2014 may be a year of hotly-anticipated firsts for many things, but revolutionary software may not be among them says Jurgen Verhulst, Application Specialist for Signmaking Products at SAi.
“The sign making market is mature, and the software is mature as well,” he explains. “I think going forward we’ll see less revolutionary features because everything is already there. The major battle is behind us; all software is so feature-rich at the moment.”
What sign makers can expect to see more of is software that focuses on aligning business processes. This has been a key area of development for SAi for some time, and going forward, the company will continue to create software that not only streamlines every aspect of business, but also works across a number of different machines. Established sign making companies are no stranger to investing in new machines and receiving a new piece of operating software for each one. “It becomes a bit of a patchwork for the user,” says Jurgen. “There are so many applications running to get a single job done, and things can become even more complicated if there’s an equipment failure or a printer runs out of ink because all of this software has to be restarted.” With one streamlined product, costly mistakes and time spent training operators can be reduced, and this is exactly what SAi hopes to achieve in 2014.
The rise of subscription-based software
Jurgen cites making high-quality software available to all businesses, from SMEs to start-ups, as another goal on the agenda.
Starting this year, SAi is rolling out the capability to buy software on a subscription basis. Sign makers can choose from monthly or yearly packages depending on their needs, which can reduce the temptation to invest in cheaper, non-specific software that has the tendency to cut corners. “Software is expensive for a reason, but we try to make it easy for all businesses to afford the best by breaking it down,” says Jurgen. “Software is an ongoing investment, so it saves time and errors in production to have one system that everyone can operate and understand.”
The most recent edition of SAi Flexi introduced cloud functionality with online storage, complete with apps that provide an integrated solution for end-users. Jurgen reveals plans to add yet more apps to the software in the coming year to give sign makers plenty of options when it comes to using various inks and substrates. Additions and improvements like these are what Jurgen believes will drive the software market forward, given that the basics have already been put in place and tailored to the evolving market of the past few years. “SAi already has a software solution for almost every aspect of sign making, whether it’s vinyl cutting, printing, CNC machining, colour profiling, design and editing. I think the future of software will be the integration of things like CRM software, accounting, design and even stock keeping - it will all be streamlined and consolidated.”
For more information visit www.thinksai.com.