Catalog Production in the Digital Age
The future of catalog production, she says, lies in a central repository, where all images, content, pricing, product specifications, inventory and versioning information will be encapsulated and made readily available to all those within the cross-media supply chain who have responsibilities for populating or accessing the information. Images, for example, could be stored in high-resolution RGB format, enabling anyone with password-protected access to retrieve, convert, manipulate and repurpose them according to specific output requirements.
“The idea is to be able to simply populate templates that have been designed for various output purposes — pages laid out in Quark, for example — that will manifest in catalog pages, or pages designed specifically for Web content,” Manes Goodwin explains. “All of the assets would be accessible through a standard Web browser, with various levels of access, of course, and the central repository would interface with any number of internal and external systems, like marketing, inventory, Web publishing and e-commerce applications.”
If software developers and systems integrators collaborate to bring this concept to fruition, she continues, it will afford catalog producers many benefits. For example, it eliminates redundancies and provides real-time access to vital data needed throughout the cross-media publishing supply chain.
Barriers to this utopian production model, says Manes Goodwin, lie in systems integration, where somewhat disparate business systems that often speak “different languages” must be effectively linked. It will require profound cooperation from internal departments within a catalog company (e.g., marketing, production, legal, sales, creative) and both a capital and staffing commitment to IT development. An insurmountable task? Perhaps, in this economy, Manes Goodwin suggests, but as the economy recovers investments in these areas may be imminent.
What Your Printer May be Planning
IT is garnering a lot of attention in the print-manufacturing segment, as well, and it behooves the smart cataloger to keep abreast of what’s in the works. Along the same lines as Manes Goodwin’s “big-picture concept” for the production side of operations, it turns out that printers and their vendors are thinking about how IT can play an increasingly important role in their operations, as well.