Integrate technology for business efficiency

I have seen much change over that past six years as chief education and marketing officer at the CIP4 Organisation. Then again, maybe not as much change as we’d like. Back in 2004, there the” JDF Drupa”. Where was JDF at the time? Was it marketing hype?

Conceptually and theoretically,the strategy was right. But was there much commercial product? Or just a lot of wish lists for customers, users, and printers? We have come a long way since then. We have seen the rise and fall of vendors and printers. As numbers dwindle and consolidation hovers over head, what is the answer to success? Many of the industry already have had the inside scoop. It’s JDF or more importantly, “automation”.

There were some questions last year at Print 09 about whether JDF had gone away. This doubt was due to the fact there was less media coverage devoted to the three letters ‘JDF’. The reason why is because CIP4 had evolved over the years from just a technical organisation to combining both business and technical in one strategy.

Networked Graphic Production, which is an industry-wide initiative to take JDF to the business community, has become a prominent part of CIP4 as the Business Networking Group. The organisation has shifted its marketing focus away from just the technology to also include the business case. More and more, you will see companies (most of which are CIP4 members), presenting their products, software, solutions and services around the terminology “production automation”, “process automation” and the like. This can also be seen with shifts of naming for the JDF users group to the “Automated Solutions Network” or ASN (a co-operation between CIP4 and Printing Industries of America)

At Ipex, there was a complementary strategy to this. We saw the Production Automation News (a bulletin about CIP4 and JDF, automation, workflow, software and more). We saw  vendors showing off their wares in workgroups known as Print Automation Live program and the official CIP4 stand – aptly named the Print Automation Pavilion.

So when it comes to JDF, is it a case of “where is the love”? Or is it more “I love you man”? I think it is a combination of both. Many companies have implemented JDF into their systems (some knowingly, some not so). JDF is all about the connectivity, the means of communicating between disparate devices from multiple providers. Does your imposition software communicate with your pre-press workflow? Does your MIS connect to your finishing equipment? Chances are they do and this has been achieved by JDF.

CIP4 continues to have committed individuals and companies push for the next generation of efficiency through technology, where the ultimate goal is “communication”. As the industry evolves away from just the word ‘print’ and moves towards ‘marketing and communications’, technology becomes predominately important. Ask your vendors the tough questions: does the system, solution, software provide me with automation, and then feel comfortable that somewhere in the mix are those three letters, JDF.

Mark Wilton is the chief education and marketing officer for the CIP4 Organization.

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