Posts Tagged ‘Business’

Something’s Gotta Give…

February 22, 2010

Free? Free? OK, almost free? No, no how about; at least do it at a loss for me?

Sound familiar?

Over the last 20 years in this trade I’ve seen and heard of more and more companies trying to conjure up magic numbers that maintain their clients illusions that they are getting a bargain. In fact some companies will take hit on the operational cost of producing the work just to have the client under their belt.

And what about cases where a potential client promises high spends that never materialise? Sales guys that expect the company to make investments in time, people and resource for a client that isn’t worth it’s value. I know your thinking that “any financial controller worth his/her salt wouldn’t allow this to happen” – yet it does, and will continue to do so.

These are all examples of how the life is being sucked out of what it actually costs to do the work. That and the high salaries of senior members of the companies that are nothing but a drain on resources – great if their bring in work, but what a dead weight if they don’t!

Anyway, thinking lets consider for example the Publishing industry; someone somewhere must have got some big bonuses for driving the cost per page down to near nothing, but the cost was at the industry’s detriment. It’s all well and good reducing the costs to the client so much that it keeps everyone else from getting a look in, then offshoring it all to India or China, but at some point something breaks! The client’s expectations of how much ‘stuff’ costs to produce are so high (i.e. they expect it at such a low cost) that companies can’t or don’t have the money to invest in the infrastructure needed to service them in the manner that they expect. OK, some companies do get deals on who pays for staff or what the kick backs are of different parts of the supply chain, but on the whole it is now a zero numbers game. Hard work and dedication just isn’t part of the equation anymore and reputation means diddly squat nowadays – in fact requtation could actually be a ‘worst enemy’.

Under such circumstances, is it any surprise that so much work is making it’s way out to India and China. Many moons ago it would have been eastern block countries until their cost of living went up and subsequently the cost of outsourcing rose with it forcing companies to find cheaper solutions – will we see the same with India and China? If so, where to next?

It confuses me slightly why clients source UK companies who outsource their work? Is that again something for them to save money on? I mean if I were a client and I discovered my pre-media operation outsourced I’d be pretty annoyed if they hadn’t told me. If I was in the position as a customer of course one part of me would say “why should I care because I’m getting a great price” but another part of me would say “I could just source an offshore company to work for me anyway”. After all most of them have representitives in my country anyway so what do I gain by having a ‘piggy in the middle’ -surely that ‘piggy’ is just getting fat for doing, er, well not much at all really!?

Well, maybe not that fat! I am sure that you have all been watching the media news recently where a number of ‘piggies’ (or middle men) have been going under. A sign of the times me thinks, where the bacon has been sliced too thin for them to survive off. We can of course stand on the side lines and opine at the fate of these middle men and their companies who clearly “had it coming”. However, at the end of the day these are people’s livelihoods that we are watching disappear down the pan – livelihoods that in some cases have been treated with total disregard and I am not just talking about their own employees, as there is a whole supply chain affected by such sad and sorry stories of mismanagement!

Of course, under such business circumstances something eventually has got to give! And I really do think that it is going to take one of the ‘big players’  to fall for the industry to realise that greed is not good for our business.

Author: Gary George

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Cartoon credit for Corporate Profits to Clay Bennett

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Invest in the Employee – Your Greatest Business Asset

February 10, 2010

It’s pretty easy maths when you think about it; to get set-up as an artworker/designer/creative bod today doesn’t actually cost a fortune and for most people they would probably have a home setup that is better or newer than what they would be using at work anyway.

I did a quick shopping list using some estimates on what it would take to set-up a little home office. Being completely legal naturally (not to say that anyone would use pirated software anyway!) and this is what I came up with:

 

Now, consider that you wouldn’t rush out and buy all of the font collections in one go and let’s say you purchased them on a project-by-project basis (or if you were working on outsourced work you may even be supplied the fonts) a £5,530 investment over 3 years isn’t that bad. In fact £1,845 per year would be a ‘drop in the ocean’ if you are able to get the work in.

The thing with doing this is that you need to actually be good at what you do in order to maintain a steady income! A big part of that is the need to keep on top of your training in the applications, hell you’re responsible for your own income now, so if you don’t put the time in you have no one to blame but yourself….

