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Transforming and Automating Workflows: Packaging Workflow Standards and Futures Part 1

There have been many new digital label and packaging presses released recently, and there are more to coming in the near future. However, these new digital presses will never reach optimal production levels or support and drive the new market requirements, without new standards and workflows.

What Does “Change” Mean to You?

Change evokes fear in some, excitement in others, and dread in many. What we can all agree on, change is picking up the pace.

If You Think Selling Your Business is Like Selling Your House – Guess Again! Part Two: Improving Value

This is part two of a series on the differences between selling a house and selling a business. In part one, we discussed some of the key drivers and the effects that improvements have on home value. In part two, we drill down into the effects that various improvements in a business can have on transaction value.

Xerox’s European Premier Partners Jump on the Innovation Bandwagon

There’s a quiet revolution happening in the printing industry. In an effort to jump-start innovation, printing companies are collaborating with vendors to apply new strategies, digital tools, and technologies. Xerox’s Premier Partner Congress in Madrid, Spain explored how market innovations continue to enhance print’s value as part of the overall communications mix.

Dr. Joe Truncale to Leave NAPL after 30 Years

After serving for 30 years at NAPL, Joe Truncale has decided to leave the association to accept the positon of CEO of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Effective January 12, 2015, Ken Garner will become the CEO for AMSP/NAPL/NAQP. Garner was the CEO of AMSP at the time of its merger with NAPL/NAQP. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne talks with Truncale about the past, present and future of his career.

Impact of the Internet on Print

Messe Düsseldorf, the organizer of the drupa trade fair, recently published a “drupa Global Insights Report” on the impact of the Internet on print. It’s based on responses to a survey from more than 1,000 senior decision-makers in the printing industry, including 240 who furnished personal examples of the impact in their own companies.

The Wrap: Label and Packaging Production Solutions at Graph Expo/CPP 2014 (Part 3)

Post-processing equipment and software solutions for labels and packaging were well represented at Graph Expo/CPP, which has come into its own as a showcase for these applications.

Graph Expo 2014: A Few Highlights

WhatTheyThink was at Graph Expo in full force, including our annual Economic Outlook Breakfast with Dr. Joe Webb and our popular WhatTheyThink Video Studio. We also made time to attend press conferences and walk the show floor in order to bring news and insight to our readers. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne shares a few thoughts about the show.

Every Print Job Doesn’t Deserve an Estimate

Efficiency requires the segmentation of your workflow into at least three different workflows: self-service, light-service, and full-service. Each workflow applies the appropriate amount of labor and technology to deliver on the promise to the customer in the most efficient manner possible.

If You Think Selling Your Business is Like Selling Your House – Guess Again!

Part 1 in a two part series on the differences between selling a house and selling a business. In part one, we discuss some of the key drivers and the effects that improvements have on home value. In part two, we drill down into the effects that various improvements in a business can have on transaction value

Marketing is All About the Customer Journey!

In today’s ever-changing business world, CMOs are now responsible for forging a bond with new customers, retaining existing customers, and expanding the relationship with all customers. This article provides a brief discussion on the ways in which marketing executives are expected to shape the customer experience. It also offers insight on what service providers can do to deliver extra value to these executives.

7 Reasons to Look Forward to Next Week’s SGIA Expo

For those of us who cover wide-format and specialty graphics printing, the biggest show of the year is the SGIA Expo, coming up next week in Las Vegas. It can be tough, travel being what it is, to muster enthusiasm for far-flung trade events, but there is a great deal of value in getting out of the office and attending these kinds of shows. So in this “listicle,” here are the top seven reasons I am looking forward to next week’s show.

iBeacons: This Year’s QR Codes?

Over the past twelve months or so it seems that iBeacons, a new-ish piece of mobile tech, has pretty much every B2C marketer or technologist so excited that they’re jumping up and down like a 3 year-old with ADHD.

The Wrap: Label and Packaging Production Solutions at Graph Expo/CPP 2014 (Part 2)

The productive, colorful, versatile, and cost efficient digital systems for labels and packaging on display at Graph Expo 2014 will come to be seen as inevitable investments for every printing company that is serious about making it in the label and packaging business.

Turnkey Technology Makes HP T350 Attractive for Hudson Printing

In this article, sponsored by HP, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne follows up on progress at Hudson Printing in Salt Lake City with its customized HP T350 Color Inkjet Web Press. Paul Gardner, Director of Innovation, talks ink, applications, substrates and strategy.

