How Technology is Transforming Traditional Industries
When you think of traditional industries such as printing, you’re not very likely to associate it with the latest technologies and digital transformation. Mimeo, a leading printing company who offer digital distribution and online printing solutions, is on a journey to change this. Companies are dealing with customers who are in the driving seat and who are practically in charge of what opportunities a business should offer them. At Mimeo, customer orders are planned, prioritized, printed and shipped. In an age where customers expect their needs to be met, meeting the quick turnaround would not be possible without the help of automation tools. This has enabled Mimeo to become the first of its kind to offer online printing and overnight delivery on complex products and marketing.
In this exclusive interview with Brad Ellis, the Director of Product Development at Mimeo, we wanted to know how complexity can be achieved when the demand is for a fast and seamless move from design to completion. We spoke to Brad about the importance of getting a return on investment and overcoming the mistakes that are an inevitable part of an innovation program in a traditional industry.
What are your attitudes towards technology, and how it helps deliver for your customers?
“Strangely enough, we don’t consider ourselves a printing company that uses technology. Instead, we see ourselves as a technology company that saves our customers time, primarily through printing and logistics. The print industry traditionally involves a lot of manual processes. For us, automation is centred of error proofing instead of creating our robots. At Mimeo, it’s about making sure that what the customer wants is being delivered 100 per cent of the time.”
How do technology and operational excellence link together?
“I believe that technology can be an enabler of continuous improvement. We have a combination of industrial and software engineers to make constant improvements to our selection of processes. Once the process is selected, the software engineer will come in behind them and automate it. It’s really about reinforcing the change in a more automated way after it’s been implemented.
How does ROI factor in for your business?
“We don’t measure our ROI from project to project, necessarily; we don’t generally do projects that have less than a year payback. We feel as though we do get a return on our projects and the fact that we’re a technology company. It wouldn’t be profitable if we weren’t achieving ROI on our technology.”
Could you break down domain-driven-design microservices for us?
“At Mimeo, we strongly believe that building simple systems is best. These systems have very specific responsibilities and use language that business users can understand. Alternatively, you try to go off and build a complex system from the start and it’s probably not going to work. Domain-driven design is a very appealing way of doing things. It’s a software development design process that puts a heavy focus on the core business. It also heavily leans on experts in the business to drive the building blocks of the software model.”
It sounds like a good strategy but innovation is never without risks, is it?
“Sure, everyone fails from time-to-time. The important thing when you do fail is to learn from those failures and try not to make that same mistake again. We tried to adopt a new technology that hadn’t been proven, all because it was backed by Microsoft. Unfortunately, the technology never took off and it was abandoned by Microsoft. We still experiment with cutting-edge technology because that’s how we keep on top of the latest and greatest trends; also it’s how you stop the really good software engineers from wandering off to go and play somewhere else. The average tenure is typically three years for a software engineer. However, we’ve had an engineer who’s been with us for well over ten.”
So part of the ROI is staff retention?
“Our software engineers are engaged and excited about working on the next project, but also making sure that the projects they work on are the right projects. We do that by combining them with our industrial engineers.”