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Another drupa is Upon Us... Now What?

Dr. Joe tells us what drupa and other trade shows mean to the new capital investment patterns of our industry. He thinks capital investments are becoming more tactical than strategic, more continuous than discrete. This is a problem, because “capex” often locks in a vision of media markets, making it harder to adjust to market changes. Just what we need: Dr. Joe having visions again.

By Dr. Joe Webb
Published: April 23, 2012


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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.com's Economics and Research Center.

What do you think? Please send feedback to Dr. Joe by emailing him at drjoe@whattheythink.com.

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By Peter Muir on Apr 23, 2012

Dr. Joe,

Your words, as they often do, describe a detailed look at both the problem and the opportunity at the heart of an industry.

As an educator and consultant trying to help printers, makers of printing technology and those who need the output from it (the world of business at large), I have found that it comes down to an individual business and how they make decisions regarding the future you describe.

Armed with a detailed plan or going with one's gut, no matter your method, if you make your efforts about helping your customers grow their business beyond cost savings alone--helping them acquire new customers as well as going further with existing ones-- you stand the chance at differentiating yourself and providing something your customers will be more willing to pay for.

Please consider that thought as part of your vision.


By John Zarwan on Apr 23, 2012

I wonder if part of the decline in CAPEX can also be attributed to the changing nature of how that equipment is purchased - much digital equipment is leased,(very few businesses capitalize their leased), software is licensed (SaaS) or expensed.


By Carl Gerhardt on Apr 26, 2012

This is a great point. If CAPEX expenditures do not include FMV leased equipment and software licenses (large ones might be capitalized) they should.
The larger point that Dr. Joe makes about print production moving into fewer hands and many current small operations transitioning more into marketing services with little or no production is very interesting and insightful. Will they be wholesale to the trade or direct to the end user?

If the current whse suppliers go direct to the end user that leaves the marketing services only suppliers out of the print mix. This appears to have happened already in Germany. Will it happen here in the same way? If so who will be the one's left standing? Will they be new the current whse trade suppliers or new operations? Can both exist leaving room for everyone with specialized expertise and market niches? It would be great to hear this debated further on this blob or on a panel at a future industry event.


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