What Advice Would You Give?

Wayne Lynn reflects a long successful career, the changing industry, and offers advice for future leaders.

Why Humidify Your Shop?

There are a number of environmental influences that affect the quality and productivity of a printing operation. Humidity is one that some shops never really address. By maintaining an ideal humidity a number of problems can be controlled.

Reinventing Your Business: It’s a Journey, Not a Destination

To breathe new life into their businesses, service providers must develop strategies that reflect the changes occurring in the graphic communications market. This article provides an overview of some of the strategies that industry players are using to transform their businesses.

Graph Expo 2014 Forecast: Mostly Cloudy, Precipitation Likely, with a Bright Finish

Graph Expo this year is at the mid-point between two drupa's and although a bit smaller show than previous years, proved to be rich with many exciting developments.

Labor Force Participation Rate and Employment-Population Ratio Below 1980 Levels

What's made the economic recovery since June 2009 so intriguing has not been its below-history GDP growth rate, but also the deterioration in key measures of employment. The labor force participation rate has been declining as idled workers decide not to return to the workforce.

Roland to Kick Off First Ever User Conference

One day prior to the SGIA Expo, Roland DGA is launching their inaugural ImagiNATION 2014 user group conference, designed as an information exchange for owners and operators of Roland’s wide-format printing equipment.

An Opinionated Preview of the 2014 SGIA Expo

This year’s upcoming SGIA Expo in Las Vegas will showcase the latest technologies, applications, and opportunities in today’s wide-format and display graphics markets.

The Roll-Up Returns (to Commercial Printing) – September 2014 M&A Activity

It’s been a long downhill slide for roll-up activity in the commercial printing industry. The major players have either exited the field (Consolidated Graphics), partially disintegrated (Nationwide Argosy, né Nationwide Graphics), or struggled with their own lack of clear strategic direction (Cenveo, né Mail-Well). That void may soon be filled by regional players that are stretching beyond the boundaries of their original core operation. In contrast to those aforementioned major league teams that were fueled by shares issued in the public markets, the new draft of contenders are energized and coached by private equity funds flush with cash and the ability to borrow at very favorable rates from eager lenders.

The Wrap: Label and Packaging Production Solutions at Graph Expo/CPP 2014 (Part 1)

Among printing systems for the quick, attractive, and cost efficient production of labels and packaging, none do it better than or nearly as often as offset and flexographic presses. Conventional label and packaging production was well represented at Graph Expo/CPP 2014.

The Evolving Workplace: How Mobile is Affecting Your Business

Canon USA recently hosted a roundtable discussion titled The Evolving Workplace: Examining the Opportunities and Challenges Created by BYOD and Mobile Technologies. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Canon USA’s Dennis Amorosano, Vice President & General Manager of Marketing and Professional Services, Business Imaging Solutions Group, about the internal and external implications of the underlying Workflow Optimization Study for printing operations.

You Bought Something New, Now What?

Purchasing new technology is always done with the best of intentions and the desire to implement to a fully utilized state. Often the day-to-day business takes over and erodes the focus of a new technology project. Getting a game-plan together to ensure success and cement the purchase as a worthwhile one is critical.

The Evolution of Graph Expo

Graph Expo 2014 was a memorable one. The fire at O’Hare on Friday September 26th had many vendors and attendees scrambling to find their way to Chicago. There were countless stories of planes, trains and automobiles with many people having to find last minute modes of transportation to make it to McCormick. At the very least, people suffered through long delays waiting for planes to take their turn getting air space around Chicago. However, the logistical challenges weren’t the only thing that made Graph Expo 2014 memorable. The footprint of the show was noticeably smaller than in previous years.

Did Graph Expo Deliver ROI?

Some people wonder if there is still any value in meeting a customer or prospect on a trade show floor as opposed to an office environment. Following the completion of Graph Expo 2014, this article explores the value of trade shows in today’s sales and marketing ecosystem.

The Stronger Dollar... or Is It?

There's been a lot of interest in the stronger dollar for many reasons. Some consider it a safe haven during times of global tensions. Others say it's a bounce off a bottom. Still others consider the dollar the least ugly of all the major currencies. But is it really stronger? (Two charts)

Making the Choice to Lead

As humans, we are beings that choose. We have reached the point, because of technological advances, where we can literally choose the course of our own evolution. We are living in a time of rapid change and the ability to shape it through our choices is mind bending in its implications. We can literally choose our own destruction or the path to abundance and peace. That, in itself, may be the best definition yet of what civilization means.