Now look at it from the companies‘ point of view. They employ you on a wage (or if you’re unlucky a salary) and you are monitored on your efficiency to produce work in a timely fashion and actually that’s not much different to what you would do for yourself, although your attitude towards it is different when someone else is paying you, right?

In my mind, you, the employee are still responsible for yourself and your career advancements. You would be of less value if, for instance, you spent your life in QuarkXpress and never taught yourself Indesign – when looking for a new job you may find yourself unemployable.

But what about the employer? Do they have a resposibility to provide you with some sort of training? Some sort of career progression? Well no not really, not unless it is in their interest. But there is an exception to that you see, since the company wants to get the most out their assets is it not in their best interests to make sure you are the absolute best you possibly could be? Not only that, but you are a massive annual investment to them and you cost them a tonne of money each year that they need to charge onto the client in some way.

That’s to say that you as an employee can absolve yourself from trying to be a model worker and sit back and blame your company for you not going anywhere. No, you have to be the driver here, you have to want to be the best and your company should know that they can invest in you for their own greater return. Let’s face it most companies that are doing well will reward their employees and there’s even those with stockholders who share the wealth with their employees. I’ve always said that a happy employee is a productive employee, yet all I see and hear is how unhappy people are and how badly their employer treats them.

I wish that employers could see that their greatest investment is in their staff and their staff are what they should be nurturing, developing and rewarding in order to grow their business.

Author: Gary George

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Do Your CSR’s Drive New Business?

February 5, 2010

Ever wondered what is being said to your existing clients?

Are your customer service representatives fully aware of your company’s capabilities?

Have you joined the dots between your business units?

Does your business development team understand the end-to-end processes?

Do your staff development plans tie in with your business strategy?

Does your branding really communicate what you do?

These seem pretty simple questions right? Well in my travels I have seen so much political action within companies that the answers to the above questions aren’t as positive as you would expect.

Since my post is actually about Customer Services teams I’m just going to spend a few paragraphs explaining why your CSR’s are the front-line of your business and how, with very little effort and a little reward, these business peripherals could win you more business from existing clients.

First of all and most critically your CSR’s have daily if not hourly contact with the customer. If they don’t have a clue of the full range of capabilities within your business (and I mean more than the one day tour of your facility when they joined) then how the heck are they in a position to recognise additional business opportunities with your client. They may only be an interface to say artwork origination, yet the customer may also be dealing with the marketing communication and thus have a requirement for multi-channel output. Well wait a minute, your CSR’s are working for a pre-media company who deals directly with multi-channel communication…!

Your CSR’s inevitably get very close to the customer and I’ve even know a couple that got married from a client/supplier relationship that went a little further! They go to business meetings, socials, drinks and events together, places where your CSR’s could leverage your clients friends or connections to sell your company without even breaking a sweat! Look at the statistics for Facebook or LinkedIn and see just how incestuous our industry is. Look at mine as an example; connections in every type of supply chain vertical for our industry and I am always getting asked to make introductions for new business opportunities (should really take commission, but never do!)

(more…)

Piracy is Your Best Salesman – Really?

February 4, 2010

For years we have had it rammed down our throat that Piracy will be the death of software companies and recently Rupert Murdoch has been making waves about how aggregating his news content is damaging his business and thus wants to start charging for it.

Well it seems that his daughter Elisabeth has made a pretty bold statement about piracy, stating in a roundabout way that it could be a good thing.

“Fans remain the best salesmen of our content, even if that behavior is on the borderline of piracy. Danger of the new world is that we must concede that we’ll lose some control.”

The question for me is how software companies in the Pre-media would police the use of pirated software and how you handle the penalties for usage. It takes some doing for a software company of a governing body to get into our firms to see if what we are doing because they need grounds to do so. For years companies have flaunted the somewhat out of date font licensing laws as the pressure for lower costs from the clients has driven people to ‘bend’  what they feel is ‘fair usage’

Now we see a complete disregard of any laws regarding software and licensing as the borders of commerce are bought down and work can be produced anywhere in the world. And with the world being so interconnected via the worldwide web there is no stopping where or who has access to what and how they use it.

So with Elisabeth conceding that piracy of content is your best salesman, how are companies looking to gain revenue from that content be that software, news, knowledge or anything else that can easily be searched, catalogued, indexed and then downloaded by, well, anyone in the world.

