Saturday, May 16, 2009

Oops! It's probably not Google + "Transpromo." It's probably Amazon.

In an earlier post, I bloviated that Google would be the right people for the vendors to have a conversation. As it rumbled around the head for a bit, I now think the more likely outfit is Amazon.

The reason is that Amazon has a retailer's dna. When Jeff was driving across the country trying to figure out what to do with the internet, he thought of selling stuff, not advertising other people's stuff. Not to get me wrong, advertising with detailed metrics is a very good business. but it's a different business from selling stuff directly.

Bezos did not buy into the "books are dead, dying or disappearing" blablablabla. He decided to start off by selling books. Fast forward to today, Amazon releases the best book reading machine ever invented, except of course for the original codex form on paper. This summer we will see the college textbook killer. The big Kindle connected to Pearson, Wiley and Cengage is the last straw for the $250 text-in-book for college kids.

I'm waiting now to see them join the printernet to do the same for K - 12.

Meanwhile, Amazon has spent the last ten years refining their recommendation engine. It's a very inexpensive and relatively reliable way to cross sell. It's the same thing that good retailers have been doing forever. The new thing is that Amazon does it at internet scale.

"Transpromo" for selling stuff is just cross selling on paper statements. It's been done for years. The difference is that it can be done in real time with powerful analytic tools and it's much cheaper and easier than inserts.

The value prop is a little different from Google Ads. Google is saying "If you are interested in this, you might be interested in that." Amazon is saying " If you bought that, you might want to buy that." Interest is about advertising. Buying is about retail. Interest is hard to measure. Buying is easy to measure.

"Transpromo" is not so much about advertising. It's about data driven cross selling. It's about coupons. It's all the things that the best direct mail professionals have learned with their 10,000 hours of reflective practice.

So probably the correct title for the previous post should have been Probably Amazon, maybe Google and "Transpromo". Why it's the Right idea, but the Wrong Word Told to the Wrong People.

Signals v Noise and the Power of Print

Print is quiet. It stops the conversation and fixes it long often to do compare and contrast. Compare and contrast is how learning happens.
As the Walkman returns after 30 years, why we'd all be happier if we'd never heard of the GADGET THAT HELPED BREAK BRITAIN
@Mail Online

"For those of us who liked getting on a bus or a train and overhearing, or even taking part in, conversations, there is something a bit bleak about the dozens of private solitudes which nowadays clamber aboard."

Marketing and PR people: This is worth the read.

Since most people act like babies most of the time, it's very useful to answer Thomas Nagel's question.
To Be a Baby ?
"Thomas Nagel famously asked, “What is it like to be a bat?”

That question has become a staple of Philosophy 101 courses, but we might be better served asking a more basic one: What is it like to be a baby? Though all of us experience life as a baby firsthand, we’ve long held misconceptions about what babies are capable of thinking, feeling, and understanding. Only recently have we overturned dominant theories of development in which very young children were thought to be barely conscious at all."

Google, "Transpromo" and why it's the right message using the wrong word told to the wrong people

"Transpromo" = database publishing. Versioned newspapers = database publishing. Google Ad Words = database publishing to the screen. The printernet enables database publishing on paper on a global scale, in real time, with a minimal carbon footprint.

Duncan Newton has an awesome post at Digital Nirvana about "transpromo." It's well worth the click, but here's the part that caught my eye.
The statistics that we all learned in undergrad Stat 301 (and quickly forgot) are woefully inadequate to conduct a proper inquiry into success metrics. TransPromo is first and foremost a data driven environment. Instincts, hunches and marketing experience are incapable of cutting through the noise, finding the actionable data, and linking the correct recipients with the relevant offers.

. . . You will know you are ready for TransPromo when basic mathematical marketing concepts like net promoter scores, RFM, CART, CHAID, LTV and brand equity come like second nature to you
And vendors expect printers or most marketers or small business to be able to do this? It is to laugh.

Printers are already busy 18 hours a day getting the printing part under control and profitable. Most "marketers" are still playing by last century's rules and small business is worrying about paying the rent.

How Google can help . . . and make another gezillion dollars
Google lives on analytics. For a Google team, RFM, CART, LTV and lots of acronyms we've never heard of are second nature. Plus they have the ability to make it easy for everyone else. Google Analytics is the base from which to work.

For Google this stuff is a walk in the park. The division of labor is driven by the "easy for me, hard for you" principle. Printing at scale and on deadline is easy for us, hard for everyone else. That's why it's such a good business. Analytics, security and delivering data streams is easier for Google than anyone else on the planet.

The hardest part is "security.' But given the experience with Google Apps and Google Health, that is starting to recede. Once they figure out Google Education, life will be much better, much faster. Imagine education records as accessible as Health Records.

Meanwhile, every business, health and education enterprise can do better at the game when they use the knowledge revealed by mathematics in the form of success metrics.. If Google rolled out Google Analytics for Paper it should work and make all our beloved printers have a much nicer day.

It's much more plausible than trying to get newspaper people to understand and use metrics. Newspaper people have blablabla dna. For a hundred years they've been making their money with blablabla. That's a good thing. New knowledge and stories come from blablabla. People love blablabla. As a blogger, I love blablabla as much as anyone and more than most. Real life is mostly blablabla.

But blablabla does not a thriving business make.

The opportunity for independents

"Transpromo" is just Ad Sense on regularly delivered paper media. Bills are more regularly and more focused than any newspaper on the planet. Instead of "educating printers" they could be bringing new knowledge to the table. Don't teach printers how to do this. Partner with printers to do it for them. So the printers can stay focused on printing.

There must be some division of some global document company that can deliver this in the Cloud.

Click on the picture to see what I\
At Oce, HP, Ricoh or Google

For Google
Get this on the radar of the team that is trying to solve the " publish on paper' nut. The correct thought model is the printernet.

For everyone else
1. I would get a meeting with Google to see what could be done.

2. I would get meetings with newspaper companies to figure out how to make this work for them. Versioned newspapers and ad words on paper should be an easy sell.

3 . Locate the best SEO agency in the world. I think there is an awesome outfit in India that works on a pay for results business model. Get them to focus on the Print piece.

4. Stop wasting money on "educating" printers about the opportunity in "Transpromo."

5 . Locate the best marketing-by-metric companies. Get the meeting with them and one of your local OPM/PSPs. Show up at the meeting. Run the experiment. Make sure there is no blabla, just numbers. Then do that again.

To make it an more interesting meeting, invite the business manager of the local newspaper. To make it even more interesting, get someone from the local school board and a politician running for re election to show up.

Then we can all stop worrying about selling more stuff and focus on fixing education, health and government.

Huge score for InfoPrint and "transpromo" is not about blablabla. It's about numbers.

from Graphic Arts Monthly
CSG Systems Signs Big Transpromo Deal

Firm will print and mail statements to over six million Cox cable customers and unveil a newly designed, four-color statement.
What I heard was that someplace at the center of this deal sits an IP 5000.

It's not "transpromo." It's Google Ad Sense on paper.
In the world before Google, advertising was mostly about blablalba, pretty pictures, the perfect meme and no way of knowing which 50% was a wasted money. It worked ok when there was nothing better and there was lots of funny money to waste.

Post Google, advertising goes back to just the right offer to the right person at just the right time and numbers. Turns out that pretty pictures are not so important. It also turns out that the words should be edited carefully to conform with all the other words on the search page. Yahoo thought it was about banner ads. It's not about banner ads.

Infoprint has lead the most extensive research with lots and lots of numbers. Smart companies manage by numbers, not blablabla. Blablabla is great for real life. But business isn't real life. Business is about making the most money in the most elegant way.

CSG has numbers and analysis and execution in their dna. Infoprint has transactional printing for large smart organizations in their dna. Only makes sense that they would get together.

Friday, May 15, 2009

THe problem with Good Intentions and Education.

