Although cross-training is certainly important, it is only one component of the overall training pie. This article discusses other considerations that are equally or even more important, including how well our industry trains and how your company compares to the leaders in the industry.
The chart shows the changes in the average number of employees per establishment in the US and large printing states. The average size of printing businesses in an area offers clues to the kinds of printing produced there and the history of the industry in that area.
All printers should be thinking about “workflow automation” as a strategic initiative; produce more with less labor, less waste, in less time as a way to remain competitive. Time savings should be strategically invested in diversification, new skills acquisition, and cross-training.
We’re always trying to look at things—trends, technology, etc.—from a historical perspective. We try to compare new phenomena to older phenomena that we understand. That’s normal. History is cyclical, isn’t it?
The PIA Financial Ratios have been published for decades, and may be the most recognized of the association's publications. There are, of course, problems with all kinds of research gathering efforts, but the positives of the Ratios reports outweigh the negatives from a methodological standpoint.
Many people confuse debt and deficit when they see it as part of the Federal government's annual budget. Deficit is the annual shortfall between a government's spending and its revenues. Debt is the accumulation of all of the deficits and surpluses of the prior years in that government's history.
Even in the industry's most profitable and growing years, the mantra “there's too much capacity in the industry” was always heard. It's been a misplaced and inaccurate portrayal of the business, yet it persists.
Mobile technology can interact with the consumer at the most contextually relevant time and location possible. Mobile can and will work when it is used properly. This article discusses the fundamentals of creating a true customer experience and explores how Target Stores created an effective mobile campaign for the 2014 holiday season.
One of the most common calls we get is from people frustrated about trying to build storefronts for their customers. The questions we get are often along these lines: “I’ve had this software for 6 months and we have only launched one store. Why is it taking so long?”; “Are my people qualified to build these storefronts?”; “I have no idea where to start, where should we start?”
In 1981, L.A. photographer Steve Reisch captured legendary director John Cassavetes and his stock company backstage as they rehearsed and performed an experimental series of plays. Unseen for 34 years, the images have been brought back to life thanks to a partnership between Reisch and Canon USA.
Print is a manufacturing process built on technology. As new technological developments emerge, the print industry grows in capability, productivity, and value. In the last twenty years, a boom in global innovation has coincided with new business models and brought print into the fold in a lot of newfound industries. Allan Brow, Kodak's Vice President Software Solutions Division shares his thought on the future of print in this article sponsored by Kodak.
Dr. Joe wonders why there isn't a little spring to the industry's step with 14 months of better sales levels. It could just be that printers a feeling a sense of relief as they wonder what's next. And then there's the economy. Second quarter GDP look great, but was really less filling. He scratches the economic surface and finds some skepticism inside. If he didn't, he wouldn't be Dr. Joe.
By improving the customer experience, businesses can drive value, reduce cost, and build a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Customers are seeking partners that deliver solutions beyond simple variable data, pURLs, and customized landing pages. The article explores how businesses can gain a competitive advantage by delivering an improved customer experience.
Those who came to the show in search of answers for packaging production should have had no trouble locating them in the vendor stands and specialty areas where packaging solutions were being featured.
Production inkjet held center stage at Graph Expo 2015, proving that has gone mainstream. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne looks at some of the announcements and the North American debuts for this game-changing technology.
Canada's commercial printing industry had a small rebound more than three years ago, before that of the US, and has been on a somewhat steady course since. In US dollars, however, Canada's gains market have been erased recently with the stronger dollar.
Although things are changing, traditional mailing and printing methods are still an important part of the ecosystem. Early predictions about the rapid adoption of electronic invoices and online payments have proven to be exaggerated. This article references recent InfoTrends research to explore how transactional printing and mailing is changing over time.
One of the unexpected challenges of a Print MIS system can be lack of adoption, along with the lingering dependency of third party tools. These two factors take away from the data integrity of the system itself. Ease of use is the sure-fire way to build compliance, and will also remove the reliance on external tools.
Not every packaging printer has what it takes to pass muster with this performance-certifying organization. But, those that clear GMI’s high bar can claim elite status among packaging service suppliers.
Dr. Joe summarizes what he would say at Graph Expo 15 breakfast. Content creation is proving to be a big money maker for the ad agency business. Publishers are still having monetization problems which makes that whole “content is king” still questionable. Maybe it's because the real king is the marketplace of millions of content consumers.
Today at the very first Graph Expo press conference, Komori and Screen shared some big news: Komori and Screen have entered into a strategic selling agreement that effectively joins the two companies’ sales organizations.. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne was on the scene to bring WhatTheyThink members additional insight on the news.
