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HOW EINSTEINS RELATIVITY THEORY APPLIES TO THE PRINTING INDUSTRY

By Editor Morten B. Reitoft 

These days I am preparing a presentation for next week's Visual Media Conference (VMC), and during my research, I found a TedX with Paul Rulkens where he argues why the majority is always wrong. You should watch it - good inspiration! He cites Albert Einstein in a great way, which made me think - and no - I won't reveal the cite here. See for yourself. But the reference to Einstein, combined with other things I am speculating about, inspired me to this article.

In 2004 Facebook was founded, and as being one of the first Social Media as we know them today, Facebook has influenced the world tremendously. LinkedIn, Instagram, and Xing all use more or less the same metrics to deliver whatever they deliver to their users. Platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, and others work differently. Still, this article is not about platforms and Social Media but about how these platforms have changed the way we communicate and how that has changed our perception of things.

You could say that perception of being agile is relative to how agile your own company is, or?
A couple of d

ys ago, I published an article about the printing industry's problem attracting young people. In an interview I did with 21-years young woman, Rita Estevinha Silva, she mentions the industry's image problem.

But what is identity and image, and is the perception of the printing industry being driven by old(er) people, not being attractive, not being smart, and not being, whatever the young people believe at all accurate?

Maybe our industry doesn't have an image problem, but a communication problem? Think about it for a second. The printing industry is a high-tech industry, it highly depends on software development, and yes, you don't end up having Google or Facebook on your CV, but how exciting are these jobs really?

Sitting in open offices or small booths programming something where iterations are painfully slow (has to be since change influences billions of people) - in return for having access to open areas with football games, pool tables, etc.? Most employees will not be the ones that develop new groundbreaking software or businesses.

I am, of course, exaggerating, but maybe the printing industry should be more attractive to many more young people - and we are!

So what defines an image? First of all, it may be defined by several buzz words like:
- Agile
- Modern
- Innovative (however disruptive is better)
- Personal opportunities
- With a future
- Speed of communication

Is the printing industry agile? No - the printing industry is not agile! You find companies and individuals that are highly agile, and those become beacons. In the printing industry, the companies that stand out as being more innovative than others may be mainly seen as such since they are more agile and better adapt to faster communication channels that today defines many? Dear reader, this is not any different than any other industry. What is Facebook? They were for sure not defined as media when they started. They were probably mostly seen as a computer software company. What is the perception of the computer industry? Well, it depends on which company you consider. IBM is not seen as an innovative and agile company - but they are if you look at what they do. Dell, once a disruptor - today almost a shadow of itself. Or what about Microsoft? Once a beacon, they are smart, but they are not like Google, Apple, Tesla, and so forth. It's the individual companies and people that make young people perceive a more exciting image!

Is the printing industry modern? No - the printing industry is, in broad terms, not modern. What is being modern? To me, it's about business models, management, product development, etc., and here I think our industry fails big time - but whether this is a show stopper for young people - I doubt! They don't know what to expect, and if they believe they can walk into Tim Cooks's office with a cup of coffee to discuss the next iPhone - I think they will be disappointed! But in the printing industry, SURE companies embrace my definition of being modern and develop environments that should be highly attractive to young people - and I think these companies have fewer difficulties attracting staff.

Is the printing industry innovative? No - like industry, we are not! Do we have companies and individuals that stand out? Yes, of course. Business is about understanding customer needs and offers the services needed. Understanding how needs can be delivered with the best technology - and yes, technology also drives business opportunities.

And disruption? Well, if an entire industry were disruptive per default, it would per default not be disruptive! Do we have disruptors in the printing industry? Yes! Not many, but they are out there, and they do what disruptors do, use the current technology to drive new markets and segments nobody would have thought about before! The funny thing about disruption is that it can come from using very old technology like letter-presses, physical mail, and who knows what?

As you can see - we have opportunities, and we need to figure out how these values can be communicated. Ladies and Gentlemen, let me reveal a secret - we are in the communication industry! Shouldn't we be able to identify the problems, come up with solutions, execute, evaluate, and re-initiate?

Everything we see and do is relative to perception. If the printing industry develops at a speed of, let's say, index 100, we would still be perceived differently from a company with a perceived index of 200.

Can we change young people - and maybe even our own - perception of the industry? I believe we can, and I think we have an advantage in addressing this. So we should!

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