Pedagogy of the Oppressor by Sol Stern,
@City Journal Spring 2009:
"For anyone familiar with American schools of education, the choice wasn’t surprising. Since the publication of the English edition in 1970, Pedagogy of the Oppressed has achieved near-iconic status in America’s teacher-training programs. In 2003, David Steiner and Susan Rozen published a study examining the curricula of 16 schools of education—14 of them among the top-ranked institutions in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report—and found that Pedagogy of the Oppressed was one of the most frequently assigned texts in their philosophy of education courses. These course assignments are undoubtedly part of the reason that, according to the publisher, almost 1 million copies have sold, a remarkable number for a book in the education field.

The odd thing is that Freire’s magnum opus isn’t, in the end, about education—certainly not the education of children."

Richard Dawkins has it just right.

Rage of reason
@COSMOS magazine
. . "he says. 'The theory was, and remains, the most powerful, revolutionary idea ever put forward by an individual.'"

Anyone else notice that 1 Yen = .95 cents (US)

Hmmmmmmm...If it keeps going in that direction. It should be good news for Ricoh, Fuji, Canon, et al. A bit of problem for everyone else. And please no more blablabla about currency hits to the bottom line. Either hedge, find a better way to do business or cut SAG to 16%.

Reducing head count, the stupid leadership gene and organizational dna

With the reorganization of the Global Economy, business crash and burn stories are moving from the "Economy blablabla" to the populist "Management is Bad" and now finally to the more realistic "Management is Distracted and Made Stupid Decisions."

It started at the top with AIG, Lehman, Chrysler,GM. One result was the Board Members were fired. Next stop is health. After that will come universities and K -12 education.

Meanwhile it's also about Print on the ground. In the last weeks there have been two conversations to this point at Print CEO Blog. One was about Cenveo closing Anderson Litho in California. The other was called The EPI Companies, Sadly Closed for Business in Georgia. It's the same story that I keep seeing coming from the UK.

Turns out that "Sadly" is no longer the point. That's the End of Print story. "Distracted and Stupid" is the point. That's the End of Bad Management story.

"Organizational dna that forms through the mechanisms of distracted leadership genes" story is caputred by two comments:
A mentor once told me, “Do ONE thing, do it BETTER than anybody else and do MORE of it.”

At the end of the day, without the backbone and heartbeat of the company (visionary leadership and committed, informed employees to that leadership) the company faced its ultimate battle, and lost.
Some snippets illustrating the brand damage for Linx Partners.
It's probably going to make it just a little harder for them to do deals in the future.
There is most likely no one thing that caused EPI to close. But, as a production worker there for almost 11 years, I feel I have a different perspective. Yes, I was there the final day. We had about a 2 hour notice of a meeting, at which we heard we were closing our doors, effective immediately. The “well-cared for” employees were given no severance packages, not even offered our earned vacation and personal leave time.

. . . The company completely changed the moment it was bought by Linx Partners.

. . . I definitely believe there were management problems. We had a lot of people “in charge”, but no one really leading.

. . . Once Linx Partners got involved, the “family” atmosphere at EPI was completely gone. We were at the mercy of the bean counters.

. . . I think is fair to them after what the did to us in Chatsworth. They didn’t mention 2/3 of their earnings where from us, By the way it happened to us the same way. We were growing and they wanted to move things to Marietta to be the big shots and 58 of us where out of a job just as fast as you guys. I like Karma, they destroyed a lot of lives here in a matter of minutes, it was time for them to get their pay back!

. . The poor leadership by the “Heidelberg executive” who took over the reins as the CEO was THE major contributing factor in the demise of EPI.

. . . Oh did I mention, in a meeting in 2006 The great Bill made a statement in a production meeting that he likes to take something that is going good and break it apart and rebuild it and make it better, WELL guess what BILL you DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!
then on May 14, this came up.
One word sums up the problem: “mismanagement"
"We can do better than this"
I started this blog on January first when I got notice of a blog post in my RSS. When I clicked the link in my reader, it had been removed. It's a letter from Matthew R. Maher Jr., dated December 6, 2008.
My wife and I along with 30,000 other middle class employees retired from Xerox with over 30 years of dedicated service were promised retirement benefits when we retired. Ann Mulchey CEO of Xerox has completely eliminated funding for promised health care benefits for all 30,000 retired employees and 50,000 future retirees.
To be clear, I have not confirmed the facts. But it certainly sounds plausible. Maybe this will be fixed when health care in the States gets fixed. But this is not the Xerox dna. My best guess is that it was done for financial wizards on Wall Street.

It probably comes from the same gene pool as Linx Partners and Cenveo. To be clear again, I have no facts, but maybe that's the real reason Quincy Allen left the mother ship.

Distraction + forgetting about caring leads to Stupid
It's the same wherever you go. It was true about the Bush administration in the States. It was true at the Board Meetings of take your choice. It's true in bottom of the pyramid high school classrooms. Too much noise to get the signal. Outdated pride based cognitive structures that can't see the important things that are happening. Then "reasonable" decisions that are in fact really dumb.

It's not about not knowing. It's about not making the time to do what you know should be done. Then forgetting the caring is the best guide to make intelligent decisions when you have imperfect information.

I thought digital print trade shows were dying. Not so much in Amsterdam.

Fespa announces bumper numbers for Amsterdam digital show

Matt Whipp,, 15 May 2009

Fespa has said nearly 10,000 visitors attended this year's Fespa Digital Europe exhibition, with a third attending on multiple days at the Amsterdam show, which was held this week.

The numbers were up more than a fifth over last year's show in Geneva, in line with its expanded footprint with more than 14000sqm of exhibition space."

"Reducing" or at least changing Board of Director Headcount

It's nasty out there.
BofA Urged by Regulators to Revamp Board of Directors -
"Federal officials have pressured Bank of America Corp. to revamp its board by bringing in directors with more banking experience, as regulators place the bank under increasingly heavy government scrutiny."

Kodak v Fuji for control of the OPM printernet

FUJIFILM Awarded Patent for Taskero Universe
rom WhatTheyThink
: "VALHALLA, N.Y. -- FUJIFILM Graphic Systems U.S.A., Inc. has been granted a patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office for its development of the technology used in Taskero Universe, the system and method for remotely monitoring and servicing a print system."
Taskero Universe is Fuji + XRite. It is a cloud based intelligence system to manage the print manufacturing process.

Is it Xerox/Fuji Xerox or FujiFilm/FujiXerox/Xerox?

Fuji can give Ricoh a real run for the money. Ricoh/Ikon on the ground. Ricoh/InfoPrint in production OPM vs Xerox Fuji on the ground/ Xerox in the production space and Fuji in the offset space.

From here it looks like if Xerox can make the link from MPS to commercial OPM, Fuji takes this one. On the other hand, Ricoh is a master at execution, has great engineering dna and has the deep pockets to slug it out with razor thin margins.

The Color Cube could be a great temporary advantage for the Xerox Fuji side. But Ricoh is going to keep on keeping on.

Meanwhile, I'm starting to get a bit more worried about Kodak. When the gorillas start fighting, the little guys some times get stomped. And I still can't figure out HP. Are they a computer services company or a box company or a toner company?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Does a "growing economy" = "a happy life?"

from The Atlantic Online | June 2009 Joshua Wolf Shenk:
What Makes Us Happy?

"Is there a formula—some mix of love, work, and psychological adaptation—for a good life? For 72 years, researchers at Harvard have been examining this question, following 268 men who entered college in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age. Here, for the first time, a journalist gains access to the archive of one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history. Its contents, as much literature as science, offer profound insight into the human condition—and into the brilliant, complex mind of the study’s longtime director, George Vaillant.

Reinventing Education is happening now. The new rules will be in place in September. It's time now to plan to replace textbooks.

If you are printing textbooks, supplementals or tests, or supplying companies that are doing the same, I suggest you watch this very, very closely.
from edweek blog Politics K-12:
Administration's NCLB Goal: A Framework by Early Fall:
After health care, it seems one of the next big things on the Obama agenda is the No Child Left Behind Act.

