In this episode of UKvUSA Deborah Corn and Matthew Parker discuss how AI will impact and disrupt the print industry, the challenges of AI products and platforms, and where the opportunities lie. (Transcript below)
Mentioned in This Episode:
‘This A.I. Strategy For Print On Demand Will Make Millions’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9HnxKPIoks
The Print Report – Integrating AI with Print Businesses: https://podcasts.printmediacentr.com/the-print-report-integrating-ai-with-print-businesses/
Matthew Parker: https://www.linkedin.com/in/profitableprintrelationships/
Profitable Print Relationships: https://profitableprintrelationships.com
Deborah Corn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/deborahcorn/
Print Media Centr: https://printmediacentr.com
Project Peacock: https://ProjectPeacock.TV
Girls Who Print: https://girlswhoprint.net
Print Across America: https://printacrossamerica.com
[0:00:01] DC: Print Buying UKvsUSA is a series dedicated to helping producers create stronger, more meaningful, and more profitable relationships with print customers on both sides of the pond. I’m Deborah Corn, founder of Project Peacock and principal at Print Media Centr.
[0:00:20] MP: I’m Matthew Parker, the Champion of Print at profitableprintrelationships.com.
[0:00:26] DC: We may not always agree, but that’s when it gets interesting. So turn up the volume, get out your notepad, and welcome to the program.
[0:00:38] DC: Hey, everybody. Welcome to Podcasts From The Printerverse, this is Deborah corn, your intergalactic ambassador. More specifically, we are here with the UKvsUSA podcast, which means I am here with my arch nemesis/BFF, Matthew Parker. Hello, Matthew.
[0:00:56] MP: Hi, Deborah. How are you? Oh, that’s the first time, you call me your BFF. I’m honored. That’s lovely. I’m going to give you a warm internet hug.
[0:01:03] DC: Thank you. I feel your bits and bobs. Get it. Bits, bits, bob.
[0:01:07] MP: Yes. Yes. Yes
[0:01:11] DC: Excellent. All right. So let’s get right into it. Very topical topic out there in the printerverse, in the world artificial intelligence. You actually put a survey out in LinkedIn, why don’t you kick off this podcast?
[0:01:27] MP: Okay. I think before I mentioned a survey, we should mention, first of all, that you have already done a really excellent podcast with Pat McGrew on the topic of AI. Everyone who’s interested in listening to this should also listen to that one. I don’t think there’s going to be a huge amount of overlap, there may be a little bit, but we’ll put it in the show notes. So with that in mind, it’s really interesting, perhaps, and Deborah, you’ve both got lots of interesting things to say. But having listened to that, I thought it’d be interesting just to take it from maybe my point of view, as well, and maybe see if we could expand the conversation a bit. One thing I did recently was I put out a poll on LinkedIn. My question was, how do you think AI will affect the printing industry.
I was shocked, saddened, worried by the response. I got to send Deborah into a feel of depression now. In fact, I’m probably going to send an awful lot of listeners into a feel of depression as well. So, nearly one in three people felt that it wouldn’t affect it at all, or it’d be a minimal effect. Over 40% thought the effect would broadly be more in design and artwork, and then just over a third said, it will have a major effect. Those are the only four options. So not at all, minimally more in design and artwork, or will have a major effect. Only one in three people think it’s going to have a major effect. So I hope that your previous podcast with Pat, and that this podcast will go a little way towards getting people to rethink, in those two thirds, to rethink. I realized, yes, I don’t think there’s any doubt about it in my mind.
AI is already having an effect on the printing industry, and it’s going to have a huge effect on the printing industry. I mean, what’s your take on it? Have I got that wrong, Deborah?
[0:03:10] DC: That’s really interesting, because there’s AI in every print shop already, if they have automation software, and there are companies that review resumes that use AI looking for keywords and things like that. So, I’m not sure.
[0:03:25] MP: I saw things. They’ve all got –
[0:03:26] DC: Yes. I’m not sure what they think, if it’s like a replicator from Star Trek, things like that. That they’re expecting something to beam in there, for Tupac to walk in and do a press tour or something like that. But AI is already in the print shop, and I would almost guarantee they’re printing files that were generated by AI. Whether it is artwork in some situations, that might even be text. Not that that would necessarily mess up a printer or anything, or they would know that. But to live in this sort of, let’s say, bubble of this has nothing to do with me. Seems to me that there’s just more education needed about what AI actually touches, because if everybody thinks about it more like in the video game environment, or a virtual environment, even though there’s virtual stuff. I’ve seen Frank Romano walk out of a standing printed banner, as like a hologram.
