Using metadata of smart digital assets for end-to-end process management

Photo: Stephen KaufmanStephen Kaufman of Schawk discusses how the confluence of process and asset management enables the company to manage its end-to-end process while facilitating the versatility of staff contributions to customer value.

Interview conducted by Vinod Baya, Steven Kahn, and Bo Parker

Stephen Kaufman is CTO of Schawk, a worldwide brand services consultancy headquartered in Des Plaines, Illinois. Schawk’s clients include many well-known consumer product companies, pharmaceutical firms, and global retailers. Kaufman provides Schawk with strategic technology visioning and currently serves on Schawk’s Strategic Advisory Board. He is chairman of Schawk’s Technology Leadership Council and, specific to the packaging industry, is also chairman of the Intelligent Packaging Consortium (IPC), which creates Extensible Markup Language (XML) standards for the packaging supply chain.

Kaufman came to Schawk in 1993, where he became the founder and first CEO of Schawk Digital Solutions. Schawk Digital Solutions created BLUE, the packaging industry’s leading digital asset management and graphic arts workflow suite. In previous roles, Kaufman has served as Schawk’s technology director and vice president of client strategy.

In this interview, Kaufman shares how Schawk manages changes at all stages of its end-to-end process by combining metadata from smart digital assets with a business process management and digital asset management system.


PwC: Would you please tell us about Schawk and its business?

SK: Certainly. Schawk has been around for more than 50 years. The company started in Chicago as a printing plate manufacturer, reinvented itself through the years, and has expanded the scope of its offering to include integrated strategic, creative, and executional services. Our focus today is on helping companies create compelling and consistent brand experiences at home, on the go, in the store, and on the shelf, starting with brand strategy and design, through production and print management. We currently operate in 17 countries out of 48 offices worldwide, mostly in North America, with some significant presence in western Europe, Asia, and Australia. We refer to our offering as brand point management and while our sweet spot is packaging, our services include specialized pockets of expertise that include retail marketing. Our client base includes 64 Fortune 500 companies, across different industries, but concentrated in the CPG [consumer packaged goods], retail, and life sciences categories.

When our work relates to packaging services specifically, one of the values that Schawk might bring to a brand client would be a “fit for use” analysis. This analysis allows us to apply our deep knowledge of the printing and publishing process, and help the brand client understand up front if their design intent can be accomplished with a given process.

Capturing intent early on and helping the brand client steward that intent through a complex production process brings high value to the brand and often significant cost avoidance. Said another way, we are simply determining the feasibility of a potential plan. We translate what the brand wants to execute from a creative notion into an engineering action. We want to stand at that nexus between creativity and execution.