Web-to-Print: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

At Graph Expo, I had the opportunity to consolidate and discuss several of the NAPL research projects. Although web-to-print is often considered a panacea to many problems associated with productivity and profitability, two recent NAPL White Papers report mixed reviews.
The first were reported in the 2013 White Paper entitled, Web-to-Print: The Promise, the Potential, and the Reality. “On the surface, the numbers are very encouraging, as companies reported that web-to-print increased sales by a 3 to 1 ratio and over two-thirds report web-to-print streamlined workflow, and almost half report that it has enhanced company image,” reports NAPL Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Andrew Paparozzi.
“But below the surface are serious concerns about the limited number of clients who use web-to-print, the many clients who use only a few of the features offered, and operational challenges such as integrating web-to-print and management information systems,” reports Paparozzi.
In the 2014 NAPL white paper entitled, Workflow Investment Survey; Where, Why, and How Much Companies are Investing, over 140 companies reported that web-to-print was their most worthwhile investment while over 40 companies reported it was their least worthwhile.
After dividing the responses into leaders and laggards, NAPL reported that 65% of leaders reported that web-to-print was their most worthwhile investment as opposed to 18% of the laggards. The obvious question is what our leaders doing that laggards are not.
In an article that will appear in the November issue of In-plant Graphics Magazine, six possible reasons are offered:

  1. Leaders build better solutions.
  2. Management is faster at finding and overcoming problems.
  3. Leaders invest more in critical software automation technologies.
  4. Leaders hire and train better.
  5. Leaders better motivate customers to use their solution.
  6. Leaders are better at overcoming the implementation and integration issues.

What do you think?  Do you consider yourself successful or unsuccessful in your web-to-print solution? If you are successful, would you agree with any of the reasons described above? If you consider yourself unsuccessful, could you point to anything listed above as something that was missing in your implementation?

Howie Fenton is Associate Director of Operational Consulting at InfoTrends. For 25 years, he has worked with in-plants and commercial printers on: benchmarking operational and financial performance, recommendations to increase productivity/reduce costs and strategies to increase value.To email click here.

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