On-Demand (printing, CD, DVD and other goodies)

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Surviving in the era of commoditization

Mastering and duplicating a DVD set for a new PennState course keeps us busy, but at the same time leaves time for contemplation of distance learning and our however small role in it. More than once over the last few years I ran into the articles (and ads) proclaiming the New Era in education, one dominated by internet delivery of the product - eductation and degree. In these articles internet is viewed as:
  1. A delivery system that delivers wisdom into your brain in the same manner FedEx delivers packages into your office
  2. At any time (overnight this, please)
  3. Anywhere
  4. At an accelerated speed
Nothing against the internet - we've been using it with great success for years, but it occures to me that profets of the New Era have another agenda in mind. Somehow manifestations like this never come from Harvard, Yale or Penn State for that matter. Its either UN bureaucrat (i.e. John Daniel’s editorial note in Education Today (UNESCO's newsletter) claiming that that McDonaldization is good for education) or somebody from a not-well-known (or negatively known) school promoting their latest and greatest program. Printing and media services industry has been fighting commoditization for a while and from our experience I can tell it's an uphill battle that can be won only if you position your product outside commorities' sandbox, avoid commoditization of your business, be it education or printing, or media. The question is how, but I'll get to that after I reload DVDs and clear jam in the press. May be next Saturday? :-)

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Spending Saturday Working On Invoices

In spite of students gone for the summer (we're across the street from PennState, so naturally during fall-winter-spring get some walk-in traffic :-) , we got busy with several projects. Add to this shorter Memorial Day week and Saturday becomes about the only chance to catch up with current projects and paperwork. One thing jumped at me: about a year ago we picked up a client who planned to produce 15 - 20 manuals per month (they used to do it on their own, but I was able to convince them, we can do a better job and since we're on-demand, they would also have better response time and less headache. According to the latest 3 months' invoices, they are averaging 100 manuals per month plus we picked their CD duplication business as well. (That's also something they used to do in house). The customer not only increased volume 5-fold, but also established several distributorships around the world. Not that it 's all because of us :-) , but I like to think on-demand production of the high-quality materials certainly helped.