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Give your office the gift of a digital approval process, because you know #PaperProofingSucks

Posted by NAPC Marketing on Thu, Dec 11, 2014 @ 10:10 AM
  
  
  

Christmas

 

The holiday season is here and with it begins the cheerful trickling in of holiday cards. You might already have a pile forming on your entryway table.

 They’re a little like presents, you might say. Open them and inside is a photo of family and friends, or friends’ kids (my how they’ve grown!), who you haven’t seen in the longest of times. Or at the very least there’s a warm greeting with an update on “things.”

Yes, good old-fashioned paper holiday cards are perfect. But have you ever considered sending them online instead? You might have, but you didn’t ever actually do it because of a plethora of challenges we can all relate to:

 -Digital is impersonal, even if you slug in their names and your signature in a script-like font,
-People generally love the traditional acts of opening the mailbox, finding a card, and tearing open the envelope
-You can display paper cards as part of your holiday décor and look at them all season long
-None of your great aunts or grandmas have computers, and they keep great records of who they do and don’t get cards from

So maybe it’s easier to just send paper cards. Fair enough. 

Now (seemingly unrelated, but you’ll see how they are shortly), when you think of your approval process at work, you think of paper too, right? Have you ever considered moving it all online instead? You might have, but you didn’t ever actually do it because of a plethora of challenges we can all relate to:

-Digital, you are told, is impersonal because hand writing comments in red ink makes people feel like everyone’s actually “touched” the project (kumbaya)
-People generally feel safe with the traditional act of moving stacks of paper from desk to desk (what if there’s a computer glitch?!)
-You can’t get anyone to understand that all season long, you’re spending more on reams of paper than you would on this one solution
-None of the higher-ups do well with change, and this would jingle bell rock their worlds in a very bad way (and don’t think they’re not keeping record of that for review time)

So maybe it’s easier to just leave things the way they are. Sure is. But then it’ll be another year of miscommunications, blown budgets and deadlines…and we both know that’s not really what you want.

TO SAY a digital proofing and approval process is more streamlined, efficient and eliminates multiple rounds of back and forth IS EASY. To get everyone on board with this change takes more than a little holiday magic.

Look. You’ve done your research. You know there are better options out there. With the New Year swiftly approaching, now is the time to make the switch. Start clean and fresh…and paper free!

To make everyone happy, you can even send a paper card to make the announcement.

MAKE A RESOLUTION TO DITCH YOUR PAPER APPROVAL PROCESS!

 

START HERE
 

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Your Customers Changed. Did Your Marketing?

Posted by NAPC Marketing on Tue, Nov 04, 2014 @ 09:55 AM
  
  
  

 

whoami 

 

Contributed by Guest Blogger, Shawn Herring, VP of Marketing, Proof HQ

The evolution of customer experience is a topic that marketers cannot ignore any longer. It seems as if customers are exposed to a new way of doing something, finding something, or interacting with someone on a daily basis. From a customer standpoint, this is great. From a marketers standpoint, this poses an opportunity for some and a problem for others. What makes the difference between a marketer seeing the glass half full or half empty when it comes to customer experience? Their marketing agility.

Before we dive in, what are some macro-level changes causing changes in customer experience?

  • Global smartphone usage increasing more than 25% from the year before
  • More than 74% of adults online are now using social networking
  • Content production is continuing on an explosive growth curve

The constant change in mobility, connection, and content gives you an ever-growing number of ways to gather data and engage as a marketer. This can happen in real-time and either confirm that your plans are headed in the right direction, or tell you it’s time to “tweak” what you wanted to do. If you have the ability to capitalize on this, then you are clearly at an advantage. This is where agility becomes paramount.

After stepping back and looking at how agile marketers have responded to the ever-changing environment, most marketing teams are focusing on three core areas: people, processes, and platforms. Each area requires a different type of adjustment that has internal and external implications, so there is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution that everyone can implement. It must be tailored to each company’s objectives, target market, and resources.

PEOPLE

Marketing teams are taking on more responsibilities and the roles are becoming more specialized. When you look around at your own marketing team, you should be able to see it. Is everyone on the team capable of making changes to the website, running a trade show event, designing graphics, and writing up thought leadership? If your answer is, “yes, everyone on my team could do that,” my challenge to you would be — should they? 