In an interview about Education Secretary Arne Duncan's cross-country listening tour yesterday, lead spokesman Peter Cunningham told me that the goal is for Duncan and the president to be able to outline their plans in early fall for overhauling federal education policy."

Definitely worth the click: Dr Joe on the Economy and Common Wisdom

read at WhatTheyThink Economics & Research Center - Printing Industry Economics, Trends and Research:
"Beware the Economic Common Wisdom
By Dr. Joe Webb on May 13, 2009

Since I had no column this past Monday, I thought I'd catch up with a potpourri of economic and other items, including some of my usual whining about business reporting in the press. . . .

GM CEO says"It's about winning. Not Size."

Just wanted to share what I'm seeing at Bloomberg.
He also said "Number of executives will shrink" and he "wants to concentrate resources on products that win." "Lower break even point so there is less risk." "The best investors make their calls early, it's not my job to advise them what to do."

I love the dna of small companies in niche markets. Die cutting for ultra short runs.

"Kama ProCut 52
Barney Cox, PrintWeek, 08 May 2009

This machine might be regarded as a niche investment, but it could be a way to add value for digital firms, says Barney Cox

Kama may not be the first name that springs to mind when you think of die-cutting, but according to chief executive Marcus Tralau, it was the Dresden-based firm that in 1963 developed the first die-cutter."
Procut 53: the only automated flatbed  die-cutter in its size

DNA in biology. dna in organizations. It's what counts.

DNA is a collection of genes that have evolved over time. dna is a collection of memes that have evolved over time. DNA works in physical space. dna works in cognitive space.

The phenotype created by the interaction of DNA and the environment, iterated through random mutation and competitive selection, presents as a physical individual. The phenotype created by the interaction of dna and the environment, iterated through an evolutionary process, presents as the culture of an organization.

Culture exists in small groups. Culture determines what people see. What people see determines what they think. What they think determines what they do. What they do in response to the environment determines whether they grow or wither.

Meanwhile, the problem is getting the signal through the noise. If you don't get the right signal, you get eaten by the bear. That's the way it works for business. That's the way it works in the classroom. That's the way it works wherever humans gather.

Ricoh seems to get it. Networks with Objeticf Lune in Europe.

Ricoh has OEM dna. They invented MFP's back in the early 1980's. Objectif Lune lives in the Cloud. They invented Print Shop Mail.

Objectif Lune, Inc. was founded in 1993 and is headquartered in Montreal, Canada with branch offices in the United States, Latin America, Australia, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France. read more
The snippet from WhatTheyThink:
Ricoh Europe and Objectif Lune announces reselling "London, United Kingdom & Montreal, Canada -- Following the recent launch of its new range of digital production printing solutions, global printing manufacturer, Ricoh, has announced its alliance with Objectif Lune, a solutions provider for variable data printing and workflow optimization. As a part of the partnership PlanetPress Suite and PrintShop Mail will be added to Ricoh Europe's production printing portfolio, giving customers easy access to promotional and transactional applications."

Ricoh/IBM Infoprint keeps running focused experiments. Nice.

CMO Council and InfoPrint Collaborate on Loyalty Campaign
from WhatTheyThink:
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

BOULDER, Colo. -- InfoPrint Solutions Company, the joint venture between IBM and Ricoh, and the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council today announced that they will launch a six-month milestone research initiative to determine key areas of optimization and opportunity and develop best practices for leveraging and maximizing loyalty programs."

Money prowls. Then it pounces. Abu Dhabi takes majority stake in Ferrostaal

Ferrostaal is a great example of the User Network Facilitator. If I had to run delivery logistics, I would talk to them to see if a deal is possible. It does the logistics to get just the right stuff to just the right person. They Aggregate OEM products and supply them to OPMs who network with VARs to monetize the value created. It's the same thing independents do but at local, instead of global scales. Since they do one thing, they get better and better at it. It's their core business.

Then one could repurpose headcount to become teams of VARs. Consider independent networked teams of trainers, instead of a training group at corporate that eats overhead. When a new box is installed, hire the installation VAR team to go onsite for two weeks to run the customer's work.

It eliminates the "this machine doesn't do what they told me it can do." And most importantly, it destroys, by example, the "and it's their fault."
Ferrostaal no longer partner of manroland
from WhatTheyThink:
"We’re very optimistic about the future," says Dr. Klaus Lesker, Member of the Executive Board of MAN Ferrostaal. "For our distribution activities in the printing systems sector we can call on a very comprehensive and differentiated product portfolio, which strengthens our market presence immensely. Our distribution network, which has grown over the years, the core of which we established for the printing industry, also makes us an extremely attractive partner for many manufacturers.
. . .
"Our internationality is an important factor for IPIC (International Petroleum Investment Company, Abu Dhabi), our new majority shareholder: our long-term presence in many countries will enable us to open doors for IPIC and facilitate market access. Our own plant construction business will also profit enormously from our international distribution organisation in the printing systems sector. We will utilise our existing infrastructure from the machine business and will thus immediately be able to implement large projects which would not be feasible without this network. We are consequently continuing to expand our international presence.'"

Oce: Consider reducing FTE's by repurposing

Oce to Accelerate Cost Reductions
from WhatTheyThink: "The additional cost savings comprise a headcount reduction of 800 FTEs, including the phased reduction of headcount in the supply center in Poing (Germany) by 250 FTEs, as well as other savings. The headcount reduction impacts all operating companies and supply centers worldwide."
There's no way to get around the need to reduce overhead. The good news is that lots of the overhead is not necessary to succeed. But, instead of just cutting people use the internet and human nature to get them off the overhead and still have the benefit of their experience, passion and energy.

The way I see it, the scientists and engineers create the core value. The sales people - the boots on the ground - monetize that value. Everything else is overhead.

Do the hunters and farmers that are sales people perform best in the command and control environment of a channel? It didn't work in the Soviet Union. It doesn't work in a command and control public bureaucracy. Why should it work for a sales channel?

The problem is keeping everyone on the same page. But that is accomplished by culture. Culture grows in small groups. Always did. Always will. Small groups can execute and innovate.

What happens if incentives are realigned to promote instead of constrain the powerful instinct of sales people as they form in passion driven teams. It's clear that the days of the order taker under the cover of the brand are coming to a close. The mantra has been "educating" the customer and the sales force. But that is much too slow and expensive.

Instead of reducing FTE's, repurpose by giving them the choice and some support to become independents. Let them share in the benefits of a growing business and take some of the pain in a hard economy. In the States, make sure they have good health care. Although that may go away once we fix the health care system.

If the versioned newspaper and customized textbooks go mainstream, the problem is going to be boots on the ground. The best boots on the ground are volunteers, not draftees or lifers.

Another "channel" disappears: Mohawk Goes Direct

The web undermines the value of "channels." What will be left are "everyone from home office users to seasoned professionals." and boots on the ground. The boots on the ground are VARs that craft just the right solution for just the right person. Order takers are history.

The appropriate goal is "easy to do business with."

I fell in love with Mohawk at the beginning digital. Focused, family owned, New York based. Plus they made Superfine. They love paper. Keep innovating as the times demand.

Go Mohawk!
Mohawk Goes Direct with -
from WhatTheyThink:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

[Cohoes, NY] – Mohawk Fine Papers Inc. has announced the launch of its new paper store, Now paper buyers can order digital paper, bright colored paper, copy paper, high quality stationery paper and envelopes from any of Mohawk's premium paper grades in one convenient location - a flexible, customizable and intuitive site designed for everyone from home office users to seasoned professionals."

MPS : Follow Patrick Henry's Blog

I just added Patrick Henry to Dr Joe Webb and Frank Romano as the people who are both on my radar and get it.

In the last couple of weeks, Patrick has taken on managing the Printing Office blog at PrintCEO.
Recent posts are well worth the read to get the background info on how to connect MPS to Commercial Print.

