Author Archive

Opportunities in the Cloud

December 6, 2009

There has been a lot of talk lately about operating in ‘the Cloud’ and here at Tunicca Towers we have been asking whether this could well be the dynamic and exciting next step for Pre-media. But also could it provide a wake up call for all of those Pre-media vendors out there who have built a good business around the provision of software tools to our industry and their subsequent upkeep through lucrative support contracts?  Basically, who will benefit most from the Opportunities in the Cloud?

I should add that the concept of operating in the Cloud has become a reality since the advent of faster communications speeds and greater processing power. An early casualty of the Cloud has been internal IT departments who have been replaced by outsourced external companies who keep a couple of guys on site for trivial issues and for customer relations. Everything else has been transitioned off site and most IT infrastructure sits somewhere in the ether – frankly the customer doesn’t give a hoot where it sits as they can be left to concentrate on their core business and IT is no longer a ‘burden’ on their payroll and balance sheet. In effect it becomes another monthly operating cost just like any other utility.

In the case of software systems, the ability of the Cloud to host powerful programs that are core to a business is getting closer and closer. Imagine an architecture company for instance whose business is based around the design of contemporary new houses and buildings. The success of that business is based upon the years of training undertaken by their architects and the creativity held within their design oriented minds. That is the core of their business and not the expensive design package that sits on each of their architects workstations – these are viewed merely as the tools of the trade. If those software tools can be funded, managed and accessed in an entirely different way then that architecture company is going to seriously consider a more streamlined and effective method of using those tools. And this is where the Cloud comes in!

But how does this affect the specialised area of Pre-media where historically processing power, as well as the clever technology developed by the many Pre-media vendors, was what gave one service supplier the edge against another? Well imagine if you will a world where technology vendors no longer sell expensive high end software packages along with the accompanying annual commitment of a support contract and everything that comes with that (annual version upgrades, intermittent .xx bug fixes, visits from engineers to carry out upgrades, second visits from engineers to rectify what went wrong during the first visit, etc.). Imagine a world where none of this exists and the software just sits in ‘the Cloud’ – you the customer just pays an annual or monthly subscription fee to use it.

Sounds like utopia doesn’t it? But I am just wondering if the many techology vendors out there are going to dive gleefully into this new dynamic world of offering their crown jewels up in the Cloud. What a different world this promises and more importantly, what a different business model that presents for all involved – no large capital outlay to buy a DVD and manual in a colourful cardboard box with the “licensed rights” to use a that software, no ongoing support contract and no upgrade visits from engineers to screw up Pre-media systems that were working perfectly well before (OK that last bit was a bit harsh and I apologise to all of the engineers out there that I know).

The ability to offer such applications like this is enhanced by cloud hosting services like Amazon Web Services and their Elastic Cloud solution which is enabling more companies to drop the need for upfront investment. It will be very interesting to see which vendors grasp this new era in the world of Pre-media and how much customers will drive that requirement. I visited Kodak recently and they have gone some way to embracing this by offering  packages such as InSite on a subscription basis. There are also vendors such as Aviary and ProofHQ who are offering packages that sit up in the ether. And of course let’s not forget Adobe who offer their applications on sites such as Photoshop.com and Acrobat.com.

Suffice to say that the traditional ‘Software on a Disc’ model is under threat and this could mark a completely new era of business for vendors and service suppliers alike. How, or indeed if, they can cope, adapt and make money in this new era will be interesting to see. As advisers to the Pre-media industry we are watching carefully as the advice that we give our clients is based around providing their companies the very best operational model to take them forward.

Author: Sean Runchman

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What is Pre-media – You Must be Kidding….Part II

November 13, 2009

Following on from my recent post regarding the oft used term ‘Pre-media’ – here at Tunicca we attempted recently to define it and placed our definition on Wikipedia. At a recent trade show we experienced a lot of visitors asking what Pre-media means and it made us wonder if the industry in general really has an understanding of what it is and what it means for the world of media communication? Here we outline some facts surrounding Pre-media, we hope you find them useful and we welcome your comments.

Pre-media

What is Pre-media?

So what is premediaPre-media is the term that is used in the design, creative and publishing industries for the processes and procedures that occur between the conception of original artwork and the manufacturing of final output channel.

