offset printing, Dr. Taub admitted, adding that for the former to become “palatable” to potential customers cost had to be driven down “considerably.” In addition, digital publishing would have to offer the same options offered by an offset press, such as working with different sizes of paper and providing a variety of finishing capabilities. Yet even more important was Web-efficient work flow, which would allow the press to be in constant operation. Databases would need to be integrated in order to create custom publications efficiently, which meant taking one source of content and generating multiple outputs from it. This was no small chore in the case of large companies with multiple sources of customer data—HP, classing among them, had five major databases devoted to this. Owing to the length of the path the data would have to follow, security protecting the marketing campaigns from the eyes of competitors would become a very important consideration as well. “It’s a little bit like Napster,” he noted. “Once the things become digital, it’s much easier for them to escape, and you need to have a level of security that companies will be comfortable with.”
Finally, the significant investment required to go digital was complementing the inertia that tends to stand in the way of change. “We need to help the commercial printers and enterprise customers make the transition,” said Dr. Taub. “They need to understand the benefits of digital” beyond being shown its capabilities, so clear from the marketing techniques he had been discussing. Absolutely necessary was convincing them that the correct measure of digital publishing was value per page rather than cost per page, because “you get so much more impact from a customized page than from the standard offset page.”
Mr. Borrus noted that the personalization techniques described by Dr. Taub would raise interesting issues for those who were trying to measure productivity increases, as they would be obliged to apply a deflator to printing.