The opportunity for Print to reinvent education in the States. It's not one size fits all textbooks.

from Education Week
Quality of Evaluations Draws New Attention As Stimulus Aid Flows:
"The nation’s oft-criticized systems for evaluating the quality of its educator workforce are poised to receive increased scrutiny, thanks to an Obama administration plan to require school districts to disclose how many teachers perform well or poorly."
To fix education it has to be managed. To manage it has to be measured. All the research shows that the most important thing to measure is the process of classroom conversations and interactions. The only way to measure a process is by making it visible.

Print is the best way to stop a communication process long enough to look at it. Education is fundamentally a thoughtful conversation.

One of many possible examples
1. Each student receives a 24 page print product on unit X.
2. Each student uses a pencil to point to words and paragraphs that are interesting or they don't understand.
3. Each student is asked to use the wide margins to clearly write their thoughts and questions.

Once a week the teacher collects the Print product to see what students have done and what they are thinking.

At the end of the semester, the collection of Print products are a pretty good measure of how well the teacher is doing the job their paid to do.

As appropriate, the process is replicated in a wiki. The contents of the wiki are edited, refined, and published as a print product. A publishing party ensues at the end of the unit. The print product is the basis of next semester's class, instead of those bulky out of date textbooks.
from Education Week,
How Do We Know What Kids Know? A Critique of Test-Based Accountability
. . . These and other assumptions are proving problematic, but the heart of the problem may be our collective unwillingness to address the question of how we accurately and confidently assess children’s knowledge. . . . For if we take seriously the problems evident in a test-based accountability system, then we have to recognize that the results may give us a false read. Test scores may provide an easy accounting system, but one without much in the way of genuine accountability.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Color Cube Orders can be taken today and boxes delivered in 14-15 days

Or at least that was what I was told. Now it's up to the feet on the ground.

Meanwhile I think the official name is Color Qube instead of Color Cube. If that's correct, I would love to meet the genius who thought that would be a good idea. If it's not correct, never mind. In any case I'm going to keep calling it the Color Cube. FYI - the google search most people use is Color Cube.

Anyway, Go Xerox!

Maybe that meeting on the 29th won't turn out all that bad. But it sure would be nice if some Board Member had a nice story to tell about "reducing headcounts" and a rising, instead of a falling SAG and what exactly is the relationship between Xerox and Fuji Xerox.

The end of the Marketing Service Provider meme?

If so, I say good riddance! It should go in the same waste basket as the "End of Print," VDP and Transpromo and "financial meltdown." Printers print. Good printers print good. Very good printers print very good. All the rest is blablablablabla.

Check out this conversation at PrintCeoBlog.

The secret of a successful commercial printing company.

1. Answer the phone.
2. Do what you said you were going to do.
3. Repeat steps one and two every day.
4. Until you do steps 1, 2 or 3, don't focus on anything else.
Commercial Print & Imaging:
"Here is why CP&I is the easiest company to do business with.

You know we will keep our promises.
Look how we rocked. Our customers say we do and you can count on it too!

You will have it on time — every time.
We take delivery dates seriously. We know getting to market first gives your company the competitive edge needed to win in today’s world.

You work in real time, with real people.
From quotes through production, we run in real time. You speak to a live person without going through voicemail menus - and that includes the owner.

You can count on consistency.
The proofs match the final job — it’s a simple process but one we know our customers count on. We’ll make sure you get the same great look from the first sheet to the last and from job to job.

You will smile a lot more when you hire CP&I.
Smiling is good for your health. We want our customers to be the healthiest people around. So we go out of our way to make sure you smile a lot."

The Consolidation Continues.This time in ECM.

Sound like a printernet forming?
OpenText plans to acquire Vignette
@The Future of Documents
"More consolidation in the ECM (Entreprise Content Management) space - OpenText announced last week that they would acquire Vignette for 310 M$. OpenText is one of the last remaining proprietary vendors in the CMS space."

It's not the economy blablabla. It's good management or not so good managment.

How McDonald's Is Winning More Than the Value Wars - @Advertising Age
By Emily Bryson York Published: May 12, 2009

CHICAGO ( -- It wasn't enough that McDonald's is beating competitors in same-store sales and winning the value-perception wars. Thanks to stepped-up burger marketing, it's now getting higher-margin customers, too.

While McDonald's pretty much owns the value menu and pricing proposition, since last summer it's quietly boosted advertising of full-priced items, which is paying off by bringing in higher-ticket customers. The product-specific pushes, for Big Mac in July, chicken nuggets in December and the Quarter Pounder with cheese in February, have resulted in double-digit sales increases for the products in question."

Money is on the prowl: Citigroup’s Primerica Is Said to Seek Bids for Unit (Update1) -

Citigroup’s Primerica Is Said to Seek Bids for Unit (Update1) -
"May 13 (Bloomberg) -- Executives at Citigroup Inc.’s Primerica Financial Services unit have approached private-equity firms, including J.C. Flowers & Co., Blackstone Group LP and TPG Inc., to gauge their interest in buying the division’s 100,000- person sales arm, said four people with knowledge of the matter."

I love small companies with niche markets

Tried & Tested: Xeikon 5000
Nosmot Gbadamosi, PrintWeek, 20 March 2009

This digital press's ability to carve a market niche meant it prospered in an increasingly competitive market, discovers Nosmot Gbadamosi
. . .
with the ability to handle substrates up
to 350gsm, the machine that evolved from Xeikon’s DCP 500D and the 100 series was also highly attractive to label and packaging printers.
. . .
But the two big selling points were, firstly, the option of a fifth colour, which could be a spot colour or clear ink for security printing. Xeikon currently offers two types of security toner (clear toner and white toner), which light up when exposed to UV light.

And secondly, the 5000 incorporated a new generation of form-adapted (FA) toner, which was added to the press in 2006. The Pantone-accredited toner was approved for indirect use on food products, a must for the packaging market. Better coverage also meant it used 11% less toner compared with Xeikon’s previous toners on similar jobs.

InfoPrint gets Ricoh DNA at the top

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Since getting on my radar, I've felt InfoPrint is the real player in transpromo. They've got the boxes, they've got the support of the IBM cloud, they've got the transactional printing DNA.

The deal was always that this would be a Ricoh business. Only time will tell how this is going to play out in North America.
InfoPrint appoints new chief executive/president
Tim Sheahan,, 12 May 2009

InfoPrint, the joint venture between IBM and Ricoh, has appointed Daisuke Segawa as its new chief executive and president.

Segawa takes on the position from Tony Romero, who had held both roles since the formation of InfoPrint in June 2007.

Romero is credited with helping InfoPrint gain a strong position in core businesses sectors such as transpromo and continuous forms colour.

Segawa, a Ricoh executive, was instrumental in the creation of InfoPrint . . .

Money prowls. Then Pounces. Donnelley wants to buy Quebecor

The printernet keeps crystallizing.
Click on the picture to see what I\
I would turn Donnelley into a holding company. Let each unit live with it's own P&L. Donnelly DNA + Quebecor DNA? I just don't see it working unless each is allowed to grow unhindered in it's own space, with its own responsibility for making an easily definable profit and incentives aligned.
RR Donnelley makes offer to buy assets and properties of Quebeccor World
"RR Donnelley has offered to buy the assets and properties of its insolvent rival Quebecor World for $1.35bn (�891m) in cash and shares in what would be the world's largest ever print merger.

RR Donnelley informed its shareholders yesterday that it had submitted a written indication of interest to acquire 'all or substantially all' of Quebecor World's assets and properties from the company's debtors."

Score for Xerox (UK): iGen4 sold to Unite the Union!

I've been on my little soapbox for years about the growth opportunity in education, health and government. Unite The Union is involved in government, health and education.

Wait until they see how powerful printernet publishing can be. Millions of print pieces delivered in the next day, all over the world over night, with a tiny carbon footprint. All the time creating jobs for printernet nodes through the UK.

