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Time to Talk about MIS

Added by Sharon Mordey on December, 7, 2018

Suddenly everyone is interested in MIS, if not actually committing to an investment. Pressure on margin, on coping with a growing number of jobs, and on automation is why a new MIS is moving up the shopping list. At one time few would contemplate moving to a new MIS, much as customers stayed loyal to their bank unless compelled to move. Now printers are prepared to suffer the pain of shifting databases and calculating a new set of costs if the current system has become a backwater in technical terms.

The MIS has to be simple to operate because account handlers and others are expected to know how to generate a quote and track a job through production. It has to be built around the latest operating systems, preferably cloud computing if that is what a customer wants, but certainly something that is built on open systems for ease of maintenance. It has to spread from creating an accurate estimate, stock control and raising an invoice, into an overlap with prepress workflow and online job flows.

And it needs to be able to flex as the user grows and develops new areas of business, perhaps interfacing with other third party applications as what is a Management Information System becomes a Business Information System. This means support for open interfaces, through a published API, support for cloud computing and support for remote working. This evolution should of course be a lot easier than when MIS transitioned from MS-DOS operating systems into Windows of some type.

And alongside the technology targeted at commercial printers there are specialist MIS for labels, for cartons, for large format and for corrugated. Now there are new providers coming to the UK. Crispy Mountain is the German developer with an entirely cloud based system that launched at the Print Show. And New Zealand is on the act with PrintIQ heading to the UK having established a user base in Australia and the US. This too is a modular system built around the cloud and developed to be fast to implement modular system that cuts the time to get up and running.

These are not the first. Optimus Dash was a complete rethink of the MIS that had served well in the commercial printing industry (and still does). It was developed to suit businesses that were non traditional in their products and diverse in their experience and skill levels. It is icon led to allow a non expert to build a quote and hosted in the cloud to ease the installation and support requirements.

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The decision whether to run a cloud based MIS or one with a server is says sales director Steve Richardson largely cultural. “We have clients that are mindful of data integrity want a box on their premises; others that insist the MIS is hosted in the cloud. The decision is based very much around the available bandwidth,” he says.

For a secure system there may need to be multiple entry points for a WiFi connections, though as 5G technologies roll out this may become less important. This is no different from ensuring that the server based MIS is backed up securely. And with live connectivity to the internet, data and cyber security increases in importance. “It sounds great, but there is a wider business consideration as to what is offered and to ensure that the MIS is only accessed by the right people,” he says.

The wider availability of the MIS is one of the key drivers for cloud computing. With cloud hosting, access will be to anyone with a web browser and the necessary passwords and privileges. A manager on the road, or on the proverbial beach in Corfu, will be able to generate an estimate or communicate via the MIS with customers.

For the full article courtesy of Print Business


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