Prologue: The Importance of Automated
It’s an interesting term, with a certain odd echo, this word called automated. Nine letters, almost equal feel to science fiction, toaster and that dumb ATM machine that took your debit card and stole your holiday spirit in Ibiza back in 2012. Three simple syllabuses made of two separate words that, at first, seem to have nothing in common: auto and mate. Still, there are lots of popular cultural references and angles to automated. For generation X the word probably means – in addition to likes of good old Tamagotchis – films like E.T., Terminator and Star Wars. Millennials might merge the word with the very first smartphones, a bit more advanced gaming consoles and the earliest stages of the internet.
Baby boomers, like my parents, all grown up now, can presumably associate automated with things like electric guitars, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touching down to the moon in 1969, introduction of the revolutionary wonder Walkman, square-like color television with wired remote control, or first non-manual gearboxes in their suburbanish family cars. Silent generation probably thinks automated trains, radios and aeroplanes, and kids of today – generations Z and Alpha – most likely don’t think about the term at all because for them pretty much everything has always been automated without them even realizing that.
The oddly echoing word automated also holds a massive historical perspective that has pretty much defined the destiny and progression – both good and bad and beneficial and destructive – of our entire humankind. We at Edita Prima have been in the business with all things automated since 1859 when we printed our very first set of stamps using the most advanced high technology available. It’s not an overstatement to say that our ongoing transition from past analog towards digital everything is fully driven by that silly nine letter word.
This story is all about automated.
Chapter I: How we built our entire company around the ideas of automation and change
Let’s get some perspective. I am not 100% positive what is officially recognized as the first technological innovation on this planet but I am guessing we need to go back in time about three million years – yes, three million, that’s not a typo but a prehistoric stone age – when the prototypes of stone tools such as arrowheads, hand axes, querns and spearheads were invented and, interestingly enough, soon also hand manufactured for both personal use and commercial purposes. Little less than three million years later – let’s say about 50 000 years from today – the civilization had already reached the point where basic stone tools had evolved into something more sophisticated and effective called ground stone tools that were made of newly discovered more advanced materials such as jade, greenstone and basalt. That was also the era when the concept of industrializing was already having clear, visible and beneficial impacts on ordinary people’s lives and livelihoods. Automation had begun.
Automation can’t be possible without the elements of change
Fast-forward another 50 000 plus years – through numerous Asian, Middle Eastern, South American and North African early civilizations – to 1760’s when the global tech startups of the era started to really speed it up in the form of the first industrial revolution that was fueled by the improved manufacturing processes, particularly in Great Britain, and subsequently elsewhere in Europe and the United States. Innovation by innovation production shifted from small scale human hand methods to bigger scale chemical manufacturing, machinery, iron, steam and waterpower, development of machine tools and at least partly mechanical larger factory systems.
Fast-forward again from the late 19th century to the early 20th century through the second industrial revolution (also known as the technological revolution) that included rapid phases of progression in scientific discoveries, mass production, standardization and general industrialization to the third industrial revolution (also known as the digital revolution) that involves elements of automation like digitalization, the worldwide web and the disputable invention of nuclear energy – and here we are – in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution that is now redefining our lives by connecting physical, digital and biological dimensions.
To sum all that time travelling and revolutioning up: None of those events would have taken place without the concepts and ideas of automation. And on the other hand, automation would not be possible without change. So, let’s talk more about that.
Chapter II: How we don’t consider change to be anything extraordinary but something that makes our culture of automation possible
”Change is not our superpower but something that drives our internal growth daily”. That’s a key message on Edita Prima’s website that summarizes our relationship with constant transition. Ever since 1859, our value as a company has been directly dependable on our willingness and capabilities to adapt, reinvent and transform through constant learning processes. Challenging the status quo and updating outdated strategies and old working habits has always been crucial for us. We still don’t consider change to be anything extraordinary but something that naturally defines our company from CEO to each and every past, current and future staff member.
Changing something – even on a smaller scale – usually requires at least moderate courage, deep knowledge and open disruption within inside the company. In our philosophy, management must facilitate and support transition but the change itself needs to be a shared effort made by individuals. It’s also vital to understand that change is not always pleasant and that failures and hesitations must be openly and transparently accepted. To make the most of automation we have to cherish the elements of uncertainty and welcome the fact that sometimes change is not pleasant but painful.
This is the era of data-driven collaborations that lead to holistic user experiences
During the first three industrial revolutions, change and automation took place mostly in the working environments at the actual production facilities. The demand for superior customer experiences in the digital revolution is significantly more versatile, total and absolute. Every single day change is disrupting industries everywhere around the world transforming some of our most fundamental systems, such as societies, production, learning, and trade. Simultaneously, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate physical from digital, or even biological. Change has become inevitable, simultaneous and immediate and it is powered by accurate optimizing and reliable adapting.
