. As soon as I get a link, I'll post it here to see what some one in the game has to say about it.

But in the meantime, all you have to do is get the signal through the noise.
from WhatTheyThink
WhatTheyThink and New Direction Partners to offer new Merger & Acquisition resource News :
"Lexington, KY and Berwyn, PA -- WhatTheyThink, the provider of online graphic arts news and market intelligence, and New Direction Partners, the leading investment banking and financial advisory firm serving the printing industry, jointly announced today that their two firms have partnered together to create an online community for printing executives dedicated to merger and acquisition (M&A) content."

Why not replace trade credit with credit cards

A tough story coming out of the UK. see snippet below. It's worth the click. He makes good sense when he says the risk of exposure to trade debt is a big problem. Maybe in the UK, the government could get involved. But why not just pay the credit card company the 2 or 3% for credit insurance. I would think it's money well spent.

Plus you get to give your customers the option of frequent flyer miles. Costco offers an Amex card with a 3% rebate. Why not the same thing for a printernet company? An OEM. OPM or VAR could do a deal with a credit card company. Of course that means forgoing financing profits.

But given how the financing business worked out for GM, I say if you want to make money like a bank, then be a bank or spin off a bank. Don't make believe you make cars, or boxes, but really be a bank in disguise. The numbers look good, but the risk is very high.
Kent finisher to buy own assets in 'last resort' deal
"'It isn't something that I took lightly, it was a last resort and something that I tried to avoid. But if I didn't do this 20 families would be left without an income. If the Inland Revenue had given me more time I could have traded out.'

And Crook believes that situations like his could be avoided if the government made it a legal requirement to pay debts inside 30 days.

He added: 'That is the biggest thing the government can do to ease stress on a lot of companies. When a company doesn't pay it hurts, you rely on that cash flow."

While we're waiting to see how is going to be the ArcelorMittal of Print

Here's a snippet about how the steel thing is moving along. When times are tough, the response is what is important. Always the bottom line. The top line goes up and down and up and down.
ArcelorMittal to Raise $3 Billion in Share, Bond Sale (Update2) "April 29 (Bloomberg) -- ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steelmaker, plans to raise $3 billion from a sale of shares and bonds to accelerate the company’s debt reduction program."

When grownups give money, they make the rules

That's the thing about the "bailouts". Grown ups only give if they get. Now that the grown ups are in charge in Washington, it turns out that the getting is not worth the giving.

So . . they don't seem to want any more public money. I'm thinking that anyone out there who is making money from the public should see how the winds are shifting. The kerfuffle in Buffalo and NYC are the canaries in the mine.
Citigroup scrambles to raise capital:
"However, with days to go before the results of the tests are announced, Citi, which has been bailed out three times by the authorities, is looking for ways to avoid receiving more government help if the authorities insist on an increase in capital."

"Xerox blames decline in kit sales . . ." But XRX still made a profit in Q1. Nice.

Congratulations home team! In this environment top line revenue is going to go down. As long as you can stay profitable and out of debt, you're doing fine by me.

But there has to be a better, faster way to bring down SG&A than wasting human capital as in
The company said it would deliver $250m in savings this year thanks to previous restructuring initiatives, which included 3,000 job cuts announced in the latter part of 2008.
That's a Wall Street solution. It's not a Xerox solution.

How about a program to repurpose our great people by helping them make the transition to either teaching in inner city high schools or helping them start their own businesses.

I bet it wouldn't be all that hard to put together some kind of buy out offer that included health care and pension protection. Once people are secure about health care and pension protection, they can tap their energy, experience and passion. Lots of people would voluntarily take the deal, in my not so humble opinion.

If you balance "restructuring costs" against the costs of implementing this approach, I think it could get pretty close to no net expense. Plus we don't have to spend a gezillion dollars now, taking a big hit to quarterly profits, to reap the benefits over the next three or four years. If the economy rebounds as quickly as I think it will, it's going to be irrelevant anyway. In any case, no one can predict three or four years.

The old timers have invaluable experience. They could become online mentors to the younger feet on the ground. Wikis, blogs, Skype video conferences will allow the boomers to nurture the important parts of life, while giving back what they think they've learned. It could free up sales management to manage sales, not "educate" the sales force. As long as health care and pensions are taken care of their value could be rewarded on a variable basis, instead of as a fixed overhead item.

Almost every boomer I know wants to teach. Every education system in America needs people who want to teach. No boomer I know wants to be at work every day at specific times. No boomer I know wants to be in a classroom, managing high school kids. That's a young person's job.

But wiki's, blogs, Skype tele conferences solve that one also. Meanwhile, if the company pulled together a focus on fixing education to build on our enormous advantage in the education space. it comes pretty close to win-win-win and "why wouldn't I do that?"

