When did the world start changing at such a rapid rate? For our industry, I almost think it was when desktop publishing was invented.
In the printing industry, we were used to clients having us scan their photos on flat bed and drum scanners. They would then spend a lot of money to do all kinds of color corrects. The photos in every publication had to be perfect.
Well, along comes desktop publishing and the ability to purchase a desktop scanner. All of a sudden the photos that clients were using in their publications were grainy, blurry and off-color. However, they were okay with that because they had taken control of that portion of the production process and were saving money. Perfect photos were no longer a requirement.
Follow that up with all of the page layout programs and suddenly the receptionist became their in-house designer. We would receive files that were incorrect, but we would correct them and proceed with the projects. Again, the design wasn’t flashy, but the client was saving money and had control. So, they were satisfied.
As I look at the world of advertising, I see something similar happening. Social media, along with television and radio channel fragmentation have begun to make advertising agencies take a look at their current business models. They tell me they hear that the client doesn’t need them anymore for television or radio spots because the television and radio channels are providing the creative services. They tell them they no longer need their PR services because they can handle it themselves via social media.
So, as printing companies before them, advertising agencies will need to adapt to a changing business environment.
Now, I’m sure this hasn’t happened solely in the printing or agency world, but those are two I’m familiar with. We are now looking at 3D printing, which has been predicted to revolutionize manufacturing. No longer will you need long manufacturing runs to produce something that may not sell.
Developers and creators can take a 3D model and scan it, or develop CAD drawings and have them output in hours by a 3D printer. They can then take these pieces and show them to focus groups or clients and get feedback. All of this will lower their development costs, and allow for full customization of products.
Even logistic companies are starting to get a little nervous, as local 3D print manufacturing may cut back on the products that need to be shipped to customers – they can just pick them up at a local office. Once technology came on the scene, the pace of change has accelerated. It’s hard for a business to determine if their business model will even make sense in the future.
All this does is stress the fact that we need to decide what type of business we are in. Are you married to the idea of being a printer, an advertising agency or a manufacturer of widgets? Or, are you in business to provide “something” to a client and make a profit doing it? We must be willing to continually reinvent ourselves so that we remain relevant in the marketplace.
This is obviously just my opinion and others may strongly disagree. If so, I’d love to have you comment and share your ideas in motion!