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Measuring print technology productivity

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By Laurel Brunner
16 September 2011

Business professionals are at risk of gently drowning in a seething ocean of digital dross

One of the things about this game is that there is never any lack of software introductions, claiming to improve print productivity. But despite the wonders of such things as HP SmartStream and digital management information systems (MIS), productivity in the wider sense seems to be going down.

Our day-to-day individual productivity is increasingly dependent on how effectively we manage our general digital environments. But there is an inherent risk that the technology keeping us up front and personal with so much of humanity might actually undermine rather than improve our individual productivity. How much time do you spend of a morning deleting messages? How much time do you spend synchronising devices? How much time do you spend doing back-ups and managing your digital calendars and address books?

This isn't a diatribe against digital technology, far from it. Without it pre-press and graphics production would still be an expensive black art, practised by a chosen few and definitely not available to the mass market. Without email and SMSes, communications would still be in the dark ages. This is a diatribe against the productivity reduction that managing digital communications can cause.

Think about it. We are locked in endless combat with a relentless flow of information traffic. We deal daily with terabytes of useless digital trivia that makes no contribution to our productivity. Instead it distracts us to take meandering journeys to yet further digital thickets, riddled with paths of distraction of their own. We are constantly striving to keep track of who and what's where, and on an ever-growing array of devices. We are in a permanent state of decision making: keep or delete, read or delete, keep, read or forward, or keep, read, forward and respond, and so on in endless combinations. Business professionals are at risk of gently drowning in a seething ocean of digital dross.

And then there's the sharing thing. Do we really need to share so much about ourselves? Do we really need know so much about others? Serving the Facebook and Twitter tyranny puts yet another slab of weight onto our deeply stressed attention spans. To what extent are social media really contributing to your business? Does that contribution justify the fact that you haven't chased receivables in weeks, or that you haven't been properly monitoring uptime on your printers?

All of us are having to work out how to maintain and enhance our individual productivity, including sign- and display-makers and other implementers of wide-format printing technology. Productivity is about the end results, so maybe we should be thinking less about digital media and communications, and more about what has to be done to get more out of our resources to get work done on time, on budget and without the stress of being in perpetual communications mode.
 

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