There has been a lot written recently about changes in printing technology and the transformation of the printing industry, but I have seen little written about one of the other key drivers impacting our industry – software, and more specifically, SAAS or Software-as-a-Service.
As print technology has gotten “better, faster and cheaper” it has caused a shift in the types of companies that are offering specific services along the Marketing Services Value Chain. Service providers are trying to both demonstrate value to customers through broader offerings and also want to get more volume onto new, more flexible print equipment. Many times, new software is considered when purchasing new printing equipment – perhaps composition software or content management software or web-2-print technology- but, even after acquiring the printer and the software, you still have to invest time and money to develop applications on the new platform – or do you?
There are many SAAS solutions available on the market today specifically geared to getting new print applications up and running fast, without direct investment in the underlying software. While many service providers have jumped on the SAAS band-wagon for delivering white-labeled e-presentment or archiving solutions, few have leveraged SAAS to broaden their print capabilities or offer Transpromo solutions. Below are just a few of the independent SAAS solutions available on the market today:
- Prospectus and Proxies: Publishing Data Management Inc.
- Production Print Management: Mimeo (offered to third parties independent of their own store-front)
- Insurance Policy and Contract Management and various statement applications: NEPS http://www.neps.com/
- Asset Management Reporting: Client Communication Factory
There are also hosted solutions for fulfillment management, various vertical market statement and confirmation applications and integrated marketing solutions available. The applications and software represented by these platforms would cost a million, or many millions, to replicate – but are typically offered at a very reasonable monthly subscription cost that grows with the number of applications and volume of production used.
In many cases, the key benefit of these solutions to service providers trying to transition to new markets is that they offer the ability to tap into expertise and services as opposed to simply software. Having great power tools (particularly rented ones) doesn’t make you a master carpenter any more than having the top software makes you a programmer – or a vertical business expert. Access to proven platforms, customizable applications ready-to-run, expert consulting support and a price based on actual usage seems like a great way to broaden services without breaking the bank.
If you haven’t considered SAAS yet, why not? If you have, what has your experience been?