I wish we could have gone back on that poll and asked them to define what they think it is. Or all the people who said it has nothing to do with us, those are the people I actually want to know what they think that it is.
[0:04:46] MP: Yeah, I agree. It’ll be really interesting to do. It might be a little difficult to do on the LinkedIn polls, simply because you’ve got so few words that you can use. But it would be really interesting to get people do to this.
[0:04:55] DC: Yeah, but you as the poll person can see who said what.
[0:04:59] MP: Yes, I can. Yes.
[0:05:02] DC: Technically, you could follow up with those people, just – if you are interested just to do a little deeper dive on what they think it is. Because — you know what I’m saying? It could be skewed in that way. I guess it’s because I’m in so much shock that I’m trying to give everybody the benefit of the doubt. Because if people just like, yeah, no, that has nothing to do with me, we’ve got a pretty serious problem in the printing industry.
[0:05:27] MP: I agree. I just add some background support as well. It wasn’t like a vote or anything. We had 143 votes on that, so it had a reasonable engagement. I feel that’s fairly well connected. I had a look at the people who voted, and I think it’s a fairly broad cross-section of the industry, with some fairly well-known names in there. There’s people from different job roles as well. So, I don’t feel that it was unduly influenced by one type of demographic within the printing industry as well. We’ve got work to do. What should we do about education? I mean, I think that’s an interesting question. Should you be doing a one-day AI virtual conference or something just to get out to people what it is so that people can learn more?
[0:06:11] DC: That’s really interesting, because I was just going to ask you that question. I think that the starting point is understanding if you’re in the printing end of things, that you’re going to be more on the receiving end of files that might have been created by artificial intelligence. I’m going to leave out the workflow and all that technology out of it now. Because as you mentioned, and I did a podcast, more of like focusing on the tech, the workflow, the technology, the software, that’s all running on artificial intelligence. I’m going to stay on this podcast more in the creation and output of part of this.
[0:06:54] MP: I’d like to touch on the workflow a little bit maybe later on.
[0:06:57] DC: Yes, of course. I mean, I’m just saying, Yeah, that’s totally cool.
[0:07:00] MP: I don’t want to overlap on what you patted on.
[0:07:02] DC: No, no, it’s totally cool. I think the first step is, based on your poll, defining artificial intelligence as it relates to what will affect a printshop. Beyond processes, procedures, software, technology, the way they do things, the way they communicate, and just going to the actual somebody went on mid journey created a picture of a cat on a surfboard, which I watched this morning. This is actually interesting. Let me say this first. This morning, I was doing a little research for this podcast to see if there was anything interesting out there about print and AI. I came across a gentleman called Kerry Egeler. He has a YouTube channel. He was talking about the AI strategy for print on demand will make millions, a step-by-step tutorial. I was like, “Oh, interesting.” I know a lot of people who print on demand. Let me look and see what this is all about?
Well, it had nothing to do with printing on demand. I have no idea where this guy is using that term. He seems to think that anybody who creates art for a single t-shirt is a print on demand printer, but they’re actually a print on demand consumer. I guess he was insinuating that people are creating art and then selling it print on demand. In other words, a custom design. He was focusing on t-shirts in this particular video.
[0:08:55] MP: I think there is a big area where people, and I think probably people do call it print on demand. Where I design t-shirts, I print it as purely if someone places an order, then it gets printed. So I’m not a printer, I’m a print on demand retailer if you like.
[0:09:12] DC: Where are they printing it? This guy didn’t say where he was printing it.
[0:09:15] MP: Typically, they’ll have a printing company who fulfills for them.
[0:09:20] DC: That’s what I’m talking about. But right away, printing industry people looking at that. I watch that video, and I’m like, “This has nothing to do with print on demand.” Because he was using a term that – he took the term to be what you’re saying, which makes more sense during this whole thing. But apparently, this is a big business now. People generating this art and printing single customized items somewhere. Printers need to know how to deal with those files, because even in his tutorial, he’s like. So here we are, “I generated this cat on a surfboard.” That’s why I’m using that example. That’s what he did, “Now I’m going to pull it into Canva, remove the background and make it bigger.” I’m like, “What? Is it an image? Is it a vector file? How do you just make it bigger and think that it’s going to output the way you want it to output?”