It is a process that combines creative art and technology to communicate the final message to a consumer.

Pre-media should ideally provide the ability to supply design execution all the way to ready-to-publish files developed on industry-standard software, delivered on your platform of choice and ensuring that the client’s requirements are met. In short, any form of input channel to any form of output channel.

It includes the processes that allow an individual or company to visually communicate their message to their audience in the medium that best suits the demographics for that message. This should all be provided in the correct specifications and for the desired output channel.

With such a vast landscape to cover, Pre-media has a number of categories that fall under its banner. Those categories, listed below, have a vast array of technical requirements each complimenting and dependent upon each other to provide rich and relevant content to the destination channel.

Colour Management Pre-flighting Page Assembly
Contract Proofing Soft Proofing Asset Management
Colour Retouching Image Composition Scanning
Advertising Management Trapping Approval Processes
Final File Creation Customer Communication Work Solutions
Web to Print Print on Demand Video Production

A Brief History of Pre-media

The term ‘Pre-media’ developed in tandem with the internet and mobile communications industries, both of which have evolved to almost dominate modern day life.

As these forms of communication and access to consumers grew, so the need to facilitate brand messages and publishing into this new space became a necessity. As a result of this the traditional method of communication through print started to morph into a multi channel environment whereby marketing and communications could access clients through many different means.

Hence the traditional agencies involved in the print oriented activities of pre-press, repro and creative started to adapt in order to utilize the various output delivery channels demanded by their clients. These companies needed to provide the ability to service these channels with existing and new client work and a whole new world of file creation, preparation, management and transition was developed. Pre-media was born therefore as a necessary phrase to encompass the whole new world of multichannel media delivery.

Why is Pre-media Important?

Pre-media is a vital step in the world of media communication. We are currently in a fast changing and dynamic media space with new methods of accessing the consumer and delivering media springing up all of the time. This dynamic environment is changing constantly – driven through technological developments and changing consumer needs – and the pace of change is not set to slow down. Subsequently the Pre-media environment will need to adapt and flex in order to facilitate these new message channels and deliver to them efficiently and effectively.

The ultimate objective and overall advantage of Pre-media is that assets and processes should not be designed to suit a particular media output – instead they will need to be ‘media neutral’ right up until the last moment, just before the communication is rendered for output. This means that it will not matter whether you have a Mac or a PC, or if you are putting together a press advert, a large format poster, a website, an email blast or a PURL – Pre-media assets should be able to be re-purposed to suit all of these media communication channels and more.

Pre-media ultimately provides clients with greater flexibility, shorter lead times and better management of their assets and brand images as well as a more powerful and fruitful interaction with consumers.

The story of Pre-media is certainly an interesting one and it is set to continue….

…. the question that we at Tunicca pose is: “Is your organisation equipped & ready to operate in the dynamic and challenging world of Pre-media?”
Author: Sean Runchman

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What is Pre-media? – You Must be Kidding….Part I

November 11, 2009

foot-soakBear with me OK, this blog does eventually get onto Pre-media and why people are asking what it is. Firstly though; what a time we had here at Tunicca last week! The first trade show for our company and now we have had time for our sore feet recover and  analyse our participation at mediaPro 09. Despite the number of trade shows I have done in the past the physical demands involved in standing on a stand for a predetermined number of days never fails to surprise me.  I am pleased to say that the sore feet, back, neck, etc. have now all subsided – and it was only a 2 day show this time, I must be getting old!

I must say that it seems an age ago since last Tuesday’s preparation and the very slight panic that we felt when we realised that we our graphics hadn’t arrived at the venue. At that point in time we had a shell scheme but no Tunicca messages or brand colours! Thankfully our printer rushed the banners to us in time (thanks Paddy) and we were up and running and ready for action.

