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NFIB Small Business Index Breaks Through 2003 Recession Bottom for Last Two Months

The NFIB index has been trapped between the bottom of two recessions, that of the early 1990s and the early 2000s recession bottom. Though the latest report retreated a bit, it's still above the 2003 low. Small business is improving at a very slow pace, but this may finally be a good sign after the very disappointing Q1 GDP report.


Game-Changers for the Printing Industry: Mobile (Part 1)

Mobile is a technology that is increasingly disrupting the role of traditional communications. Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore some of the disruptive forces that are expected to impact the market. This week’s article is the first in a two-part series exploring mobile. It covers mobile barcodes and near-field communications (NFCs).


What Can You Do to Save Your Customers Money?

A printer e-mailed me recently and said, “the Vice President of Procurement at our biggest customer is open to a meeting but she wants to know what I can do to save her money.” Of course she does, she’s always wanted her vendors to engage with her in a way that solves her business challenges and makes her look good.


June 2014 Mergers, Acquisitions & Restructuring in the Printing, Packaging & Related Industries

The newest old company, Time Inc., was very busy in June. The venerable publisher of magazines, including household names such as Time, Fortune, People, and Sports Illustrated, was spun off from Time Warner, separating the aging print-centric parent from its progeny’s profitable entertainment and programming businesses.


Who will capture the Iron Throne: Are you paying attention?

In this article, at the request of JW (aka the printing industry’s own Deep Throat), Zwang displays his alter ego… a shadowy figure dressed in a trilby and trench coat, and takes a departure from focusing on your businesses to look instead at the rapidly changing requirements and the resulting workflows of your clients and potential clients, and how that may undermine your very existence.


Game-Changers for the Printing Industry Part 2: 3D Printing

Once considered science fiction, the ability to do 3D printing—to produce objects on demand at relatively low cost—has become a reality. 3D printing is a game--changing technology and this article, part 2 of a series on disruptive technologies, explores its applications and opportunities.


Veritiv: A New Company with a Heritage of Service (Premium Content)

On July 2nd, Veritiv, the result of the Unisource/Xpedx merger, began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: VRTV). WhatTheyThink’s Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Chairman and CEO Mary Laschinger shortly after she rang the Stock Exchange’s Opening Bell.


Recovery Indicators Improve

The recovery indicators were mainly better this month, with the NASDAQ bouncing around then finishing well, and three of the four ISM indicators increasing. The one that didn’t is still firmly in expansion territory. The original estimate of proprietors’ income was $1,371 then it was reduced to $1,366 billion and now it’s $1,359.


The Print MIS Go-Live Date Dilemma

One of the biggest challenges printers face when transitioning to a new Print MIS system is to pick a go-live date. Picking this magical date is a bit like gambling – you really don’t know for sure when the cards are going to line up the way you need them to.


Building Digital Connections with Your Customers

Your sales team creates customer demand for your products and services, your production team fulfills that demand by manufacturing quality printed products on-time. Both your sales team and your production team need to be SOLD on the strategic, long-term importance of creating digital connections to your existing customers and using digital connections to win new customers.


Canon Solutions America: What’s New? (Premium Content)

WhatTheyThink recently attended a Canon Solutions America customer event at Canon’s Customer Experience Center in Poing, Germany. We had an opportunity to speak to several executives about the future of the company and its achievements to date.


Game-Changers for the Printing Industry: Wearable Technologies (Premium Content)

As evidenced by the explosive, innovative changes that are occurring in today’s printing industry, creative destruction is clearly taking hold. Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore some of the disruptive forces that are expected to impact the market. This week’s article explores wearable technologies like Fitbit and Google Glass.


Selling Solutions: A Path for Your Print Sales Team

Customers have challenges; the best way to increase your sales is to provide your products and services wrapped into solutions to your customer’s challenges. Solution selling is an easier topic to write about then it is to execute on. Too many people write about the idea without providing guidance on how to get from where you are today (selling print jobs) to selling print programs or solutions.


Advertising Agency Revenues Still Climbing

The chart below shows the latest revenue data, on an inflation-adjusted basis, for ad agencies and publishers. Note how ad agency revenues are rising. While there have always been agencies that specialize in certain media, like television, direct mail, or others, the industry is media agnostic in the aggregate. Its job is to increase the positive visibility of its clients and help spur their customers into action.


HP Scales Up Its PageWide Technology (Premium Content)

At an event in San Diego, Calif., held June 9 and 10, HP announced that they are scaling up their PageWide technology for use in wide-format printers. PageWide made its debut in 2013 in the Officejet Pro X Series of desktop multifunction devices.