If they take on the education piece, they could radically improve education, eliminate the textbook oligopoly, and produce sustainable jobs that are not tied to the ups and downs of the advertising business.

Go Unite the Union! Go Dai Davies! Go Xerox (UK)! Go printernet!
Unite buys iGen4 to handle increased demand for its literature
"Unite the Union has upped its capacity for short-run campaign materials with an investment in a Xerox iGen4 digital press.

The press, which has been installed at the union's in-house plant in Hayes, Kent, will mean that Unite can increase the volume of its campaign materials and instructional documents for members – something it has needed to do in light of the current recession."

Go Oce! You have to love engineering DNA

If they could just add the American/Australian "toot your own horn" gene, they'll have just right DNA for my IRA. I'm pretty sure that's not how they do it in Venlo or Germany, but this is a very noisy global market. Plus we assume that scientists and engineers will figure out everything sooner or later.

I was recently told that Oce has 24 Jetstreams in running in commercial enterprises scattered over the whole planet. But that was through a conversation with a colleague, not from anything I found at their website.
Oce ColorWave 600 Receives Best "Emerging" Technology Award
from WhatTheyThink:
"Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Trumbull, CT – Oce . . .today announced that its wide format Oce ColorWave 600 printer has received the EDP award for best emerging technology
. . .
One key reason for the EDP recognition is the fundamentally new technology applied in the Océ ColorWave 600 printer, the Océ CrystalPoint technology, developed in-house by Océ. It offers the best of both toner and inkjet in a single sustainable process. Customers can use it to make high quality black & white or color prints on uncoated plain or recycled paper.

It is also an entirely sustainable technology. There is no toner powder, no odor and no ozone. It minimizes waste disposal, and because the technology does not require coated media, it also reduces the environmental impact of paper coatings.

Go Kodak! Focus on this piece and everything will turn just fine

The dirty little secret is that contextualized ads, as in Google Ad Sense, don't need color. The need the software to support it. The issue is presenting the exact right offer at the exact right time. Black typography is the best way to do that. Offset printing is the cheapest way to do that. That's transpromo on steroids.

I read recently that Harbinger talked to Larry at Google to get try to convince him to buy his stake in the New York Times. Maybe someone wants to talk to someone to do a partner deal with Google to sell ad sense in print. You've got the right tech. They have the information piece. I've got both of you in my IRA.

Kodak Demonstrates Stream Printhead at China Print - from @WhatTheyThink:
"Wednesday, May 13, 2009

BEIJING, CHINA -- Visitors to China Print 2009 in Beijing will have the opportunity to see KODAK Stream Inkjet Technology. The Stream Printhead from Kodak, the first product to implement this new technology, is capable of delivering monochrome offset class VDP applications at up to 1,000 fpm to commercial offset printers. It demonstrates KODAK Stream Inkjet Technology's potential for inline digital printing with web offset presses and serves as a technology platform for future inkjet systems."

Is the Color Cube the missing link for Printernet Publishing?

The issue is remote hard copy proofs for commercial printers.

The dirty little secret is that the problem with soft proofs is that you can't hold them in your hand when the job is delivered. It has little to do with exact color accuracy. It has to do with protecting your butt and managing fear.

The nature of the customer's fear is that either a supervisor or a peer will say, "That doesn't look like I thought it would look." The fear of the printer is "That doesn't look like it looked on the screen."

For printernet publishing to reach the potential massive scale there has to be a way to go from Ground > Cloud > Print for hard copy proofs in real time.

Given that the Color Cube is inkjet this could be solved. In one of yesterday's comments, Art Post visited and asked
No Fiery or Creo, can't see it being much use for proofing, am I missing something?
then I said,
This really needs to be answered by a color engineer, which I am not. But, here's how I think it can work:

1. The printer has to have an RGB color managed workflow. (yes, there are some, not many, that have this.)
2. The color cube customer gets a color target PDF supplied by the printer.
3. The printer does a read on the test sheet to get a color profile.
4. The printer attaches that profile to the PDF that he puts in the Cloud. (email, FTP, website)
5. The customer pulls down the PDF and prints on the Color Cube.

Given that the Color Cube is inkjet instead of toner, it should be stable enough to make this work good enough, most of the time.
Getting an inkjet device to work as a remote proofer is well defined. Epson has it nailed for photographers. It has become embedded in a photographer's way of doing business. Ink jet proofs have become standard in many commercial workflows.

I don't know if I'm right about this, but if I am it means that Xerox could use their PSP network, over 650 in Premier Partners alone, to sell Color Cubes. it could also mean that they could get PSPs to talk directly to Independent MPS to cross sell to the same clients. It could also mean that the the immediately addressable market for Color Cubes are OPM/PSP's for their own pre production proofing needs.

A possible HP counter move
They could implement the same strategy. In house color inkjet proofing for the Indigo. Once under control and well understood, Indigo users could sell, give or lease those ink jet proofers to their customers. If they are embedded in a MFP, so much the better. If not, the inkjets work as an inexpensive stand alone.

They are the strong runner up in the MPS space. They are experts at inkjet. Their base of installed Indigo owners is powerful and distributed.

But HP has the same focus and execution problem that infects most of the globals. The real danger for globals and the opportunity for a robust printernet is from the ground. The color management process is open and well defined. Every commercial printer and independent will move on a dime to add quickly monetizable value to their offerings.

More to the point, they will use a new offering to lower good customer acquisition costs and embed customers into their developing printernets. Donnelly, Consolidated and Cenveno might decide that it's a competitive advantage to have hard copy remote proofing at a fraction of the normal cost for their publishing clients. Staples may sell the box. An independent Color VAR will mentor adoption of the hard copy color management piece.

The process is well defined. The marginal cost of software is negligible. The price is what the market will bear. The marginal cost of embedding color intelligence into the network is negligible in terms of stuff. It does require focus. But focus now, leads to a more intelligent network going forward.

The smarter the network gets, the higher the margins going forward.

Color Cube: Now it's about execution, execution, execution.

As far as I can tell, the big story about the Color Cube is that Xerox has moved into inkjet printing big time. This was a courageous move given how much of their business depends on toner. They call it "solid toner." But it's inkjet, without the expense or mess of liquid. Very nice. Once it is mashed up into a MFP, this could be their next Docutech.

But, the question for my IRA is how fast it will be delivered to customers. It took a couple of years for the competition to invent their Docutech copy cats. But that was then, this is now. I would bet that there are scientists and engineers at Ricoh, Canon, Samsung, MK right now figuring out their response. It will be much sooner, rather than much later.

When Ricoh bought Ikon within six months they replaced most of the Canon boxes with Ricoh boxes. Clearly they are masters at execution.

In a comment to yesterday's post, anon said
I only wish, as a Xerox Sales Agent, that I could start marketing the ColorCube 9200 Series today, but I am on the 4th launch wave to be able to offering this to my marketing area.
"Fourth waves" make my IRA very nervous.

Click on the picture to see what I\
I would put a lot less money into marketing/advertising and a lot more money into execution and some money into PR.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Could the Color Cube be a Remote Proofer for OPM/PSP ?

From what I remember the solid ink to inkjet technology is very stable. From what I read the color reproduction on a iGen4 is very stable.

So, maybe it would be possible to sell the ColorCube as a remote proofing device that also copies, scans and prints locally. An RGB workflow is better anyway. As long as the images stay in RGB and the flat color is specified in PMS and all the profile information is in place, I would think it should work.

If it's not that hard to do, then the value of the box is the connection to the OPM/PSP. Being embedded in a network gets close to being a platform. In a user network economy, the platform is where you want to be. Remember Microsoft pre Cloud. Consider Google post Cloud.

The good news is that there would be a very natural connection between the PSP and the MPS based on the Color Cube. It's a printernet solution : Any one can print any where any time in any quantity.

Also since every creative department is always very late and very nervous about whether they made the file correctly, the stress relieved and time saved by having a remote proofer disguised as an MFP should be a monetizable value that has a very low cost of delivery.

