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Economics & Research Blog

How to Renew Our Industry... Again

Wednesday was our quarterly economic webinar,

By Dr. Joe Webb
Published: September 24, 2008

Wednesday was our quarterly economic webinar, but something more important happened, but I'm biased in that judgment. The update to my strategic report, “Renewing the Printing Industry” was released. To my great delight, the sponsor of the WhatTheyThink Economics and Research Center, MindFireInc, is making it available to the industry at no charge, as a free download.

The press release highlights many of the report's key points. The concepts in the report were originally outlined at my presentation at the 2003 GraphExpo, where the idea of expanding them into a document was first hatched. That appeared in December 2003. Over the years, the ideas were refined in various private and public presentations to industry groups and companies. In 2006, we updated it again at GraphExpo. Here in 2008, the major improvement is the the editorial help of Richard Romano in creating a new document.

The urgency of the concepts that I outline, seems to have grown. The combination of the economic and credit problems, and the growing awareness that the print business just isn't the same may garner the approach more attention than it originally received in 2003.

One of the major thrusts of the document is that strategy has to make sense. Printers can't get into the communications business, as trite as that sounds, without a cultural shift that could be rather traumatic. But there are many other strategic programs that are far more appropriate, and much more effective. In all, there are seven different strategies. Companies can choose one (which is preferable) or find interesting ways of their own to combine aspects of one strategy with another.

Ultimately, the purpose of the report is to make business owners and printing executives to think about their businesses differently than they do today. A return to our entrepreneurial roots is needed now more than ever. Individual companies, doing unique and interesting things, in a proactive way that delights their clients and draws new business, are the way the industry gets out of its malaise. Perhaps this is a step in that direction.

As far as a print edition, there will be one. Perhaps an industry vendor would be interested in participating in that endeavor. Until then, the PDF version will be available from MindFireInc on a no-charge basis.


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.



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