So this is really where I feel that if the printing industry could embrace this, we can actually become — we should be doing these videos, not this guy who’s like print on demand, make the art and good luck with that. Printer should go on there and say, “Hey, if you’re going to use it, make sure that it’s at least this big. Make sure that you limit the colors if you’re not going – if you depending upon what process you’re using, or let them know the different processes and how art would need to be generated for that, and really become the expert in it.” If these people out there all are having thriving million-dollar businesses, then they should be willing to pay printers for consultancies, or for the content. A printer maybe can put up an entire educational section on their website, and charge people $5 a month to access it. I know the horror, the horror of what I’m saying. But if this is becoming a closed consumer loop, then the printers can do more to immerse themselves with the creators.
[0:11:32] MP: I agree and I disagree on this one. So first and foremost, I think it’s fascinating if this is growing up to be a new segment, in the same way that 10, 15 years ago, when digital photography became mainstream. It’s suddenly generated a whole new sector for print. Maybe AI is going to do the same, and I think that’s brilliant if it is. I absolutely agree with you that I think that the print industry should embrace the sector, and embed itself with the sector more, where I’m going to disagree with you is the way in which the printing industry does it. Because your average person who creates that sort of art doesn’t want the hassle of understanding print. Like basically, they don’t give a cat on a surfboard about what happens to their image.
What the printing industry should be doing is actually adapting software and going, “If you want print on demand, use this software. It automatically produces the files that are ready for our machines. Sure, you can use a generic image AI software, but there’s no guarantee that’s going to print well. You’re going to have all sorts of problems. Use our one instead, make it free to use potentially or just a very easy-to-manage subscription, like many of the current AI programs have.” And go, “And this will automatically if you want it printed, you press the button, work with the t-shirt, and it’s all done for. You don’t have to worry about finding a printer, you don’t have to worry about downloading the file, and making it bigger in some magic way, and putting it into Canva and then setting Canva up so it’s four colors, and then you find it doesn’t work. Nobody wants all that stuff.
There’s a huge opportunity for the print industry here to create that version of AI initial generation software that manages all that for you. I think we should take it further as well, because you and Pat talked very much about the fact that a lot of content is going to be created for printing companies on artificial intelligence. What’s going to happen to those files. The print industry needs to address this now. It needs to either create its own software and make sure it’s mainstream and easily accessible. Not some specialist print industry, expensive software, or it needs to create – forgive my lack of technical know, how but plugins for AI software that basically allow the images to be translated for your presses seamlessly and automatically without the user even having to know about it. It needs to do that.
[0:14:06] DC: Print Media Centr provides printspiration and resources to our vast network of print and marketing professionals. Whether you are an industry supplier, print service provider, print customer, or consultant, we have you covered with topical sales and marketing content, event support, and coverage, these podcasts, and an array of community lifting initiatives. We also work with printer suppliers, and industry organizations, helping them to create meaningful relationships with customers and achieve success with their sales, social media, and content marketing endeavors. Visit printmediacentr.com and connect with the Printerverse. Print long and prosper.
[0:14:53] MP: Thoughts on that?
[0:14:54] DC: Well, I’m going to start with that, I give everybody the benefit of the doubt that if they create art, they’re going to spend money, putting ink on something that they care about the quality. And if they’re selling it, they have to care about the quality, because they won’t have people coming back. If that cat on a surfboard is blurry, right? So I don’t agree with you that they don’t care about it, they should care about it. Do they care as much as a Bio, and Ogilvy, and Mather, maybe not to that extent, but there is a minimal caring.
[0:15:26] MP: Okay. So just to clarify, I meant they don’t care about the process, they do care about the end results. But it’s that we want everything perfectly now mentality that a lot of people have these days. They don’t care what goes into it. They just want to make it nice and simple to get something good at the end of it.
[0:15:45] DC: As far as printers having AI image generator tools on their websites, I think that’s a really interesting idea. Can we make it ourselves? I mean, there are printers out there who still don’t have responsive websites. So I’m not really sure I would rely on the printing industry to create it. However, I think your suggestion about there must be something through Zapier that you can pull in an API of an AI generative image tool.
[0:16:19] MP: You can, so [inaudible 0:16:20] about it already.
