Cloud Computing for the Printing Industry

Posted by Roger P. Gimbel, EDP on Mar 6, 2024 12:54:59 PM
Roger P. Gimbel, EDP
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Remember when having your head in the clouds wasn’t a flattering comment? Times change. Today,cloud ai cropped being in the cloud is a good thing and we’re all attempting to stake out a spot up there so we can be more productive down here.

Cloud computing has been around for some time. We’re all familiar with our own personal software programs and operating systems that update automatically. Or with our photos and files being stored somewhere in the ether. But like any structural transformation, cloud computing takes time to fully permeate into businesses and market sectors.

Printing Industry Applications

In the printing industry, many functions associated with production and administration can already be said to originate in the cloud. A good number of shops began this digitizing journey with prepress, workflow, and MIS systems that are largely cloud based. Many e-commerce portals are based on cloud computing. These systems give managers accessibility and visibility into their operation from remote locations. They generate loads of analytics that can be used to make better informed and more strategic decisions and make shops more efficient.

Slowly, cloud computing is taking over administrative functions as well. Today, just about any system in a printing operation can operate from the cloud. Applications include file manipulation and sharing, estimating, all accounting and payroll functions, consumables purchases, file storage, inventory management, and postal processing, to name a few.


What About AI?

The next frontier will integrate AI tools into cloud-based operating systems. For example, AI tools can create eye-catching design images as well as generate information on design trends and user responses to designs. Popular tools, like Dall E, are already being used to create magazine covers.

According to Drupa, the large trade show coming up later this year, we can expect to see AI tools that enable personalization on a large scale. These tools will make variable data printing more seamless, increase analytics capabilities, make augmented reality (AR) integration easier, and increase production efficiencies even further.

Here’s an interesting article from Drupa about AI and the printing industry.

Gradual Implementation

If your digitization journey hasn’t started yet, or maybe has stalled, now is a good time to think about becoming a cloud-first operation and consider how to get there.

Perhaps, rather than trying to figure out what processes to digitize first, come at it from the perspective of what you need to achieve or fix. Do you need more visibility into how your equipment is functioning, so you have a better grasp of costs? Do you want a workaround for a labor shortage? Do you need a really effective portal for e-commerce? Do you want to streamline your mailing operation?

Then look at your existing production and administrative systems and decide which of them are best suited for cloud-based function, and which you want to keep off the cloud. If you don’t have expertise in house, a third-party specialist can be extremely valuable during this exercise.

Plenty of Help is Available

Research and talk to all the suppliers out there. Many will be glad to come in and discuss plans andsoftware engineers upgrades with you. During your discussions keep in mind topics such scalability of software packages and systems, security for your data, costs of installations, the training and support services suppliers offer, how you control system access by staff, and, crucially, whether all the various systems you have will work together.

Have a longer-term plan in mind for implementing a cloud computing strategy. You don’t have to do it all at once. Maybe a five-year timeframe is more in keeping with your goals; just make sure you map the strategy.

Appoint a staff member to take the lead on implementing the strategy, including getting buy-in from all departments and all staff.

Moving to the cloud is not some hazy concept anymore. It’s really where most businesses will base their operations. Printing is no different.  How much of your business is in the cloud?  G&A can assess your needs and help you implement a cloud computing strategy.


Contact Gimbel & Associates for a 1/2 Hour Free Consultation


Topics: news, cloud computing, augmented reality, ai, digitize, digitization, printing industries applications

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