Mobile facilitates new thinking because its capabilities and tools enable marketers to transform why, when, where, and how audience members engage with their brands. This article explores how mobile technology is changing consumer behaviors and creating new opportunities for highly interactive engagement.
The nearly $15,000 profit per employee of 2000 may not be in the cards for the US commercial printing business any time soon, but it looks like this measure is headed to its second best performance since the end of the recession. Using the latest data for the second quarter of 2015, and adding the previous three quarters to create a full year, profits per employee seem to be headed to $7,700, a thousand dollars more than the level of 2014.
The new UnSquaring the Wheel project from Chris Bondy, Wayne Peterson, and Dr. Joe Webb is a new methodology for transforming print businesses. And it is ideally suited for those looking to add wide-format printing.
Senior Editor Cary Sherburne presents details and insight relative to Pantone’s announcement today about its new Extended Color Gamut Coated guide – what is it and what does it mean for printing and packaging for designers and print providers.
The 4-quarter moving total of inflation-adjusted US commercial printing shipments have been increasing, but unfortunately profits have not. Q2-2015 four-quarter shipments are up +2.3%, but profits are unfortunately down for the last four quarters -10.8%.
Nearly 2,000 marketers attended, up from about 1,350 last year, to hear 50 speakers from companies including Google, Starbucks, Adidas, Twitter and more. Ricoh was one of 100 exhibitors with a very busy booth that featured lots of information and examples of cross-media marketing solutions, featuring direct mail.
The Securities and Exchange Commission wants to modernize the way the investment industry reports on what it does. The plan could include freeing these companies from having to print and mail certain shareholder documents.
Data offers businesses new opportunities to better understand their customers through a limitless number of sources, including purchasing behaviors, interactions, demographics, and history. Last week’s article discussed the challenges that marketers face in today’s data-driven world, and this one explores the strategies that Innovairre is pursuing to help clients effectively use data.
July's inflation-adjusted US commercial printing shipments continued to outshine prior year shipment levels. This was the best July since 2008 on a current dollar basis and since 2010 on an inflation-adjusted basis. On average, monthly industry shipments have been about $200 million higher than the year before. They are also tracking closer to GDP growth rates, a feat the industry has not done for almost two decades.
A sales focus is external. A production focus is internal. A sales focused print business leader is constantly asking the question, “How does this activity/investment improve my customer’s experience or business?” A sales focused print leader escorts the external rate of change into the business at a rate that often makes their employees uncomfortable.
Four of the six recovery indicators fell last month, but the non-manufacturing new orders indicator remained very strong. World markets had a rocky month, and the NASDAQ fell -7% since the last indicators.
As wide-format and specialty graphics play a larger role in the industry, they are also playing a larger role at general commercial printing shows like Graph Expo. Here is a preview of some things to look for at this year’s show.
You remember the effect the Internet had on your business from 1995 through today? It’s nothing compared to what’s coming your way now. That’s the basis of a new book that is a must-read for anyone who owns or manages a business. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne speaks with Scott Stawski about Inflection Point: How the convergence of cloud, mobility, apps and data will shape the future of business.
Corporations are increasingly relying on data to learn about customers, invest in new products and services, adjust sales and marketing activities, and assess new market opportunities. This article discusses the challenges that marketers face in today’s data-driven world.
The first report of Q2-2015 real GDP was +2.3%, and now it's been raised to +3.7%, well ahead of forecaster expectations. On a longer-term year-to-year basis, the growth rate is +2.5%, still almost a full percentage point below post-WW2 average.
Longer term rate +2.5%. The effects of inventory increases is still a major factor in the growth, but there were other positives in the report implying that Q2 was broadly better than originally thought. There are concerns among professional forecasters that the inventory buildup will result in slower growth as those stockpiles are reduced. Considering that two thirds of the third quarter is almost complete, we know that international trade is being disrupted by currency and solvency issues in China and other countries. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta GDPNow estimates that third quarter GDP will be at +1.4%. Please also note a recent chart where we showed important key indicators that have yet to surpass their recession levels from Q4-2007.
A web-to-print demo is your chance to demonstrate how your print software technology solves the relevant challenges of a specific customer. The key words are “relevant challenges” and “specific customer”. Do your homework so your demonstration addresses what the customer actually cares about.
In an increasingly complex and demanding printing environment, color management is critical. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Canon Solutions America executives to learn more about how Canon is approaching this issue.
