Cooking shows are among the most popular forms of educational television, and millions of people tune in every day to watch chefs slice, dice, season, and simmer almost every kind of cuisine they can imagine. There is even an entire cable channel devoted to teaching people more about cooking. Thanks to multiple cable shows and TiVo, you can see famous (and would-be famous) chefs turn out dish after dish 24 hours a day, 7 days a week--all without spilling a drop or scorching a scone. In the televised world of food on demand, the recipes are always appetizing, the presentation is always alluring, and nobody ever has to run next door for a cup of anything.
The world of digital printing has a lot in common with cable TV cooking shows. If all you see about digital printing are case-study headlines or the major bullet points in conference presentations, you can come away with an incomplete, and possibly unrealistic, idea of what it takes to make a profitable business venture out of digital printing. To get a true picture of what it takes, you need to go behind the scenes.
"It's not magical. There is no magic dust. Digital printing can offer great solutions to clients, but you need to know how to sell it," explains George Abboud, vice president of operations at Consolidated Graphics Inc. (CGI), the largest sheet-fed and half-web commercial printer in the United States. Abboud knows what he's talking about because in these days of lower-than-ever profit margins for many printers, CGI is profiting from a well-planned and carefully executed investment in digital printing.
The company devoted two years to researching and investigating technologies and software before making its first digital printing equipment purchase of six iGen3 presses and six DocuColor 6060s. Today, the company has 8 iGen3s, 10 Xerox 6060s, and 12 black-and-white imaging units purchased from IKON.
Making informed decisions about equipment and software is only part of the recipe for success; you also need to know how to make the most of the technology so that your customers' needs are met and their budgets preserved. As an example of this need to know, John Green, president of Automated Graphics Systems, a CGI company, says customers might think they need one-to-one personalization to make digital printing work, but that's not the case. He explains that about 10 percent of the company's digital printing work involves variable data, and the rest is short-run color and black-and-white work. Green expects CGI will be doing more variable-data work as more of the company's customers learn how to …