One method spoken about sometime back was to reduce the cost to an amount that more people would be willing to pay. As we’ve seen in a few of my previous posts, the cost of digital content seems to be more expensive than that of the manufactured content; CD vs Digital Download; newspaper vs Online News Subscription; DVD vs Media Streaming; Video Game vs Online Streamed Game; Packaged Software vs Digital Delivery, the list could go on.

So, we see that companies are thinking that by providing the content (whatever that content is) digitally they are able to retain more profit from the service they provide. In my mind they are actually making the content easier and faster to obtain, access and distribute.

Although I in no way condone the usage of pirated software in the everyday business world I find myself wondering who is to blame for the volume of pirate content out there. If you have followed the news on the case of Pirate Bay then you may ask if they are really at fault for providing a method of people trying to find content? Are they not just being used as an example, a warning to other people who want to provide a service and we all remember what happened to Napster, once a sharing site, now turned clean – did the industry kill the mp3 sharing problem? No they aggregated it even more and before you knew it loads more sites sprung up all over the place…. The same can be said for MP3.com

There is no silver bullet solution to this problem and we in Pre-media are probably as guilty as anyone else about bending the rules of content engagement. It could be as simple as loading a music track as your ringtone that goes against the artists wishes, but what I do know is if companies actually listened to the market they would understand and learn how to develop new business models for the modern age. Our children are currently heading for a world of free usage of content as it’s so freely available and that has a massive impact on so many market verticals that we could see complete industries fizzle out because they were unable to diversify their business model.

Author: Gary George

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CS5 – as useful as a ‘Chocolate Teapot’?

February 3, 2010
Adobe Systems Incorporated

Image via Wikipedia

Later this year Adobe will be releasing their latest incarnation of the Creative Suite in the form of CS5. For the avid followers of Adobe development news and those who are registered beta testers you will have seen some of the wonders that this new version will bring.

For the rest of us, we are left wondering what the cost of upgrading will be and whether we are going to save anything by doing it… Let’s face it when we shell out of upgrades we usually do it for 3 reasons:

  1. There are new features we must have or have been waiting for….
  2. Someone is supplying us files that we need to manipulate in the new version of the software
  3. Or we have somehow justified the expense to get the upgrade for absolutely no reason…

There are those of us who have been sensible enough to maintain their maintenance agreements and thus get the upgrades for free anyway. Well not exactly free, but cheaper than buying them at retail cost (with your given CLP agreement discount level) you’ll enjoy these new features without a second thought. Unfortunately these lucky people are the ones that will ultimately force upgrades on others they supply their files to.

Adobe is again focusing on the ability to streamline the creative process by enabling cross application graphics usage that allows for fast pre-media channel outputs, along with their crusade to make everything Flash enabled (well apart from anything Apple that is – that bitter war continues!)

Adobes flagship product – Photoshop – has a whole host of new features that have been touted about the internet. These include:

  • New Digital Photography Features
  • 64 bit processing for Apple Mac computers
  • Porting Photoshop CS5 from Carbon to Cocoa
  • Support for Multiple GPU’s
  • New Brush technologies
  • New Paint technologies
  • New on-the-fly multi-point Warping technologies
  • New Content Aware Technology
  • GPU Video Acceleration Technologies

But I must ask how many of these with have any economical impact on our day to day business? Sure, multi GPU support would be nice for all those with multi GPU graphic cards and new paint technology is great for those artists out there have haven’t already discovered what Paintshop Pro does for them. And what about the long awaited 64bit support – I mean 64bit in desktop machines has only been around for 6 years!? Also, what about the content aware scaling; we’ve already seen their first attempt of this in CS4 which was pretty awesone, but how much does it really get used….?

Although, like most others I will rush out and get CS5, I do question if the expense is really going to be worth it and whether the new features, tools and underlying archecture is going to benefit me to the tune of the upgrade cost – or will be be “as useful as a chocolate tea pot”!? Wouldn’t it be more useful if Adobe placed more analytical tools under the bonnet so we can see the most frequently used tools and the effect our system setup has? Also, how about some Adobe ‘statistics gathering’ on what they really need to improve? Now that would bring true benefit to the endusers and businesses alike.