The News Corp CEO says that social media companies are responsible for the 'unnatural act' of redistributing content. The company that overpaid for MySpace, failed in social media, repeats the fears of copiers and VCRs from decades ago. We found out that Amazon is a great company and a horrible employer in a story perfect for cross media. Central banks play the devaluation game and say that they were manipulated into doing it. Sure, blame Kazakhstan. How can making something float cause it to sink? Dr. Joe explains it all.
Are inkjet presses a disruptive technology? This article will discuss the definition of a “disruptive technology,” determine if the data surrounding inkjet presses fulfills the criteria, and explore the ongoing impact of production inkjet printing.
The per capita value of US commercial printing shipments has stabilized at nearly $270, and the recent change in the direction of shipments in the last year or so has changed the forecasts. Forecast models place heavy weight on recent history, and that fact has changed the forecast for 2020 to remain at current levels. It was not long ago that the models forecast 2020 consumption at near zero, an unlikely outcome, but one worth pondering. Will shipments stay at these levels? That's unlikely, too, as media formats and loyalties are still changing.
Advancements in flexible materials have made them mainstay substrates for food and beverage packaging all around the world. A new report foresees solid growth for the sector in most regions from now through 2020.
Creative businesses are leveraging new digital finishing technologies to drive new business, new designs, and entry into entirely new markets for printing and packaging companies. Brands are also turning to paper structures to get their message out and enhance their displays. Learn how digital finishing techniques are revolutionizing the world of paper creations in this article sponsored by Highcon.
Parents know this refrain well – “Are we there yet?” – just as they know the answer – “In a little while.” I spend my working life with printing technology and have heard this for many years. In the case of inkjet, this is a recurring theme. And while we are not there yet, we are getting much closer.
There are numerous data series that explain that the economy has never recovered from the recession. These are not obscure data series, but mainstream ones. Gross Domestic Product should be the standard for determining the status of an economy (thick blue line). Movements in GDP should be confirmed by other measures. This week's chart uses the start of the recession, December 2007, as the base, which is 100.
To remain competitive in today’s transitional market, printers are embracing the importance of adding value. This article leverages InfoTrends’ research to explore how value-added services can contribute to business growth.
For many people, an empty package is an artist’s kit full of creative opportunity. Brand owners may not fully appreciate how they benefit when their packaging is repurposed for fun or practicality by end-using consumers.
Maintaining and paying for multiple web-to-print solutions is more expensive than you think. Transitioning off legacy systems has positive repercussions for your technical resources and your customers.
“Our aim is to become a company that is truly indispensable to our customers,” said Minoru Usui, Global President of Seiko Epson, kicking off “Experience Epson,” a day of interactive demos of a cross-section of Epson technologies, from wide-format printing, to interactive whiteboards, to golf swing analyzers, to Augmented Reality-based headsets, to…well, you name it. The event was held last week in New York City.
Blue Octopus is furthering its ability to create employment opportunities for veterans with disabilities by improving the quality and cost-effectiveness of its printing operations. Learn more about how this entrepreneurial organization is blending print and social consciousness to make a better world, in this article sponsored by HP.
Increasing printing shipments could give him a new name of “Dr. Boom” rather than his old doomish monicker. Employment is up in advertising and public relations, yet again. Dr. Joe swirls in some comments about the overall economy and explains his role in a new management program to be unveiled at Graph Expo.
According to Josh Linkner’s book entitled The Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation, some leaders freeze instead of acting because they are concerned about the consequences of change. This article explores how McBattas disrupted the status quo and reinvented itself with digital folding cartons.
US commercial printing shipments are up about +3.5% for January to June compared to the same period in 2014. The industry has been restructuring, as employment continues to decline. Usually employment and shipment levels move together in a tight range if not almost in lockstep.
Companies that print food labels work hard to make sure that the information on them is correct. It’s a matter of professional pride and, very often, also one of complying with the law. But, out there in the consumer marketplace, who cares?
From wood, to glass, to textiles, to animal pelts—and even to paper—ARB Digital takes on challenging projects, thanks to founder Alvaro Rodriguez’s background in tech support, color management, and software development.
Earlier this month, Chicago-based Tukaiz announced the opening of its in-house boutique creative division known as agenz. Highlighting points from a recent Rick Webb book, this article explores how today’s businesses can make the transition to offering agency-oriented services.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis released the report of 2015's second quarter GDP. At +2.3%, it was below expectations of financial forecasters who were looking for +2.6%. This advance report of GDP was in line with the GDPNow estimate of the Atlanta Federal Reserve which was at +2.4%.