Money prowls, then pounces. Geffen is trying buy the NYTimes.

At least that's what I heard at Bloomberg TV this morning. Turns out that Harbinger Partners invested $500,000,000 in the NYTimes. As of today, it's worth $125,000,000. Ouch! Now Geffen wants to buy their share. According to Bloomberg they are still haggling over the price.

If I had a global that was mostly owned by a bunch of hedge funds disguised as "institutional investors" I would get to work. My bet is that if the deal goes through, some Board Members are going to get fired.

Now that's a headcount reduction that might actually make some good sense.

added 8:29 AM EDT, from Reuters.

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Media mogul David Geffen tried to buy a stake in the New York Times Co from hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners, but was rejected, a source with knowledge of the matter said on Monday.

Geffen offered to buy the stake at market price, but Harbinger fund manager Philip Falcone wanted him to pay a premium, according to the source.

The two sides are not currently in talks, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Fortune magazine first reported the news on its website in an article that said Times board member Scott Galloway, who was nominated by Harbinger, approached Google Inc co-founder Larry Page to try to get the Internet company to try to buy the Times.

PacPrint and Is it Xerox/Fuji Xerox or is it Fuji Film/Fuji Xerox/Xerox?

The business about FujiFilm is in the snippets below.

In the meantime, it sounds like PacPrint is going to be alot more exciting than OnDemand. We'll see how the attendance works out in a couple of weeks.

In any case, take a look at the branding for PacPrint.

Click here to enter

It makes sense that it emerges first in Australia. It's the wild west + California + the closest English language country to Asia. On the other hand, I'm a New Yorker. Never could get used to California anyway. I'll just keeping waiting until it gets here. Besides, I'm betting we do the education printernet here in the States.

At the end of this post are some PacPrint links I copied and pasted from Print21.

Xerox/Fuji Xerox or Fuji Film/Fuji Xerox/Xerox
If it turns out to be Fuji v Ricoh v Canon v KM, the rules of engagement may be in for some more game changers. Meanwhile, Ricoh is bringing InfoPrint to PacPrint see second snippet below.
From Print21, Australia:

Fuji Xerox and FUJIFILM Australia join forces at PacPrint 09
For the first time, Fuji Xerox Australia and FUJIFILM Australia will team up to create one of the most comprehensive public showcases of print and publishing solutions ever seen at PacPrint.

Measuring 765sq/m, the stand will feature the latest offerings from both industry leaders and will serve as a hub of information for PacPrint 09 attendees wanting to grow their businesses.

“We are proud to showcase our combined strength in the world of graphic communications at this premier industry event,” said Andy Lambert, managing director of Fuji Xerox Australia.
Ricoh is anticipating a busy exhibition stand at this month’s PacPrint, with its complete line of end-to-end offerings and the inclusion of the InfoPrint Solutions Company, a joint venture between Ricoh and IBM, on hand to showcase their latest range of digital software and hardware products.

Links copied and pasted from Print 21.

DES gets ready for biggest show yet at PacPrint
Heidelberg to offset all carbon emissions for its PacPrint exhibit
EFI to showcase Fiery Command Workstation at PacPrint
Ricoh welcomes InfoPrint to itsstand at PacPrint
Fuji Xerox takes new Xerox iGen4 Press for test drive at PacPrint09
Starleaton boasts biggest-ever PacPrint stand
Currie Group to showcase two new HP Indigo models at PacPrint09
GAMAA all systems go for PacPrint
TV hosts come on down to National Print Awards
HP Latex Ink Technologies on Show at PacPrint09
Epson becomes the name behind print
Get comfortable at PacPrint with Konica Minolta
It all comes together for MAN Ferrostaal
World-class speakers to address PacPrint 09 forums
Heidelberg brings drupa to PacPrint: 6 March
AB Graphic International comes to Australia

Fuji Xerox and FUJIFILM Australia join forces at PacPrint 09: 4 February

DES gets ready for biggest show yet at PacPrint

Data Point: EFI is an OEM for the cloud to the box. With Vutek they keep growing in physical space.

Print in physical space - signs and banners, etc. - keeps growing nicely with good margins.
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS -- FESPA Digital Europe -- May 12, 2009 -- EFI™ (Nasdaq: EFII), . . today announced two new additions to their line of industry-leading VUTEk® superwide format UV printers, the GS2000, a revolutionary 2-meter hybrid that delivers photorealistic quality at incredible speeds without compromise, and the QS3220, a 3.2-meter hybrid printer with High Definition Print (HDP) technology and an extended application range.
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS -- FESPA Digital Europe -- May 12, 2009 -- EFI™ today announced a new 64-inch (162.56 cm) addition to their popular Rastek™ line of environmentally-friendly, wide-format printers, the Rastek H650 UV hybrid flatbed . . .

The Kodak Advantage: The commercial offset workflow

"Productivity, improves quality, and flexibility is a reasonable value proposition. Much better than Print is Good or digital blablabla.
Kodak Digital Plates Help Derksen Printers
from WhatTheyThink:
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Derksen Printers Ltd., a full-service commercial printer and newspaper publisher in Canada, has been making headlines since 1932. Specializing in short-run web printing of newspapers and flyers, the Manitoba-based printer delivers high-quality printing and exceptional service and support to its customers. With the installation of a KODAK TRENDSETTER NEWS 70 Thermal Platesetter with KODAK SWORD EXCEL Thermal Plates and KODAK PRINERGY EVO Workflow, Derksen Printers drives productivity, improves quality, and boosts flexibility in its operations."

Data point: Don't forget about Konica Minolta or EFI

Notice the sentence about "the desktop to the print shop" in the snippet below. Now if they could coordinate the sales efforts from the desk top and the print shop . . .
Konica Minolta bizhub MFPs Driven by Fiery Technology
from WhatTheyThink:
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ramsey, N.J. and Foster City, Calif. -- Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc., a leading provider of advanced imaging and networking technologies for the desktop to the print shop, and EFI, the world leader in customer-focused digital printing innovation, today announced a new Fiery controller for the recently launched Konica Minolta bizhub C652/C552 Series of digital color multifunctional printers (MFPs) designed for the office environment."

The standards that enable the global printernet

Experts from the Ghent PDF Workgroup Speak at Special Session -
from WhatTheyThink
"The GWG's mission is to transcend borders and work together to develop common best practices that help to improve graphic arts workflows and foster business success,' said Zwang."

DataPoint: Screen gets a beachead in grand format.

The Garvey Group Installs Truepress Jet2500UV
from WhatTheyThink
"The Garvey Group Installs Truepress Jet2500UV
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Garvey Group, a network of advertising, marketing, print production, support, and fulfillment divisions located in the Midwest, has become the first printer in the United States to install Screen’s Truepress Jet2500UV grand format UV inkjet printer."

Datapoint: HP (OEM) talks to their OPM/VARs. Nice.

Now that's a global doing the right thing. Mid May is any day now. If they can get to a modified go to market strategy that fast it's a big win for everyone.

I'm hoping that it will be independents and franchises selling MarketSplash from the their counters to compete with Staples. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Industry Coalition and HP meet to Address Concerns with MarketSplash Program
from WhatTheyThink
"During the meeting, HP and the group discussed opportunities to work more effectively together, grow digital market opportunities and reconsider how MarketSplash could be implemented. HP accepted the group's input and agreed to revaluate their go-to-market strategy so that it continues to pursue its goal of enabling digital print while supporting its print service provider industry partners. HP committed to communicating their go forward strategy in mid May."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Datapoint: Transpromo in Sweden

3 Scandinavia Selects StreamServe
from WhatTheyThink:
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

BURLINGTON, Mass., USA -- StreamServe, Inc., a leading provider of business communication solutions, today announced that 3 Scandinavia has chosen StreamServe to dynamically create, produce, automate and distribute customer bills. The 3 Group is the world’s leading operator of 3G and mobile broadband services with more than 19 million customers in ten countries."