[0:16:22] DC: Yes. With that being said, I think that is a fantastic idea. Whether you’re licensing it to a company to create as many designs, and have a subscription program, or make it free to your senses, as long as you put the design out there, there’s other models where with some programming, “Hey, you can save it three times. But if on the fourth save, you have to create an account, or you have to make a move to a purchase. We’re not just here for you to play on our website all day long.” I think that’s a very interesting idea. I’m fully behind that.
The other thing I would say is that, anybody out there who is truly interested in being part of phygital, which is what this is, taking things that are digital and making them physical. Go to those shows. You don’t need a booth, go mingle, go learn, go sit in the sessions, hear from the keynote speakers, and talk to the creators. Because I truly believe that we can act as guides as far as we want to help you make this digital asset as best as it can be in the physical world. But we have to be very careful how we do that. We can’t say no. We can’t say you can’t do it that way, because that drives the Gen-Zers, and the Millennials insane.
Instead, going back to the other thing, we become the educators on the how to output it the best way. Explore these communities, get involved. I’m sure there’s LinkedIn groups all over the place for it. Go in there, here with the people who actually have businesses creating these images need, or need to understand, create content about it and immerse yourself in these communities. This is actually one time where, let’s say the seasoned professionals in the printing industry really have a lot of clout. Because these types of people generating the art, they’re looking for states people, to teach them of crafts people. They’re going to think of the seasoned printers as the ones who understand everything. Where in this case, younger people might not be the best approach to sell.
I still believe a seasoned printing salesperson with a junior one is the best combination. Let the junior person, and the person generating art through AI talk on discord chat, WhatsApp all night long. And the older statesman is there to make sure that the education, the information, and the quality is what everybody expects at the end.
[0:19:29] MP: Yes. Personally, I think the senior statesman should already be on Discord, and WhatsApp and embracing all those technologies as well, but I agree. I think the industry – the key message, the industry has to lead this.
[0:19:41] DC: Oh my God, yes.
[0:19:44] MP: Because otherwise, we’re going to end up with the AI equivalent of Canva.
[0:19:50] DC: And behind the elephant with the shovel, dealing with whatever comes at us, which is exactly what happened with Canva.
[0:19:58] MP: Yes. Canva is not a great tool for the printing industry. It is a great way to democratize –
[0:20:03] DC: Wait, hold on. Let’s just give them their fair due. They have fixed it a lot since then.
[0:20:08] MP: Yes, yes, that have. You’re quite right. But there was a journey to get there.
[0:20:12] DC: Oh boy, was there a journey.
[0:20:13] MP: If the printing industry leads on AI, then, we’re in a much better position because we don’t have to go on that journey in the first place. I think there’s a real opportunity for the right entrepreneurs in the printing industry to get involved with this, and I would urge them to do that. I want to touch on one other thing as well. I’m not sure if it affects you so much in the US. But in the UK, legally, printers are responsible for what they produce. So if you produce something that’s libelous, technically, you could end up in court being sued for it. Now, most printing companies have to get out in their terms and conditions, which pass that onus back to the customer. But we have to be really careful with AI, because there’s a lot of content being generated on AI, where I think we’re getting into some murky copyright, and we’re getting into wrong facts. I will give you an example of wrong facts, first of all.
A connection of mine on LinkedIn sent me a message because they had looked for the top people in the print industry in the UK. I love AI because I feature on it, but that’s on its own. It comes with a whole load of caveats. And they said, my knowledge cutoff is 2021. It’s not within my capabilities to determine the top people in the print industry, as it can be subjective, and very dependent on the criteria. However, I can provide you the list of some influential people in the UK print industry, based on their achievements and contributions. Number 10, Matthew Parker, yes.
But yes, I’ve got to honestly say, there’s no way I should be number 10 on that list. There’s people out there who’ve done far more in the printing industry, as it was. The list is littered with people who in jobs that they’re no longer in someone who’s suddenly dead, someone who’s in America. So yeah, if that’s what’s coming out of a first request for information from AI, then anyone who’s using AI to generate factual elements in their content is opening themselves up for a whole can of worms. Let’s look at the photography side as well. You can load anyone’s image in as a prompt on photography. A couple of days ago, I just said, “Make an image in the style of Ansel Adams,” a very famous American landscape photographer “about happiness” which is not something that he was known for. AI came up with a great idea of how Ansel Adams might have embraced that. I could see it wasn’t Ansel Adams, but it was very interesting.
