I had a flashback this morning that led to a stark revelation. I vividly remember my Dad coming home in 1983 or 1984 with a big box from Radio Shack. It was a Tandy, IBM computer. I think it had 64 megabytes of memory! Being the nerdy kid I was, I spent hours on that computer. I spent hours learning to program in MS-DOS. I wrote a program to figure out my batting average in little league. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really that good at programming or hitting; hence, I am selling labels today!
We went out to dinner last night and Grandma and Grandpa watched our son. For his birthday in early January, we broke down and got him an IPad mini. (I broke down and my very patient wife acquiesced.) He can only use it with adult supervision. I don’t know if poor Grandma and Grandpa count as adult supervision – he knows more about the device than they do! He’s 7! He woke up this morning and was very proud to show me a movie he made of what he and Grandpa did last night. He zoomed in and out and had some special effects. All of it was done with the swipe of his hand. Not too long ago, someone would have had to take out the camcorder, find a blank tape, start the thing up, and lug it around for that movie to be made. To watch it, you’d have to hook up a bunch of cords to your TV, change the channel on the TV, and pray everything worked out well. After some adjustments and a few curse words, if you were lucky, you got an image that only scrolled on the screen every few seconds or so. Special effects were a dream. If you wanted your home movies to look professional, you had to take them to a video store. Think about all the businesses that have been disrupted. I don’t know where our camcorder is. We don’t buy tapes anymore. The video store on the corner is long gone.
What does all this have to do with labels? In the near future, our customers are going to say to us, “I bought a digital printer and I’m making these labels myself. Thanks for your help.” Artwork will become easier to do; a simple swipe of your hand will change a color, add a shade, or move an object. Our value add is shrinking by the minute. As Bruce Springsteen crooned, “You can hide ‘neath the covers and study your pain,” or you can take the Beatles’ approach and think ,”Here Comes the Sun” and do something about this opportunity. I specifically did not use threat. Those companies that adjust to reality will thrive. I hope you’re ready.