Inflation is supposedly tame, but if you're making comparisons of current year financial data to prior years, you still need to adjust for the years when inflation was not. The chart was created from Consumer Price Index data for each of the years specified. When looking at your company history, multiply your data for each year by the multiplier specified. This will give you an approximation for the effects of inflation on your business, and make your historical analysis, especially in the process of budgeting, to be more realistic. Adjusting your data, even in periods of claimed low inflation, creates a sense of more urgent action. Inflation means that to stay at the same level you actually need more dollars. Staying the same is actually a cut.
The data that you rely on from the Print MIS will only be useful and reliable if it is complete and accurate. So, how do you encourage your team to participate completely and consistently in the Print MIS?
Adobe is taking mobile app creation to a brand-new level with the launch of Adobe Digital Publishing Solution 2015. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Adobe’s Bridget Roman and Colin Fleming to learn more.
Much has been written about what business owners should do to improve the value of their business. So much so, that when it comes to developing a set of priorities to get ready for a sales or other transfer process, uncertainty and confusion reign supreme.
What is the difference between a “green” business and a “sustainable” one? What are some unique approaches to the concept of sustainability that printing companies—large- and small-format—are taking? In the end, it’s not just about making the company sustainable, but rather the entire supply chain.
Today’s marketers are seeking partners that can help them deliver the right message at the right time, while also delivering the most effective data strategies to ensure that offers are not dead on arrival. This article explores how print service providers can capitalize on this opportunity by building data expertise.
June retail sales adjusted for inflation fell -0.6% compared to May. Month-to-month changes are somewhat volatile, so it's better to look at the comparisons to the prior year. The chart shows that June retail sales were +1.2% compared to last year, the worst comparison since March 2014. There are signs that the economy is slowing again. In the first quarter, real retail sales were +2.6% compared to the prior year, but this second quarter is only +1.6%. The economy always has conflicting positive and negative data, but this downturn in a key sector of the economy is likely to raise some eyebrows among economists and policymakers.
Launching any new print software technology can feel risky. With the rate of change in both our businesses and software technology, we have to create a culture that is comfortable with launching early and iterating through issues. It is impossible to predict every possible scenario; it is liberating to accept that finding issues post-launch is part of the plan.
The NFIB Small Business Index was released this week, “The weakness was substantial across the board, showing no signs of a growth spurt in the near future,” according to Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB Chief Economist. “Declines in spending plans accounted for 30 percent of the Index decline, and weaker expectations for real sales and business conditions another 20 percent. The deterioration in earnings trends accounted for about a quarter of the decline.”
Packaging is one area of the printing industry where growth continues. But it is not without its challenges. Learn how leading packaging converters are leveraging digital technology to address time-to-market challenges and developing new revenue streams in this article sponsored by Highcon.
SGIA’s Dan Marx shares some of his organization’s most recent research on industrial printing. What technologies are companies in the industrial printing space using? What products and technologies have they been investing in? Where do they see the most (and least) growth opportunities? What is their business outlook?
One of the keys to effectively running a world-class company is finding ways to constantly increase productivity. This article explores the importance of measuring operational performance and discusses various strategies for doing so.
Print software is an infrastructure investment in our increasing online and digital economy. Adopting a strategic infrastructure approach to investing in and implementing print software will be a key differentiator for print businesses moving forward.
Yesterday, EFI and FedEx Office announced that FedEx Office is using EFI products for a more cost-effective and streamlined delivery of professional print services. I spoke to Udi Arieli, EFI’s Director, High End Market Business Development, EFI Productivity Software, to get the scoop for this WhatTheyThink exclusive.
New applications for outdoor graphics are appearing all the time, and new printing technologies are revitalizing some older applications. Some considerations if you are looking at outdoor graphics, and a look at one South Florida shop that has carved out a niche in the great outdoors.
UK-based Blackdog Digital is a terrific example of a company that has morphed from being a commercial printer to a digital printer to a variable data printer to a full-service provider of cross-media campaigns. Blackdog’s Phil Copperwheat shares his thoughts on the company’s transformation and what other companies need to do to get in the cross-media game.
Commercial printing shipments have been much higher than they are in today's market, but the bounce off the lows of 2014 this year have been notable. The comparisons toward the end of 2015 will be harder to top since the industry started to show this bounceback at the end of 2014. The transformation of commercial printing businesses has been an arduous one, with volume declines of many mainstream products, but a rise in specialty applications. Those new applications are often based in digital printing, such as wide format specialties. There's also a new generation of print business managers who are not burdened by the myopia of history, where print was paramount. These executives and owners have grown up with computers and gadgets and have a better sense of print's new role in media communications
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.