Meanwhile, we can get on a predictable path to get our SG&A down to the Walmart goal of 16+%. While the market is stagnating the only choices are to lower margins or lower overhead/debt obligations. I don't see a third choice. Whether we want to or not, the market is going to dictate lower margins. So that only leaves overhead/debt obligations. No one is going to grow themselves out of this one.

If anyone has the time, please let me know what I'm missing. I'm sure it must be something, but I just can't see it. I appreciate the constraints of corporate employment, but anon or a made up name like dr droock is easy to do.
Xerox blames decline in kit sales for 18% revenue drop
Tim Sheahan, 27 April 2009

Xerox has cited an 'accelerated rate of decline' in enterprise spending on equipment as a major factor in its 18% drop in first-quarter revenues, which have fallen to $3.6bn (£2.5bn).

If it's hard to sell boxes. Don't try to sell them. Rent them. Even better, do ZipCar for the printernet.

Networks of MPS or OPM or VARs doing a deal to share instead of buy, lease or rent boxes.
Zipcar is the world's largest car sharing and car club service. It is an alternative to traditional car rental and car ownership. Share Zipcars in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, London, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington DC. Zipcars also live on campus at universities across North America.
This morning I saw a potential game changing business model from my weekly email from Print21 in Australia. It seems the Australian division of HP is renting Indigos to PSPs for 18 months. If they work for them, the PSP can buy them. If they don't, the PSP can give the boxes back. see my earlier post

This puts the risk of obsolescence where it belongs - with the vendor. It also aligns incentives by getting the vendor and the OPM/PSP focused on making the box profitable. For the vendor, it also eliminates the disincentive of cannibalizing existing box sales every time there is an upgrade. Plus it moves box inventory instead of having them trapped and being financed somewhere in the "channel." Given the low margin on boxes every day capital is tied up in boxes is a hit to the bottom line.

No OPM/PSP wants to own a box.
That's why it's hard to sell them. Who wants to invest a gezillion dollars or even a hundred dollars unless you feel comfortable about the risk of owning a new box that might not turn out to work. "To work" means making a living, not being able to do beautiful prints. That's why the best sales come from business that already have an addressable market. It's only common sense.

In Brazil, this is the standard MPS model. Pay for clicks, not for boxes. From what I hear it's working out just fine. I assume in that case, the MPS assumes the risk, but given what Ricoh has been doing lately, I'm not positive that I'm right about that.

In any case, "try it, you'll like it" has always worked. It's exactly the right way to do business in a user network economy. The under appreciated resistance to sales is the fear of making a long term commitment that means you might wind up with a lease on a box that could actually put you at risk of bankruptcy. The money every month might be manageable. But how does one put the number on obsolescence insurance?

I'm sure every vendor has a similar problem, but big X is my home team. So what's the upgrade path from the iGen3 to the iGen4. Different toner, online spectrophotometer and all the other really cool things the engineers invented. Great improvements. But imagine if recently bought I the iGen3, and you told me at the time it was the greatest ever. Until the inevitable new greatest ever.

But, if I were renting an Igen for say 18 months that means I'm probably less than year to get in on the improvement. Being locked into a lease makes me feel frustrated. Getting the new stuff as it is invented makes me feel happy. Happy is always better for everyone.

Transpromo: Read for free, pay for print. Win-win-win.

Check out the second paragraph in the snippets.
Optus opts out of paper billing
@Print21: "Optus opts out of paper billing
Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Customers hung up over telecommunications giant Optus decision to charge $2.20 for receiving paper bills as it pushes electronic billing.

Industry sources speculate that the telephony company will actually turn a profit from its pay-for-print venture. From May 1 all Optus customers who chose to receive paper bills will incur the monthly fee, which has applied to new customers since January 1.

According to an Optus spokesperson, the decision to move bills online was as a result of a communication process with customers and the desire to help the environment."

Wow.. maybe a game changer from HP. So far only in Australia. Go Shane Lucas!

Change fixed overhead to variable costs by renting instead of selling boxes. My bet is that plant in Israel is going to get busy, much faster than people might expect.

I can't wait to find out if it works as well as I think it should. If only HP would spin off Print, my IRA could get a piece of the action.
HP Indigo lends a hand with Try Buy Scheme -
@News Archive - Print21:
Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Print Service Providers (PSPs) have the chance to enter the digital print market with minimal financial risk, following an offer from HP.

HP has announced the HP Indigo Try Buy Scheme whereby PSPs are able to rent an HP Indigo 5500 or HP Indigo 3500 digital press for a set figure per month over an 18-month period. At the end of the rental period the PSP can either return the press to HP or buy it and receive equal value invested throughout the lease as a discount off the original purchase price.

