When you are a facilitator of change and positive things happen, remember that no one will be patting you on the back or congratulating you. Only you will recognize what happened and how special it really is. Enjoy the moment, watch others take the credit, and be happy that you made things better. It is the feeling inside that matters most; knowing you helped others succeed. But watch out for those who always seek the credit as they are the ones who will hold the organization back.
What would I change about my career, company or industry? The conundrum is that throughout my career I’ve really been an advocate and agent of change. Every day when I walk into work, it’s all about how we can bring about change in a measured, strategic, and practical way, whether it’s developing transformative solutions to help customers adapt, grow, and succeed, helping commercial printers identify new sources of revenue growth, or re-architecting processes that no longer serve our goals or our customers’ interests. Tomorrow’s winners are not gazing in their rear view mirrors. They’re looking ahead, embracing change, breaking the mold, and incorporating continuous learning and improvement into their company visions.
Q: What is the greatest challenge facing the industry right now?
A: I could start out with the obvious challenges—the ones that the pundits, analysts, user groups, and blogs wrestle with every day—industry consolidation and competition, declining volumes, rising postal rates, print suppression, electronic substitution of print, the economy—there is no shortage of challenges. While I’m not downplaying any of these issues, there are bright spots, especially for digital print, where page volumes are projected to grow at a rate of 11% through 2014.
What I see as the bigger challenge is the need to create a greater sense of community. I don’t think the industry as a whole recognizes the real power of working together vs. working independently. We have a lot of opportunity here. For example, a number of vendors are building devices based on proprietary standards that don’t enable customers to grow—the technology is limiting by nature. It’s a sort of technological protectionism that I think, in the end, will backfire. The future’s about openness, collaboration, and working together.
Also, there’s been a lot of discussion around Graph Expo with vendors. Should it be a competitive arena where vendors are like gladiators fighting for industry supremacy? Or should we approach Graph Expo as an opportunity to celebrate the industry and our achievements; to exchange ideas and experiences that help customers grow? I contend that isolationist mentalities keep us from moving the industry forward. We’re all struggling with the same issues—cyclical challenges stemming from a sluggish economy and structural changes that are diminishing print demand. Success comes from sharing and collaborating. We need to rally together to form a community of vendors and print providers who are willing to work together and succeed as a whole. Graph Expo is not about any one company or individual and I feel sorry for the companies that simply do not understand this.
Q? What do you consider the greatest asset for the industry right now?
A: You may be surprised to discover that I view Web-based technology as the industry’s greatest asset. I know this might seem like a contrarian view, especially to those who view the Web as print’s greatest rival. Certainly, evidence shows that digital marketing is growing at the expense of traditional marketing methods like direct mail. However, TV didn’t signal the end of radio or motion pictures, and the Internet will likely not be the death of print. For those who see the Internet as an opportunity, that’s exactly what the experience will be.
Look at what Web-to-print technologies are doing for commercial printers and corporate print buyers. Suddenly it’s possible to place orders online, to upload files, proof jobs, and track job status via the Web. This saves customers time and money and results in a higher level of customer service. Look at how print providers can promote their businesses online and expand their offerings to include services like PDF file conversion.