Now, Ansel Adams is pretty much out of copyright now, because it’s over 60 years ago. You put in a current commercial photographer as an image prompt. The AI may not know that person’s name, but you can say, make it in the style of this image. You’re beginning to get in, I think, not only to some really dodgy ethical territory, but you’re getting in some very dodgy copyrights to areas as well. Even if you feel you’ve got the liberal get-outs, do you want to be the printer who’s printed those files, which ended up in court in a massive litigation, because you’re going to end up involved in it somehow. Will be known about it.
I do think that printers need to be very cautious about accepting content that’s been generated by AI. And they certainly need to review the terms and conditions, legal terms conditions to make sure that they don’t get embroiled in anything they don’t want to.
[0:23:50] MP: Are you fed up that all your conversations with customers seem to focus around price? Struggling to stand out from the competition? Or maybe you’re just frustrated, at trying to put together a realistic sales plan or make the most of social media? I’m Matthew Parker, the Champion of Print, and I help printing companies with all these sorts of issues. What makes me different is that I’ve been sold to by over 1400 different printing companies, so I know what works and I know what doesn’t. Visit www.profitableprintrelationships.com to find out more and download free resources.
[0:24:30] DC: America does not work like that. That is not any printer’s problem. They receive the files, it’s not their job to verify whether those are copyrighted images or if the text was generated from ChatGPT. So now, that being said, that doesn’t mean that it will get there eventually, especially if it’s happening in the UK? I mean, your GDPR ruined our marketing world, all you privacy freaks over there. That doesn’t mean it can’t come here. But I mean, I have never been questioned ever in my life by a printer if the image in my art was legal to use. It was my responsibility in my job folder to have all my paperwork from the photographer that I had usage rights for the image and what they were, and it was documented everywhere, including by the art buyer. So we have our backup for all that. The printers do not get involved. You wanted to talk about workflow, so I want to open up that door for you.
[0:25:44] MP: Okay. I thought it might be quite interesting. I think I’m correct in saying that you and Pat talked very much about how things are at the moment, and what the next couple of generations of AI might lead to in the printing industry in terms of workflow. I thought it might be interesting. You’ve always encouraged me both on this podcast and on PrinterChat, to really push the boundaries. How could things look in the world of print? I thought it might be interesting to have a look at how we might see a print shop that’s been AI dot to the hilt. Once AI’s got through — it is still a young technology. It’s still got one or two teething problems. There’s a way to go before it gets to be brilliant. But once AI is brilliant, what might that print shop look like? Because you said, let’s list some of the things that would affect a print shop in terms of AI. I think it’d be quicker to list the things that won’t affect a print shop in terms of AI, and I’m going to list them right now.
[0:26:47] DC: Okay.
[0:26:47] MP: That was my list.
[0:26:48] DC: Oh, that was your list.
[0:26:50] MP: That was my list. Everything I think will be affected by AI.
[0:26:54] DC: Oh, there you go. Okay. Well, yeah. So turning that over and putting on my future hat, which is probably closer than we think now that Microsoft and Face Meta have partnered on metaverse stuff. So let’s start with your print shop is in the metaverse. It’s a virtual print shop. That’s where I might go in to review everything you can do and place my order, and then we were in the phygital thing. And then it’s going to come from – there needs to be automation and tools to get it out from there to the actual output device. Which by the way, might not be a physical location any more that a printer owns. Why it might not be necessary for me to own a building with equipment in it if I can take orders in my virtual print shop, and send them through the myriad of networks out there that could print things.
Certainly, anybody of everything in digital that has to become phygital is going through some sort of manufacturing process. The printing industry is squarely in the top three of industries needed to make this happen. Which means that there is no way in hell, Microsoft, Google, Meta is ever going to let us have it. They’re going to say, as long as you’re in here, just print it out through our network. I mean, Amazon’s already doing that.