Unveiling the offer Shane Lucas, director HP Graphic Arts South Pacific said that now was an ideal time to foster growth in the digital print market."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The labor pool in the states to reinvent textbooks.

One teacher + one journalist + one designer + the printernet = customized print that works, instead of one size fits all textbooks that don't.

Looks like we have the journalist part covered see snippet. The teacher part is easy. I know designers who would be great and would love the work.

The only thing left is the printernet.
Journalism Bust, J-School Boom -
"The Pew Research Center estimates 5,000 newspaper jobs were lost in 2008. Since 2001, more than 10,000 newspaper journalists have lost work, leaving the total count of those still employed at 47,000 nationwide. It's getting worse, fast. Erica Smith, who runs the online layoff tracker Paper Cuts, counts nearly 7,500 newsroom jobs lost so far this year.

Yet punishing times for journalism have been an unlikely boon for journalism schools. Would-be Woodwards and Bernsteins hiding out from the bad economy or learning new skills to compete stormed the admissions offices of top-tier programs last fall. Columbia, Stanford and NYU applications increased 38%, 20% and 6%, respectively, from the previous year. Same thing at state schools. The University of Colorado (up 11%), University of North Carolina (up 14%) and University of Maryland (up 25%) all saw gains."

Anyone else notice this? Is everyone ready for the rebound?

U.S. Economy: Confidence Index Rises Most Since 2005 (Update1)
"By Shobhana Chandra and Courtney Schlisserman

April 28 (Bloomberg) -- Consumer confidence in the U.S. jumped by the most since 2005 this month as stocks rallied, mortgage rates dropped and Americans anticipated more jobs would become available."

DataPoint : Big Score for Kodak 2nd Stream Printhead installation

Wilen is a heavy metal web offset house in South Florida. If they decided to put stream printheads on their web, my take is that Kodak should maniacally focus on doing more of that.

Stop already with the Stream digital thing. It will be nice when it comes out, but... if you can do some personalization at web speeds and quality, the whole big direct mail thing is yours.

The dirty little secret that the right message doesn't have to be in full color. Think of Google Ad words v Banner Ads. Then think of Yahoo Banner Ads and Google Ad words.

I think you can see what I'm getting at.
Kodak's Stream Printheads to Bring Enhanced Digital Personalization Capabilities to Wilen Direct - @MarketWatch: "ROCHESTER, N.Y., Apr 28, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Wilen Direct is slated to become the second site in the United States to install the Stream Printhead from Eastman Kodak Company, Wilen Direct is a Florida-based leader and innovator in digital and variable data imaging, personalized direct marketing, advanced mail strategies and technologies, logistics, and fulfillment. A continuous inkjet solution for inline printing on an offset press, the Stream Printhead provides a bridge between offset and digital printing, extending the business and revenue opportunities of companies of all sizes and adding value to printed pages."

This is the outfit that closed Anderson

Cenveo Amends Credit Agreement
from WhatTheyThink:
"STAMFORD, CT -- Cenveo, Inc. today announced that it has amended certain terms of its credit agreement. The changes will provide the Company with increased financial flexibility to navigate through this period of economic uncertainty and volatility."
With all due respect, blablablabla. Meanwhile, it does make one wonder about what the Board of Directors do.

Datapoint: Score for RICOH/IBM InfoPrint

Today, InfoPrint Solutions Company and One2One Communications have announced that One2One is using the InfoPrint 5000 solution to enable its TransPromo output.
If you take the click to One2One, then hit about us, you'll see that the boss has just the right DNA for transpromo. Notice he is not a printer. He is a print user.
Co-founder of One2One Communications, Brammer brings with him 22 years of management and operations experience in both the broadband and teleCommunications industry. Previous Vice President of Customer Care for AT&T Broadband’s Greater Chicago market and board member of Illinois State Cable Association, the Minnesota State Cable Association and the Twin Cities Cable Consortium.

Datapoint: Why the real fight is between Amazon and Google

It's because they both understand the importance of small teams and DNA and massive logistic platforms. Imagine when Jeff or Sirgey or Eric decides the printernet would be just right thing to grow their business. Lexcycle makes ebooks that work on the iPod.
Amazon Buys Ebook Firm Lexcycle Inc. - "Amazon spokeswoman Cinthia Portugal said that Lexcycle will continue to operate as a 'standalone offering' because 'Amazon has always believed that the best innovation comes from small, autonomous and focused teams of smart people.'"

Thinking point: Brand value and advertising

Just because you "branded" it a success, doesn't mean it was a success. Who exactly does anyone think they're kidding?
Northprint branded a success, despite 60% drop in visitors
Simon Nias, From, 28 April 2009

Last week's Northprint trade show passed muster, according to visitors and exhibitors, despite a significant drop in the numbers of both.