Each marketing channel, especially in digital, requires a depth of knowledge in order to make it truly effective. People should know WHAT they are doing, WHY they are doing it, and HOW they do it. More often than not, managers are providing the WHAT and WHY, while waiting for the generalists to figure out the HOW. Without specialization, generalists are having to figure out the HOW every time they attempt to complete the task / initiative. Thus giving you both an inefficient process and ineffective results.

My recommendation — Figure out how each person on your marketing team can specialize in a function that is tied to your overall marketing objectives. It will pay off in both the short and long term.

PROCESS

When the environment around people changes, it inherently changes how they work with others (i.e. the process). The manner in which today’s marketing organizations plan, iterate, and execute on projects has already changed and is not going to stop any time soon. Why does this matter? Because it increases the potential of friction between people.

By definition, more friction means more resistance. Friction is increased when you constantly try to do the same thing over and over while everything else is changing. The result is poor quality, increased rework, and/or missed deadlines. Instead, look at each initiative through a new lens and determine what needs to change with your process based on the other variables impacting it.

My recommendation - Reduce friction by assigning specific responsibilities to people and have a plan that is adapted to the current initiative. Never accept the response “this is how we have always done it.”

PLATFORMS

When you begin to understand who should be working on something (i.e. the people) and how they should be doing it (i.e. the process), you can now work toward automating it. From marketing operations all the way through the creative process, there are software solutions designed to streamline specific solutions.

So if there are solutions for all types of problems that marketers are facing, what is the issue? Picking the right solution to implement, not just the familiar one. Everyone has heard the phrase, “If all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.” This is the unfortunate truth when executing on marketing strategies. Teams constantly try to figure out how to make their existing systems work to fit the new and evolving needs of the people and processes. Since it is hard to justify allocating resources away from immediate top line growth, teams absorb the inefficiencies. If it is not addressed, this inefficiency builds project after project until… well, you know where I am heading with it.

My recommendation - Once you specialize roles (or at least certain functions) and begin implementing a process that is adapted for each project, look for a system that fits your specific team needs. Do not settle.

Becoming more agile in today’s marketing environment is imperative. Marketing agility is a must have as teams are required to know more, do more, in less time, and achieve better results. By taking a proactive approach to your people, processes, and platforms, your team’s ability to capitalize on the new customer experience is significantly improved. 


Evolve. Become Marketing Agile Now

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Five ways to tell if it’s time to upgrade your server

Posted by NAPC Marketing on Thu, Sep 18, 2014 @ 09:41 AM
  
  
  

iStock 000028334318Large resized 600

If you’re one of the over 4 million people who pre-ordered the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus within the first 24 hours, you already get the idea that you need to upgrade to enjoy the very best in technology. And you knew, without actually being told, that when you bought your new Apple iPhone last year (or the year before, no matter, it wasn’t that long ago) there’d be a newer and better one soon enough. You’re willing to go through the expense year after year because you know that each generation of phone has a more powerful architecture to handle your increasingly demanding, and changing, mobile tasks.


Yet when you bought your enterprise server, let’s say, five years ago, you pretty much called it a done deal. It was a significant expense, though worth it. After all, your infrastructure houses ALL of your digital assets. You know, the ones you simply can’t stay in business without. So, you had to do it...but you figured you were done and wouldn’t need to do that again, for, well, at least for a good long while.


Oooops. Wrong.


As you know, time changes everything; the natural accumulation of your files, newer, faster, more demanding applications and updates, more complex operations, shorter deadlines, and more automation. Sure, you took good care; patched, tested, paid for the maintenance contract, and treated the solution as the precious resource it was. Meanwhile you’ve left your infrastructure as is. Not so terrific...and here’s why.


As the infrastructure ages, for all those reasons above, performance slows down. Not all at once, but a bit at a time. It’s gradual. As with all pain, you live with it. First, a twinge. Then, an ache. Eventually, something makes you realize that it’s time for action. What used to be fast and efficient, isn’t any more. Your team is pulling out their collective hairs because they can’t meet deadlines due to slow or, worse, down servers.