I have to say that our overriding impression of mediaPro 09 was the incredible amount of people who asked what Pre-media is. What is even more amazing is that this was a show that held Pre-media as a core element of its focus. So why is it that so many, upon looking at our stand, asked us….“so what is Pre-media then?” Is the term really that new? I think not – just ask the  representative of RR Donnelleys who recently insisted that it has been around since 1995 (highly debatable, but I will let Gary tell you the reasons why we contest this).

wikipedia-logoAnyway that is a small point and the important issue here is that, despite its now widespread use, there seems to be either confusion or total ignorance surrounding this important area.  In Part II of ‘What is Pre-media? – You Must be Kidding…’ we expand on the definition that we recently posted on Wikipedia. ‘Pre-media’ is a term that used so frequently now across the industry and it is a widely accepted part of the media supply chain – so why is there so much uncertainty?

Whilst I am on the subject of Pre-media, here in the UK I must congratulate the efforts of the BPIF (British Printing Industries Federation) who have emraced this whole area by starting an offshoot called DotGain.org. The organisation has been created to assist the traditional UK print sector in satisfying the demand of creatives and marketeers in CPC’s, publishers and advertisers to exploit all of the new access channels that they have to consumers. This should be interesting to watch and, if they want us to, be involved in. The big question is whether it will breathe new life into printers’ pre-press departments across the country as they adapt and flex to meet new demands imposed by this new era – or will it be a missed opportunity? Either way Tunicca will be on hand to help!dotgain

AuthorSean Runchman

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Corporations and Social Networking

November 1, 2009


twitter_bird_follow_meWell, before I start this blog in earnest I should point out that for us here at Tunicca the jury is still out on the whole Twitter thing. Alongside Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. the Twitter phenomenon has exploded in recent months and expanded from being a social networking tool for keeping touch with friends, to a new marketing tool for businesses who want to keep in touch with customers and market their company to prospective new clients.

TweadAs I said, I think for us the jury is out as we (like many other businesses) are yet to really gauge the effectiveness of Twitter as a business marketing tool. I was at a dinner party last weekend with some industry stalwarts and we spent quite some time discussing the merits of the Twitter phenomenon. Around the table the general consensus was: are people really that interested in what each other are “having for breakfast” or that they are “on the train home after a hard day in the office”? That sort of stuff is far too mundane and uninteresting and of course why would we want to know all of the minutiae of someone’s life when we have got enough to think and worry about with our own daily challenges. Of course, it is not for us to cast aspersions on what people want to tell each other – if James from London wants to inform his friends that he “doing the laundry with a bit of a hangover” then that is up to him. Let’s not forget of course that with Twitter we don’t really have to listen if we don’t want to.

9780061709715However, from a business perspective, social networking as a whole provides companies with the ability to get much closer to their customers. Whether that is through a blog (thanks for reading by the way!) or a forum, the thoughts and concerns of customers are much more accessible and the online community can drive change and development in a very powerful way. The turnaround of Dell from unreliable supplier to respected market leader is chronicled in Jeff Jarvis’s book ‘What Would Google Do?’ and it is clear that Dell’s success had a huge contribution from the blogging community. And it was Dell’s eventual participation in this community and was a fundamental driver in their success story. That’s the archetypal example of social networking making a real difference not just to a company but also to its consumers.

home_bookBut what happens when a corporate misunderstands the whole thing. In Jarvis’s book (and Juliette Powell’s 33 million People in the Room) the idea of corporations opening their doors wide to their clients is expounded – social networking gives companies the opportunity to allow their clients not only to help them to improve their customer service but also influence the development of their product portfolio. For once consumers can make very powerful, collective comments (the power of the online community should not be underestimated!) but more importantly the supplier, if they are brave and embracing, can listen and be truly driven by the needs of the market.

Which leads me on to the point. A certain Pre-media vendor has clearly only recently cottoned on to the fact that everyone is busy blogging and tweeting and has obviously felt the need to jump on the bandwagon for fear of being left behind. However, this is where it all goes very wrong. Their attempts at tweeting merely involves them setting up some kind of script to tweet every single press release from the past 5 years – and I can tell you that is a lot of tweeting! I for one had to stop following as it was driving me nuts – I am sure others will follow me in deserting. And that is a shame because I am sure that they have relevant and interesting stuff to say on Twitter. But I feel that they have entirely misunderstood and missed the target and the results are somewhat unpleasant. But fundamentally, they have failed (as yet) to open the doors to their business!

off-target

By the way all you Twitter fans, we are @tunicca if you want to follow us!!