I read once that advertising is the tax you pay for a suboptimal product. Google is the "No 1" brand. When was the last time you saw an ad or got a direct mail piece for Google? Microsoft is the No.2 Brand. I think I saw some Microsoft ads on the TV just the other day.

It's the difference between a value chain economic model and a user network economic model. In a value chain, you make Your platform ubiquitous then charge rent for using it. In a user network economy your users make your platform ubiquitous, then you charge other people to keep it afloat. People who have money willingly give it you, because the value is the network.

The Microsoft model was awesome in a world of information and software scarcity. They built the best software to manage information. But that was then, this is now. Information is not scarce. Software is not scarce.

What is still scarce are big enough server farms and printers. Both of those installations make it easy (for those who have the people and stuff) and hard (for those that don't.) The most reliable way to get to decent margins is to exchange "easy for me, hard for you" for money or attention.

That's why the printernet could get to good margins. That's why Google can invest it's money in continuous focused product development without wasting much money on blablabla advertising. It's also the reason that most printers are completely correct in resisting the marketing pundits' call to do "marketing."

Everyone knows that what creates new business is word of mouth. Everyone also knows that what creates great brands at the very minimum cost is the expectation of better products in the future. It's the reason Apple is so very cool. No doubt in order to get a decent margin on a dressed up commodity MP3 player, advertising has some role to play. But if the iPod didn't deliver even more than it promised, that would have been money flushed down the drain, instead of getting great margins.

Consider the brands of the players in the Print space. Which vendor delivers more than they promise and can be expected to do so, month after month, year after year? HP? Xerox? Kodak? Oce?

I come from commercial print, so I don't know how this plays out in MPS. But in commercial print, the view from my little constrained corner of the world, focused continuous product improvement is EFI, CREO and the folks at Xerox who do the special paper stuff.

The other source of continuous growth and improvement in Print comes from outfits like Sandy Alexander, The ACE Group, Motherall Printing, National Bindery and BOPI. The only one that sent me a direct mail piece is BOPI. I don't remember if I read it. But I did once fly out to Bloomington to see their operation. The boss and the sales manager both had exactly the right DNA.

Focus and the right DNA has a marginal cost of zero.
If your marginal cost is zero, once you make your nut, you can earn good margins and build a brand that is not subject to "impairment costs," whatever that's supposed to mean aside from a book keeping entry. Nor do you have to "defend your brand" from silly adolescents posting YouTube videos or disgruntled employees starting viral screeds on the blablabla o sphere.

Thinking Point: The End of the "End of Print"

Back on March 6, Cramer announced on MSNBC that the crisis of a depression is over and now we just have to deal with a nasty recession. Based on the market performance since then, he seems to have got it right.

Those who listened profited handsomely, at least for a while. But that's just the market, now comes the hard work of getting out of global recession. But that's not a crisis, just a lot of hard, focused work and a couple of lucky breaks.

Yesterday in my latest column at PBS.Mediashift I declared that it the crisis of the End of Print is over. The title, written by the editor, is The Fallacy of the "Print is Dead" meme. I wanted to call it The End of the "End of Print" or maybe the The Death of "Death of Print."

Since I've been on this little soapbox for about ten years, I figure that sooner or later I'm going to get the timing right.

Disclaimer: Being right in the past is no guarantee of being right in the future, either in the market, the gambling table, in government or in a global. It is well understood that that even a broken clock gives you the correct time, at least twice a day.

At any rate, at the end of the column I wrote,

Go Print!

I've been a print evangelist on the web since 2005. (If you are interested you can read my columns at back in the day.) In my first MediaShift column on February 17, titled Print is the Next Big Thing I said:

1. The best interactive tools for learning are still a page of print and a highlighter.
2. Print is the best search platform in proximate physical space.
3. Print can be seen as a toy, a token or a tool -- things that people have and will continue to gladly pay for.
4. Once print is connected to cloud computing, everything will change again.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Wouldn't it be cool to have the printernet to do the Swine Flu Cards Rush job

see snippet at the end of the post

the PDF's could already be in the file servers of 1000's of printers around the world. And the cards could be delivered tomorrow morning. Maybe those folks could be the little engine that could. They seem to have great PM. Plus the website is already up and running. Or maybe the good folks at the GPO?

Maybe someone wants to call the Department of Homeland Security. After all, the Defense Department invented the internet. A couple of million dollars and this could be up and running in a couple of weeks. All the pieces are already on the ground. Just needs a little cash flow and a couple of teams of awesome project managers. I figure 4 teams. Three people on a team.

How's that for economic stimulus, job creation, enhanced security and spade ready? Besides once it starts up we can fix high school education in the bargain.

