In a recent W2P article, it’s quite interesting that all quotes are by vendors. Their shortsightedness reveals just how out of touch these vendors are. Their understanding of W2P along with their incomplete and thus ill-advised recommendations, are the advice of W2P companies attempting to sell their stuff to non-suspecting PSPs. Absent are any valid success stories or advice from real users or architects of W2P systems who live in the trenches with the real clients and their challenges. If I weren’t knowledgeable about W2P (which most PSPs are not) I would be led to believe W2P is the great new thing. W2P is not new and adoption success to date has been dismal. The last time I had to deploy a system (2009), we vetted 83 companies touting a W2P offering. Today there are even more as global players are hawking their wares over here (DirectSmile mentioned in the article is from Germany).
The Real Landscape: More than 50% of PSPs who have tried to implement even robust W2P systems (usually from customer demands) have since given up and turned them off. Most of the systems that do remain online have been relegated to simple storefronts to take in business card and stationery orders. W2P is loosely used and is often thought of as a single solution in and of itself that will make PSPs more successful. W2P isn’t about the software or the potential of the software, it’s about the technology, the team and the capabilities a true automated W2P system of which the software referred to as W2P is but on piece of the equation. There is so much more with regards to building a framework that will truly bring in more revenue. 99% of all PSPs do not have the personnel capable of designing, configuring and managing a highly functioning W2P platform and the network required to make it industrial.
Manufacturers Don’t Have to Use their Own Systems: PSPs are too heavily influenced by the manufacturers and vendors who buy ad space in print trade rags. PSPs have taken this bad advice from the dark side for years. Now they are being tempted to invest in W2P products they have no clue about. The industry has almost always put the cart before the horse by buying in hopes that the clients will come. Take digital presses as an example. The majority of traditional PSPs (not solely digital) who have $500,000+ Indigo and Igen digital presses, will confess that they sit idle the majority of the time because the mere existence of this iron isn’t bringing in the revenue in the B2B marketplace. Most of them don’t even use the presses for what they were told they were good for (variable data mailings, customized brochures). A colleague of mine once said that “VDP” is the most hyped up and useless, yet effective pitch ever used on PSPs. PSPs most often resort to using their overpriced presses to appease knee-jerk and impatient customers with partial static output solely for quicker turns. In addition to this, the slick willy sales reps of these firms convince the PSP to turn themselves into Marketing Service Providers (MSPs)
Question: How is a PSP who cannot generate enough work to keep his presses turning going to help his clients with their critical marketing needs? Without real marketing people (not PSP wannabes calling themselves marketers) on staff, their attempts at giving marketing advice to their clients to drum up new business has, and is, blowing up in their faces. A PSPs marketing acumen is limited to putting ink on paper for God’s sake!
Trade Rags are Catering to Ad Buyers: Read industry blogs or the digital and print groups on LinkedIn and you’ll see validation of just that. PSPs are grasping for straws. The trade rags are serving up this new vapor in the form of new software vendors including W2P hawkers.
Trade rags fake their knowledge and understanding of the trade. They are no better than newspapers who won’t publish anything that might upset their ad buyers. They waste dollars on retreads from the old PSP world with too much time on their hands. These retreads write useless articles and blogs that make the ad buyers feel good, but do nothing for the PSPs. Most have never lived in today’s new world. Today’s Print Impressions website list includes articles about strikes in China, time management, printers putting in more iron, the toughness of a bloody pocket folder, green printing awards and RRD’s numbers and profits. Just what portion of this useless fodder do you deem valuable in growing your business?
This new disruptive movement has moved the focus to technology and automation all the way to the edge, not quality, high speed volume output or newfangled press technologies (sorry Benny Landa but even if your nano press technology was stable today, which it is not, just like the Indigo, it will take more than a decade before serious consideration, let alone adoption). Deploying this type of technology is way above the regional PSPs pay grade. With regards to anything that doesn’t come in a box or pre-configured server, they don’t know where to begin.
Today’s PSP’s only hope in deploying real solutions is to find the real customers first. Just like iron doesn’t generate new business anymore, putting in a piece of a W2P system will not land you more substantial business! Get the business first – then vet the landscape and put the RIGHT framework in place!
What does this tell you? The market is no longer about iron or the technology inside the iron. You cannot build it in hopes that customers will come! It’s about a new type of sales process, new internal processes, program vs. project based work and new forms of automation throughout the plant. Today’s new client wants integration of key components all under one easy to use centralized system that is highly automated allowing its employees, partners and external clients to automate the personalization, proofing, ordering, payment, production, fulfillment and delivery of their marketing collateral – ALL WITHOUT HAVING TO PICK UP THEIR PHONE TO TALK TO THEIR PSP!!!!!
The printing industry has been turned on its ear and if this continues much longer with the PSP resisting this movement, the disruption will tear their ears clean off! High quantity static print is dead. Small quantity, on demand, customized and no minimums is where we are today and that’s not going to change. No matter how hard you want the old world to return, it’s gone forever. Stop taking the advice of manufacturers and their marketing ploys. Iron is not the answer! W2P software in and of itself is not the answer. Throw your trade rags out the door until they figure out they need to find real answers for PSPs in generating new business. Finding new customers, qualifying their needs is key long before you purchase any piece of software or invest in a system that doesn’t fit those needs.
Go get the work first. Qualify the need of your new substantial client. Then hire the architect that can vet and build your system to meet your client needs. Then you’ll be on your way to truly understanding the W2P landscape.