A while back I wrote a blog on how it wasn’t yet possible to walk up to an Echo Dot or Alexa tower and ask where your print job was. In the blink of an wizard’s eye the RSA folks showed their demo of Alexa reading information passed to her in a news brief format, and I was delighted. Then a printer at a conference showed me a WeMo enabled setup to make queries, using home automation tools to build a similar solution. Wow!
Roll forward a few weeks. After learning of the amazing demos and of printers who had made this technology part of their protocol, I started asking vendors about their thoughts. Over time I learned of major hardware and software vendors who have already demonstrated to themselves that they can talk to Alexa or Google Home or Siri or Cortana or any other consumer automation hub, but they don’t think there is market interest. I’m a bit flummoxed. Printers! Tell me they are misreading you! Why wouldn’t you want to free up the humans in your business to do the important things, and let sales team members and production team members ask the simple questions of an App or centrally located inquiry device? If it saved you an hour of someone’s time a week, that is about 4 days a month you free for more productive work!
I want to believe that even the most conservative printers would see the value! Let me know if you think I’m wrong! And let me know if you have already done it!
And that brings me to the last place I was able to engage with both buyers and sellers in the print community. IPEX. You may have read about it. It was smaller than the last IPEX by quite a bit, but it was a reasonable start to rebuilding a brand a well as an opportunity to talk to printers about their needs, and their workflow!
What I learned in the 4 days of IPEX is that we still have a lot of work to do to sell the power of automated workflows to both the largest printers and the smallest printers. It seems that the hours lost managing spreadsheets and sticky notes, the days lost to half installed Print MIS systems and the months of investment in writing workarounds to workflow products that are installed but not understood, have taken a toll. Printers view workflow with suspicion. But they are curious, and perhaps a bit hopeful! The teams from Thartern and GG Web / Beanstalk talked to many printers at IPEX – I know because every time I tried to go talk to them their stands were full of people! In the four presentations I did for the Print in Action theatre at IPEX, workflow was part of every discussion. Even Alexa made an appearance in a couple of presentations, and generated the most questions from printers in the audience.
To wrap this all in a bow, there is a lot of technology that can positively impact the workflow of your business, no matter what type of printer you are. You owe it to yourself to investigate the possibilities. You owe it to your business to look at your current workflow tools and see if you are using them as effectively as you can. And you owe it to yourself to take advantage of shows like IPEX, drupa, and the other global and regional shows as well as events hosted by your vendors to learn all you can about what is available that will help you to grow your business.
For more on how to keep your work flowing, check out the other blogs in this series and stop by my Workflow Blog for the step by step guide on how to evaluate the workflow you have!
Pat McGrew is the Director and Evangelist for the Production Workflow Service at KeyPoint Intelligence/InfoTrends. As an analyst and industry educator, Pat works with InfoTrends customers and their clients to promote workflow effectiveness. She also has a background in data-driven customer communication, and production printing with offset, inkjet and toner. Co-author of 8 industry books, editor of A Guide to the Electronic Document Body of Knowledge, and regular writer in the industry trade press, Pat won the 2014 #GirlsWhoPrint Girlie Award for dedication to education and communication in the industry, and the 2016 Brian Platte Lifetime Achievement Award from Xplor International. Find Pat on Twitter @PatMcGrew and on LinkedIn.