Rush Job: Printing Yellow Swine Flu Cards -
4/27/2009 9:42:00 AM - Graphic Arts Online: "Graphic Arts Online, 4/27/2009 9:42:00 AM
As the U.S. declared the outbreak of swine flu a public health emergency yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was preparing for the massive and rapid printing of traveler information cards explaining the flu symptoms and precautions to be taken. According to the CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat, 'We are working rapidly to prepare yellow cards to hand out at the airport for travelers, giving them information about the signs and symptoms to look for and how to report illness. We've done that in the past for various kinds of outbreaks.' The “yellow cards” would be handed out to air travelers at the nation's 16,000 airports. So far, 20 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with the flu, which has killed 103 in Mexico--believed to be the epicenter of the outbreak. So far, people infected in the U.S. have had mild cases."

How do you put a $$$ on a brand?

Recession Doesn't Dent Total Value of Top 100 Brands @Advertising Age - News
"'Brands are emotional bonds created with consumers, and overall, brands have sustained value.'"
Sort of . . .My take is a that a Brand is a way to manage the risk of future delivery failure. It has much less to do with with "emotional bonds" as in "I love you" then "emotional bonds" as in "I trust you." Love is for people only. Trust is for everything and is based on past performance, not blablabla.

Here comes a user network comp model

Wow! What a revolutionary idea. Not. Share the risk. Get an upside if you perform. Minimum risk if you don't. Just common sense. On the other hand, maybe common sense is a revolutionary idea.
Coke Pushes Value-Based Agency Compensation Model
- @ Advertising Age
"Urges Industry to Let Shops Profit Only if They Hit Established Targets By Jeremy Mullman and Natalie Zmuda
Published: April 27, 2009

CHICAGO ( -- Coca-Cola Co. is trying to start an industrywide movement toward a 'value-based' compensation model like one it's adopted that promises agencies nothing more than recouped costs if they don't perform -- but profit margins as high as 30% if their work hits top targets.

Usually tight-lipped Coke disclosed its plans at the Association of National Advertisers Financial Management Conference in Phoenix on April 20, saying it wanted to nudge the industry into adopting value-based models as a standard practice."

Resolving the Consultative Sales Paradox. OPM and VAR have different genes. But they both have to make a living.

An OPM is an original print manufacturer.
The OPM gene is about predictability, a nicely balanced production load, stable rules that govern efficient processes. From the outside, it looks boring. From the inside it's about focus and the craft of Print. Whether digital or offset, what looks like "just pushing a button" is a craft. The better the crafts person, the less effort they seem to put in. The great OPM's make a living by producing commodities. Intel produces commodities. Making something as complex as a print product an easy to produce commodity is as good as it gets.

A VAR is a value added reseller.
The VAR gene is about new problems and new solutions. The harder the problem, the more interesting it is. The VAR gene thrives on drama, being the hero that saves the day. Masterless Samurai or Cowboys on the Range. the great VARs make a living by combing smart with commodities to invent just the right toolset and processes for just the right person at just right time in just the right place. Elegantly assembling something as complex as the exact right tool set is as good as it gets.

Easy for me, hard for you is how to make a living
Meanwhile the secret of value creation and earning a living is "easy for me, hard for you." That's the value that most people will willingly pay for. You can charge less and do it faster because it's "easy for me." Smart is the secret sauce. It works by making it "easy for me." The smarter you are, the easier it is to get it done. You can take on harder and harder projects and still make the solutions easier and easier.

The two genes lead to the two different phenotypes that we see in different spaces; Sales v Production, Inside man v Outside man, Designer v Printer, Trade shop v Retail printer. When you take the biological point of view, it's all the same song with different melodies.

The trick is to get the "genes" to be mutually supportive. That's when you get to an organizational DNA that will evolve into a well adapted phenotype that can earn the living to support the various genes. Organizations come and go. Genes are eternal.

When the phenotype/organization/business can earn a nice living, everyone can have a nice day. Which is all anyone really wants anyway.

1. Don't give away the VAR part. Set up time based rules for pricing, instead of giving away the disruptive costs of RUSH jobs in the service of "customer service." One trick is to offer the rush as First Class service, and three day or whatever is appropriate as Business Class, with a discount, not a rush charge. Everyone hates a rush charge. Everyone loves a discount.

2. VARs thrive in an atmosphere of trust. Without trust, no VAR is going to get paid. The best place to find trust is with the customers who already trust you. So prospect with OPM commodities. Make VAR money with present and past customers.

A recession is a terrible thing to waste

It's not about market share. It's about the huge surplus of human capital. Get'em while they are still affordable. When this thing finally gets it itself reorganized, they're going to be expensive.