(Tunicca would like to make it clear that no babies were harmed during the making of this blog)

Author: Sean Runchman

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Shameless Advertising Part II

October 16, 2009

OK, we have to admit we quite enjoyed the irony of posting the blog ‘Shameless Advertising’ right after a posting complaining about the blatant advertising that UK newspapers expose their users to. Apologies to those of you who look to us for comment, debate and views, but we strongly defend our right to self promotion on this blog 😉 And that leads me swiftly on to ‘Shameless Advertising Part II’ (which at least includes some views and comments on the current economic climate)…

As you can probably tell we have been asked a lot recently for guidance regarding the purchase and implementation of systems and this is all rather pleasing as we see it as a sign that people are finally coming out of their recession-proof bunkers and blinking in the bright sunlight of opportunity and growth. Now I fear that this could be heralding a false dawn and indeed there is still much caution in the World (apart from in certain banking institutions, but don’t start me on that!) as companies are nervous of signs of a recovery tricking them into making a wrong move.

green shootsIn most quarters it is felt that there is still a long way to go to the full recovery that we are all keen to see. However, the optimistic among us are hopeful that the perceived ‘green shoots of recovery’ don’t get struck down by a sharp killer frost this winter as the recession bites back with a vengeance.

However, under the gentle rays of this possible new dawn  it is rather fitting that there should be an exciting new show in London at the beginning of November. MediaPro 09 is all about technological innovation for the world of Pre-media and Tunicca is pretty pleased to be participating with a stand to show our wares. OK, I admit that it is a small stand as we of course have no hardware or software to display.MediaPro Header Nonetheless we will be there and I am proud to say that this is the first trade show that Tunicca will exhibit at and marks somewhat of a milestone for the company. We hope that all of you UK based pre-media people will find time to make your way to historical Old Billingsgate for what promises to be a timely and interesting 2 day show.

Software is Just One of the Pieces of the Jigsaw

October 8, 2009

TwoPiecesMediumAs a company that markets and sells Pre-media expertise, Tunicca is often asked to assist organisations on technology decisions. There are a myriad of technologies on the market and an array of clever developers constantly striving to provide solutions that automate, improve quality, improve efficiencies and increase the effectiveness of a business. And these developers are of course represented by an assortment of resellers, distributors and integrators which only adds to the number of selections to be made.

It is little wonder that Pre-media organisations are very concerned about making the right choices on the technology to suit their businesses. After all, it is these decisions that can determine the success or failure of a Pre-media business unit because, as we all know, we are operating in an industry that is highly technology driven. So we are tasked by our clients to work out clever, innovative and cost effective methods in which to deploy the multitude of solutions out there – this can even entail raising budgets and assisting them in negotiating with technology vendors.

But what we help with ultimately though is mapping out exactly how a technology can fit into a company’s present structure as well as their plans for the future (futureproof is an oft used term). As I said, there are increasing amounts of clever technical solutions, but critically it is also the personnel and the processes that fit around the technology that are paramount to a successful implementation of such technology. And it is these elements that are the often overlooked pieces of the larger ‘Pre-media jigsaw’.run-flat-tyres-kent

Remember, you can have all the software available on the planet, but unless you know what it can do and how to fit it into your business processes then your company effectively has flat tyres!

Author: Sean Runchman Co-Authored: Gary George

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A Global Pre-media Village??

September 13, 2009

iStock_000006175136MediumI recently posted a comment on the Tunicca Pre-media Lounge questioning the differences between ‘US Pre-media‘ and the ‘Rest of the World Pre-media‘. As I said in the discussion, this was not an effort to invoke WW III and was not intended to get everyone saying “well our Pre-media is better than your Pre-media”! It was more a point for discussion and to help to highlight the different levels of service and innovation around the World. During my Corporate Account role at EskoArtwork the employee of a certain packaging organisation used to return home from technical meetings in the US and say that his American colleagues were years behind what was being done in the Pre-media field in Europe.

Now this is a subjective and emotive topic and it may have been that his American colleagues were saying similar things about their European counterparts. However, it got me thinking as to how such disparity should appear in an industry where the technology is clearly global as system vendors now sell their products worldwide whether that be direct or through distributors and resellers. However, in my experience there seems to be many differences in the deployment and operation of these technologies all over the world.