Production Inkjet—The Next Wave: Ricoh Pro VC60000

Many of the production inkjet vendors are beginning to introduce new offerings, David Zwang continues to look at many of these new products as they are introduced in the context of what was learned in the original series. In this article David looks at the Ricoh Pro VC60000.

MPS: A Multinational, Multi-Capable, and Multifaceted Packaging Producer

With a manufacturing footprint that spans more than 50 plants on three continents, Multi Packaging Solutions (MPS) stands at the crossroads of nearly every major market and technological trend in packaging production. In this interview, MPS’s Erin Willigan talks about what it takes for a diversified packaging company to remain a leader on a global scale.

Zenger Group: A Successful Disrupter

Since its founding in 1980, Buffalo-based Zenger Group has a history of innovation. Today, the company is an expert in personalized communications and runs a highly efficient operation. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne speaks with Steve Zenger for an inside peek.

Print Software Project or Emotional Roller Coaster?

Change is difficult for most people; everyone travels at their own pace through a process that starts with resistance and for most finishes in acceptance. You can improve your chances of success by communicating a lot in the beginning, providing emotional support in the middle and then becoming more of a coach once people are starting to accept there is really only one option – adapt or leave.

Print Software at Graph Expo

Web-to-Print and Print MIS vendors have always been represented at Graph Expo mostly hidden amongst the presses, wide format devices, and finishing gear. The trend we are seeing is less heavy equipment at the show, hence more room for software solutions to get the air time they deserve.

Web-to-Print Product Spotlight: PageDNA

This product spotlight focuses on three areas of the PageDNA offering: the store building wizard and project management approach to configuring new storefronts, their open approach to integrations, and the flexibility of their services model.

Graph Expo; It’s not drupa, but Chicago will have surprises too!

Graph Expo 2014 is shaping up to be an exciting show. WhatTheyThink contributor and industry guru David Zwang and Senior Editor Cary Sherburne highlight a whole range of new hardware and software updates visitors to the show should take time to see.

Becoming a David in a Goliath World

In the Biblical story of David and Goliath, David defeats the better-equipped and larger Goliath because he is able to transform his opponent’s advantages into disadvantages. This article applies that story to small print service providers and highlights the ways in which they can exploit the weaknesses of larger organizations.

Advertising Agency Revenues Up at Annual Rate of 7% Since Start of Economic Recovery

The latest data from the Commerce Department's Quarterly Service Survey shows that advertising agency revenues have climbed at the rate of 7% per year since the recovery began after June 2009. The rate of growth exceeds real GDP growth which has been +2.2% on an annual basis since that time. How did they do it? A strong emphasis on digital media strategy and production that's replaced their loss of commissions and fees for broadcast and print advertising. Publishers revenues have not come close to even that lackluster GDP rate. The steep decline for magazines and books is over, for now: they are not growing and the decline in revenues is mild. Newspapers, however, are still in long term decline. Newspaper revenues are about half of what the were in 2004.

Graph Expo to Showcase State of the Wide-Format Art

Graph Expo 2014 kicks off on Sunday. Every year, wide-format becomes a more conspicuous and important part of the show. Here is a rundown of some of the things you can look forward to on the show floor.

Packagers Are Urged to Come to CPP Expo for the “Best Technology Investment Opportunities in Converting and Package Printing”

Co-located with Graph Expo, the CPP Expo for packaging specialists does full justice to the term “show within a show” by offering a rich mix of exhibits, educational sessions, and technology investment opportunities.

Reach Out and Touch Your Fan Base: A Mobile App Success Story

Senior Editor Cary Sherburne talked with Aaron La Porta, graphic designer/developer for the Buffalo Bills. The team is leading the NFL in implementation of mobile apps, and La Porta has a great story to tell. Inside the story is sage advice for printers looking to get into the mobile app world.

Combat Noise with Dedicated Project Focus

Focus is a challenge in our always connected and therefore always interrupted lives. Print software projects like web-to-print and Print MIS require long-term dedicated focus to ensure success. Project success is about getting live sooner and incrementally determining the next most important improvement to the implementation (forever).

Building Yourself a Support System

When installing and using print technology, you have a lot of resources to rely on: the vendor, your internal team, the internet, user manuals, consultants and so on. However, often the most untapped resource pool is the user community to which you belong.

