Survival of the Fittest

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Been an interesting couple of weeks for me – I finally took some holiday and immediately fell ill with E-Coli – without visiting any farms! I have to say not the nicest illness to contract, but hey over that now. While I was away I tried so hard to keep away from the computer and blogging but couldn’t help but notice how my daily google alerts are now extremely frequent with the term Pre-media. It seems to have become synonymous with Pre-press now as all news reports on Pre-press companies appear to refer to them as Pre-media companies as well…..

JackpotAnyway, recently we have seen Adobe finalise  their acquisition of Omniture for 1.8bn USD (well someone hasn’t felt the effects of the recession!), their beta release of Adobe Photoshop for the iPhone (something I will try and cover in another blog if Adobe ever release the app in the UK!) and some high profile web based companies press releasing the use of Adobe technologies under their bonnets. The competition is also hotting up for Adobe as  Avairy.com has secured funding to expand their online graphic engine services as a direct attack on Adobe Online. If Avairy do well then they are prime to be snapped up by one of the big market players (Microsoft, Apple or Google). Hey, you never know Adobe might even make an offer if the Competition & Monopoly Committee let them!

Right, now onto business; something that caught my attention on the first day of my holiday (while I was waiting for NHS Direct to call me back) was a story on BBC Breakfast about supermarkets using their power to drive down prices in the supply chain yet they still turn huge profits. Their maintain that the consumer wants better prices, yet the executives get huge salaries and huge bonuses. I was thinking this mirrors what the print industry is suffering at the hands of the big players in the industry. Saying this over the weekend I heard a story of how 2 major UK based Pre-media companies who are undercutting the competition to win the business even though it would mean they would lose money on the work. Well, I say they would loss money, but actually they would put pressure on the supply chain to maintain their profit while driving others to the edge of extinction.

During a recession we see that the survival of the fittest really comes into effect and especially in the print and pre-media world. But the fittest used to be those who were big and had huge buying power, but now the fittest has transformed into those who are small and well managed. I described it this morning as layers in a cake, as the big companies grow managers justify the need for more staff or more managers to service the client and this is all well and good whilst the income is high and everyone is happy. However, as that income drops the managers look for more efficient ways of producing the same work and cutting costs from the bottom up, but at the bottom is the foundations of the business and this is where the bread & butter is produced. Yes make it more efficient, but make it efficient with a view of cutting out layers of the cake, not the foundations of your business.

shelton_c20070904

Credit to Scott's Blog site for this image

I’ve seen, heard and experienced this – where complete layers have eventually been removed from an organization. At the time fear and panic about survival drive this, but that fear and panic is more about change and managed properly that change will be embraced by the remaining layers. When your bread & butter workers understand the value they bring and feel the effects themselves then you will generate better business. But if your workers hear that Mr Joe Bloggs manager is getting an XXXX bonus when half of them are about to be made redundant then the moral of your workforce drops to an unimaginable level and that’s when your clients suffer.

Author: Gary George

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

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4 Responses to “Survival of the Fittest”

  1. MichaelJ Says:

    Welcome back…

    I think it might help to clarify the issue by considering “efficient” for what. If the point is to create margins with the same product it will require layoffs and reduced overhead. The inevitable development of new technology is to do more with less people. It has always been such.

    The only way out is to bring new consumers into the market. The global economic engine is the creation of a middle class in emerging economies. As disposable income grows in South East Asia, new money is brought to the table.

    I submit that in established economies the new markets are at the “bottom of the pyramid.” The Gameen foundation has demonstrated the power of bottom of the pyramid finance to both make a profit and get to massive scale. The global financial players and institutional investment is now supporting micro financial companies around the world.

    The traditional business approach to product development is look at costs, then cut margins until you get to the selling price that works.

    But to work at the bottom of the pyramid, it needs a product development model that is normal for creatives. First, start with a selling price that works. Then design the product that can be produced at a profit for that selling price. IKEA uses this design approach in their business with great success.

    I’m not sure how this plays out for print and premedia. But my instinct is that the world is experiencing a huge growth in literacy and education. Whenever literacy takes a big jump, print has taken a big jump. Of course correlation is not causation. But for me, a 500 year old correlation, points to a potentially huge opportunity for print + web. The trick is design the products for the next wave.

  2. tele2002 Says:

    Thanks Michael, Design for the next wave is all well and good for the developed world, but with so many people on the planet with nations that have very different economic statuses we can not neglect those who are unable to afford to contribute to making our industries rich.

  3. MichaelJ Says:

    Gary,

    I think the opportunity is that the notion of doing well by doing good is just the right lens to making our industries rich. Here’s a vid on Social Entrepreneurship that says it much better than I can. http://ilnk.me/47b

    IMO, the challenge for our industry is to see how it applies to us. One immediate thought is to focus on social entrprenuers. We have the ability to design print products that advance their goals. The experiment in Berlin is just the tip of the iceberg. http://ilnk.me/47b

    As you know my focus is education where the applications come easily to mind and the amounts of money being thrown at new solutions is huge. But it could work in health, government or business development in advanced economies and in emerging economies.

  4. industrial engines Says:

    Good blog on survival of the fittest… very useful and informative… thanks for posting.. education where the applications come easily to mind and the amounts of money being thrown at new solutions is huge….

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