Industrial revolutions are momentous events, and many historians agree that there have been three to date. Interconnected digital technology might be triggering the fourth revolution, and this article explores the actions that printers should take to remain at the forefront of Industry 4.0.
How is the United States Postal Service perceived by key members of the mailing supply chain? A recent Idealliance study lays it all out, the good, the bad and the ugly. While there is certainly room for improvement, and it is unclear what the USPS response to this study will be, be sure to read to the end for a view of what mail and communications would be like if the USPS wasn’t functioning as well as it is!
Last month, I attended EskoWorld for the first time. This was the 26th EskoWorld, so I am a little slow on the uptake. But the event was well worth attending and had quite a different feel from other user groups I have attended.
Your print business runs on software, more and more of that software is being delivered via the cloud where resources can be precisely controlled and scaling (both up and down) is configurable in real-time. Kodak’s flagship workflow product – PRINERGY Workflow is no exception to taking advantage of what cloud computing can do to a printer’s production workflow.
In this podcast we talk to Susan Moore about the various roles Susan has had in the printing industry: supplies sales, printing business owner, MIS platform provider. We talk about becoming a data-driven company and how MIS transitions are hard but they create a great opportunity to restructure your business model and to transition to today's world.
Sadly, the industry lost one of its loyal behind-the-scenes advocates, Kip Smythe. His coordination of efforts involving industry research, statistics, standards, trade, and others, was appreciated by everyone who worked alongside him. Dr. Joe has a special remembrance.
US commercial printing shipments and profits are in a pattern that suggests another re-set of media communications strategy is underway. The national employment data looked great on the outside, but were disturbing on the inside… again. The latest publishing revenues suggest that content’s kingship status is not what everyone thinks it is.
QR Codes have been trending. What does a deeper dive into online search data tell us about interest in QR Code adoption and usage? What market categories show the greatest curiosity? Here’s a look at what Google Trends has to say.
Printing and mailing customer communications, statements, and bills is a critical business process that can benefit from outsourcing. This article explores how BMS Technologies is capitalizing on the transaction document outsourcing services opportunity by supporting its customers’ ever-changing needs and investing in inkjet technology.
Augmented Reality has the potential to open a world of possibilities for brand owners who are seeking to drive an immersive consumer interaction with their products. When applied to packaging, the digital information is visible through mobile or tablet devices and is enabled by an app. Customers are becoming more receptive to AR, and this article explores how brand owners are leveraging packaging to integrate the technology into the customer experience.
Making good software is like building a nice home, it takes multiple resources who are coordinated to deliver on your needs. The more a printer understands the software process, the better they will be at managing it for internal projects or influencing the software roadmap of their vendors.
You may not be able to make a commitment to implement full workflow automation, but this does not mean you should write off workflow efficiency gains entirely. Why not try going lean instead? This printer did.
The Commerce Department’s revisions to industry shipments show a much different picture of a key metric for the industry, sales per employee. The chart was created using 12-month moving totals of inflation-adjusted shipments and the 12 month moving average of total industry employment. The latest reading through March 2017 is $182.65 per employee, a meager +1.5% higher than it was at the end of 1992. It fell from a peak of $195.51 which was just before the burst of the housing bubble, the rise of social media platforms, tablets, and smartphones. The fall in this calculation has some interesting characteristics. Historically, large printing businesses focused on magazines, catalogs, and newspaper inserts, had sales per employee that were significantly higher than the industry averages, anywhere from 30% to 50% higher.
Advances in inkjet technology have print service providers asking “not if, but when” they should invest. This article highlights recent interviews with a number of inkjet users to find out the critical strategies they are following to accelerate their organization’s path to profitability.
In late March, Xeikon announced that Benoit Chatelard, at the time the Vice President, Production Printing, for Ricoh Europe, would be joining the company as President & CEO Digital Solutions, Flint Group, Xeikon’s parent company. Chatelard began his new role May 8th, and speaks with Senior Editor Cary Sherburne about his vision for Xeikon.
We want to be efficient, we want to feel smart. When we hear even the first words of a challenge, we categorize it and start trying to solve it based on our available tool set. This prevents you from a real understanding of the problem.