There will always be a place for niche printers, and specialty printers, and people who – professional print customers who have relationships with printers. But for consumers, I don’t think the business model of, “Hey, let me call you up. Let me introduce myself.” It’s not. You might need to be walking around the metaverse go to a virtual trade show about generating art through AI tools, and then bring those people back to your virtual print shop, have a meeting and sell things that way. So, very minority report. We keep saying that, but it’s here. It just hasn’t fully manifested. It’s swirling like a nebula. There’s all the ingredients to form this new store are there, and they’re swirling, and they’re being compressed, and they’re being heated, and cooled, and they’re expanding and contracting as we’re all figuring this out. But if we’re not squarely in the middle of that. I think these companies are going to eat us our lunch, and it could be the real end of the road for physical print shops, and not just closed-door facilities that manufacture things. Prints in this case.
[0:30:17] MP: You have approached it from a completely different angle from me. I love your way of thinking, but I don’t love it because the way it ends up, but I agree with your way of thinking.
[0:30:24] DC: I don’t want to be Debbie Doom. I don’t like being Debbie Doom.
[0:30:29] MP: You got to be realistic, and I think you are. I think I can’t disagree with anything you said there. I think there’s a very high likelihood that will happen.
[0:30:37] DC: Not tomorrow.
[0:30:38] MP: No, but it will.
[0:30:40] DC: Ten years-ish.
[0:30:41] MP: Yes. People have been trying, Amazon have done it. It was happening before certain bookshops. We’re looking at trying to print books actually at the bookshop. Amazon have done it, people like Adobe and Apple. Adobe and Apple have had those sorts of hookups, and they haven’t made the work yet, but they have tried, and they will come back and try again. I looked at this from a slightly different point of view, because you did say that I think there will still be room for print shops. Maybe not for the direct consumer people, but I think there will still be a place for printing companies that are doing longer-run prints for bigger businesses. I think that will continue and that I don’t think that the Microsoft, and the Metas of this world want to get involved in that because it’s just too much like hard work.
[0:31:34] DC: I don’t think for right now, like they’re interested in printing all the cereal boxes for Nabisco, for example.
[0:31:40] MP: Exactly.
[0:31:41] DC: But eventually, I’m just saying, eventually, once you have your consumer pool under control, that’s the next place to go. But there’s plenty of – they can actually serve the consumers better. Because I’ve actually spoken to so many printers who want nothing to do with printing literally one. Even if they’re printing 1000 ones in a shift, they’re like, “That’s not our business model. That’s a consumer facing print on demand” that this guy is talk – in the video was talking about. They don’t want to be involved in that, which I understand. There’s a lot of dealing with getting people’s money for that one item. It could be a big pain in the ass, especially if your workflow is not set up. And to your point before, what are the conditions of those files? How much work needs to go into them? Can they possibly make any money off of that with their margins? Probably not. Because these are amateur people giving you stuff that they’ve generated or they don’t understand printing specs? So yes.
[0:32:50] MP: I mean, it can be done.
[0:32:51] DC: I agree with what you’re saying, and there’s a long time before they’re going to go after those people.
[0:32:55] MP: Yes. The printing of one can be done very well by a printing company. I’ve seen it done, but only if you have absolutely the right automated workflow. Yeah, if you’ve got anyone touching a job bag, that you’re stuffed, basically, you’ve got to have exactly the right workflow.
[0:33:12] DC: And you have to do more than one at a time. You have to do 100 ones or 1000 ones or –
[0:33:17] MP: Absolutely, yes. That can all be set up automatically. If you’re going, “Oh my workflow can’t do that,” don’t even think going down there.
[0:33:23] DC: Right. But the difference is, it’s the volume that becomes the problem, because a printer can hold it till they have 100 to print. Because then speed to market is gone. I can get it tomorrow on Amazon. The whole process is evolving.
[0:33:42] DC: News from the Printerverse deliver topical sales, and marketing insight, along with plenty of printspiration one time a month to inboxes everywhere. Our contributors cover the industry and the future of print media and marketing, with strategy for strengthening your customer relationships, better targeting of your prospects, and practical advice for helping your business grow. Printspiration is just a click away. Subscribe to news from the Printerverse at printmediacentr.com. Print long and prosper.
[0:34:18] MP: Let’s look at the print shop that will exist for the next 10 years or so. What might AI look for that? So I’m going to give you my predictions down and see what you think. I believe that it is possible. I’m not sure that all printing companies would go for it and I think they’re making an error if it don’t. But I believe it will be possible to have an AI managed print shop. What do I mean by that? You and Pat covered the whole customer service bit with chat bots and the right ERP systems very well in your podcast. That bit can be managed by AI. The files come in.
