Has Web to Print Become a Business-Critical Application?

  • Howie Fenton
  • |
  • January 22, 2018

The growing importance of e-commerce has never been more clear than the most recent holiday season as 51% of holiday shopping was expected online, compared to 42% in stores (Deloitte Holiday Retail Survey [2017]). An annual survey by analytic firm comScore and UPS found that consumers are now buying more things online than in stores. The report shows year over year growth since 2014 regardless of the age of the person or the location of the product. In fact, it is starting to not matter what is ordered. It could be a ride from Uber, dinner from GrubHub, furniture from Wayfair, groceries from Amazon, or business cards from VistaPrint- there is an undeniable appeal to online and mobile ordering. As a result, online ordering systems such as Web to print software may be becoming a Business-Critical Application.

What are Business Critical Applications?

Business Critical Applications (BCA) are a relatively new term primarily discussed in IT circles to identify categories of software products that are not quite as important as Mission Critical Applications, but still very important to a company's business. Because it is new, the distinction between Mission Critical and Business Critical applications is still in flux. According to Wikipedia, an example of a Mission Critical Application is, "a navigational system for a spacecraft. The difference between mission critical and business critical lies in the major adverse impact and the very real possibilities of loss of life, serious injury and/or financial loss." According to searchstorage.techtarget.com  a company's Business Critical Applications varies for different businesses. "If you have a retail business, then your CRM application may be most important. On the other hand, it may be your manufacturing or supplier management software that is the most important." A better distinction may come from the airline industry, because air traffic control would be a Mission Critical Application, while the reservation system would be Business Critical because an outage would not have a catastrophic effect, but it would hurt business.

Mission vs Business Critical Within In-Plants

Fortunately, except for safety protocols on equipment I can't think of examples in which anyone would get physically hurt if systems went down in the printing and mailing industry. However, there can be serious consequences with certain types of transactional printers if they fail to comply with government regulations (i.e., HIPAA). Therefore, a failure in systems confirming the correct pages were inserted or an error in matching an individual's pages with their envelope could be considered Mission Critical. In contrast, if the Web to print system for an in-plant at a university failed, it could hurt the in-plant's ability to meet financial obligations, KPIs, service level agreements or customer satisfaction goals. Failure to meet financial obligations, KPIs, service level agreements or customer satisfaction goals could fit within the definition of a Business-Critical Application. Has Web to print become a business-critical application for your in-plant?


About the Author

Howie Fenton

Howie Fenton is an independent consultant and trusted advisor to in-plant printers. He recommends equipment, best practices and workflow automation tools to streamline operations. To learn more about measuring performance, benchmarking to leaders, and improving your value e-mail Howie@howiefentonconsulting.com

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