It’s also painful to need to budget all over again. “We solved that in 2011, what again?” But reality is, to keep up and keep on productively you should plan on replacing your enterprise server every three years. Is your time now?


Here are five factors to help you determine if you have, indeed, outgrown your infrastructure:


1. Your database is falling behind

2. Maintenance costs are rising

3. You're afraid to reboot because the server may not come back up

4. Newer enterprise applications aren't compatible

5. Backups are still running on Monday


And...as a bonus #6 to all our blog readers...you’re realizing your server is anything but energy efficient.


The good news is, as time was busy making this purchase necessary, it also made it more affordable than before.


So, maybe it’s time now. And for all the right reasons. But how to stay on track for the future? Why not use something easy to remember? Try setting your server replacement schedule for every other iPhone release.


Update and up your productivity! Explore infrastructure options here: http://napc.com/hardware

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Why You Need to Manage Your Social Media Images the Right Way, Right Now

Posted by NAPC Marketing on Fri, Aug 01, 2014 @ 10:22 AM
  
  
  

digital asset management

Not too long ago, a Community Manager for a large and popular company grabbed an image off the web and posted it. “Well?” you wonder, “What’s so news-worthy about that? We do that all the time, where I work.” Turns out, that image was not in the slightest what that person thought it was. Not only was it not a colorful image depicting an historic U.S. celebration, but rather a tragic moment of national horror captured on film.

No doubt, by the time the news broke and a sick feeling started to sink in with the company’s CEO, that Community Manager was already long gone. It’s a guarantee that he or she will never work in their industry again. But that was just the beginning. The ripple effect from that one seemingly insignificant event cascaded a torrential wave of hate and doubt on the entire company, brand and all. Stocks plummeted, jobs were lost and a reputation was forever marred.

Whether this company will ever, ever regain any credibility remains to be seen, as they will forever be Googled as the company that royally f*%# up.

And all of this happened simply because they did not have a system in place for gathering, organizing and storing images for their social media.

Blindly entering criterion into a search engine like Google Images is just not the way. You’ve got to properly mind your store. And if you’re not the one managing your database of photography, then you need to set firm guidelines for the person who is.

Blogs, Facebook, Twitter...sound familiar? If you use them (and of course you do), then you need to set yourself up immediately under any one of these solutions; Content Management System (CMS), Digital Asset Management (DAM), Brand Asset Management (BAM), or Content Delivery Network (CDN).

These can help you safely and effectively create a stockpile of amazing images that are just what you need, ready at a moment’s notice. No more guessing what they are, or where they came from. No more last-minute, frantic searches.

If only that Community Manager had known, we’d have an entirely different theme for this blog.

But sometimes it takes a mega-error to help us reflect upon what we’re doing, and not doing right.

Stop the risk here and now.

Find your perfect digital management solution.

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How To Score Big and Avoid Penalties With New Archive Solutions

Posted by NAPC Marketing on Tue, Jul 01, 2014 @ 07:01 AM
  
  
  

worldcup

 

Archiving, like professional soccer, is usually relegated to a remote corner of the IT department, or the smallest TV screen at your local burger and wing joint. It isn’t until something like the demise of FlashNet in the Xinet space, or the FIFA World Cup, that people sit up and take notice.

But what happens when all the initial excitement has inevitably waned? An organized love of soccer will surely find its place back on youth team fields.

However, you’re still left without your FlashNet and a stadium worth of files and assets. What now? What next? SHOULD WE PANIC???

We’re throwing out a yellow card of warning; here’s why you should not let your team drop the ball on keeping up with what’s yet to come for this necessary utility.

As we all know, for every problem in the technology world there is always a game plan. And usually it’s a faster, easier, better solution that makes us wonder how we ever did it the “old way” in the first place. ‘Tis so, now, for Xinet.

Three new players to watch include a software update, a new Xinet plug-in module and new backup software. With this power team in place, quick and easy file archival and retrieval from within Xinet server application will continue

seamlessly, as before.

Better than before...users will have the ability to archive and restore files and assets from the Portal Basket, and even drag and drop jobs directly into Hot Folders.

