Working on an essay for my doctorate at University of Maryland University College analyzing Daniel Bell’s The Coming of the Post-Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting.
Love him or hate him, you have to admit, he was a visionary! Here’s what I say about his theory of the shift from manufacturing to technology/knowledge-based economy as applied to the printing industry.
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Jobs continue to shift away from agriculture and manufacturing toward service/knowledge industries such as government, finance, and healthcare. As technology has improved, we have seen efficiency and productivity improvements reduce or even replace manufacturing and other businesses.
For instance, online marketing has diminished the printing business significantly. As we are able to move process and products to online venues, the printing industry benefits and suffers simultaneously. Printers can use online systems to gain efficiency, yet digital marketing has reduced client printing budgets.
In order to remain competitive, companies can no longer rely on a rigid structure. With the commoditization of technology, we must now look for ways to expand business models. The print shop must now become an advisor to its clients and sell holistic business solutions such as fulfillment, warehousing, and marketing.
The staffing model has seen a significant change from the manufacturing floor to the front office. Technology has created machines that need fewer people to produce more goods. Therefore, printing companies are replacing blue-collar staff with sales, production, and marketing staff. All this, in an industry I am familiar with, is a perfect illustration of a corresponding shift in the labor force. Bell notes that this change will occur at different rates across sectors.