The next logical step will be the fifth industrial revolution that will deepen, mix and intensify the relationships with humans and machines at all levels of our society. The key for this automation process, of course, is digitalization that has greatly transformed our lives into measurable data that is affecting our daily activities greatly. This is also the era of the increased data-driven collaborations across product development, marketing, sales, delivery and customer support. Precisely that – how to create insights and holistic customer experiences to our clients – is the core of our business. And in that, all the elements of automation are simply crucial.
Chapter III: How we understood early that automated processes can turn even the old school communication more sustainable
Let’s recap to add more perspective: Change, closely associated with the principles of automation, is not always congruent and consistent but eventually always ongoing and mandatory. But when you think about it, all four first industrial revolutions, each of them packed with brilliantly creative and beneficial history changing innovations, have taken place in a relatively short period of time. Overall, we are talking about just 4-5 human generations within about 260 intensive years that have shaped our lives and livelihoods irreversibly. None of that could have happened without a change in communication too. Samuel Morse, an American inventor and impressively promising painter if I may add, is credited as the developer of the single-wire telegraph that alongside with the universal Morse Code system became the international standard of telegraphing and communicating in 1865. That was a huge step, also for us, that changed how we communicated with our
Our story started with printing press and will always be tied with paper
By 1865 Edita Prima had been in business for six years already operating in newly exciting field of printing press. From early on, and for years to come, majority of our expertise was directly related to different kind of papers. We started in 1859 by famously printing a set of stamps and soon added more paper products like bills, account books, tax forms, voting documents, lottery coupons and even event invitations and restaurant menus to our printing services. The common material of them all, of course, was paper that continues to be a pivotal part of our offerings and expertise. Paper is also an excellent example of the benefits that industrial revolutions, digitalization and automated processes have brought to our clients. Let’s talk more about paper. Or to be precise, how to get rid of most of it for a more sustainable paperless future.
Chapter IV: How we help our clients make more responsible decisions with their printing and delivery through automating
One of the most extraordinary innovations of human civilization – alongside with Morse’s telegraph – unquestionably is paper that has taught us writing, reading, drawing, logic, psychology, sociology, math, science, art, poetry, literature, culture, history and cooking. The earliest prototype of paper-like plant-based sheet was ancient papyrus that was developed in Egypt around the 4th century BCE. The first modern paper products were documented in China around 25–220 CE and by the 11thcentury the revolutionary art of papermaking was finally imported to Europe.
So, when we started our printing press businesses in 1859, paper had already gone through multiple stages of various product development processes. Back then – more than 160 years ago – especially us Europeans had a false understanding that paper was somehow fully natural and totally ecological renewable commodity. Widely shared perspective was that since paper came from the forest those trees would eventually and inevitably always grow back. Now we know that turned out to be untrue and that trees are neither infinite nor 100 % environmentally friendly resource. Conclusion is clear: less paper we use, more sustainable it is and less paper we print, more ecological our businesses are. Effectively optimizing paper production, printing and distribution services can’t happen without well-functioning automated processes. Especially, because as turns out, a lot of people still seem to be loving paper.
Paper is just one example of the power and significance of automation
Don’t get me wrong. Data-driven content will eventually be the future of both Edita Prima and human communication but not quite yet. For now, global megatrends, general attitudes and individual preferences towards printed messages remain strangely conservative. Even in technologically advanced Nordic countries like Finland an average customer still opens, reads, consumes, learns and understands printed invoices, forms and contracts over digital forms of communication. That is a remarkable statistic and evidence of durability and significance of the invention of paper.
It's ok to be sentimental, I most certainly am, but the volume of paper circulating on this planet needs to go down. Since printing and postal expenses are directly dependent of the size and weight of envelopes, key variables like design, layout, form as well as paper height, thickness and weight, matter greatly. Through automation, we help our clients design, print, process, edit, optimize and deliver all paper content in the most cost effective and sustainable way possible.
That matters both ecologically and financially. And to emphasize the importance of automation, we are not talking about saving a few nickels here and there but our automated solutions can easily be worth millions of euros per year. Automation is a data-driven miracle of innovations that saves time and money and increases productivity and profitability but most importantly it also has positive and measurable effects on sustainability. Paper is just one example of the power of automation. From now on understanding the possibilities of advanced digital expertise and technological environments will be even more important for us. Our next hero sentence story will demonstrate how automation does not only make customer journeys better.
It makes them perfect.
Epilogue: Part 4/5 of "Our Hero Sentence Explained" story series is all about the words CUSTOMER JOURNEYS. Out sometimes in April-May 2022. Be aware. Change is coming.