Soon, too, Xinet systems administrators will be able to determine approval processes, quotas and restore methods at both a user and group level.

So huddle up on this with your team. Psych them up with a rally cry. Promise them drinks and a little professional soccer watching at that favorite burger and wing joint of yours. Whatever keeps their eye on the archiving ball.

Make it your GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLL!

See the World Cup of new archiving solutions, click here.

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How to tell if it's Active Directory Integration or just seasonal allergies

Posted by NAPC Marketing on Wed, Jun 04, 2014 @ 09:32 AM
  
  
  

allergies

To those of you with runny noses and watery eyes, it will come as no big surprise that it’s allergy season. And, lucky you, if you do have allergies you most likely have more than one. No problem, just take that one big dose (or shot, or drop) that covers them all, right? Sadly, wrong. Treatment for dust mites won’t help for ragweed. Trees and dogs occupy different categories.

Kind of like all those people with their different devices. In this BYOD world we work in, it’s an IT nightmare of different passwords, user names, authentication and security needs. Enough to make eyes water and throats itch. One solution can’t possibly cover all these bases, right? Happily, wrong.

Using Centrify as an “immunity” boost for our existing, familiar Active Directory, our users (PC and MAC) can access a variety of websites from both their desktops and their mobile devices simply by using their existing AD credentials. Centrify also gives them useful tools that allows them to reset their passwords as needed, track the location of their mobile devices, and remote-lock and remote-wipe their mobile devices. One password does it all!

Granting access to these services, while still being able to maintain our privacy (and our customer's privacy) is game changing, but still requires that we keep a vigilant watch on how our internal services interact with our external services. Salesforce,

Google, Office365, WebEX, Box, DropBox, Zendesk and many more already support Centrify directly so it's simple to configure them to work with our Active Directory logins. And we don't even need to open ports on our firewall to do it.

Happy users, less-stressed IT people; it’s a beautiful balance that bring tears to my eyes…or it could be allergies.

Rid yourself of bothersome AD integration symptoms! click here.

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Why paper proofing is a thing of the past. Or, how not to be George Costanza.

Posted by NAPC Marketing on Wed, Apr 30, 2014 @ 09:14 AM
  
  
  

george ProofHQblogRemember that episode of Seinfeld when George Costanza’s wallet, over-stuffed with receipts, burst open like parade confetti? We laughed back then, because we could relate. We were still a paper world…in the 1990’s. 

Now, in 2014, we’re becoming paper-less. Trying to, at least. We have the option to pay bills online. We’re asked if we’d like the receipt for our new pair of pants e-mailed instead of printed. Schools deliver information through parent portals, instead of via notes stuffed into backpacks. 

In fact, most everything we do in business is paperless. Think of where your layouts are created (in a computer), and where general correspondence happens (in a computer). It would be silly and time consuming, now, to take out a piece of paper and a pen, write your client a note and send it in the mail. Right? You would look horrifically behind the times for one thing. And, for another, you’d for sure blow your deadlines. Communication would crawl to a snail’s pace and mistakes would inevitably happen.

 “That’s not us,” you say. “We don’t do business like that.”

But look. Right there on your desk; that pile of papers. Edits to a layout? And those three other stacks? Copy changes. How many rounds?  You’ve got staplers, too, of course. And red pens. Or maybe you’ve got a special color-coding system, just to help keep your sanity.  Good for you. But is it really?

How many times has your paper proof not matched the digital file

Even though you checked, double checked and triple checked the latest proof to the earlier proof, and then to the client supplied proof. The file on the server mysteriously changed. You don't know how, or when, or why, or by whom. You only know that somewhere along the way, a mistake was not caught in time. 

With 99.9 % of all print campaigns originating from, and being produced within, an entirely digital space, the only sure way to get it right is with a digital proofing platform that represents where the file lives. 

How do you keep track of who’s requesting what? 

Someone, (you're not sure who) made a comment to retouch out the logo. Someone else had a last minute copy change. On top of that, the client called to say that their website is about to change, and you need to update all of their collateral for the entire year to reflect the new look (yippee)!