Author: Gary George

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Digital vs Physical – Convienence or Appreciation?

January 26, 2010

The other day I wrote about how in the UK at least the digital asset of music seem to have become more expensive that the physical assets you can buy in-store or online (how many of you have bought 3 CD‘s for 20 quid at HMV??) and how the consumer losses a lot of the appreciation factor of holding a physical item in there hand and placing it into their CD player….

This morning while flicking through a magazine, I read a short article about how Microsoft will be offering games via it’s Microsoft Live service, yet again the digital media supplied via a download service is more expensive than buying the physical copy online an having it delivered for free….

So why would people do this? I can completely understand the convenience factor of going to an online service such as Microsoft Live and downloading the digital copy directly onto your PC or Games Console, but were is the appreciation of the of the physical printed parts, the junk that they ship with the copies (you know the A5 leaflets about stuff you don’t want to know) and the booklet that contains the story of the game…. How does all the work the marketeers, copy editors, pre-media companies and printers get appreciated in a digital download?

With games there is also a resale value with the physical copy, not only do you pay less, but when you have completed it you take it back in-store and get a discount on your next purchase (or sell through marketplaces like ebay, Amazon and Play!)

So suddenly the print volumes are declining, the replicators are screaming and the manufacturer (software houses) are laughing all the way to the bank…. or are they? If we remove the physical packaging as our ability to purchase disposable consumer items like music, film and video games there is also the knock on effect to the retail stores, these stores spend millions in our pre-media market on advertising with point of sale material and their own pre-media advertising channels such as TV, Radio and Publishing, now the software houses can do that themselves and reap the rewards of a higher slice of the cash. I really don’t need to spell it all out to you, especially if you have been affected by this already and your business has suffered at the hands of digital download.

As a consumer though, I like to touch something I have purchased, even if it is just a 5 inch silver printed disc and a piece of packaging that will clutter up my house, it gives it a sense of meaning, something I can account for when I wonder where all the cash in my bank has gone.

This isn’t the first time I’ve thought about this, I’ve illustrated in my first post about how in the UK it is affecting the sales of physical media in Music, now I’ve shown the same in the Video Games market, not that digital downloads of Movies has taken off yet, but you know it will at some point (how BT is going to manage it’s stupid fair usage policy when consumer Movie downloads hit the big time I have no idea, when you consider a HD movie is around 10gig you will soon have your bandwidth throttled to 1 meg after a couple of viewings!)

For the last 6 years I’ve been purchasing Norton Internet Security, wow what a business model they have, annual subscription that you have to renew to stay current, now these guys produce plenty of software and plenty of packaging which equals plenty of design & print. But I wonder if as part of their wonderful business model they actually keep the price of online subscription renewal higher than going out and buying the boxed product? Is there some sort of deal they have with the retail network that gives them the ability to push the product? Each year when my subscription is coming up to renewal I pop down to PC World and pickup my new version for under £25 where today online renewal is £54.99 – ouch over double the price for a renewal over a new boxed copy!

At the moment the artificially inflated digital prices are playing into print & pre-media hands all the time the printed packaging is cheaper, but at some point that will change as the next generations of youngsters only use download services providing a new paradigm of business opportunities.

For those companies currently diversifying their service offerings make sure you consider how your target market is moving in these digital times.

Author: Gary George

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Who’s Really Trying to be Green?

January 19, 2010

Over the last few years we have started to see companies advertising with green credentials, flexing their muscles against their competition as green helps them win their latest contract. But what does it really take to go green in a modern pre-media company? How do we measure what a company are does and to what degree to make them green?

One area that caught my eye was in the hard-copy proofing area of our industry. In going about my daily business I came cross Rick Colson of EcoVisual Communication who offers completely green photo printing. They provide a 10 point sustainability list for their production process that would fill me with confidence that they have taken measures to ensure photos are produced with the environment in mind. Here’s how they do it:

  1. They print on 100% cotton papers that is made from post-industrial cotton fibers – materials that might otherwise wind up in landfills. Their “most pure” and highest-grade papers are made with cotton “short-fibres” recovered from cotton-seed oil manufacturers.
  2. They source these papers locally (their business is in Massachusetts) to eliminate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transporting bulk paper (very heavy).
  3. They use entirely VOC-free water based pigmented inks.
  4. They use biodegradable mounting adhesives.
  5. They mount to soy foam substrates or honeycomb substrates that are made from 100% post consumer recycled papers.
  6. On the rare occasion they need to print on fabric or canvas they only use 100% recycled cotton substrates. (They also have available a new cotton canvas that’s a blend with recycled plastics from soda bottles!).
  7. ALL their imaging papers are totally chlorine free, tree free and acid free.
  8. They softproof whenever possible which reduces paper proofs.
  9. They colour manage workflow to ensure accurate colour which also reduces proofing.
  10. Everything they produce is 100% recyclable.

Feeling that these guys have really gone to great lengths to provide an environmentally friendly solution for producing proofs/prints, I had to ask him a few questions to get his opinion on how the industry and customers saw what was happening.

Here’s what I asked with his responses:

1. In your experience, what is the key driver to companies using products like yours?
There are three: 1) A passion for green, 2) an uncompromising drive for museum/archive/collector quality and 3) the desire to work directly with a name and face, not just anonymous “customer service.” I work with every client we have, personally.

2. Given the complexities of running a modern business, are companies doing enough to make a difference?
I don’t fault any company at this point in time for not trying hard enough to make a difference, with a few exceptions. So many businesses, and chief among them photographers and artists, are simply doing their best to survive. There is also a mistaken belief among most that making a difference, being socially responsible, maximizing green efforts, etc.  will all cost more than the “simpler” ways of doing things. In my humble opinion, this is a misguided and short-sighted belief. However, when you’re struggling for survival you don’t often consider anything but the essentials. The exceptions I noted above include those companies that are thriving (insurance, financial services, petroleum) who don’t pay anything but lip service to green issues when they, above all, can afford to. Greed, I think, is blinding.

3. How to companies weigh up the cost of being green against customers’ demands for cheaper & faster?
If you look at our pricing you will see that we’re actually less expensive than many printers offering similar services who are far less green. On the other hand, there are a lot of “quick and dirty” ways to obtain prints that are much less expensive than custom labs and “giclee” printers (including us). There will always be those who want the best quality and are willing to pay for it… fine artists, professional image makers, museums, galleries, art buyers, collectors et. al. The trick for us is to be more cost effective than those who are printing less green while delivering an equal or superior product. Then it’s a “no brainer.” In fact, I’m literally banking on it. It’s also true that people in this country, as a whole, are willing to pay only a very slight premium for green. So while green is one of our essential ingredients, we would be lost without quality, timeliness and service.

4. What level of education on the wider ‘green’ issue does your company provide its customers?
I do a lot of public speaking on, among other things, the relationship between indoor air quality and art and the use of green technology in imaging. One of the key components of being green is health, a fact that many seem to ignore. A significant health issue pertains to the use of solvent inks with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are known respiratory- and neuro-toxins. This is especially an issue for those who create prints with these materials as well as those who use the art. It’s a sad fact that no one knows what the combined effects of these VOCs and other toxins are when they mix with other potentially  toxic chemicals commonly found in household cleaners, carpets, paints, office products plus diesel particulates and other solid particulate pollutants. It’s these interactions which are the great unknown. Conventional chemical imaging involves dyes, pigments and silver, many of which are potentially toxic. In fact, elemental silver, used in conventional imaging, is a known heavy metal and carcinogen.  Many toxicologists link such symptoms as fatigue, inability to concentrate, respiratory problems such as asthma, depression, anxiety, and other neurological and psychological disorders with environmental toxins. That’s why every print we make is produced with 100% VOC-free inks on 100% cotton papers made from reclaimed cotton from cottonseed oil manufacturers (cottonseed oil is a food product).
In addition, I spend at least an hour a day on various online forums and blogs trying to provide useful information.

5. What are the 3 biggest selling points for green products in your opinion?
The first is health, the second is quality and the third is sustainability (not necessarily in that order). The globe is warming, resources are dwindling and there are far more health issues than ever before. To me, even in as “relatively insignificant” a field of endeavor as imaging, it simply makes sense to be as green as possible.. especially when there are virtually no compromises! Why would you do anything else?

How Much?