Reducing your Spot Color Ink Cost

Over the years the cost of spot colors has increased due to reductions in ink company branches, minimum quantities, rush charges and additional delivery costs. If you use a lot of spot colors your ink costs have most likely grown. GFI Innovations manufactures an ink dispenser that can help you reduce your spot color ink costs and reduce your environmental impact.


Vincent Printing: Changing with the Times (Premium Content)

Branding is about getting your prospects to see you as a company that provides a solution to their problems. To be successful, you must demonstrate that you understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. This article explores how Vincent Printing is changing with the times to meet its clients’ evolving needs.


Selected Generally “Non-Offset” Products and Services Offered by US Commercial Printers


Experts at the Past vs. a Vision for the Future

Last week I was in Bali, Indonesia, speaking at Dscoop Asia. The event, the travel, and the reading I did along the way came together with a common theme which can best be summed up by a quote from the book I read on the way home.


Chasing Bottlenecks in Wide-Format Digital

I recently had the chance to talk with Scott Crosby of Holland & Crosby, Ltd., about issues relating to bottlenecks in the wide-format production process. In the article, it’s interesting to see how changes (and improvements) in technology can strongly affect a company’s complete process. The comments included here may sound familiar to many using wide-format equipment.


Inkjet’s Irresistible Rise Is Showcased at FESPA Digital 2014 (Premium Content)

Last month, being in touch with the latest developments in wide-format inkjet printing for graphic arts and industrial applications meant being at FESPA Digital, a European trade expo billing itself as the “largest focused digital print exhibition worldwide this year.”


It’s Academic – Scholarly Journals are Big Business – May 2014 M&A Activity

Digital content platforms attracted financial and strategic buyers last month, as increasingly sophisticated online systems drive information to centralized providers that automate the design, hosting and distribution of content.


Full-Throttle Communications at IPMA 2014 (Premium Content)

IPMA 2014 (Milwaukee, WI) featured a tagline of “Full-Throttle Communication.” This article describes how today’s in-plants are moving up the value chain to better serve their customers, and also provides examples of in-plants that were awarded for innovation at the show.


Latest Print and Content Creation Employment Data


Print MIS Implementation: Don’t Forget Your People!

A Print MIS implementation/transition is a massive undertaking. It is usually driven by an extensive technology-focused project plan and/or strategic document. These projects can take anywhere from 6-18 months to implement. So much thought and effort gets put in to so many elements.


Production Inkjet—The Next Wave: Kodak PROSPER 6000 (Premium Content)

Now that time has passed, and many of the production inkjet vendors are beginning to introduce new offerings, David will look at many of these new products in the context of what was learned in the original series as they are introduced.


Production Inkjet—The Next Wave: Océ ImageStream 3500 from Canon (Premium Content)

Now that time has passed, and many of the production inkjet vendors are beginning to introduce new offerings, David will look at many of these new products in the context of what was learned in the original series as they are introduced.


HP Highlights Digital Print for Packaging Applications at interpack (Premium Content)

interpack, a once-every-three-years trade fair held in Düsseldorf, Germany, is like Pack Expo in Chicago—a huge show that’s heavy on packaging and packaging automation but light on digital printing (with the possible exception of coding and logistics labeling).


Notes from a Safari: Nine Big Mistakes That Would-Be Wide-Format Printers Can Make (Premium Content)

Unless you have been lost, you are all too aware that the market for print has been changing, changing dramatically, and not changing for the best. We’ve had this discussion for a long time, so we need not dwell on it here. As a result, many companies have looked to wide-format and other types of specialty printing as a compelling replacement.


Workflow Automation: Investment Delivers Top Value

Two-thirds of print service providers consider workflow automation a top investment priority simply because it enables them to better service customers and increases customer satisfaction. Today, customers typically want more speed and less cost, whether it’s 100 business cards or a half-dozen editions of 1,000 books each in different page dimensions—by tomorrow—from facilities on three continents.


Xerox Unveils Expanded Impika Inkjet Innovation Center (Premium Content)

Xerox announced the grand opening of its expanded Impika Inkjet Innovation Center in Aubagne, France, with a customer Inkjet Summit on June 4th. Chairman & CEO Ursula Burns was on hand to officially open the new center. WhatTheyThink Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Andrew Copley, President of Xerox’ Graphic Communications Operations, to understand the extent of the expansion and what it means for the Xerox production inkjet business.


Say Thank You: Customer-Vendor Relationships

When you are the customer, you’re always right – correct? Maybe not always but the relationship between customer and vendor is a tricky one.