Your magnificently organized file cabinet of duplicate paper proofs isn’t going to help anyone who doesn’t have a key to your office (or a view into the inner workings of your thought process). A digital proofing platform, however, tracks, captures and notifies the entire team at once of changes, all in an easily searchable way.

Has your client ever asked for a copy of everything you’ve ever produced for them in the last year?

Unfortunately, those assets were archived long ago. And some were specialty printed with spot colors, varnish coatings, white ink. How can they be converted? How much do they cost to be converted? Digital proofing gives you full access to your work, so you can do with it what you need, including printing, downloading and sharing the same file that went to the print vendor. And it doesn’t cost you a dime.

How often is a job approved, then suddenly "un-approved"? 

With paper proofs, routing a simple, last-minute text change, and expecting it to be a simple process, is impossible. Digital proofing gives you the option to "Approve with changes". 

How many unbillable hours have been wasted printing out paper proofs?

It’s costly to print layouts. Think about the paper and ink. Not to mention the time and labor. It’s also time consuming; taking hours or sometimes days to reach the person who requested it. A digital proofing solution can get a proof in front of your client in seconds!

The bottom line is, if you are still printing out layouts and routing them, you are not working efficiently. In this age of green thinking and instantaneous digital expectations, you cannot be George Costanza; forever tussling with a whirlwind of papers. Not so funny, anymore.

For more information about digital proofing solutions contact us at: echase@napc.com

 

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How to recognize the differences between Taxonomy and Metadata and live to tell about it.

Posted by NAPC Marketing on Mon, Mar 03, 2014 @ 09:01 AM
  
  
  

zombies

 

The world of technology is overrun with words that are, in simple terms, extremely hard to understand. And just when you think you’ve got one where you want it, another one pops up in its place.

Nevertheless it’s critical that you are up to speed with what’s going on in your business, so NAPC has got your back. We’re attacking two frequently used terms; breaking them down piece by piece, so you can rise to the top and take back order in your own brain.

So let’s start first with Taxonomy.

Taxonomy is neither related to taxes, nor having to do with stuffing a deceased animal. It is a logical way of organizing things into a hierarchy.

Example:

-Zombie defense shelter (root of hierarchy…what holds everything)
--Inside the shelter are storage racks (subset of shelter)
---On the storage racks are shelves (subset of storage racks)
----On the shelves are weapons and food supplies (subset of shelves)

A place for everything, and everything is in its own, unique place. Easy, right?

And now, Metadata.

Metadata is keywords that help you find things more easily. There are three kinds of metadata: Descriptive Metadata, Structural Metadata and Administrative Metadata.

Say you’re needing a Bazooka. You’d look in the “Heavy Arms” bin on the shelf in your zombie shelter. “Heavy Arms” are your Descriptive Metadata key words because they collectively describe and group like items. In doing so, you’re able to find the exact location of that bazooka you so sorely require.

Now you’re looking for a specific type of Bazooka, so you want a little more structure in the words that direct you. Super-bazooka (bazooka name), M30 White Phosphorous (bazooka type), Electric motor (bazooka format). This is Structural Metadata because it breaks down the individual item into structural layers. Heck, when you’re fighting off zombies you better have the exact bazooka you need!

Lastly, there’s Administrative Metadata; which answers the basic questions of Who (general human population) What (Zombie Apocalypse) and When (any day now).

So whether you’re after Rick Grimes’ role in Walking Dead, or trying to figure out the best way to utilize DAM, NAPC leaves you armed with information!

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Business Not Buttons

Posted by Rob Steinberg on Fri, Jan 31, 2014 @ 01:07 PM
  
  
  
Business Not Buttons

Many New Year’s resolutions focus on making relationships better. Whether it’s a friend you don’t see enough, or a family member you’d like to appreciate more, now is the time to start fresh, set goals, and make things happen.

Often, the best way to build a better connection is to simplify your approach. Our goal for 2014 is to strengthen bonds with customers by helping you truly understand the full value of what we offer, in the easiest, most direct ways possible.

At NAPC, we’re more than just smart, simple software solutions; we’re a dedicated bunch who love the technology side of things, but love connecting with our customers even more. We see your work life at your level, and know you simply don’t have time for a lot of buttons, bells and whistles. Too many apps, too little time…we get it.