Go freelance!

"Freelance" is just another name for mSB (micro Small Business) Every global "organization" is really just a network of mBSs with standardized rules connected by power and incentives. Once asymmetric information is taken out of the mix, why exactly does anyone need a "global organization" anyway. And for globals, once health care is fixed enough in the States, those mBS are going to go on their own. It will be a great opportunity to get the SG&A down to previously unimagined levels, without firing anyone.

The future is actually pretty bright, at least through my rose colored glasses.
Dr Joe Webb said this morning:
"Nothing like rotten employment to brighten one's day. But... if your business is doing well or looking to explore new markets and applications, you can find employees that you might not have been able to before. Most of those unemployed designers hit the streets as freelancers. You don't have to take the risk of employment, either. Now is a great time to start working with freelance workers and use that time to audition their talents and ability to work with your organization. Don't waste the chance."

Analysts analyze. Xerox has a business to run. I have an IRA to keep secure.

Since stock prices in general are going to be flat for at least a year or so, keep the focus on profitable quarters. The issue on the table is investing for ongoing revenue stream (my IRA). The betting parlor is closed.

If I can start getting a reasonable dividend why exactly should I care about the stock price. In fact, keep the price low and give a nice dividend, the interest rate at the low price will eventually get the stock number to where it's supposed to be.

Consider this:
CitiGroup has an asset class called hybrid perferreds. You may have noticed C+P in my IRA. It has different symbols at different brokerage houses. C+P is what they call it at Schwab. Basically, it's a preferred stock/bond issued at $25 at a fixed 8+ % rate. I'm guessing they did it for some regulatory capital funding requirement.

During the end of days, it was selling at around $5 because the blablabla, the common wisdom among analysts and talking heads, was that CitiGroup was dooooooomed. So the $2+ guaranteed dividend was around a 40% interest on investment. Eventually money decided that it was NOT the end of days. Then Geithner confirmed that Citi wasn't going away. Last time I looked it was selling at around 18. Sooner or later it will be closer to 25. A nice enough number. But compared to a guaranteed revenue stream, I don't really care if it "beats or doesn't beat" analyst's expectations.

Besides, given the recent track record of "analysts," why should I trust anything they say anyway?

From Morningstar:
Lowering Xerox's Fair Value
"After reviewing Xerox's XRX first-quarter results, we are lowering our fair value estimate as the economic malaise begins to take a greater toll on Xerox than we originally envisioned. Total revenue for the quarter fell 18% from the prior year, led by a 30% plunge in equipment sales as corporations of all sizes focus on cost elimination. However, we were pleased to see that Xerox rebounded to a positive 2% operating margin. Cost-cutting measures including head-count reductions are on track, and we expect additional margin expansion as the year progresses."
It could have been written like this:
Given the extraordinary temporary fall off the world economy, it was good to see that Xerox posted a profit in Q1.
Someday, I would love to read this:
As they move away from "lowering head count" to a strategy of investing their surplus human capital in a multiplicity of networked mBS solutions, we expect to see their SG&A get down to about 15%. Which should go a long way to solving their margin problem in this new global business environment.

Since their legal problems are finally behind them, we think Xerox is sooner or later going to own the education space and be number 1 or number 2 in MPS for other global corporations.

Versioned newspapers: Tipping points happen in the last mile

The laser printer + Postscript was the last mile for desktop publishing. The fiber optic into the house was the last mile for cable, then lost their monopoly with satellite, which goes directly from the Cloud to the TV.

For print, binding is the last mile. Digital newspapers will tip because Hunkeler spent 10 years perfecting a binding system for high speed digital print boxes.

Tipping points don't happen quickly. Until they do.
Product of the Week: Duplo DPB-500 PUR
"Increased demand for short-run digital books has meant many finishers have turned to PUR as an alternative to traditional hotmelt, finds Barney Cox

Digital print, and, in particular, the burgeoning photobook market, has been the main driver behind a move towards PUR-glue single-clamp perfect binders. This part of the market produces short runs and single copies with a typical total throughput of a couple of thousand books per day."

The way to play in the game in a user network is ESS.

In the 20th century, at least in the West, we were taught that games of life were zero sum.

But it turns out that in winning in the game of a user network economies you need a different strategy to win the game: evolutionarily stable strategy. Wikipedia says that "In game theory and behavioural ecology, an evolutionarily stable strategy[1] (ESS) is a strategy which, if adopted by a population of players, cannot be invaded by any alternative strategy that is initially rare." see The Selfish Gene.
A&R buys DuCreaser on behalf of local printer to cut its costs
"Adam Hooker, , 24 April 2009

Sheffield-based A&R Trade Print has said printers should work together in order to boost purchasing power, as the trade printer signed for two DC445 DuCreasers at Northprint on Thursday - one for itself and one for another local printer.