Since June 2009, rate of overall USPS price increases almost 4x the rate of increase in commercial printing prices


One Year Later: X-Rite Pantone President Ron Voigt (Premium Content)

About a year ago, we interviewed X-Rite Pantone President Ron Voigt shortly after he took on the leadership role. In this interview with Senior Editor Cary Sherburne, he updates our readers on what has transpired in that year and strategies moving forward.


In Europe, Canon Seeks the Spotlight with “Niagara” Inkjet Press and Other Product-Launch Announcements

Eager to promote the outcomes of its integration with Océ, Canon is making a concerted marketing effort to acquaint printers worldwide with the merged product lines and ongoing progress in R&D. Lately, Canon has been concentrating the effort in Europe, where it recently made a series of major announcements about new digital printing systems.


Web-to-Print: Are Users Ordering or Shopping?

A web-to-print site is all about customer convenience, enabling your customers to order from you in a self-service fashion. One thing to understand about your customers is whether they are ordering or shopping.


Broadly Defined, Printing Is One Hellacious Cyber Risk (Premium Content)

Legal expert and printing industry pundit Kevin Keane contributes this article about the risks printing companies face as they handle an increasing volume of internal and external data. But he doesn’t stop there. He provides our members with specific steps that owners and managers must take to mitigate data breach risks.


Transforming and Automating Workflows: Thinking out of the box Part 2

There is an assumption that as service provider there are very specific, almost predetermined ways that a workflow to support your business operations should be developed and deployed. However, sometimes, to use a somewhat overused term, you need to think out of the box. In Part 2 of this article we continue to look at some other ways to approach offerings, and workflows.


The Promise of Process Free Plates

The printing industry continues to look at how to improve processes and reduce the environmental impact of printing. Kodak has developed a new plate, Sonora, which is process free. Process free plates have been around for a long time but they have been more of a niche product. The Sonora plate may change that.


The ICG Remembers Folding Carton Industry Veteran Alan Crane

The folding carton industry has lost a legend. Alan Crane (1924-2014) was a visionary, mentor and cherished friend to many, including members and suppliers of the Independent Carton Group (ICG), who remember him fondly.


The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Digital Enterprises (Premium Content)

McKinsey Insights and Publications recently published an article entitled The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Digital Enterprises. This article provides a brief overview of the insights from this article and also explores their particular relevance to the graphic communications market.


Paper or Electronic? Sprint Recognizes the Value of Paper in Today’s Business World

Interview of Sprint’s Alan Anglyn, Director – IT Care & Billing Services Business Management by Phil Riebel, President - Two Sides North America


Though Q1-2014 GDP was -1%, the Year-to-Year Trend Remains in the +2% Range

The Bureau of Economic Analysis released the second revision of Q1-2014 US Gross Domestic Product (GDP), indicating a contraction of the US economy in the quarter. As reported in prior (“laughable and embarassing”) analysis, an inventory buildup in the last two quarters of 2013 distorted the underlying condition of the economy.


Test Your Assumptions via Minimum Viable Product

We think we know our customers, we think we know our market; we think we can predict the future, we can’t and we shouldn’t invest lots of money without building in the ability to test our assumptions with data rather than opinions and theories.


Q1-2014 Business Conditions Compared to Q1-2013

Business conditions were generally good, with more than 33% reporting business increases of 6% or more. About 13% of respondents indicated business decreases of 6% or more


The Feature Trap of Buying Print Software

There is a hidden pitfall most of us in the position of purchasing print software are very susceptible to. We are all human, and while we have the best of intentions to do thorough evaluations while making a new print software purchase, we quickly fall victim to the ‘feature trap.’


Want To Improve the Value of Your Company Up to 5x Without Borrowing a Dime?

There has long been speculation among business owners and their advisors over how to place a value on privately held companies. Now, newly developed business valuation models which replicate historical buyer experience sheds some light on the topic and provides some very interesting insights into value creation opportunities for current business owners and potential buyers.


Building Your Sales Funnel: Awareness is Everything! (Premium Content)

The order of the traditional sales funnel has typically been to discover a new opportunity, initiate communication, conduct fact finding, develop a solution, propose that solution, evaluate the solution, negotiate the details, create a purchase order, and maintain the account. This article explores how today’s empowered prospects have rendered this systematic approach obsolete.


NFIB Small Business Index Still Between Two Recession Bottoms


Transitioning Your Print MIS System

If you are currently functioning on a legacy Print MIS system, you know better than anyone that you are going to have to make a move ‘soon.’ Maybe soon is in the next 2 months or the next 2 years, but you know that your system isn’t going to lead you into the future.


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