changing nature of digital printing, info-imaging, and to determine the steps Heart's Desire Printing and Design Co. must take in order to remain viable and profitable in the competitive business printing marketplace. Until the recent years, upgrades at the company have involved purchases of printing presses, which may have included computerized controls. Computers have been utilized in the different debarments for separate functions. Accounting and invoicing were handled by the accounting department. Sales, reorders, and CRM were handled by the sales staff. This staff each has the use of computers on their desks, to automate the day-to-day business functions. The art department is using Mac-based machines for graphic design. But because the computer equipment in the rest of the office is PC windows based, the task of file sharing, and cross platform communication is cumbersome.
This plan will investigate the marketplace demand for expanding the digital info-imaging services, and how the recently purchases $20,000.00 computer server, and CRM software can be utilized to serve the companies customer base, which is expressing demand for advanced digital imaging services within the small business and public sector communities. In the past advanced image processing was limited to large print houses because of the expense of specialized equipment. Technological advances have brought advanced imaging capabilities to within the reach of print houses the size of Heart's. The customer-based is also becoming more aware of the capabilities in the area of computer image manipulation. Because of these two factors, there is a perceived market niche which could be serviced.
The plan's purpose is to identify a course of action which will lead the company toward successful utilization of it's computer equipment, which in turn would enable Heart's Printing and Design Co. To meet and service the growing sector of digital printing, imaging, and info-imaging.
Heart's Desire Printing and Design Company specialize in designing and printing greeting cards. Begun locally to service their growing city, Heart's has grown with the economy over the past 25 years, and now ships cards nationwide. The majority of the company's clients are located within the immediate 4 state region, in which Heart's has a small but personally minded sales staff servicing mostly independent card shops, book stores, and hospital / institutional gift stores.
Recently the company launched an e-commerce enables second generation web site. The company's first web site was little more than an online brochure. The second generation site has a shopping cart system, and lists the company's highest moving card styles. While this i-expansion has brought a small increase in revenue, the company is spending so much time communication between the ordering and shipping and customer service departments to facilitate the new orders, that a question as to the Internet marketplace's profitability has surfaces. The initial response was to purchase an in-house server, and total CRM software package, but the new systems are still not integrated into the rest of the company. The sales and accounting departments use the CRM modules designed for their tasks, but the rest of the company is still using desktop and laptop PC's, making the time saving features of total CRM integration non-effective for the company.
As the CIO, I believe the recently purchased computer equipment is an invaluable asset to the company.
The lack of communication between departments creates much double work, tracking, and manual file sharing.
The first goal is full network integration so as to increase intra-company communication abilities, and job sharing capabilities. Included in the goal of a networked work environment is a high speed Internet access, and bringing the web site, which is currently hosted by a third party server farm, in house. A second goal in the process will be to determine what equipment is needed to move into a wider spectrum of info-imaging services. With daily control over our web site, a third generation site can be launched and promoted to national and international clients who can accept custom designs. Because of the computerized printing equipment, we no longer have the high costs of setting up presses which made custom orders financially unfeasible. The company can, and should, investigating the profitability of launching a custom card line which would allow business customers to submit graphics, photographs, and wording via Internet. The customer could then select the font type, choose from a variety of standard layout patterns, and place an order online.
Heart's Desire earned its place in the market through its innovative and personal designs, and its personalized customer service. While the Internet allows us to reach more potential clients, the need for personal contact and follow through is still the key for business growth and success. The new computer system is a tool toward that end. While some expected the purchase to 'instantly solve all our problems' and are becoming disillusioned with the purchase choice, shifting the focus of the company to using this investment as the means to reach an expanding and increasingly diverse customer base will create the synergism for the company to move foreword on an Internet enabled platform.
A third purpose is to determining how to market the new services / abilities to the company's customers. The plan will seek to identify what additional benefits can be offered to the company's client base through the addition of digital equipment and services.
The key issues in this changeover involve three areas:
Computer hardware and software,
Meeting the customer demand / marketing to this new niche market.
Employee training and organizational culture change,
The computer hardware and software needed to engage this shift are not limited to one time purchases. The rate of change in the technology used to access the Internet, manipulate info-images and produce graphic design is constant. Each time a new piece of software arrives in the marketplace, new applications are developed, and the capabilities and customer expectations advance further. Our initial equipment purchase should be considered the price of entry into the digital marketplace, not a final solution. For example, Rochester Institute of Technology recently did some research on the success of digital color printing companies. They identified 149 companies that had bought digital color presses in the early stages, 1993 to 1994,... And what they found was, that out of those 149 companies, 32% of them were either out of business or had been acquired, Twenty-one percent were still in business but had removed the digital equipment and 47% were still operating them in some form or another... The study found that among the companies still existing was that they were able to identify some critical success factors for digital printing. The first factor was to be able to understand the customer base. What does the customer really need? What is the customer looking for? Are they looking for print, or are they looking for a solution to a business problem? And the successful companies were able to identify the business problem the customer had and helped them solve it." (Peck 2003)
The specific demographics of the market niche to which the new hardware, software, and employee training will be directed are a rapidly growing market. Based on a survey conducted by Kodak, the vast majority of the respondents agree that the convergence of imaging and information technology -- or info-imaging -- is fueling growth. In particular, the Internet, software and wireless connectivity are specific examples of info-imaging that will catalyze growth. More than 94% of influencers agree that broadband technology, which will increase the speed at which larger digital files can be shared, will be an important enabling technology, while more than 80% agree that wireless communications will be important.
A majority of industry influencers believe traditional imaging companies are best positioned for success in providing digital printing services. Approximately 78% of influencers surveyed believe companies maintaining a stake in various solutions and offering consumers the most choices are positioned as industry leaders. (Kodak, 2001)
Others who have demonstrated some market success in the digital print/POD arena are those who have accepted the trends toward convergence (i.e., the blending of digital transactional printing and commercial print applications) and have begun thinking about how the technologies that support the total printing workflow will enable them to both optimize current equipment (keeping the presses printing) and make on-the-fly modifications to pre- and post-processing equipment depending on what type of print job is running.
Corporate and Business Culture
Training the employees of a family run business can be more difficult than affecting change in a large corporation. While there are fewer staff to address, the company culture within a small company tends to be more deeply established than in a large corporate structure. There are established patterns of human behavior and interaction as to the methods we use to gather and exchange information. These patterns encompass totality of behaviors (active or passive) that people engage in to gain access to, organize and use information. Thus, it will include not only pro-active steps to gain access but also the passive reception of information (Wilson, 1989).