BRIC Markets

In recent years we have seen a massive rise in the access to emerging countries (such as the BRIC markets, see left) and whether a global supplier utilises skills that were previously unavailable to them, or they need to supply pre-media technologies on a more local basis, there seems to be a brand new set of challenges emerging from this scenario. We have seen the globalisation of many facets of our industry and I often meet with large global companies who have expanded through either organic growth or acquisition or both. It is these companies I believe that face the most complex challenges in Pre-media in as they attempt to deliver standardised products with disparate systems, operations and processes.

Global Packaging Supply Chain Challenge

The Global Supply Chain Challenge

Imagine if you will a fictitious global supplier who utilises pre-media technology as part of its supply chain services to its customers. This company is based and driven from the US (for example) and has grown from being a US domestic supplier to a global player by opening new operations worldwide as well as acquiring a number of companies and groups to ensure that its footprint is truly global – they need to do this to satisfy their global brand customers who are growing into new emerging markets. This supplier has always been good at what they do and has built a fine business reputation based upon quality and service. Now they are being pushed even further not just by their suppliers, but internally as they realise that their global operating costs are high. On the one hand customers demand standardised products worldwide but those products must remain innovative and provide value for money. On the other hand, it’s a tough market so internally operational processes need to be streamlined in order reduce costs and remain competitive. The issues that this company faces are as follows:

  • Due to the nature of their growth, their Global footprint now includes a host of operations who are functioning with wholly disparate legacy systems.
  • The processes around these pre-media are completely different within each facility and in some cases are out of control.
  • The skill levels of their global staff vary drastically as the local social demographics and educational levels of each country vary greatly.
Tunicca - International, Independant, Premium Pre-media Consulting Services

Tunicca - International, Independent, Premium Pre-media Consulting Services

These are three vital areas of concern and provide the global operation with a massive challenge; how to align all three of these aspects within a global corporation. This undertaking, whilst huge, is not impossible and involves determining business processes that can be migrated around the world as well as training programs to align and raise skills on a global basis. All of these need of course to be based on standardised technology – technology that suits the global footprint and short term and long term objectives of the company. As I said – a huge task, but not impossible – and it’s just another one of the consequences of globalisation.

And as a footnote I must add that these kinds of problems are completely matched to the services of Tunicca because we are an organisation that is set up to help in all of these areas. Being an International concern, entirely Independent, focussed on Pre-media and providing a Premium and Professional service these are the kinds of challenges that we relish!

Author: Sean Runchman

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Tents, Processes & Pre-media

September 5, 2009

Tents, processes and Pre-media – not obviously linked, but stick with me, It’ll all make sense in the end.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I recently had the pleasure of sleeping in a tent in a windy field in Kent during the UK’s recent long weekend. The five nights that I spent sat in my field were eased somewhat by the presence of good friends Paddy McNulty (owner of Print Company MCNG Ltd) and his wife Mary McNulty who has recently re-joined Epson as their European Marketing Manager. So our camp fire discussions tended towards subjects based around business strategy and the future of print and Pre-media. That was until our fellow campers got bored with all that business chat and asked us to change the subject – some people have no taste!

A Tent in a Field

A Tent in a Field

There seems to be a trend here in the UK to go back to nature and so the field that we were in was soon to be awash with trendy new tents bought straight from the new camping stores that seem to have popped up all over the country. As we arrived early we were able to erect our tent (for the first time in public) without too much of an audience. We managed to get the structure up in the specified 40 minutes, but by the time we had completely finished the process (pegging down guy ropes, flattening groundsheets, etc.) it must have been a good 2 hours later. This of course made me determined to improve the ‘tent erection process’ during our next outing!

Upon completing our tent I thought that I would then have the pleasure of watching all of the other arrivals struggle with their new tents;  sat in a chair, glass of wine in hand and relaxed in the knowledge that my work was done. However, instead my time was spent struggling, sweating and swearing as I was roped in to helping my friends put up their tents – so three tents later (including one broken tent, thank you Halfords!) I was able to sit back and relax and survey the scene – a field packed full of shiny tents and smoky BBQ’s.