Digital Darwinism - Adapting to the new realities of our digital world

Adapting to the new realities of our digital world is a challenge for all industries. Digital Darwinism impacts all of us because the rate of change in technology and society is outpacing our organizations. Change is inevitable; the pace of change has to accelerate if you’re going to be on the survivor side of Digital Darwinism.

NFIB Small Business Index Breaks Through Recession Upper Range

Small business seems to be improving, at least according to the NFIB monthly survey of small business owners. For years, it was usually trapped between two recession bottoms, but it has broken through of three consecutive surveys. It's an encouraging report, but it's not bullish. The NFIB commentary states “More owners still think business conditions will be worse in six months than think they will be better. Few see the current period as a good time to expand. The outlook for improvements in real sales volumes faded. Interest in borrowing continues to remain at record low levels; owners are satisfied with inventories and aren’t planning a lot of investment.” The NFIB is still in the range of a 2+% GDP growth level, but sees not robust small business activity in the near term. Basically, the NFIB report is good news in that conditions are better, but a big positive breakout in activity will remain elusive.

Apple iPhone 6 with NFC: NOT Print Ready!

Apple recently announced the release of its iPhone 6. As many predicted, the device includes an NFC chip. The assumption was that Apple would offer tag-oriented capabilities with its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but this is not the case. For the time being, the NFC chip with the iPhone 6 cannot be used with anything other than Apple Pay. This article provides an overview of the new phone’s technology and the implications for service providers.

“Virtuous and Healthy” Packaging

“Virtuous and healthy: those are the attributes of tomorrow’s packaging.” That proposition keynotes Packaging trends / The future of manufacturing, a white paper addressing the ethical as well as the technical mandates that packaging manufacturers must uphold in changing consumer cultures.

Digital Should Drive Service Transformation

Versioning, the use and integration of digital displays, eye-tracking, point-of-purchase displays, mobile technologies, and payment software, “virtualization”—where a company offers a particular printing service but outsources the actual production, and printing as a service are quickly becoming the status quo in the wide-format printing business.

Print MIS Product Spotlight: EPMS

This product spotlight focuses on three areas of the EPMS Print MIS offering: the continuous expansion of Print MIS direct users, the support for an industry that is aggressively diversifying, and the ability to make EPMS work uniquely for your business through customization and integration.

Insight: Key Trends Driving Bioplastics for Packaging

Bioplastics—plastics made partly or wholly from renewable raw materials such as cellulose, vegetable oils, and other natural substances—are deepening their reach into packaging for food and other consumer products. Behind their rise are distinct economic and market forces driving global demand for alternatives to fossil-fuel based plastics.

Production Inkjet a Game-Changer for Documation

Senior Editor Cary Sherburne recently spoke with Documation Vice President and COO Martin Aalsma in developing this HP-sponsored feature. Documation is the proud owner of two HP T230 Color Inkjet Presses that it is leveraging to reduce costs, improve throughput and develop new product offerings

Industry Swims Upstream - August 2014 M&A Activity

Streamworks acquires design and production boutique, Maidstone Capital adds EU Services to its portfolio to join with Com-Pak Services, YGS Group acquires Print Management, Performance POP buys Miramar Designs, RockTenn purchases display division from American Greetings, and more - August M&A transactions and restructurings are posted at The Target Report.

CPG Companies Urged to Prepare for a “1-5-10” Digital Future

Consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies need to plan for a “1-5-10” market in the United States during the next five years, in which digital’s current 1 percent penetration will likely expand to 5 percent and could accelerate to as much as 10 percent in short order. The source is a new report, The Digital Future: A Game Plan for Consumer Packaged Goods, prepared for the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Google, and Information Resources, Inc. (IRI).

Annualized Inflation-adjusted Profit

Second quarter US commercial printing profits were $1.13 billion, based on the recent Quarterly Financial Report issued by the Department of Commerce and combined with other Commerce Department and Bureau of Labor Statistics data. This was down -7.5% compared to Q2-2013. For the last four quarters, total profits were $3.67 billion, and that is +20% higher than the equivalent measure a year ago. The Q1 four-quarter moving total was revised down from $4.03 billion to $3.77 billion.

Analytics, KPIs, and Business Acumen: Keys to the MSP Business Transformation

Just being a printer is no longer enough. Today’s customers are seeking marketing service providers with a variety of skills. This article cites recent survey data from eMarketer and InfoTrends to explore the shortcomings that marketers see within their agencies and how service providers can fight back and become more valuable in the eyes of their customers.