The same technologies that have enabled the proliferation of wide-format graphics are also profoundly changing the traditional specialty printing market. Here’s how print service providers can take advantage of the “nichification” of commercial print.
Despite all the talk about the need for automated workflow, printers are still not rushing to invest in these solutions. How long can they hold on to fractured and inefficient workflows without this becoming a serious liability?
We love numbers, especially when they go in a direction we like. Accuracy of the information we use in decision-making should not be a matter of liking numbers, the numbers are what the numbers are. What happens when one set of numbers you relied on are revised on the basis of new and better information and describe a different scenario than before? Dr. Joe helps sort it out… we think.
Under the “Connecting Your Network” theme, the 2017 Xerox Forum focused on business growth opportunities in today’s dynamic graphic communications market. This article highlights announcements and speakers from the event.
Marketers’ love affair with a digital-only strategy has begun to wane, and while they are continuing to invest in digital channels, print is regaining ground as an important part of the overall media mix. This opens the door to a more active role for print service providers in moving upstream and becoming engaged with helping marketers develop and execute an effective omni-channel strategy that aligns with the way consumers want to interact with brands. We spoke with some experts to learn their secrets of success.
Savvy print service providers recognize the need to offer relevant, integrated services to an ever-changing market. Investing in the right technologies will play a key role moving forward. This article discusses some of the technological areas that can fuel growth in today’s complex marketplace.
The Commerce Department tracks the number of business establishments by industry, and among he more interesting reports is the calculation of new and closed businesses. The data take a while to be released, and these new data about 2014 were recently made available. There’s a word of caution here. If someone was a corporation and decides to become a partnership or a proprietorship, that counts as one business closed and one business opened. And then there’s “poor man’s mergers” where two business owners decide to close their two businesses and open one new one. Same people, same equipment, no real change except to the tax authorities and government statisticians. The most important number is the net change of births less deaths. In the worst of the recession, the net number was 6% of establishments. For 2014, that had fallen to a little more than 2%.
Sheridan Group is sold, Intelligencer joins with Pemcor, Kennedy Group and Resilience Capital form Lux and buy National Label, ProAmpac and Resource Label acquire, summary of equipment manufacturing deals, and more.
The economy is showing signs, but no one can figure out what kind of signs they are. GDP is down, employment is up. Apple confounds the analysts with a financial report worthy of corporate envy, but the analysts were not happy, and seem to blame Apple for the analysts bad guesses! And then there’s printing shipments: let’s change the subject… it seems many printers are doing just that by changing the process. Do policies in your company insulate you from the detection of market changes and opportunities? It’s not always denial, it’s procedure. That’s not a good thing.
Even as people continue to hate on QR Codes, we see them popping up in more and more places, including mobile banking and payments. This article takes a look at three places we regularly see QR Codes in the world of mobile payments and why we should pay attention.
Attendees at the recent Inkjet Summit reported that inkjet technology is mature, profitable, and offers printers a variety of options in terms of size, format, and speed. The event attracted 48 sponsors and 139 attendees from commercial print, direct mail, book manufacturing, data center, service bureau, and in-plant operations.
Last month, NPES announced it was taking on sole ownership of the Print/Graph Expo show franchise in order to give it the flexibility to make necessary major changes to the show. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with both Printing Industries of America and Idealliance to get their take and to better understand what their involvement would be moving forward.
Tucson-based Spectrum Printing recently underwent the Idealliance G7 Master Facility Qualification process by leveraging G7 Expert, Jeff Collins, National Color Solutions Manager for Konica Minolta. We checked into learn more about the process and the early results. We’ll touch base again in about a month to find out what longer term benefits the company has achieved.
We are about to be hit by a “Third Wave” of technology disruption that will negatively impact the demand for print. Or will it? Not all print is created equal these days. Here are some suggestions for how to weather the storm.
As reaching consumers across multiple channels becomes more difficult, marketers’ budgets are rising to meet the challenge. This article explores how print service providers can add value to the overall marketing strategy through investment in core print products, analytics, and digital integration.
There is no “one software package” that runs your entire business. Businesses of all sizes have a technology stack (a collection of software). How well your technology stack fits together (like a beautiful puzzle) greatly determines your success in today’s market.
