By Guest Blogger Howie Fenton, VP Consulting Services

Howie_Fenton_RSAAccording to the InfoTrends 2014 report, Trends in Workflow Automation Emerging Trends Research, 47 percent of commercial shops and 44 percent of in-plants own a Web to Print solution. According to the latest InfoTrends research, e-commerce ordering of print is predicted to grow in the next two years. The Micro to Mega: Trends in Business Communication study (2015) when companies where asked “What percentage of your total print spend has been/will be ordered via the Internet” they predict an 18.8% growth in the next two years.

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Web to Print solutions offer many advantages, but it is not experiencing mass market adoption. In our research and consulting work, we see four key hurdles slowing the mass-market adoption of Web to Print technology:

  • Understanding customer requirements
  • Understanding and overcoming integration challenges
  • Lack of beta testing and improving the customer experience
  • Marketing the benefits to customers

Learn how employing Web to print technology offers in-plant print centers the opportunity to deliver some of the same economic benefits that outsourcing provides in the white paper,How Web to Print Helps In-Plants Increase Value” (an InfoTrends white paper).

Some Tips For In-Plants To Jump the 4 Hurdles of Web to Print Implementation

These four hurdles are not as intimidating as they might first appear. Simply being aware of them and working on them can help overcome them. Here are a few tips.

  1. Understanding customer requirements may just require one on one conversations or group meetings. Asking customers how they prefer to work with you and what you could offer that would make their jobs easier can be done in one-on- one meetings, focus groups, or with surveys. Gather this input and analyze it.
  2. Working out integration challenges. Integration issues have to do with Web to Print solutions not talking to other systems. In-plants often need to integrate with corporate SSO (single sign on), accounting or ERP systems, or campus payment cards in higher education. Working with a supplier who has integration experience and getting IT involved early in the process will uncover requirements and assure success. The majority of in-plants now install the solution as a virtual image (VM) in their data center rather than a physical server or hosted externally in the cloud. Getting IT buy-in upfront makes this implementation much easier.
  3. Beta testing is easier then rolling out a solution to everyone. Work closely with a few customers on a pilot basis, identify how well it is working, and look for ways to improve it before launch.
  4. In some companies, the marketing of a Web to Print solution is based on the movie Field of Dreams – “If you build it, they will come.” Often the administration of the in-plant frowns on sales and marketing efforts. As a result, some in-plant managers use slightly different language for marketing, such as open-houses, pizza lunches, or free training to bring customers in. It doesn’t matter how you position it. What is important is that your customers see your latest capabilities and that you engage them.

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How 2 In-Plants Overcame the Stumbling Blocks
Rocky Reynolds, from Citrus College in Glendora, California, is a good example of an in-plant with Web to Print who learned the importance of overcoming the stumbling blocks the hard way. In 2006, a digital press manufacturer sold Reynolds a Web to Print solution that did not work. The manufacturer agreed to refund the investment in the Web to Print solution and recommended Citrus purchase RSA’s WebCRD.

Reynolds vowed that this time he would do things differently. He talked to his top 20 customers about what he was trying to accomplish and got their feedback. He spoke with customers on the telephone or in-person. During the next 6 months, these top customers helped Reynolds better understand their needs and requirements and also became beta testers to help work out the kinks.

To promote the launch of its Web to Print services, Citrus College staff created two post cards promoting its Web to Print services. The cards announced that “It’s coming” and “Don’t be scared.” The College continues its promotional efforts with more recent postcards showing someone ordering print during their vacation “From anywhere.” Samples are available here.

Similar to Citrus, Sun Life Financial, a New England Financial Services in-plant, has overcome the common stumbling blocks. Sun Life collected customer requirements, worked with beta users and is marketing their new capabilities. In this video, Sun Life talks about the benefits they have seen from these activities.

If your implementation is stuck or you are about to start an implementation, consider what these in-plants did to overcome the four typical stumbling blocks.

Learn how employing Web to print technology offers in-plant print centers the opportunity to deliver some of the same economic benefits that outsourcing provides in the white paper,How Web to Print Helps In-Plants Increase Value” (an InfoTrends white paper).

About the Author:

Howie Fenton is an independent consultant and trusted advisor to in-plant printers. He recommends equipment, best practices and workflow automation tools to streamline operations. To learn more about measuring performance, benchmarking to leaders, and improving your value e-mail Howie@howiefentonconsulting.com.

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