Meanwhile, AI is probably looking the estimating part of your production workflow, which is now controlled by AI, understands the output of your machines. It monitors those in a real time basis. It looks at which jobs you make a profit on, which jobs you don’t. It takes all that data that’s been created from the other elements of the workflow, it takes it and it goes, “You know what, if we’re going to do this business card job, we need to put an X percent markup on that. But actually, those brochures are flying through, the machines are loving those. I’d like a few more of those. So I’m going to lower the offer price on those because we still make a decent profit margin.” It’s going to start making those decisions, without anyone at the company having to have input in that to that, unless they want to. And it will probably make far better decisions than the average commercial team as a print company now for two simple reasons.
One, in the same way that imposition software is so much more effective further than someone trying to work out the best way to do it. Because in a nanosecond, it can look at 15 trillion different ways of imposing something and work out the best one. In the day, people can’t estimate to that level, so that’s why AI can do it. But secondly, I think that if you are in a cloud-managed AI system, it may well be looking and going, “You know what, Matthews got this particular press, Deborah’s got one as well. Let’s look at what Deborah does in her press, and let’s look at what Pat does on her press,” and start going, “these are the sorts of jobs Matthew’s never done a brochure like this before. But Deborah and Pat are having great profit margins on those” and it starts building in a wider network of knowledge to which most printing companies can’t have access to at the moment.
So it starts off with those commercial decisions. It will also do real time scheduling to the level it will just go, you won’t need a scheduler. You go, “Right, we’re doing this job. Oh, hang on. That machine has gone down. I’ll reschedule in a nanosecond” or “This job’s not turned up, I’ll reschedule.” You can probably get your clients to go on and go, “Right, I will have my files for the cereal boxes ready on Wednesday at 3am.” And it goes, “Right, based on that, here’s your delivery time. We’ve just booked a slot in.” But, yes, if a client misses it, it’s not a big deal because they’ll switch things around.
So we’re beginning to get that lights-out printing. Owners of printing companies, and senior management of printing companies, they’ll be able to get any report they want in real-time about what’s happening. But really, they don’t want to mess with it, because AI is going to be at a situation where it goes, “You know what, Matthew. Never do another business card again. Yes, you’re not making any money on those. We’re just going to reject them or price them so that you do, but we don’t think we’ll get any.” It will make all those decisions. When the scheduling comes in, it will then interact with the robots, and they will physically load the right substrates into the machines for you. The presses will be controlled automatically. We can have lights-out printing at that point.
And the robot can then load it into the delivery truck, which is probably outsourced. Again, it is – as they do at the moment, yes, most of the courier companies are really got very detailed ways of working out the most effective routes for delivery. That will just go into that element of it. So the whole thing can be managed without people getting involved at that point, and I believe to higher profit margins with greater customer satisfaction. The two other things I didn’t mention, quality control, no problem again. AI will manage that. We’ve already got spectrophotometry on presses. It’s not – you look at binding, you’ve got cameras on binders to know that if a section is going in the wrong way, or it’s the wrong section, it stops. There’s no reason that we can’t expand that level of quality control to happen automatically.
Finally, your presses are going to be managed remotely by AI, and they’re going to be monitoring – if I’ve got an ABC one press, they’re going to be monitoring, everyone else has got an ABC one press, and compare the usage levels, and go, “Matthew suddenly started using his press at a high usage rate. We know exactly what happens to wear and tear on parts now because we’ve seen that happen on other presses that we’ve got, that we’ve been monitoring on that. So Matthew, we’re now going to do an automatic ink flush of the machine. And then, in two weeks’ time, we’re standing it down for two hours under the service engineer will be coming to change the blankets for you.” That’ll be managed as well. You may not be happy with the way your service contracts end up, by the way. But I think that’s the way it will go. Any thoughts on that?
[0:39:48] DC: Well, the expansion of that is also all the communications that can be done through automated tools through AI, which is not just, “Write me a blog post about white format printing.” It can be copy and pasting in the homepage information for your five biggest competitors, and asking ChatGPT from the perspective of a strategic marketer create a mission statement that is different than the things that are being said here.
[0:40:23] MP: It’s already being done, isn’t it?