A lifetime is filled with many people. In 1971, I joined Compugraphic Corp. as their first marketing communications manager. Carl Dantas was then the VP of Operations. As the two founders, Bill Garth and Ellis Hansen, became less involved, Carl moved up the ranks to head the company.
In today’s competitive marketplace, brands are all vying for the eyes of consumers. Ask yourself: Does your campaign inspire engagement or action? Is it timed to reach the recipients at a precise moment? Are you targeting consumers across their preferred communication channels?
Neon. LED. Channel letters. Wooden signs. Magnetic letters. Aside from dynamic digital signage, the “new media” in the sign industry is, strange as it may sound, print. The International Sign Association’s Sign Expo 2017 wrapped up last weekend. Here are some highlights from the show floor and beyond.
Every generation has a different perception of what the world is like. That difference may be appearing in surveys of consumer confidence and similar measures that businesspeople and economists have relied on. Hard data can be so cold, and those surveys added context and perspective with a view toward the future that historical data could not. Now it seems that “soft data” is softer than thought and may be misleading decision-makers about the marketplace.
The ultimate objective of marketing attribution is to help marketers track their marketing and media efforts and determine the impact on their overall business. Priorities are shifting toward cross-channel measurement, and savvy print service providers are getting into the game!
NPES has unveiled what it characterizes as a “bold new direction” with its 2020 Strategic Plan. The organization has been evaluating its performance and considering where it wants to be as an organization by 2020 – and what value it can and will bring to the printing industry. NPES has assumed full ownership of the PRINT and GRAPH EXPO tradeshows.
Clear communication is essential when implementing print software. When you don’t ask clarifying questions, you assume that if there were more relevant details about the integration they would have shared them with you. Do not assume. Ask clarifying questions. Be that annoying person who keeps asking questions.
Intuitively, we know that adding images to direct mail, displays, and wide-format graphics adds grabs attention, but these statistics from real-life campaigns show that adding images does more—it actually improves conversion rates.
Xeikon Café marked some significant Xeikon announcements, including the company’s entry into the production inkjet business and a leadership transition. The event, held at Xeikon headquarters in Belgium, drew more than 800 unique international visitors and was supported by about 40 partners.
Berkeley-based digital artist Bert Monroy has spent more than three decades creating intricately detailed digital fine art. His most complex image is part of a new software retrospective exhibit at the Computer History Museum.
Canon didn’t disappoint with its One Canon event in Boca Raton last month. About 40 journalists and analysts gathered to hear the latest news and engage with Canon customers. It’s always a pleasure to hear from Joe Adachi, Canon USA Chairman and CEO, who kicked off the event with a broad corporate overview. And a surprise product launch occurred during the event as well.
Today’s brands are learning from early mistakes through trial and error, careful consideration of user engagement, and knowledge of effective use to further enhance their mobile strategies. Even non-traditional partners like print service providers are learning how to provide support. This article explores how enterprises can capitalize on the mobile opportunity.
I grew up in the shadow of Navy base Moffett Field in Mountain View CA, and later lived near Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth NH, and had the opportunity to see many Blue Angels shows and practice sessions. So it was quite an experience to hear from John Foley, a retired U.S. Navy Commander who led the vaunted Blue Angels, a keynote speaker at Dscoop.
The financial markets were rattled a little bit by the recent minutes of the Fed meeting where they discussed the unwinding of their interventions and the ballooning of their balance sheet. The data are reflected in the St. Louis Fed Adjusted Monetary Base. The chart shows how the run-up in the S&P 500 stock index relates to the Fed’s quantitative easings
In this article, David looks at the role of Hybrid Press Solutions to bridge the gap between conventional and digital label production, and even a takes a glance at what these types of solutions mean for other types of packaging.
Friday’s unemployment report of 4.5% showed a thriving, healthy labor market in an economy bursting with growth. Not so fast… the cross-currents of the economy are quite different depending where you are, especially in the suffering retail markets. Media technology changes are letting communicators switch from gas guzzlers to more finely tuned approaches that squeeze budgets but offer similar results. There are print businesses thriving in this chaos, and Dr. Joe explains why even they have to remain vigilant and proactive.