I wanted to call the column The Newspaper Printernet Emerges on the Iberian Peninsula

But my editor at went with Press Terra Tests Newspaper 'Printernet' on the Iberian Peninsula.

Data Point: Keep your eye on Adobe AIR

1 + 1 = 3
Rich Internet applications
Adobe AIR:
The Adobe AIR™ runtime lets developers use proven web technologies to build rich Internet applications that run outside the browser on multiple operating systems."

Data Point: Color E paper soon to market

The more e readers, the more there will be new uses for customized print. It's a 1 + 1 = 3 situation.
Pixel Qi - Home
"The readability and legibility of our new screens rival the best epaper available today. What's new about our screens: fast video rate update (refresh), and fully saturated color at very low pricing because we use standard manufacturing materials, processes and factories. Our screens use 1/2 to 1/4 the power of a regular LCD screen, and when integrated carefully with the device can increase battery life between charges by 5-fold."

Selling to SMB? You should check out this conference in Denver

BALLE - Business Alliance for Local Living Economies
"2009 Conference
Rising to the Challenge:
Entrepreneurs Building Living Economies
Denver Colorado, May 21-23, 2009

BALLE's 7th Annual Conference will be in Denver, Colorado, one of America's leading cities committed to economic sustainability.

We invite you to join fellow business owners, community investors, economic development experts, and sustainability leaders as we share best practices, discover new connections, and set the course for building local living economies."

If I ran Ricoh or HP and had to respond to the Color Cube . . .

If I Ran The Zoo (1977) Dr Seuss Softcover
I would take a Printernet approach.

1. Identify anyone, anywhere on any of your teams with VAR DNA. They could be living in MPS or in PSP or corporate HR or PR.

2. Then get them all in group, either live or on the web, but organized by contiguous local areas.

3. Create a list and later a database of every customer who touches your global in those contiguous local areas.

4. Counter attack by getting all the VARs - wherever they live - to mount a co-ordinated selling of mPs - managing all the PRINT services - to anyone who lives in an enterprise.

Then . . .
The PSP can sell Commercial Print + MFP + mPs.
The MPS can sell MFP + mPs + Commerical Print.
It's all customer focused, not silo organized. The blablabla is all about the customer, not the box.

Meanwhile the VARs can focus on combining boxes and software for new offerings for old customers; customized versioned print instead of textbooks and yearbooks, transinfo customized print that gets information, instead of giving information, printernet publishing for newspapers and governments.

The very hard part is figuring out the incentives and the comp. But that's above my pay grade. I'll leave that the Board of Directors and the CEOs.

The real threat to Kodak

Since I believe that Kodak's real place in the printernet is their ownership of offset workflow, this might sooner or later blow it away. Wokflow ESP running on the MAC OS.

from WhatTheyThink:
Community Newspapers Installs Fusion Workflow - Printing Industry News
"Portland, OR - Community Newspapers, a Pamplin Communications Corporation company , recently installed Workflow ESP automated prepress, from Fusion Systems International, as part of their migration to Computer-to-Plate.

Like many publication printers switching to direct plate imaging, Community Newspapers first needed a cost effective prepress workflow to provide digital integrity between proofing, plating and the printed product.

Following an extensive evaluation of workflow options Community Newspapers selected Fusion Systems’ Workflow ESP, running entirely on Mac OS X."

Correlation does not equal causation!

Until you get to causation, you can't do elegant intervention. Until you get to elegant intervention you can't fix high school education at the bottom of the global pyramid.
@spiked review of books
It’s time to move beyond the nature/nurture divide
"The Nurture Assumption is an important book in guiding students – and non-students, too – through the minefield of correlational research and the various methodological tricks used to come up with publishable results.
. . .
It also challenges the pressure on parents to raise children’s self-esteem. Contrary to the current orthodoxy, Harris argues that self-esteem is based on what we do, not on how we are encouraged to feel. Children are perfectly aware of how they compare to, and are regarded by, their peers – and therefore need to develop mechanisms for coping with difficult situations when they arise. She writes: ‘Kids are not fragile. They are tougher than you think. They have to be, because the world out there does not handle them with kid gloves. At home they might hear “What you did made me feel bad”, but out on the playground it’s “You shithead!”’"

More on Color Cube changing the game

from Death of The Copier:
a comment in the Color Cube is a game changer thread:

It creates 90% less waste than laser A3.
has a 3 tiered, meter plan with colour at the cost of black and white. . . . Measures page coverage by pixels. . . I just got training last week on it. I have to say that I am impressed. . . . At the end of the day, it saved customers loads of cash. Not one company can claim the same environmental benefits.

I think edgeline was on the right track but fell short printing in tabloid and struggles with heavy weight paper BUT HP and now Xerox are on the right track.. . . Unreal technology. . . . Game changing for sure."
Then Greg said,
The 3-tier pricing is very interesting and a great thing - how is Xerox going to get the meters read ? Rhetorical question, we all know it will get done.

Another thing, I wonder just how many are really, strongly looking at Xerox in terms of industry leading; both technology and service.

If we leave HP off the table for now - how in the world can Ricoh, Canon, Konica, Sharp or Toshiba going to go after the Cube?

As HP concentrates on the IT world, which is fine, could it be that as once IBM sold more PC's than anyone, HP is following their lead?

Will the day ever come when HP DOESN'T SELL PRINTERS anymore?


The Donnelley Printernet gets deeper and deeper

from WhatTheyThink:
RR Donnelley Named Best Buy's Top Performing Print Facility
"CHICAGO -- R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company announced today that its Lancaster, Pennsylvania operation has been named as Best Buy's top performing printing facility for the retailer's 2009 fiscal year."
Big retail works in networks. The printernet is the appropriate form to service those networks. The problem is illustrated by considering if instead of Best Buy, the big box in question was Blockbuster or Circuit City. The lesson is that if you're playing this game, choose carefully.

Consider the printernet that serves K - 12 textbook publishers.

The Battle of the Titans: Xerox v Ricoh - The Color Cube may turn out to be the shot heard round the world.

Art Post says "Who's afraid of the Xerox Color Cube?"
anon says " I am a top performer at Ricoh, Xerox's biggest competitor... and I'm scared"
Greg Walters says " "The Xerox ColorCube is not a contender, it is a game changer."

The hardware is the MFP. The field of battle is MPS. The prize is control of the enterprise printernet.

In the Asian theater it's Fuji-Xerox v Ricoh. In the Euro language theater it's Xerox v Ricoh v HP?. The Middle East, as usual, is up for grabs.

Here's how it looks to me from 30,000 feet in New York City.
Xerox brings office DNA to the battle. Fuji-Xerox and Ricoh bring engineering DNA to the battle. For years the lines have been forming. Xerox buys Global who buys ComDoc and picks up independents as available. Ricoh buys Ikon and delivers a body blow to Canon. Ricoh has the deep pockets to introduce special incentives for new MPS business. Xerox buys Tectronics solid ink and improves solid ink until they can release The Color Cube.

I don't know enough about Ricoh on the ground, but Xerox comes from a base in large scale organization where they compete with HP for the big MPS deals. That business is under threat from other OEMs. But the real threat is the massive reorganization of formal education, health and government. The old rules are slipping away. The new rules are not quite yet clear but mostly likely will be about transparent competition on price, service, and expectation of continuous improvement.

The wild cards are the Independents.
This is a ground war. In a ground war under the conditions of information transparency the advantage goes to passion driven ground troops. The measure of passion is morale. Given the disastrous decisions by the globals to "buy channels" and ruthlessly reduce headcounts, they may have irreparably destroyed morale.

The independents live on passion. They hunt. They eat what they kill. They are local. They respond in real time. They are totally opportunistic in using the most appropriate hardware to get the best solution for their addressable clients. Like the rag tag American rebels who defeated the well organized British in 1776, they thrive when they are ignored. Living off the land, making up the rules as they go along, they driven by the passion of creating a better future for their families.