[0:40:26] DC: Well, it is being done by people who understand how to use the prompts correctly in ChatGPT, and not use it as a search engine. You have to go and collect all of the text that you want ChatGPT. It doesn’t analyze a website. In other words, you have to copy and paste information. So you can do that by copying and pasting in your own information and asking ChatGPT to give you your 10 value propositions about your company. You can put in all of the products and services that the top products and services of what you believe your biggest local competitors are. As ChatGPT to tell you where there’s room. If everyone’s saying they’re doing business cards to your point, and they have better SEO, and whatever it might be, you understand what I’m saying. Like give you a way to focus on products that other people aren’t printing, so you can differentiate yourself in a manner.
I mean, there are sales scripts, and prospecting. I’m not necessarily a believer in scripts. But to get at least everybody on the same page of what your company does, what your company does well, who it does it for, and not leave that up to everyone to interpret themselves can be very powerful. Same as asking ChatGPT to create a 300-word summary of your business. I actually did that. I have to say that — well, let me go back a second. I do occupy a lot of space in a search term, if you search Deborah Corn, and I’ve been on the internet. That’s also why you showed up, Matthew Parker. I wanted to say that to you.
We’ve been on the internet a lot and we have a lot of content out there. So it’s easier for the generative things to find us and find information about us. Yes. So I asked ChatGPT to write a you know, an about us, for me, and for Print Media Centr. Let me tell you, it was one of the best things ever read about myself because I didn’t write it. There were no emotions involved. I didn’t say, “Oh, that’s a little – people are going to know I wrote this. I sound a little fool of myself, right?” But I sort of embraced it as that is what the internet thinks about me. And I’m going to use it, and I used it everywhere. I updated everything from my humble story.
What I’m saying is, is that it can help you see things in a different way, and it’s a great exercise if you have enough content, enough web presence, and enough history for ChatGPT to actually extrapolate information, and create a story about you, to hear what it has to say. Then, take the most important pieces, and see if you can’t use it in your marketing. This is all happening. To go back to your poll, and just to close this up, the fact that anybody thinks that this has nothing to do with the printing industry, it has to do everything with the world, and we’re all part of the world.
[0:43:54] MP: I think to a very quick point, I met someone today who’s already writing content for LinkedIn using ChatGPT to basically create what they want to say. It gives them article ideas. They are a high-level salesperson in a major print brand, and they – rather than get their PR agency to write them lots of blog articles, they just do it all via chat GPT because it’s quicker, they can just get it done.
[0:44:20] DC: As long as you read it, make the corrections. I mean, it is very easy to tell now that I’ve seen more of it, it fits this weird formula. Like it repeats the premise of the topic to be in the first sentence. In the end, it almost says, and in conclusion. Like you would write a term paper, like how you would learn to write a formal paper. So it does follow some rules that people in the texting world don’t follow anymore. It also repeat points over, and over, and over again. Just says them in different ways. Yes, it’s being used, but anyone who’s just taking it, slapping it in a post format, or a blog, or whatever it is and sending out the world. I’m sorry, you’re a moron, and you better stop doing that.
[0:45:08] MP: I think that’s something we have to be aware of, that some people are going to be using AI in the wrong way. Some people are going to be too scared to try and use it. I understand that, because it is a massive game changer. It’s a lot to get your head around. But I hope at least in our conversation today, you’ve certainly opened my eyes, and ears to different opportunities in the artificial intelligence landscape. I hope I’ve given you some food for thought as well. But most importantly, I hope that together, we’ve given our listeners a lot of food for thought on just how things might go. The fact that AI is going to be incredibly important in the printing industry. Deborah, I don’t know if there’s anything you want to say in wrapping up.
[0:45:51] DC: I would just like to speak to those people who answered your poll and said it had nothing to do with the printing industry, and implore you to do a little research, and ask a lot of questions. It is very true that you might be sitting somewhere that it might not personally affect you, and maybe that’s why you answered. But since it is currently, and will continue to have such a huge impact on the world. And answer, will AI affect this and anyone says no? I hope you really know how everything is not going to be affected by it in some manner.
So good conversation, Matthew. Good topic. Please leave us some stars, some reviews, and be curious, learn, click around, and until next time, everybody, print long, AI long and prosper.
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[0:46:49] DC: Thanks for listening to Podcasts From the Printerverse. Please subscribe, click some stars, and leave us a review. Connect with us through printmediacentr.com. We’d love to hear your feedback on our shows and topics that are of interest for future broadcasts. Until next time, thanks for joining us. Print long and prosper.