Now in 2014, we’re striking a balance with social channels using their up-to-the-minute capabilities, while still keeping our messaging straightforward, and “all business.” Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are there for quick tips, tricks and solutions that keep you in touch with the support you need. We’ve even got a helpful “how-to-fix it/use it” video at FlatHeadU.com.

 When that isn’t enough we’ll do it the old-fashioned way and, come hell or high water, get to you in person.

Like Sully (pictured in a bike helmet beneath a beam of sunlight), who drove 3 ½ hours to his client TWICE in 48 hours to fix a late night crisis. And Grant (proudly sporting a big white ‘stache at bottom right), who hopped a plane and spent a long weekend helping to defend a client’s files from a devastating device failure.

Most often, the service side of business relationships isn’t truly appreciated until something goes wrong.  There’s a better way. We need to prove ourselves to you constantly, consistently.

We’re here to help you learn how to use your products, be comfortable with them, and make the most of all they can do for you.

Even better, we’re eager to get out of the office and get on the road! Set up a free consultation today by clicking here, or calling us at 781-894-3114 x1002.

And, of course, you can start following us immediately by connecting with any of our social channels below.

 We wish you much health, happiness and clarity in 2014.

 Your friends at NAPC.

 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/NAPCgroup

Twitter: www.twitter.com/NAPCgroup

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/napc

 

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New in Xinet 17.6

Posted by Robert Sullivan on Thu, Jan 23, 2014 @ 03:34 PM
  
  
  


I wanted to follow up our Webinar about what's new in Xinet 17.6
We mentioned three things and looked at two. Extensible Archiving is the
topic for an upcoming Webinar about Archiware P-5 and OnFile from InPress.
Modern search with Solr from the Apache Lucene Project was second.
( here's a link for the curious: http://lucene.apache.org/solr/ )
And the enhanced asset accessibility with Pilot was third.

When reviewing Pilot, we had a lot of questions about it and I don't think
I did a good job explaining what it is initially. My apologies. I should
have realized that even though this actually came out with 17.5, a lot of
you hadn't actually seen it yet. We had posted a video to our FlatheadU
Vimeo Channel several months ago.
( http://vimeo.com/channels/flatheadu/71254975 )

So lets get technical and take one paragraph from the Xinet Client Manual:
XINET PILOT
"Xinet Pilot is an evolution from the Asset Browser feature into a Xinet-aware media browser for Mac client desktops.
( and Windows as of 17.6 )
Liberated from Adobe plug-in status, Xinet Pilot runs on the client as a service, no longer restricted to working within a single Adobe application. One instance of Xinet Pilot can flow seamlessly between InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop to allow users to search, browse, annotate, add metadata, and drag-and-drop assets from this browser directly into Creative Suite files without opening a separate Web-browser application. When launched, Xinet Pilot will be the forefront-most application on the Mac desktop, but visibility can be easily toggled on and off as necessary."

That's not too much Geek Speak.
It's a desktop application using WebKit which is an open source web browser
engine. The connection goes to a custom Portal site called pilot. This site
is based on the Default Portal settings. As the product matures some of the
configuration settings will become more administrable. So we're told.

You can drag assets out of Pilot and into InDesign and if you have an AFP
mounted volume, it will 'link' to the Xinet path. If you don't have an AFP
connection it will download an FPO file. Dragging to the desktop however,
will download the original full resolution file. Based of course on the
user logged in Volume permission set. If you have web permission for high
res downloads, you can drag them out of Pilot. No high res download perms,
then no drag and drop download.

On the other hand, the Solr search engine seemed to be well received and
understood pretty quickly. More so than I was expecting actually. I guess
that's due to familiarity of the typical google search, since Solr drives
most of the web's searching.

Solr benefits will be huge for Xinet users as North Plains brings in more
and more of the features. This is their first pass and so far, it's pretty
impressive. I'm looking forward to working with you all to open up this new
tool in Xinet. If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at the
helpdesk@napc.com, or reply below and we'll help you along.
And forgive me, but I can't pass up this one liner:
With Solr, the future's so bright, I gotta' wear shades..!

 -Sully

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