Disruptive Technology – Part II

22/12/2006

Re-posted from Blogspot

Is web-to-print market overserved?
I’d say that it is.

Look how many offers are out there and how much they changed in the last couple of years.
There was almost no change. The same vendors are offering the same web-to-print products. Everyone who could afford to buy them had already done so.
Most of those web-to-print products grew from MIS solutions and come as add-ons. You can’t really get web-to-print on its own. They want you to buy the rest as well. Very-very few printers actually need an MIS. Even for those who do, it doesn’t always make financial sense as the ROI is often questionable.


Does web-to-print require learning new skills?

No, not for the end users. A good web-to-print service is very easy to use.
Everyone these days is familiar with basic concepts of filling in a form in a web browser and submitting the data to the server.
Then it all comes down to how usable the interface is.

The designers may need to do a bit of learning or a lot of learning.

My opinion that there should be as little learning as possible. It should be all intuitive enough to be learned or discovered along the way.


Does web-to-print open new avenues and opportunities as a technology?

Take for example an Australian telco Telstra and their New Zealand off-shoot TelstraClear.
They implemented a voice recognition system for their customer service. It used to be “Press 1 for … press 2 for … ”
Now, it takes a 30 sec introduction, then a long question and then 3 to 5 attempts to tell the damn stupid thing what you actually want. Try it with any accent or speach impediment!

What’s the change for the end user? Did it enable any of us to get thru the menu faster? No way!
Can we call it a disruptive technology?
Well, it difinitely disrupts the state of mind whoever trys to use it.

It’s not the same with web-to-print.
I’d say that ordering business cards via email or phone is most unnatural. I want to see what I’m ordering. I feel much better when I pay for something I can see and like it before I part with my $$$.
Web-to-print definitely brings more balance into the process. I can see what I’m ordering and I know it will be very close in print to what I see. I’m the one in control making it look the way I want.

A template based web-to-print allows unskilled people to do the work previously done by skilled people only.
Designs should be done by designers, those that can make it look nice. Most of people can’t, no matter how hard they try.
Now people can pick a professional design and personalize it with their data and imagery. The key here is that the layout, colours and fonts remain the same way the designer designed it. Whatever I type in it still looks good!


So, what’s the conlusion?

I believe that an easy to use and affordable web-to-print service is a disruptive technology, but there are some pitfalls
I’ll talk about them next time.

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