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Urgency Gets No Summer Vacation This Year

What do Social Security checks, grandchildren, bedtime and doctors have in common? Dr. Joe explains it all, and has some suggestions about what the industry should be thinking about during summer vacations and summer shutdowns. He's on the "it's 1994 again" rant once more, so you've been warned.

By Dr. Joe Webb
Published: May 23, 2011


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Dr. Joe Webb is one of the graphic arts industry's best-known consultants, forecasters, and commentators. He is the director of WhatTheyThink's Economics and Research Center.



By Gregg Parnell on May 23, 2011

The comparison to 1994 really doesn't apply here. In 1994 technological change was giving printers the ability to produce work faster, easier and better if they adopted and got on board with the change.
The change occuring today is a fundamental change in how people communicate; and that is very different. No longer can we "push" messages through radio, TV and print mediums and expect people to respond. Today's consumer says "I want to look at what I want" (content) "how I want" (iPad, Newspaper, cable, smartphone, email, social media) "where I want" (home, office, car) and "when I want" (24/7).
While you've been preaching for years that printer's need to be marketers and communicators; i.e. content providers, that's really not the business model that most of them started with. Printing was and is a manufacturing process. When you become a content provider, you'll need marketing people, designers, database experts,but why do you need a printing press?...and there's the rub. The starving sheetfed guy who's still in the manufacturing business up the street is more than willing to print whatever content you need to print at less than his cost, or he's out of business. That is why consolidation will continue for some time, until the commoditization is replaced by more realistic levels dictated by a new reality of supply and demand.


By Joe Webb on May 23, 2011

The point is that in 1994 the Internet was not on the printing industry's radar screen, and that there is an opportunity to prepare for another significant change in communications. As mentioned in both books, Disrupting the Future, and Renewing the Printing Industry, the content creation process is definitely not for everyone, and most printers will not be able to handle it. Therefore, they need to do other things, and the books outline what those might be. The pressures for consolidation are strong now, and I think they are going to intensify to fever pitch later this year and 2012.


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