Marketers face the challenge of getting their messages out in a way that cuts through this clutter and encourages desired behaviors in recipients. This article discusses how today’s marketers are increasingly leveraging statements and other transactional documents as a marketing platform, and how these documents are becoming a more integral part of the overall customer experience.
This article looks at the missed opportunities of a data-driven mailer created by a top brand and encourages readers to ensure that their own clients use data in a way that is effective rather than simply elevating the cost of a piece unnecessarily.
I wish you could just buy the right print software product and it would make you successful. You can’t. Success with software takes your execution. Software doesn’t implement itself, vendors can’t implement it without your active involvement.
This is a follow-up to my July 2016 White Paper entitled, “A Case Study of Patent Abuse: Printing Industry Faces New Nemesis Impacting Growth and Employment—Patent Trolls.” This article reviews the outcome of the previous cases and presents a “heads-up” regarding two new plaintiffs: Shipping & Transit LLC and the Freeny Brothers. It also introduces two “Printing Industry Heroes Among Us,” inventor Joyce Vogt and Intellectual Property attorney Nate St. Clair II.
The new Xerox® has been very busy lately. In addition to its largest ever product launch of 29 workplace printing devices last week, today the company introduced a new line of Versant® presses to replace the existing models, with many new features that exceed the competition’s current offerings and complement the growing line of Xerox production print engines.
When adding QR Codes to printed materials, it’s critical to understand where they are being placed (and whether they are even scannable) as much as it is why they are being used and the content to which viewers are being driven. Examples of where not to place QR Codes if you want people to scan them.
ISA Sign Expo 2017 is back in Vegas, with four days of educational sessions, a packed exhibition hall, and some brand-new partnerships and colocations, including the Collaboration in Packaging Production (CPP) Expo.
Data is the future. The emergence of combined business intelligence and analytics platforms has fueled what Gartner calls “the democratization of analytics,” under which “every business process becomes an analytics process and every user is an analytics user.” Nowhere is this change more evident than in marketing organizations where analytical expertise is a skill that all marketers must increasingly embrace.
Yes, that sounds boring, but the data have been made interesting by including details about the last forty years or so of industry history and technological change. We added some statistical forecasts from our models that take the data out to 2025. When we started this chart almost ten years ago, those outlying years were near zero. They’re not any more (whew!). The data are inflation adjusted and based on the population data and forecasts of the US Census Bureau. It’s interesting how there are periods of relative stability, a change, followed by another period of stability. Technological change has been a much bigger factor affecting consumption than general economic conditions.
On a recent visit to Switzerland, I had the opportunity to spend time with Antoine Preisig, General Manager EMEA for X-Rite Pantone. Preisig joined X-Rite a year ago with a diverse background in the dental, IT and consumer electronics industries. He shared his thoughts on how Industry 4.0 is changing the world – and our industry.
Industry profits for 2016 were higher than 2015, but big printers were not riding high, they were writing down. Big used to mean big, but now small and medium are the rage as the changing nature of print demand makes the theme of short-run specialties for long-term profitability a big idea. And then there’s capital investment that makes all that possible. Its rebound continues in a manner that reflects a different industry. Is the post-election business enthusiasm a bubble about to burst? Dr. Joe explains.
Finding salespeople who are capable of consistently hitting or surpassing their sales targets can be the difference between success and failure for a print/marketing service provider. Arnold Printing recently retooled its sales team, and this article explores the steps that the company took and the challenges it faced along the way.
Advertising agency revenues are having a slow rebound from their pullback in 2015. Publisher revenues are still having problems as ad pages and circulation are contracting. Clearly, agencies are finding other areas to garner revenues, especially in managing digital initiatives. Mobile communications are where their latest opportunities are, especially with website redesigns, creating the look and feel of content marketing for their clients, and assisting clients as they sort through the analytics that marketing automation offers.
Selling print online requires knowledge of how to both accept artwork and deliver print assets to the manufacturing facility. Generic ecommerce firms don’t understand this which can cause printers to spend their time and money educating resources about what makes print ecommerce unique.
