USB Flash Drives: Practical Office Applications

Posted on July 24, 2008 by

As a childhood lover of Lego…I just had to post this cool USB flash drive.

So I was having a conversation this morning with a friend of mine about inter office use of USB sticks, and how different mediums of media product can simply do things in different ways. For instance, something I come across regularly when discussing strategies and ideas with clients is the suggestion by other media consultants and media products companies that EVERYTHING is either moving or has moved to the web or electronic environment. It’s a digital world! The web is where it’s at! Printed manuals and books are an ancient thing of the past! Nothing will be in a hard copy format anymore and business and government simply has to accept this and get with the program, or risk losing their audience or alienating their target market.

This is the single stupidest thing I have ever heard.

It’s also an indication that you’re not dealing with a very good supplier or media consultant. It’s pretty easy to gauge when someone is simply just trying to make a sale to you, versus actually listening to what you’re hoping or looking to accomplish.

The bottom line is this. Printed books, manuals, and hard copy print is not going away any time soon. It’s just not. There is a comfort with holding something in your hand and physically reading it or experiencing it without the presentation courtesy of a computer screen. However, that’s not to say that some printed collateral could be presented differently because it’s just not engaging who it’s supposed to. That’s also not to say that something can’t be reinterpreted a different way with a probable different result.

I met with a client recently who produced about 25,000 hard cover bindered manuals a year, which was broken up into lots of 5000 x 5 times in a 12 month period. They were increasingly conscious of the paper wastage, and admitted that the majority of these manuals were usually shipped to the recipients and in almost 60% of the cases, never read or read just a bit. The content was your usual run of the mill organizational activity stuff that had a requirement to be communicated as part of a greater overall necessary strategy. In other words, they were required to print and deliver them, but no one was reading the material. It was a tremendous waste of paper, but more importantly, they weren’t grabbing the audience and engaging them with the content. You could argue the content simply wasn’t interesting enough, but I’ll leave that up to the client. What I’m here to discuss is how to get them into it before they determine that they’re not interested. The presentation or introduction of access. The big, READ ME sign.

So. This is the thing. They needed to print these. Fair enough. Let’s print them. They also wanted to reduce that stat of unread materials down to 20%. This is where electronic doument migration comes into play. This is also where USB sticks can be nifty content delivery vehicles. We’ve developed a simple method of producing a USB user profile that exists on a drive. This profile has a data designation/ping that holds a unique numerical value associated with a database. It’s like a password. When you plug the drive in, it accesses a database where that normally printed documentation exists electronically. Once there, the stick asks you if you want the electronic version of the manual, which allows you to view it in a custom made reader we’ve developed. You can simply download and access off the stick later with options to print, or you can read while you’re at your PC. The flash drives are distributed as exclusive access pieces or as alternatives to the paper wasting option. You can play around with the media on this one and frame the interactive portion of the stick in any of a number of ways to increasingly engage the user. It’s not a compelling breakthrough in modern communication, but it is an alternative way to access content versus just the web or hard copy. It’s different and more interesting, not to mention more environmentally sensitive. It’s not designed as a method to completely go green and paperless and wave that flag, but instead a complimentary alternative to perhaps what is a reduction of those paper filled binders, thus reducing the printing run by a quarter or maybe even half, but far more importantly, it’s a more engaging method, and you’re effectively giving the user what could be considered a “passkey” in the USB stick. Little different ways of interpreting something as simple as delivering pages and pages of textual material can go far, especially if you have an obligation to produce them.

Lastly, the return on the investment of using a USB stick is, and I’ve said this before, easier to gauge, when you see clients and colleagues carrying it around on their keychain.

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