One Broken Tent

One Broken Tent

And here is the tentative link to pre-media. By the time I had erected and then disassembled 4 separate tents I was, although I say it myself, quite good at it – I had a system going and I had the process well under control. Next time I will be quicker, more efficient, the tent will be more strudy, etc. Now, obviously camping is nowhere near as complex as Pre-media, but there are clearly processes and sub-processes involved in the managment manipulation and delivery of Pre-media data. And it’s these processes, much like my tent building, that can always be improved – speed, efficiency, quality, etc.

I recently met a chap at a packaging company who had run their pre-media department for quite some years. I asked him what challenges he felt that he faced and he said none – everything was under control and there were no problems or bottlenecks. Of course I found this very difficult to accept and some further digging found that they still received their work from customers on CD’s. Even more investigation revealed that they were actually in the dark ages with their whole department which had been clearly neglected for some time. Not only their technology, but their processes were way behind the modern age and in need of a complete overhaul. Whilst this suited the old timer who was happy to see it all out to his retirement date it in no way suited the company that he worked for – in turn, they had trusted him to operate a system and process that had remained their standard for many years.

And here is my point – no matter how many times I put up and take down my tent I will never get it perfected – there will always be room to improve. And this is true of Pre-media – there are always areas for improvement and the process can never be perfect!

Business Process Lifecycle Model

Business Process Lifecycle Model

As business process analysts we know this more than anyone and the Business Process Lifecycle model shows that the systems and processes should always be monitored and improved in some way – it is a constantly moving cycle. There should always be an ongoing course of process improvement and if you take your eye off this it is so easy to fall behind, especially in a technology driven industry such as Pre-media.

I have to say thanks for bearing with me. I told you the link was tentative. By the way, does anyone know if there is a tent available with an integrated beer chiller?

Author: Sean Runchman

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Esko’s Domination of Packaging Pre-media

August 14, 2009


Being an ex-Esko person I feel compelled to make mention of my old compatriots – something that I have resisted in this blog since leaving the company just over a year ago.

Purup1Now, first of all I should point out that I still have many friends in Esko with whom I talk regularly and I thoroughly enjoyed my 8 1/2 years with the ‘green machine’. I started there as a Purup Eskofot regional sales manager selling CtP and workflow into commercial print (remember PlateDriver??). My biggest daily challenge at that time was getting secretaries at the other end of the phone to understand the name Purup Eskofot (oh, how life would have been simpler if I had been with Creo, Agfa or Screen!) – “Purup Esofot, let me spell it out to you P… U… R… U…”

By the end of my tenure at Esko, the company had morphed into an almost entirely packaging oriented business and I was the European Corporate Account Manager taking care of sales to a number of European and Global packaging corporations. Quite a big change, but a challenge that I both relished and enjoyed. I still admire the company but most especially the vision and drive of some of the people within their business – I could mention a few of those people but one who always springs to mind (and in my opinion epitomises the company) is Frank Adegeest. I always enjoyed working with Frank and I was always amazed by his vision and drive. (more…)

Who the Heck are You?

July 26, 2009

tunnica_logo_no_tag_lineOK, so we don’t get asked the question in such basic terms, but we are often asked; “Who are Tunicca?”, “What is Tunicca?”, “What does Tunicca do?”, “What can Tunicca do for us?” etc.

So I think that it is about time that I gave you some background on the leading Businsess Process Analysts in the field of Pre-media. The company was formed by two industry professionals from each side of the Pre-media fence. One from a global technology vendor and the other a technology consumer within a significant global Pre-media player. A supplier and a customer if you will – already an interesting combination. Both had become disillusioned with their respective ‘lots’ at the companies that they were in and decided it was time to go off and see if they could do things their own way. And so Tunicca was born.

It seems like every day we hear and read stories about how expertise is leaving the industry that we love and that new blood is not being recruited to replace it. The prediction is that there will be a shortfall of skills and that this will become even more critical in years to come – so the idea that Tunicca’s founders have is to hold on to the best of those talents and sell that increasingly sought after skill and expertise back into the industry.

(more…)