Leveraging inkjet technology into the textile industry is presenting an increasingly compelling opportunity for mainstream print equipment and consumable suppliers, according to the latest research from Smithers Pira.
It’s a famous example of a large public company that defied gravity - Trans World Airlines (also known as TWA for those of us old enough to remember the brand) famously posted ten consecutive money-losing years and continued to operate, essentially living off capital generated from its once successful legacy enterprise. No small company could ever lose money and survive for an extended period measured in decades!
With the advent of data-driven marketing, print providers with agency services are uncovering opportunities in strategy, creative, programming, and content development when it comes to enhancing relevance and results for clients.
Although data-driven marketing is becoming more widely used, it is still in its infancy. This article explores how print providers with agency services are embracing data-driven marketing skills to gain a strategic advantage.
Mistakes are part of our lives and our businesses. Nobody likes to make them, how you react to your mistakes dictates what kind of business culture you’ll create. Software changes are an excellent environment to create a learning culture and avoid a fear based culture.
One constant amidst the turmoil and transformation of Kodak in recent years has been the company’s intense focus on R&D for its flexographic printing technologies. To hear Chris Payne tell it, concentrating on flexo has yielded some of Kodak’s biggest strategic dividends in the aftermath of its emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2013.
It’s been more than two decades since the first flurry of web-to-print solutions hit the market in the midst of the 1990’s dot-com boom, and these solutions have continued to evolve. Today, the next generation of web-to-print solutions are gaining steam as pure-play cloud-based solutions that provide the Uber- or Amazon-like experience consumers expect today. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne delves into experiences of forward-looking firms who have adopted these next-generation solutions.
“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” is the way the saying goes, and claiming some credit for a good job report on Friday was probably not wise. That old political rule of claiming credit for what happens on your watch though not caused by you has the underside of getting the blame for what you did not do. An important GDP forecast shows a very weak Q1, and the content creation businesses of advertising and design had declines in employment. Perhaps some weak economic conditions are what’s needed to get the Beltway’s priorities into the right order.
Jerry Kennelly started his print career in a sweat shop run by his parents in their basement. When a wall in your house has to be removed to get the press downstairs, you know you might be working the 3rd shift someday. Jerry is an entrepreneur, founder of Stockbyte, Tweak and the Junior Entrepreneur Programme in Ireland. In this podcast we talk about what Jerry has learned and how passionate he is about both the impact and value of print in our digital world.
As the saying goes, if you want to know the truth, follow the money. That’s why Target Marketing takes a look at marketers’ spending trends every year. We can talk all we want about what we think is up and what’s down, but the reality shows up in the numbers.
At yesterday’s Canon One event in Boca Raton, Canon Solutions America officially launched the Colorado 1640, the first model in the company’s new line of roll-to-roll wide-format printers based on the revolutionary new UVgel ink technology.
Data enrichment (also known as data appending) is the process of finding and adding missing or inaccurate attributes in existing data contact lists. This article explores how print service providers can leverage data enrichment services to bring differentiated value-add to clients.
Deluxe goes mobile as strategic plan unfolds, VC fund invests in photo book printer (and brilliant marketer of print services) Chatbooks, the market for retail display and point-of-purchase printers heats up as Orora continues acquisition spree, and more…
Step back and regroup. Stop looking at features and focus on the overall business objectives of your software solutions. All of us (vendors and printers) need to get out of the feature focus so we can make better software decisions AND make the software we have work better for us in spite of the lacking features.
The shift from analog to digital production in this area has already started, with the real growth ahead of us. This offers some perspective on the transition from conventional production to digital production in the label business. While there is significant forward movement in digital, and for the right reasons, it still represents only a small fraction of the total production mix.
For many people, color management is like the weather. Everyone talks about it, but no one ever does anything about it. But new machines with new ink sets are turning what was always a tricky issue into an even trickier one.
WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's leading independent media organization with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, PrintingNews.com and WhatTheyThink magazine versioned with a Printing News and Wide-Format & Signage edition. Our mission is to provide cogent news and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today’s printing and sign industries including commercial, in-plant, mailing, finishing, sign, display, textile, industrial, finishing, labels, packaging, marketing technology, software and workflow.