Transitional Services

January 7, 2009

While preparing a post on the topic of transitional services, I found out that someone else had already done a great job of introducing the topic.  Mike McDerment of Freshbooks gave this definition:

Transitional Services are services that facilitate a user’s transition from one platform to the next – or at the least, ease their pain.

Before going on, I’d recommend you read the rest of his post.  For Freshbooks, their transitional service was offering paper invoices as an adjunct to their core tool of providing online invoicing.  It made it easy for users and companies to shift to the online system while making the old process (paper invoices) even easier than before.  That’s the best sort of transitional tool.  Make the old easier.  Smooth the transition to the new.  Don’t leave people behind in the process.

This is precisely the service Postful has been able to offer to a number of other sites (many too small to either efficiently handle their own print production or outsource).  We let them shift to a digital workflow while making it easy for users who still prefer or need paper.

By doing so, we have no illusions about print returning to it’s central role in communication.  But we do believe that, like any worthwhile transition, this one will be accelerated and eased by not making it an all-or-nothing decision.

While billions of documents are still printed and mailed every day, the information that composes those documents is increasingly stored on the web.  Providing a bridge between that data and print output is a huge task and offers equally large opportunities.

More, as we develop these processes for print, we’re building the tools that will be needed to help the rest of the manufacturing sector integrate with the computing cloud.  Print is just the first of the these physical processes to make the transition.  When the wave hits the rest of the manufacturing sector, we can look forward to a surge of innovation which promises to make the next decade a very interesting time.


7 Responses to “Transitional Services”

  1. jsfwcz Says:

    I think where you point to the link between the documents on the web and their need to get printed out you are at the crux of the matter.

    The web is perfect for store, scan, search, link. Print is a 500 year old evolved tool for read. Consider all the self published books, the photo books. I’m thinking that with all the people working on blog to print sooner or later someone is going to get it just right.

    That could be one way to get the thing to tip.

  2. Justin Says:

    The big challenge I see with blog-to-print is that it tends to require a high degree of curation. It’s difficult to automate the selection of articles, which comments, etc to include. The result of everything being printed is often a mess (at least in my experience), but the process of sorting is too large to make it feasible.

    We’ve had some success with people setting up custom feeds to print posts with certain tags, but the result still hasn’t had huge applicability.

  3. jsfwcz Says:

    I played with feedjournal and you’re spot on with the problem. It needs a place to sort the items. I’m pretty sure there is some kind of work around using the share feature in Reader, but I got sidetracked and didn’t pursue.

    I think that one killer app might be the ease of publishing with feeder and an easy way to bring in ads.Either submitted by local advertisers or maybe connected to ad words. Check out when you get a chance. They are doing some very interesting things.

    You gotta believe that there are lots o’ bloggers who would do paperback versions of selected blogs and then sell it to their readers. Plus the buzz is that businesses are supposed to blog. So lots of them will.

    I know that I’m playing with the idea if my site scales a bit more.

  4. jsfwcz Says:

    Just another thought.

    Lots of people want to send out business newsletters. Actually my story is that every digital printer should send out a newsletter once every two weeks- mininum. problem of course is that they can’t write a newsletter and the prepackaged stuff is really lame.

    I’m playing with the idea of doing white label blog content. Take a look at another blog I run at http://googlemarteconomy.blogspot to see sort of what I’m looking at.

    So..if I could point people to a button to push to print and mail, I might be more likely to turn an experiment into a business.. This is NOT something to plan on, as I might get distracted.

    But maybe just some food for thought.

  5. jsfwcz Says:’s the right link ( I forgot the .com)

  6. Justin Says:

    I agree that newsletters are a very interesting area. We’ve been looking at some possibilities and would love to pursue this further.

    I’ve been following printcasting as well. It’s always fun when you start thinking that you should build something and find that someone is already working on it!

    In terms of your advice to digital printers, do you encourage them to send physical newsletters (highlighting their technology) or e-newsletters (just to keep in touch with customers)?

  7. jsfwcz Says:

    Physical. I really am a Print guy.

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