For some time now companies have switched their lighting consumption to low energy lighting, installed motion censors so the lights are only on when people are in the room and ensured that hardware is set to go into screen saver mode after only a short period of time. But is that really enough?
Having worked myself in a busy studio I can tell you that not many people are energy conscious when it comes to the hardware they use, they will happily go home at the end of the night leaving their Mac or PC on, sucking money straight out of the companies bottom line…. OK you may think this is a little excessive, but actually when you start adding it up it turns out to be a pretty juicy amount, doing some very simple maths here, using my standard consumer rate of electricity and one of my 24 inch Dell 2407 LCD screens I have calculated that having the screen running for 24 hours a day with a screen saver running would clock up a hefty £133 a year on my electricity bill. Luckily for me I don’t have it running 24 hours a day since I have 2 of them! I couldn’t face a bill of over £500 a year just to run my PC, but I’m sensible; my screens go to standby after 5 minutes, I shut my PC down at night and I have a energy saving peripheral multi-gang socket that switches off all of the additional plugged in equipment (mouse dock, printer, scanner and actually the screens!)

Now just multiply that against the number of screens in your creative studio, say 20? Left on for 24 hours a day 365 days a year – a company would spend around £2660 or through managing the staff’s shutdown process they could just be spending £900 – now £1760 might seem like a small amount of money in the grand scheme of what that creative studio might actually earn, but that £1760 is no different to simply burning it for no reason! Another way of looking at it is that £1760 is the cost of a new G5 Mac something all the staff would love to have every year, in fact it’s what they normally ask for every year as if they deserve it!

I’m the one paying my bill, so I am energy conscious. But on the whole employees aren’t and most really just don’t care. For me going green isn’t just about using sustainably sourced materials (although I’m not knocking anyone that does) it’s about changing the complete mindset of your business and it’s employees, it’s about promoting it across the company about how being green saves money, save the environment and makes for better business, we all know that better business means higher incomes and longer term survival.

What would I do?

There’s plenty of things that companies could be doing in order to be more thoughtful about the energy they use. Thinking about my top 10 company green points that I would promote to my clients, I’d have to have some sort of measurements to ensure that my employee’s are maintaining the standards my company has set. I mean what’s the point of having any type of policy if you don’t measure if it is being followed, anyway my list would look something like this:

  1. All employees would use public transport or bikes to get into work.
  2. All employees who have to drive car pole in some way and have low emission modes of transportation.
  3. Any company car would be energy efficient (i.e. not gas gussling tanks, and all the way up to chairman he gets a Smart just like his staff!)
  4. All computers and peripherals would be shut-down at the end of the day.
  5. Recycling bins and reported measured waste (anal I know, but how do you get people to care about recycling otherwise!)
  6. Sustainably source company products (i.e recycled loo roll, recycled photo copier paper, fairtrade tea & coffee etc etc)
  7. Low energy lighting with motion detection.
  8. Only company owned equipment plugged into the companies electricity (sorry all those personal mobile phone users who charge at work!)
  9. Solar heated buildings
  10. Thermally insulated buildings

Conclusion

That list is without looking at the material you use in the daily business you provide your clients. I know what your thinking “my God, you want a lot, do your clients really care?” Probably not, but much like Apple has wow’d us with how green the production process and material used is in the products they manufacture, so should we be wowing our clients by being environmentally responsible. As Rick pointed out above it can cost the same if not less to produce environmentally friendly proofs for your clients, as so it wouldn’t take a lot to implement policy throughout your business on energy consumption, educate your staff to be responsible for the environment, your clients and your bottom line.

Susrainability + Environmental Awareness can only equal good business, higher gross profit and better employee rewards? Or are you just playing lip service to the need of your clients?

Think about what more you could be doing in your pre-media supply chain to reduce your carbon footprint!

Author: Gary George

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Tunicca Offers CMS Watch Reports in Europe

January 12, 2010

Those of you who visit this blog often will know that we aren’t afraid to occasionally blow our own trumpet. It is therefore with much fanfare that we would like to announce a partnership with the highly regarded digital content technolgy researcher CMS Watch. It’s taken some time for us to sort out the paperwork and then Christmas and our busy schedules didn’t help, but at last we have finalised a deal that enables Tunicca to provide the revered CMS Watch reports and premium consultancy for DAM solutions. So naturally our first response to the news was to get an email out to all of our listed contacts, write this blog and of course draft a press release to complete the announcement!

