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Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and companies in all sectors have had to work hard to keep up. This is particularly true for the printing industry which has seen innovations in pretty much all areas of a print business, not just in the print specific functions such as estimating, prepress, production and finishing but also the common departments such as sales, marketing and finance.
From our own experience working with our customers, we can see that it’s those companies that really embrace technology and actively seek new opportunities to implement it, that are leading the way in the industry and doing really well.
Yet a study by McKinsey shows that most companies are not geared up for this: “Despite the importance of being aware of new, potentially disruptive technologies and being ready to exploit them, many companies tell us that they are not ready for the major technological shifts already under way—let alone prepared to spot new ones as they emerge.” – McKinsey, 2018.
So what’s the difference between the really innovative printing companies that we work with, and the rest? How do they manage to take advantage of the technological shifts already under way and spot new ones as they emerge? Well, we have noticed one very key difference that seems to set them apart - these companies always seem to have someone in a role most commonly known as the CTO (although we have seen other job titles used to describe this function).
A Chief Technology Officer (CTO) oversees the implementation and continuous improvement of technology in a business. They don’t necessarily need to have a development background, just an excellent understanding of technology and how to implement it successfully. They sit at senior management level, have a clear understanding of the business and its customers and are strongly aligned with the corporate vision, mission and strategic objectives.
This person will strategically forward-plan to identify new technologies that could help the business deliver its goals and will also work on the continuous improvement of their existing technological workflow.
Printing companies that don’t have a CTO tend to implement new technologies when either their old technology fails and they need a replacement, or they see the competition using new technology and want to compete.
We don’t need to point out that this is absolutely not the right way to approach your technological adoption, not if you want to stand out from the crowd and certainly not if you want to attract the younger generation of print buyers.
If your company can relate to any of the points above, it might be time to get yourself a CTO. Maybe there’s someone already in your organisation that perfectly fits this bill, or maybe you need to consider hiring someone new. There are also third party IT companies who can “rent you” a CTO, if you didn’t want to plunge right into having someone full time. However you do it, and whatever job title you give them, it’s definitely time to consider having someone in your printing company responsible for the continuous development of your technology.