Clive Jaques, managing director at A&R, told PrintWeek: 'We got a better deal buying two machines rather than one. Printworks managing director Paul Robinson and I know each other well, and we have worked for each other's customers for 10 years."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Data Point: Textbooks + Stimulus Package + Teachers Unions

@Teacher Beat:
Will the Unions Have A Say on the Stimulus?:
"Another put it more succinctly: 'Quite obviously the priority goes to academic shovel-ready projects,' quipped Mary Cathryn Ricker, the president of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers. She said she worried that the pressure to get funds out quickly would give vendors of pre-packaged or commercial approaches an edge over homegrown reform efforts.. . .

Following up on Ricker's point, an associate professor of labor studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Saul A. Rubinstein, asked Smith if the competitive applications or RFPs for the $5 billion fund would require collaboration among districts and unions. Such a requirement could result in innovative plans with strong teacher buy-in, and possibly produce more innovative plans with better implementation, he suggested.

Smith said officials are still considering the shape of the RFP, but he said the administration might even release draft RFPs for comment before putting out a final one.

The new opportunity is with "homegrown reform efforts" and getting the support of the unions. They're the only one with enough pressure to do something new.

Why America is going to get much smarter, much faster than anyone expects

"Smart" is used to define good decision making. Making good decisions is very hard when the marginal consequences of bad decisions fall on someone else. It's always been harder to make good decisions when you live in a protected environment and/or have access to easy credit - either through the mechanism of a VISA card or a global unregulated financial market.

It's the same for CEO's of global organizations, bottom of the pyramid high school kids and everyone in between. Once you get appropriate feedback, you don't have to be "smart" to make better decisions. All you need is a modicum of common sense and empathy. That's why tipping point change in "smart" is plausible.

Besides, "stupidity" probably has a normal distribution at all levels of the pyramid. No one group, either CEO's of globals, high school kids or printing salesman have a corner on "stupidity."

MPS and Commercial Printers: Learn from the airlines.

Here's one way to MPS + OPM/PSP = OP.
MPS = Managed Print Services
OPM/PSP = Original Product Manufacturer/ Print Service Provider.
OP= Organizational Printernet.

The strategy
1. Offer an extended service contract for mSB. mSB is micro to Small business. Every "organization" is a really a collection of mSBs tied together by a bunch of rules and power relationships.

2. Do a price list that is organized around impressions (OPM/PSP), but call them "clicks." Everybody knows what a click is. No one knows what an impression is. Bundle it with finishing. No one in sMB understands finishing. Do it for a selected menu of different kinds of paper. Everyone knows what paper is. Everyone knows how to choose from a menu.

3. Do multi tiered pricing that is time based.

Standby service
1 week expected delivery from approved PDF file. But, delivery may be delayed because of booked presstime.
Regular service
1 week guaranteed delivery from approved PDF file. Must be confirmed after receipt of approved PDF file.
Business class service
3 day guaranteed delivery from approved PDF file. Must be confirmed after receipt of approved PDF file.
First class service
Next day guaranteed delivery from approved PDF file. Must be confirmed after receipt of approved PDF file.

Organic Growth
Do a Frequent Print (Flyer) Program CRM program. Give Printer Points as a forward looking benefit of doing business with you. You could also probably get Amex to match your printer points with Frequent Flyer points. Plus you can tweak the incentives to smooth out the workflow. Plus you know how much people hate to give up their Frequent Flyer Points. If it works for them, why wouldn't work for you.

Making it work for MPS
This has to be driven by MPS. Person printers are much too busy printing, to prospect. Also Printers have manufacturing DNA, not VAR DNA. That's why it has to be you driving.

So . . .just include the commercial printer as another printer that you manage. The really good person-printer is at least as reliable as the most reliable machine box printer. If you can manage a couple of hundred of one kind of printer, it's really not that hard to manage say 5 to 20 of the other kind of printer. 5 to 20 will take care of almost anything that anyone wants to print at any service level. If you are as careful choosing the person printer as the machine box printer, the risk is manageable.

The hard part is aggregating person-printers that are as predictable as your machine-box-printers. But they are out there. I promise. Besides, you are already making intelligent judgments for your customers tying together the most appropriate hardware and software.

So how hard could this really be? Besides, Webmart has already figured it out in the UK and Okill has it pretty right in Australia. Sooner or later either of them will come here, or someone here is going to replicate what they invented there. It's just a matter of time.

HP turns DNA into genes. Organizational genes often move to a more habitable environment.

