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    « Even Really Smart People Underestimate Technology | Main | Bring Back the Supplies Business »

    April 21, 2006

    Caution Paradigm Shift Ahead

    Caution_copyI hate to use the phrase "paradigm shift" because I think it is over used. As the speed of change accelerates these shifts happen more often. As someone once said “the only thing constant is change”. A paradigm shift that is occurring in our industry is the move to a distribute then print model. More architects and contractors will be printing on demand rather than receiving a distribution of the documents they need. I’d highly recommend you read the blog post titled "Print Then Distribute versus Distribute Then Print” by Scott Sheppard from AutoDesk.

    The most interesting take away is it makes clear that AutoDesk, the largest provider of AEC CAD software, is promoting a workflow that will minimize production printing.  I recognize Scott includes a workflow that still includes production printing. I believe for the most part Scott is being politically correct, but he is also realistic about how much time it will take for people to change.  Not every company nor every distribution will go the distribute then print route, but is a trend that is gaining momentum.

    If most of your profits are generated by high volume production printing this is a trend you must understand deeply.  You must adapt to this new workflow. AutoDesk is not promoting this because they don’t like Reprographers. They are promoting it because they believe it is what their customers want and they also believe this is a more efficient and cost effective workflow for construction projects. If you believe the only way you can make money is production printing you should see this as “doom and gloom”. If you believe you can adapt to the new way of doing business then this trend will expose more opportunities.  Where do the opportunities exist? Online plan rooms, FM placements, file conversion services, and many many more?

    Where do we find the many more you may ask? At your customers' location. The answers to these questions are not within the four walls of your office, they are at your customer’s site. I truly believe that the opportunities are very large, but you need to make the paradigm shift your own head first.  You then spend time with your customers finding out what products and services they need from you in this new “distribute then print model”.  Every new innovation creates new problems and pain points that require new products and services.

    To paraphrase Albert Einstein - you can't solve the problems of tomorrow using the same methodology that created the condition in the first place. A new and decidedly different approach is required 

    New paradigms create new problems.  New problems require new solutions.  Are you ready for the challenge?  Are you ready to change?


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    Chris Blocher

    Autodesk is using DWF to deliver design data to customers who are traditionally not part of a small design team working with original data in forms such as DWG. The goal is to get more people involved in these processes. As a result, there is the potential for printing to increase instead of decrease because more people are involved. Commercial reprographers provide services. They have high speed devices that small design teams normally do not have. They check the prints before committing them to paper. They package up the prints. They assist in their delivery. They handle the billing. These services will continue to exist for a long time. Autodesk would like to see DWF be the basis for these services instead of plot files. As an intelligent format, DWF contains metadata that is not present in a plot file. As such DWF can be the format for electronically counting items such as doors or windows. It can be used to measure walls. Autodesk is building workflow solutions around DWF that mate with Autodesk design software - such as Autodesk DWF Composer (Autodesk’s design review application). Reprographers could embrace the intelligent DWF format and begin to offer services around its contents.

    Kip Young

    After attending AU 2005, it was obvious to me that Autodesk is clearly devoted to the dwf file format. It was everywhere. But what was not everywhere was the companies that provide reprographers with the production tools to handle this new heavily promoted file format.

    There were many developer breakout sessions and a fantastic show floor. But there was little effort to educate the attendees on what to look for in a reprographic shop. If the Autodesk response of their intentions is genuine, Autodesk owes it to their customers to do so.

    Repro shops that utilize the PLP product line can help promote this new file format. Because we can handle DWF so well, it is beneficial to us. But those repro shops that are attending events like AU get a little nervous that we are promoting our demise based on who is not there and on the overall message being broadcast.

    Chris Blocher

    Please see:

    We have several DWF partners who sell software to commercial reprographers. Brian Mathews will be speaking at IRgA this year. Brian often speaks at ARC or RSA events. Brian is doing everything he can to spread the word.

    Chris Blocher

    In response to Kip Young's comment that "there [has been] little effort to educate [customers] on what to look for in a reprographic shop," I have added a new section to the DWF FAQ:

    I anticipate that the "REPROGRAPHICS INDUSTRY (blueprinter) QUESTIONS" section will grow over time.

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