As I write this, I am preparing for a presentation at Graph Expo entitled, “Variable Data Printing: Best Practices.â The new information we are gathering from interviewing our variable data printing (VDP) leaders will result in three blogs. This is the first of those three.
Over the last year, we’ve published two white papers that are helping us gain a better understanding of digital printing leaders. Last fall we published a study entitled, “Variable Data Printing: Realizing the Potential.” More recently we unveiled our white paper entitled, “Workflow Investments: Where, Why, and How Companies are Investing.â
The first thing you realize when you call people and tell them they are a leader is that they are often surprised because they donât consider themselves leaders. Instead they talk about all the mistakes theyâve made and how they would have done things differently. Thatâs also the second thing many talk aboutâtheir focus on their mistakes. For example, Ted Strauss from Suttle Straus said during an interview, “We made all the typical, classic mistakes. We bought the hardware and the software first. After we trained our staff we waited and waited and waited. Of course now we would do things differently.”
This leads to a third typical conversation focusing on their current performance and how they can do things better. In many ways, those in the management team have a better grasp on the issues they are facing, the different solutions they can try, the pros and cons of each option, which option they consider the best, and how they are monitoring their results to determine if they have to change that strategy.
One of the attributes of leaders is that they are faster at diagnosing problems and better at overcoming those mistakes. By closely monitoring implementation and sales processes, they identify problems earlier and then dive deeper to identify the root causes.
And last but not least, many talked about how the solutions that they identify to overcome problems is more than just a Band-Aid. Instead of looking for a quick fix, many talk about a more rigorous approach to build more permanent solutions that might include changing the workflow process, changing marketing and sales, and offering additional training to support those changes.
Surprising to some is the realization that leaders face the same challenges and make a lot of the same mistakes as the rest of the industry. The three issues discussed by both leaders and laggards in successfully implementing variable data printing are:
1) sales and marketing
2) getting good data from customers
3) proving the value
While it is interesting to learn how leaders think and act differently, a more important question is, âhow can this help you?â What can you do to better understand the issues that are hindering your ability to succeed? When you hit a roadblock, how are you going to diagnose the problem and identify the root causes? And can you make a deeper dive into creating solutions for those problems. In the next blog, we will talk about how leaders overcome the challenges.