Sept. 9 2009 09:54 AM

As this issue's feature article, our annual survey results, clearly shows, our industry (and the world economy as a whole) is going through some tough times right now. Many economists are stating that the economy as a whole has reached rock bottom and things should soon start to climb. I'm a bit more pessimistic on the "soon start to climb" part, but I sure hope they are right.

However, I feel strongly that our industry will take a bit longer to recover than the nation's economy as a whole. We are going through some fundamental changes in the way businesses communicate, and we must recognize, accept and adapt - especially accept. Whenever we at Mailing Systems Technology send readers information in any form other than print, I get many calls of protest. We're viewed as traitors.
It's time to "wake up and smell the coffee," folks. Things have changed. Businesses must use the most effective - especially cost-effective - methods to communicate their message. Many times the best is print (and will remain so for quite some time). But there are times when electronic communication makes more sense. Businesses that fail to take advantage of both won't be around long.

The same concept is changing the way we manage our mail centers. Somewhere along the line, software has become king. Everything we do is software-based. Equipment is software-driven, postal rules and regulation compliance is software-driven, production software handles scheduling, and management software directs operations - it is software, software, software! As the USPS's Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) initiative clearly signals, everything's coming up software.

This "software is king" trend is why we have devoted our portion of this year's PARCEL/Document/Mailing Systems Technology Forum to software. Very few mail centers have a good handle on the entire scope of the potential that software provides. The effective use of these software products, be they equipment, postal compliance, mail processing, production or management, can increase the effectiveness and decrease the costs of operating your mail center.

We've put together a two-day conference with the first day focusing entirely on IMb, headed by Stephen Poe, VP of product management for Crawford Technologies, and Mike Porter, President of Print/Mail Consultants. IMb is coming whether we like it or not, so you better understand what it's all about - and soon! The second day will focus on all the other aspects of software in the mail center. Chris Lien, newly appointed President for BCC Software, will head a team with expert knowledge in all aspects of mail center software. Be it equipment, compliance, preparation, production or management, this group has the know-how - and, when you leave this conference, so will you.

Visit our webpage (our new and really great webpage), click on the "conference" button at the top and check out our conference. I hope to meet many of you at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Chicago, October 6-7.

I want to thank all of you who contributed to our annual survey this year. The response was great and you deserve a lot of credit for helping us give our industry an accurate picture of where we stand - THANKS! And as always, thanks for reading Mailing Systems Technology.