by Jim Lyons | 11/30/15

EDITORS' NOTE: We first met Jim many moons ago at a Lyra Imaging Conference, and we have been fast friends ever since. His irrepressible, joyful spirit exudes from him - we were drawn to him like a magnet. He is also a consummate story-teller, which is an important skill in our industry. We talked to him immediately about collaborating and we have been working together ever since in some fashion or another. We have been honored to host the “Jim Lyons Observations” at The Imaging Channel for almost three years now and look forward to many more excellent stories to come!

In a column I wrote 10 years ago, in December 2005, I noted that if we  looked back 10 years to 1995 we would see a different printing and imaging industry, with countless threats and opportunities in its future that were easily identifiable by 2005 but were cloudy and mysterious, if not outright unknown, in 1995. I would point to a list of “still in the future” organizations and technologies that were either altogether unheard of, or at least yet-to-become-pervasive, including “digital cameras, MFPs or all-in-ones, Yahoo, Amazon, Google, Napster, iTunes, MP3s, blogs, RSS feeds, [and] podcasts.” My point (one of many I tried to convey in that column) was that times change and we can look back at how the world has changed, with hopes that we will see we have taken advantage of the opportunity afforded by some if not all of the changes.

 

That happened to be my very first column, written shortly after my departure from a 25-year-long career at HP, with most of that time from 1981 to 2005 directly involved with the printing and imaging business. And now that 10 years have passed since then, let me reflect a bit on my decade “on the other side” as a blogger/analyst, and include a similar list. (Before I do, let me clarify that in 2005 and for a few years following, Jim Lyons Observations (JLO) really was a “column,” a term I associate with content that is part of a regularly published hard-copy periodical, initially - in my case - The Hard Copy Observer. My continued monthly “column” cycle, when JLO became an online-only publication, continues to this day and into the future.)

So what didn’t we know about in 2005? How about smartphones like the Apple iPhone; tablets like the Apple iPad and Microsoft Surface; Google’s presence as an OS supplier (two if you count Chrome and Android); the wearables juggernaut, with expensive experiments like Google Glass and (some might argue) the Apple Watch, but also hugely pervasive, simpler devices like those from Fitbit; and the entire social media onslaught – Facebook and LinkedIn existed in 2005, but barely, and Twitter had yet to make its appearance, to say nothing of Instagram, Snapchat, and others.

More specific to printing and imaging, I put “digital cameras” on the “1995 MIA” list, at least in terms of their relatively minor presence in the overall industry, and while they have grown to dominate in both 2005 and 2015, their form has changed from predominately standalone to pervasive as a key component of smartphones. Pagewide inkjet printing was resident in some of the bigger R&D labs, but remained to make its presence felt in a commercialized sense, and “ink in the office” was only a pipe dream. Though the major printer OEMs spent significant energy, or at least verbiage cycles, on terms like “solutions,” “verticals” and “services,” the phrase “Managed Print Services” was a new one and MPS was an unknown acronym in an industry that still loves its acronyms.

Of course, that is just a start. Clearly, the past 10 years have included lots to analyze and write about. On a more personal level, that first column led to me to status as a regular columnist with the Observer, then also as a paid part-time staff writer and eventually senior editor with Lyra Research, all before the acquisition of the company by Photizo Group in 2012. It was a major career highlight to become part of the combined companies, though it turned out to be my second stint with Photizo, as I had participated as a part-timer staffer in their formative years, from 2006 to 2009. Leaving there in 2013, I was fortunate to be invited to bring JLO - along with additional duties – to The Imaging Channel, where I enjoy their hospitality, hosting most of my monthly columns to this day. I am also self-published, via Google’s Blogger, where all my columns from #1 to now #120 can be found.

In conclusion (for now)

I have to come to realize that I am very big on noting anniversaries and the like. I believe it comes from having an historian’s bent, and firmly believing that we all learn from looking at what has happened in the past. The payoff, outside of the simple satisfaction of curiosity, is that by understanding the steps we have followed along the way to the present, we gain insight on where our steps into the future will lead.

It was a commitment to this idea that got me started on Jim Lyons Observations exactly 10 years ago. And I have been tracking the current end-of-year anniversary for some time, knowing that I would definitely use (this) Monthly Column #120 to reflect and look ahead (while also knowing I didn’t have to worry as far as coming up with a column idea). As described in the introductory paragraph, the significance is more than a round number – I used Column #1 to reflect back on the previous 10 years, using the “time capsule” pretext which was actually true! (Those who have ever seen a work area/desk of mine would attest to the possibility of 10-year-old, untouched information caches existing, especially in the days when hard copy played a more prominent role in information dissemination and storage.)

Looking back on that 10-year-old column (in addition to seeing a columnist with more and darker hair and beard,) I am proud to know I have hung in there and I am very grateful for all the help, support, collegiality, and the like, from both those on the blogger/analyst/research side which I joined and was given multiple opportunities to grow as one of them, as well as those on the industry side who provided (and continue to provide) so much help on telling their stories.

Looking ahead, I may not be ready to commit to 10 more full years, but I have the energy, enthusiasm, and most important, the ideas (!!!) to keep cranking out, as I say in my masthead, “business and marketing developments in the Printing and Imaging industry, combining [my] many years of experience with an ever-enthusiastic eye on the future!”

And of course I could not done any of this without you, the reader!

Jim Lyons has been writing, analyzing and blogging about industry developments since 2006. In his monthly Observations column he comments on business and marketing developments in the printing and imaging industry, combining many years of experience with an ever-enthusiastic eye on the future. In the Jim Lyons Observations column on The Imaging Channel, highlights from that blog appear monthly. Lyons is also a faculty member at the University of Phoenix, teaching marketing and economics at its school of business, and is a regular contributor to both The Imaging Channel and Workflow. Follow him on Twitter @jflyons and read more of Jim Lyons Observations at http://www.jimlyonsobservations.com/.