So, what does all of this this mean exactly? Well primarily this enables Tunicca to provide the CMS Watch reports and consultancy service to pre-media companies in Europe that are looking at either expanding, changing or implementing a DAM solution. The reports complement Tunicca’s highly regarded business process analysis and enhances the reviews of DAM solutions that we carry out for customers. This in turn will help to ensure that we can assist customers in choosing a DAM system that can fit into the actual business requirements, objectives and strategy of a company.

From its inception we have insisted that our company Tunicca remains 100% independent in order to deliver truly impartial expertise to our the market. So it could seem that we are selling out and becoming just another technology reseller as we now have the ability to sell CMS Watch products. Well that is far from being the case as CMS Watch also prides itself on and fiercely protects its independence. All of their technology reports are written by chosen industry specialists and are completely objective, based on factual evidence garnered during their extensive research. So as you can see there is a very real and tangible complement between our two companies and we are looking forward very much to this partnership.

Our belief, much like CMS Watch, is that when it comes to technology there is a real need in the market for independent views, opinion and analysis based on facts and not vendor marketing spin and propaganda. So we will continue to build our company based on this principle and we are pleased to be partnering with a body such as CMS Watch that echoes this conviction.

About Tunicca
Tunicca is an independent, international supplier of Business Process Analysis solutions to the Pre-media industry. Headquartered in London, Tunicca utilises a number of carefully selected industry experts to deliver a variety of knowledge based solutions to the technology driven world of Pre-media.
With extensive experience in all areas of Pre-media Tunicca is able to advise and assist companies of all sizes in a variety of business issues and challenges. Tunicca operates in the entire value chain and can act across international borders to effectively assist its largest multinational customers with their supply chain challenges whether large or small.
About CMS Watch
CMS Watch™ evaluates content-oriented technologies, offering head-to-head comparative reviews of leading solutions. Through highly detailed technical evaluations and online education courses, CMS Watch helps sort out the complex landscape of potential solutions so that buyers can minimize the time and effort to identify technologies suited to their particular requirements. To retain its independence as a totally impartial analyst firm, CMS Watch works solely for solutions buyers and never for vendors.
About DAM
Short for digital asset management, a system that creates a centralized repository for digital files that allows the content to be archived, searched and retrieved. The digital content is stored in databases called asset repositories while metadata such as photo captions, article key words, advertiser names, contact names, file names or low-resolution thumbnail images are stored in separate databases called media catalogues and point to the original items.
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Recession Bites Hard

January 8, 2010

Well what a depressing start to the year – first the UK gets hit by some of the worst temperatures we have ever had making getting to work near impossible for so many people (something I’ll come back to later in this blog) and then the news of more closures and liquidations in our industry that will send a few waves through our industry….

Closures

So this week we saw the announcement that Positive Focus will be closing their doors for business citing that the lack of investment from companies in the pre-media and print sectors that created extremely poor operating revenue which they cannot survive on. This type of news is of course sad as it removes competition from the integration market. Some people will benefit by picking up existing support contracts as the vultures sweep in to pick the bones out of carcasses, yet the sadness is with the family run business that operated for 32 years providing top quality services to our industry.

The point is though that this is not the first time that an integrator has come up short in sales and had the bones picked out of them. In previous situations private investors have jumped in to save the companies, but what value has that ever bought? Integrators like other companies need to continually reinvent their service offerings, it’s not enough in today’s markets to only supply the same software and services you established your company on. We only need to look at how the pre-media landscape has dramatically changed in the last 24 months with mobile media and personalisation becoming more and more prominent with mobile devices and digital print being the fastest expanding markets.

Brand Director Workflow Management DAM

We also have seen a massive upraise in Digital Asset Management with business process & workflow at the heart of the service offering and so for integrators is it enough to only focus on a single solution when smaller and individual consultants can offer services across multiple software offerings without the need to increase the costs of the software solutions to cover their own operational cost (since they are being paid as consultants anyway!)?

