Workflow on Parade
Still, all-digital workflow has plenty of vocal supporters and early adopters. They believe by increasing efficiency and manageability, and cutting costs, a savvy print provider can boost their range of services, driving growth and profitability. It also helps printers offer more customized services.
VENDORS ON THE MARCH
Plenty of companies are jumping to offer these services to printers and publishers, says Gil Hatch, president of the production systems group at Xerox Corp., Stamford, Conn. "The move to digital printing is brought on by the acceptance of the PDF/X-1a standard," he says. "Now we're suddenly seeing [complete] software and solutions offerings."
Xerox is one of the companies leading the charge. Xerox's FreeFlow Digital Workflow Collection provides open interfaces that work with a variety of digital workflow software packages, including Xerox's own products, and those of third-party providers.
"We believe print shops know best what software and hardware components they need, so our job is to allow those different components to work together," Hatch says.
Agfa Graphic Systems Corp., Ridgefield Park, N.J., is also on the bandwagon, having recently released a new version of its ApogeeX digital workflow software. The release boasts a user interface that remains consistent across the organization—a key consideration for organizations consolidating multiple processes under a single digital umbrella.
"One of the issues that is suddenly being raised is ease of use," Blanchard says. "Customers are deploying their employees to do several jobs, where they once performed only one task. So ease of use becomes important."
IBM is also fielding a digital workflow solution, dubbed Infoprint Workflow. As with competitors Dalim Software, Xerox, and Agfa, IBM is focusing on the big integration picture, and less on individual software packages.
Infoprint Workflow helps users integrate data and control processes throughout the publishing organization, says Bruce Otte, worldwide solutions offering manager at IBM Printing Systems group, in Boulder, Colo.