ARN: How would you describe your business?
Pongrass: We develop and integrate turnkey computer solutions for the publishing industry.
Does your company have a special area of focus as an integrator?
We computerise the pre-press production processes of newspapers. We provide a computer solution allowing information to flow for publishers from the advertising booking stage to composition of the layout as well as typesetting the copy.
Our solution finishes after a bromide has been produced for use as artwork. We also resell Mac systems in the same environment and a software product called Vinca.
As with any other sort of business, newspapers can't afford to have their computer systems go down as they now control all aspects of its production.
If the system goes down on a daily paper for two hours it doesn't go out on time. So we have to have maximum uptime for non-stop solutions. Part of that is having file servers that do not fail. The solution we've chosen is Vinca as it allows us to have duplicated file servers so if one goes down another takes over at the point of failure.
What differentiates your company from others in the same field?
We are comprehensive in what we supply. We have a few competitors in Australia but they are more vertical market specialists serving typesetters, or supplying an advertising booking system. We supply the entire range of computers and systems in the pre-press production stage from classifieds, through display ads and onto editorial typesetting. It is a complete Open Pre Press Interface (OPI) system.
Which vendors do you partner with
For design and scanning it's Macintosh. We have been using Macs since well before PCs were capable of doing those functions. We also partner with Microsoft. For the fail-safe file server solutions we dev-elop, we partner with Vinca and for databases we partner with Sybase. We find Sybase's Adaptive Server Anywhere product to be a truly portable database. It is cost effective and scaleable. We also like Sybase because they have very attractive licensing agreements.
What do you look for in a vendor
Support mainly. Good access to support staff is essential and obviously the opportunity to make a reasonable profit from their products.
What new or emerging technologies offer the best opportunity for yourbusiness?
The latest products coming out of Adobe look very good. Adobe's Acrobat PDF file format is becoming somewhat of an industry standard. It has also brought out a product called InDesign which is looking like it will replace QuarkXpress. It's half the cost of Quark upgrades and does more. InDesign is going to be the basis of the next generation of products we dev-elop. We are currently in the process of reprogramming our existing solutions to use InDesign.
Where does your company excel most in its business methodologies?
Our ability to integrate solutions with disparate systems. We excel at that because we have good programming staff.
What are the key buying motives amongst your customers at the moment?
It used to be that customers would want to buy all their hardware and software systems from the one source but now they want to buy hardware separately. They look to us for integration expertise and for peripheral services and training.
What are the major challenges facing your company in the new millennium?
Technology changes so fast that we have to reinvent ourselves every few years. For us, the challenge is in keeping that process going which means staying on top oftechnology.
The content we are capturing is being used for many purposes - for publishing in both newspapers and on the Web. The challenge for us in the future is to supply systems which reflect and enable new technologies.
What is the major inhibitor to the company's business development plans?
The size of the Australian marketplace. We are almost at saturation point so we are looking at overseas opportunities and other new opportunities within the publishing industry here in Australia.
What piece of advice would you offer
to other IT integrators?
Stay on top of technology.