The next 6 months in this industry will definitely see more casualties of the recession and my concern is that, while everyone is holding onto their purse strings, the industry will diminish into a barren landscape of little choice as to who you use. On the upside, the integrators that are left to compete will take their pick of the best talent across the market at pay levels that are unrealistic to UK living!

Contingency plans?

eavy snowfall in much of Britain caused widespread travel problems throughout the country Monday morning, causing hundreds of flight cancellations and rush hour chaos in London

AP Photo/Joel Ryan

Whilst we are suffering the effects of this recession and many families struggle with the continuing fuel costs, the snow in the UK has rendered so many people incapacitated when it comes to travelling into work. This is a serious problem for the pre-media and print companies as many of them have had to reduce their costs to the bare minimum to remain competitive and therefore are unable to have contingency plans in place for staff not turning up for work. Even though the clients are in the same situation as their suppliers there is little sympathy for their inability to produce the work and this is leaving more clients looking at how they can offshore their work to countries that can cope regardless of the weather conditions which in turn strengthens the effects of this recession (the “who is to blame” question is a much more political discussion that I won’t get into – but I hope the industrial sector put pressure on the UK government for poor preparation, again, of the weather we are having here.

Most companies never plan for ‘staff’ outages let alone any diaster recovery plans when serious problems occur (building fire, hardware failures, hardware theft or internet outages for example). Yet to me, contingency plans should form part of any contract when a continueous supply of work is provided and the assets of the clients are stored on the companies servers. Staff contingency is difficult to manage as companies should have suffient workflow & job management in place to be able to prioitise work for the clients that have a high demand, they should also have the ability to work with business partners in order to provide a continuation of services. Yet this is always an ‘after the event’ type of reaction which gets spoken about, then as soon as cost becomes involved normally gets shelved as something to do another day.

The future is bright

Being the harbinger of doom is never nice so I’m going to try and put a positive spin, regardless of the amount doom and gloom there is so far in 2010. The work still needs to be distributed between the companies that survive the recession, there will also be new births coming out of the woodwork that have fresh perspectives on the way to do business, pre-media will be a primary focus of these new businesses with the new technology and new workstreams paving the way to the next generation of business models. There will still be room for the traditional businesses, but the truly award winning companies will have the ability to react to the changing technolgy landscape and market their changes in ways that ensure they are on the summit looking down heir competition.

I also predict that there will be no room for fat cats in these new business models! Corporations that once hoped to increase their profit income from design and reproduction companies will shed their interests as quickly as they were snapping them up and we all know that there is no creatvity around the corporate board room table, only balance sheets, paperwork and endless justifications for stuff they simply don’t understand!

Author: Gary George

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Is your asset manager generating you income?

December 21, 2009

Over the past year you’ve heard me ramble, get confused and talk out of my backside, but everything we have brought to you has been about possibilities and the business process thought behind driving your pre-media operations, in a forthcoming post I’m going to touch upon the staffing requirements (or the perceived staffing requirements) for the next generation of pre-media operations.

So today’s subject is about the asset manager you have; ask yourself this question:

Do we use our asset management system today the same way as we did when it was installed?

 Invariably the answer to this will be no, why? well it’s a relatively simple answer, very few companies actually know want they want when they invest in a DAM system, so few perform a needs analysis and produce a future requirements document. Every company has a strategic direction, whether that filters down to the staff or not, it is always a consideration when the CEO sign’s off on a major purchase, it’s part of his preflight check of releasing the funds; but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the DAM systems roadmap fits with your own strategic direction.

On a whole most companies will have growth, flexibility and diversity in their own roadmap knowing that they won’t be doing the same thing in 5 years as they are today, so does the digital asset management system you invested in all those years back provide you with the framework to generate that future income?

We have seen companies suffer through poor or nonexistent taxonomies, through poor file management and through poor management in general, companies have looked at the cost of asset librarians and felt they can cut down or do without, but is that at the cost of securing more income through the reuse of those assets they look after. Today more than ever with the explosion of media output channels digital asset management should play a pivitol roll in any companies strategy for multi channel, multi tenanted environments.

So before you work out how much potential cash has already gone in the bin, evaluate if the DAM infrastructure you have is inline with the companies strategic direction and make sure that you invest in the right people to meet those targets, although you may see this as a short term overhead you can do without, the long term gain will pay dividends that you can not yet realize.

Author: Gary George

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