You can't win a war with mercenaries. The British couldn't do it in 1776. The Americans couldn't do it in Iraq in 2009.

Greg Walters said
Let us not forget the end user really won't care what the technology is - like always, they will want to print or copy in color or B/W as easily and as simply as possible, at a reasonable cost.
Greg lives at the edge of Independent MPS.

Note that he says issue is not the lowest cost. The issue is a "reasonable cost." The exact dollar amount of "reasonable cost" depends on local conditions and the specific solution that a passion driven VAR presents to specific people. Boxes, on the other hand, need to have the lowest TOC to thrive. Such is the life of the OEM. But MPS are VARs. VARs maintain margins through the addition of creative deals, seamless solutions and an agnostic combinations of boxes.

All wars, like politics, like education, like public health, are won or lost at the local level. One customer, one student, one victim of H1N1 virus at at a time.

The view from my IRA
I have bets on both sides Xerox and Ricoh. As the facts on the ground emerge through the smoke of battle, I'll invest more on one side or the other.

Here's how I think it will play out. Xerox and Ricoh will be forced to divert some resources from the skirmish around the commercial printing industry. That will leave the field to Oce Heidelberg, Komori, Goss and the other players in the various production printernets.

The dark horse is Kodak. If they can focus on their advantage in the offset production workflow, they might turn out to be the UNF - User Network Facilitator - for commercial print. But the competitor for that prize is Donnelly which is trying to go it alone.

At any rate, it's a great day in the never ending fight for Truth, Justice and My IRA.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thinking point: One sustainable model for Newspapers

Complete Community Connection: more reinvention in Cedar Rapids
@Nieman Journalism Lab:

You can’t really call it a blog post when the printout stretches to 33 single-spaced pages, but it’s highly recommended reading: Steve Buttry, the “information content conductor” of Gazette Communications in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has published “A blueprint for the Complete Community Connection” as a nine-parter on his blog. More conveniently, you can download the whole thing at Scribd (very simple registration required.)

Why I Love America, New York City, Brooklyn, the Internet and Print

The first reason is that is where I grew up and have made both home and my living. The second reason is that they are all messy. see snippet below
The Safety Net - For Victims of Recession, Patchwork State Aid
"WASHINGTON — As millions of people seek government aid, many for the first time, they are finding it dispensed American style: through a jumble of disconnected programs that reach some and reject others, often for reasons of geography or chance rather than differences in need."
The internet is messy. New York City is messy. Brooklyn is messy. Life is messy. Biology is messy. Evolution is random mutation and competitive selection. Messy optimizes evolution. New ideas can take hold in messy. Once the internet came into the picture, new ideas can move at pandemic speeds to everywhere on the planet. The clash and mash up of new ideas lead to new opportunities and explosions in social capital. Social capital is the requisite to manage Black Swans.

Print is not messy. It is clear.
When Print is again added to the environment it's possible to fix blablabla in time. Once it is fixed in time, signals can be amplified to get through the noise. The right signals to the right people at the right time lead to increases in social capital. Social capital is the most secure form of wealth. The purpose of civilization is to create enough wealth so that everyone has the opportunity to have a nice day.

Blabla Point: Why Printernet Publishing wil save the world and my retirement account

The Printernet is the Cloud based network that connects printing enterprises around the world.

It is massive parallel manufacturing with standards-based interfaces, real time production information and easy access for everyone. Each printer — the combination of the machinery and the intelligence that manages the machinery — is a print output node. Each node is both part of the network and self-sufficient. When the nodes are working together mass customization of print product becomes commonplace at previously impossible speeds and quantities. It means hundreds of millions of print product delivered around the world in a day or two with a minimal carbon foot print.

The Printernet has three moving parts; the OEM, the OPM and the VAR.

The OEM manufactures, distributes and continuously improves the machinery and supplies necessary to print. The OPM - original product manufacturer - uses the machinery and adds the intelligence and supplies to manufacture print. The VAR works with the end user to select the most appropriate products and software to create a new value for the customer. The customer supplies the energy, usually but not always, in the form of money, to power the whole thing.

Managing the network falls to the UNF - the user network facilitator. This function is primarily self evolving, but as the network matures necessary parts will be increasingly taken on by formal organizations and enterprises.

The Battle of the Titans is for the number 1, 2 and 3 OEM/UNF positions.

Like all resilient networks each level is self sufficient
A printernet can have a self sufficient presence in a school building or a school district. The UNF/VAR is the MPS. The OEM are the MFP manufacturers. The MPS chooses the most appropriate hardware and software for that specific local situation. Each is different in the details. Each is the same at the conceptual level. Print from the Cloud is enabled at the desktop, the workgroup or the CRD within the organization.

The new experience occurs when the school based printernet is seamlessly connected to commercial printernets. At that point production equipment is clipped on as a print output node - an OPM. That allows yearbooks, student newspapers and textbooks to be pulled from the ground and delivered in print in very close to real time.

The local commercial OPM is connected to a regional printernet. Newspapers can accumulate content in the Cloud on an ongoing basis consistent with the way that events occur in real time. When interest based communities form, the appropriate content is pulled from the Cloud and print manufacturing occurs to satisfy that particular interest. The VAR are the reporters and editors. Their job is know which slice of information is interesting to what group. They use their experience, website + transinfo analytics and web 2.0 to identify and anticipate the emergence of communities of interest.

The regional printernet is connected to the global printernet. From the Cloud the physical location of the OPM is irrelevant. Space and time disappear as a limiting factor on distribution of print product. Anyone, anywhere, anytime can originate content. Any OPM anywhere can manufacture the print product that captures that information. VARs are distributed all over the planet. Pulling just the right content in just the right format at the just the right time for just the right person.

The save the world part revised May 10, 6:00 EDT
Complexity begets Black Swans. To respond to them, every one and every thing has to get much smarter, much faster. When smart has power at the top of the pyramid, it unleashes the huge reservoirs of smart at the bottom.

If the question is "Stupid" - the inability to think systematically and ignorance - the answer is the "Printernet" - Print for the thinking part and the Internet for the ignorance part.

Now for the retirement account part
Print is the ignored step child of the media industry. Analysts and investors have not yet noticed that a printernet is growing. Nor do they appreciate that print is the best artifact to deliver information for the masses of people on the globe or in a community or in a school. That's fine with me. The longer they don't get the signal through the blabla internet blablabla twitter blablabla youtube, the longer I have to find under priced companies.

On February 17, I started to assemble a print based portfolio in my IRA. It started with Oce, Xerox, Ricoh, Kodak. Sometime in the last two weeks I added McClatchey, Gannett, Consolidated Graphics and Donnelly.

As of this morning
Oce +114.35%
24 Jetstreams in place in commercial establishments around the globe.
Gannett +49.56%
McClatchey +26.82%
Newspapers are not dying. Print is not dead.
Ricoh +22.57%
Xerox +10.4%
Add HP and they are fighting for the 1,2, 3 positions in enterprise printernet.
Consolidated +9.07%
Donnelly - .39%
Both in the commercial printernet space with national and global footprints.
Kodak -22.66%
Still has to unlock the value of their dominance of offset workflow.

No doubt there are other many players. DaiNippon Screen, Canon, KM, etc.
There are resilient printernets growing in Europe and Australia. Probably others in India, China and South East Asia.

On the ground the big box stores (Staples) and the franchises ( Fedex, AlphaGraphics, Sir Speedy, and knowledge based networks like Crouser) are competing for local community printernets.

For the purposes of investing HP is too entangled with computers to get a view of their Print piece. Same story with IBM. Same story different details for FEDEX or UPS. Actually it's also a similar story for Kodak with different details.

Still to become visible are the global composition companies. They may turn out to be the real winners as they supply the link between physical and digital. They are the UNFs who can produce PDF's and print data streams at the appropriate scale at the appropriate speeds. In a network the greatest value is created by OPMs that provide the links.

At any rate, it's a whole new set of reasons to love Print! Also, I have new found appreciation of blablabla.