That's the danger of globals "buying channels" or roll ups "organizing the sector" or "synergies" that never pan out. If you're not really careful the DNA that created the value in the first place devolve into the component genes. Genes are very mobile. They leave for greener pastures. Meanwhile the globals keep firing people instead of reducing SG&A. No wonder they are so confused.

Instead of nurturing their human capital they unthinkingly destroy it. Instead of doing well by doing good, they do sort of ok, by doing really crappy.
from A Death of The Copier
Execs Leaving HP:
"Predictably, EDS executives leaving HP. Wonder if they will end up at Lexmark, Dell, or CISCO.

Hewlett-Packard Co. confirmed on Friday that as part of the recent merger and integration of Electronic Data Systems, four EDS executive leaders will be leaving their posts as the company realigns its structure."

The formula for "educating" the customer . . . and everyone else

Data points + thinking points = growth of a better responsive mechanism for filtering out the signal from the blablabla.

The problem is that people think blablabla works. It doesn't. Usually it's just more noise.

Thinking Point: The mysterious value of print.

Print makes it easier to see "observable diversity of the arts..." by making them sit still long enough for compare and contrast. That's why Print enabled the explosive spread of scientific thought models in Europe in the 1500s. Mysteriously, it still does the same thing 500 years later.
@Hoover Institution - Policy Review
The Aesthetic Urge
The interaction between our physical and psychological nature and our social and political nature formed a being of fantastic complexity and interest:

"As much as fighting wild animals or finding suitable environments, our ancient ancestors faced social forces and family conflicts that became a part of evolved life. Both of these force-fields acting in concert eventually produced the intensely social, robust, love-making, murderous, convivial, organizing, technology-using, show-off, squabbling, game-playing, friendly, status-seeking, upright-walking, lying, omnivorous, knowledge-seeking, arguing, clubby, language-using, conspicuously wasteful, versatile species of primate we became. And along the way in developing all of this, the arts were born."

The observable diversity of the arts reflects man’s manifold nature.

Thinking point: Newspapers and education

There is much blablabla about the internet eliminating the boundaries of space. In fact, the internet changes artificial boundaries. That means things like nation states and global corporations. When artificial boundaries are eliminated, then natural boundaries take precedence.

It's also why liberal democracy emerged in Euro-America and the economic engine is moving back to Asia after 400 years wandering around the West.
@ Foreig Policy:
The Revenge of Geography:
"We all must learn to think like Victorians. That is what must guide and inform our newly rediscovered realism. Geographical determinists must be seated at the same honored table as liberal humanists, thereby merging the analogies of Vietnam and Munich. Embracing the dictates and limitations of geography will be especially hard for Americans, who like to think that no constraint, natural or otherwise, applies to them. But denying the facts of geography only invites disasters that, in turn, make us victims of geography."
To get a granular description of what "education" looks like in one specific space/time for high school kids, check out this post.

Datapoint: Re College Textbooks

When the money stops, people sometimes stop being busy being busy long enough to figure out what works and what doesn't. It's time to get rid of everything that doesn't work. Textbooks don't really work. The opportunity is in community colleges in the States. see last snippet.
The Universities in Trouble
from The New York Review of Books
"Since the financial meltdown began to accelerate last summer, the world has changed utterly for colleges and universities just as it has for everyone who had not been stashing cash under the mattress. Along with failing banks, auto manufacturers, and insurance companies, universities have been making headlines—especially those whose gigantic endowments (Harvard's was approaching $40 billion before the crash) have sharply declined. Last year, politicians and pundits were complaining about the unseemly wealth of such institutions. This year, alumni are getting e-mails from beleaguered presidents assuring them that Alma Mater will somehow ride out the storm.
. . .
Everyone knows about the competitive frenzy to get into a few highly ranked colleges, but in fact most of the 1,500 private colleges in the United States do not attract significantly more applicants than they can enroll. On the contrary, they struggle to meet enrollment targets, especially now that families in economic distress are turning to public institutions, which tend to be cheaper.[2]
. . .
At less selective private colleges, increasing the size of the student body is a dubious strategy. Their applicant pool has been shrinking as families turn to more affordable public institutions, especially to community colleges, where enrollments are up as financially strapped students choose to attend colleges where evening classes and part-time enrollment allow them to work during the day and live at home.[7] At the same time, unemployed adults are turning to community colleges in hopes of retraining themselves for jobs that require skills they currently lack.
. . .
Today the United States stands tenth, along with Australia, Spain, and Sweden, behind Canada, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Belgium, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, and France in the percentage of its young people (ages 25–34) who have earned a post-secondary degree.
. . .
A report released in January by the Lumina Foundation, "Trends in College Spending," concludes that "higher education is becoming more stratified," with enrollment growing in the institutions with the least resources—the public community colleges—as more and more students are "pushed out of higher-priced institutions."