Signazon Spotlight: Jim Lyons, Print Expert - Part 1
This is Part 1 of our spotlight with Jim Lyons. Find Part 2 here!
Jim Lyons, Print Expert

Jim Lyons knows printers.

And for over 30 years, he’s been living and breathing the business.

Lyons started his career with Hewlett-Packard in the early ‘80s, right after they launched the very first LaserJet printer (remember those?). Working in marketing and business development, Lyons had a front row seat to the expansion of HP's printer division.

After leaving HP in 2005, he's kept busy in the industry, writing for industry publications, speaking at conferences, and analyzing new developments and technological breakthroughs. He also teaches undergraduates and MBA students at the University of Phoenix.

Fortunately for us, Lyons was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about the industry. See what he has to say about working for HP, the development of at-home printing, and the future of large-format print.

Can you tell us a little about your background in printing and your career with HP?

I started with HP in Boise, right after earning my MBA from Cornell in 1981. I was originally in storage, but moved to the printer division (home of the then recently introduced LaserJet printer) in 1986, and worked in numerous marketing and business development management roles. I had so many great and interesting assignments and consider myself very fortunate.

In 2005, finishing nearly 25 years, all based in Boise, I left the company and moved into a couple of related areas I have very much enjoyed since – teaching undergraduates and MBA students with the University of Phoenix (marketing and economics), and being an analyst/blogger, working both independently as well as with several of the leading research and publishing firms including, most recently, 1105 Media, and their publications/websites The Imaging Channel, and Workflow. More than eight years out of HP now, I continue to cover their printing and imaging activities, so in some ways it’s as if I never left!

Large format printers had really always led the way in this kind of thinking, even if in some cases out of necessity, because of the size and expense of the hardware.
—Jim Lyons
Print Expert
How have you felt the large format printing industry has inspired the consumer/at-home printing industry, and vice versa?

I believe the two inspire one another. Obviously, HP participates in both markets and there is cross-over between the areas. I think the place where the two find inspiration from one another is ease-of-use and capability for the user. One area of the market does something and the other is going to find its own way to function similarly, if it makes sense.

The question reminds me of an interesting assignment I had at HP had to do with looking far into the future to see what we could see. The project involved my leading a cross-functional team on a visioning assignment in 1994, which was a very fortuitous time for such an assignment, with the Internet really just starting to take off.

One of the important concepts we came up with was the migration from “print and distribute” models that had predominated at that time – with hard copy playing a key dissemination role, to “distribute and print” – envisioning how more and more documents and other materials would exist primarily in electronic form, but then be printed, at least in some cases, just when and where they were needed. This obviously did come to pass, so much so that it seems a little strange it was ever questioned, but large format printers had really always led the way in this kind of thinking, even if in some cases out of necessity – because of the size and expense of the hardware, particularly.

Do you believe that at-home printing technology is making it easier for small businesses to keep printing needs in-house rather than use larger printing companies?

At HP, that was the goal for the printers, specifically for photo prints and allowing users at home to print large quantities instead of going to a store to have them printed. You could print your 4x6 (or larger) photos from the computer quickly. The last few years, users have been going back to centralized photo printing more, at least many users, including me. I really don’t want to mess with photo paper, replacing inks, and everything else that goes with home photo printing.

As far as small businesses, the color laser capabilities these days are great for those short-run jobs – real-estate fliers come to mind – that were formerly sent outside. On the other hand, what is interesting is that some things now make more sense to send out. No matter what though, at-home printers weren’t designed to print ten-thousand copies of fliers, brochures, and other marketing collateral. The demand for larger print shops isn’t going away soon.

If you are interested in learning more about Jim Lyons or getting in contact with him, he can be found on twitter @jflyons and on his blog

Image courtesy of Jim Lyons.

Page Authored By Rick Debus

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