Are You the Weakest Link?
A Valuable Metaphor
Notwithstanding these shifting tides, when someone asks, “What do you do?,” the expected answer would be the job that you have or the business you are in. If you were talking to strategic planners, their next question might be, “What is your value proposition?”
The supply chain concept is a metaphor for a host of “value proposition” relationships among the various elements and actors in a marketplace—which includes you and your company. The marketplace can be global or local, it can exist within the four walls of a printing plant, on an Internet network of servers, or seemingly at random among diverse self-contained links in vertical (e.g., trees to bookstore) or horizontal (e.g., bookstore to discount store) supply chains.
Consider UPS, USPS, DHL or FedEx who connect components or finished products from diverse vendors to assemblers or customers around the world; or the trade shop that applies full and spot color to special substrates that become inserts in magazines or books. Each of these “outsource” links rely on their own supply chains, where they are the core, in order to function effectively among many links to their customers.
Publishers Confront the Supply Chain Challenge
Within the graphic arts industry, as well as in commerce in general, trade associations and consultants are increasingly calling attention to supply chain concepts and studying how they can be applied to business operations and long-range plans.
As far back as 2003, at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Michael Cairns—then president of R.R. Bowker and now a managing partner at business strategy consultancy Information Media Partners—said, “The supply chain is the next frontier for operational improvements …. Creating efficiencies in the supply chain is the only area where sustainable expense and cost savings could be found [moving forward].”
Updating his comments on his current blog (http://PersonaNonData.blogspot.com), he wrote in September, just before Frankfurt 2006:
Eugene G. Schwartz is editor at large for ForeWord Reviews, an industry observer and an occasional columnist for Book Business magazine. In an earlier career, he was in the printing business and held production management positions at Random House, Prentice-Hall/Goodyear and CRM Books/Psychology Today. A former PMA (IBPA) board member, he has headed his own publishing consultancy, Consortium House. He is also Co-Founder of Worthy Shorts Inc., a development stage online private press and publication service for professionals as well as an online back office publication service for publishers and associations. He is on the Publishing Business Conference and Expo Advisory Board.