The ABCs of DDS: A Digital Signage Primer

Dynamic digital signage (DDS) is being touted as a hot opportunity for sign shops and other wide-format service providers. But where does one start? And how can digital complement print signage?

Growing Appreciation for Versatile Substrate Keeps the Pace Brisk at Axis Corrugated Container

Corrugated board meets a wide range of consumer and non-consumer packaging requirements. Customers who appreciate the full range of functional and creative possibilities with corrugated board are turning to Axis Corrugated Container for help in migrating their packages to the substrate.

3 Top Reasons Web-to-Print Projects Fail

The three top reasons web-to-print projects fail; the lack of business leadership, the sales team fails to sell the solution, and the customer fails to adopt the solution.

CEO Perspectives from Forbes Insight and Implications for Printers

Last week, KPMG published a Forbes Insights report entitled Setting the Course for Growth: CEO Perspectives. The report provides a direct reflection of how all owners and executives—including those in the graphic communications industry—should be thinking about their businesses. This article outlines the key findings from the study.

Sept 4th Key Recovery Indicators

Dr. Joe's Key Recovery Indicators were started in 2009, and track the monthly ups and downs of the economy in terms that are relevant to small and mid-size businesses.

The Scope Creep Virus

The fantasy goes like this when implementing software or managing a software project: "this project will be completed on time and under budget". The reality of many is that "the project is late, we didn't deliver on what we said we would, and we went over budget".

Color Expert John Sweeney Talks about Open Digital Color Standards

With Graph Expo around the corner, attendees should take some time at the show to investigate the latest developments in color management, a field that is changing quickly due to the availability of a broad array of new technologies. In an interview with Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with John Sweeney, Business Development Manager for matchmycolor talks about color management developments inside and outside the printing industry.

Re-Examining the Inherent Benefits of Wide-Format Digital (Part II)

In Part II of this feature, we examine some of the trends engendered by digital printing, and how they apply to wide-format printing—and how they are changing.

Five Key Trends Driving Growth in Folding Cartons

The growth of the folding carton market is being driven by a complex of forces, some obvious, others unexpected. The Smithers Pira research organization identifies the ones it believes will raise global folding carton volume to $180 billion a few years from now.

Print Software is a Tool (like a Hammer)

We confuse tools for solutions. Print software is a required tool that is part of an overall investment in making your business more productive, profitable, and competitive. The business results come from your vision, your plan, and the deployment of your labor who utilize the tool to deliver the business results you desire.

Global Bond Rates May Make it Hard for the Fed to Affect US Long-Term Rates

The Fed has been in unchartered territory with its post-2008 actions, and unwinding them may take a bit of creativity. One of their obstacles might be the rates of long term government bonds around the world. The chart below shows the yield of 10-year bonds earlier this week. The rate on US 10-year bonds is more than 4x Japan's and more than 2x Germany's. In an odd situation, US bonds are actually paying less than those of Spain. Global investors looking for yield (pension funds, governments, mutual funds, and others) may thwart Fed actions by finding US funds to be compelling deals on a relative basis. The Fed can usually affect only short term rates, which was one of the reasons they became aggressive in buying long term debt in their Quantitative Easing (QE) actions. Getting yields down for all durations is what made their actions were essentially unprecedented for the US. If they attempt to sell their holdings quickly to raise rates, there might be more buyers than they anticipate, making the action fruitless. It still looks like once the QE buying is done in the next few weeks the Fed will simply let their most of their holdings mature rather than force-feed them to the market. Listen for the word “macroprudential” in the next months. That's how Fed officials are describing the gentle prodding they may have to take to reverse their course. It turns out that some of the Fed members are worried their actions may encounter resistance, so they will resort to some arm-twisting to push banks to act in the manner they want. That hasn't worked well in the past, and it probably won't work well now, but it does add a word to our vocabulary.

Making the Transformation: Highlights from InfoTrends’ North American Production Print Study

Later this month, InfoTrends will release a new study that examines various industry segments and drivers for success among print service providers. This research uncovered five key factors for success in today’s transforming market. This document provides an overview of the findings from the survey and explores how successful service providers are bringing increased value to their customers.

More Print Industry Shelfware: CRM Systems

Lots of Print MIS systems have added CRM modules to their offering. This makes sense, the Print MIS should be your system of record for all the interactions you have with current customers, adding a layer on top of your Print MIS would give you access to all the business the customer transacts with you.

Memjet Looks Back At Its First Generation Printheads—and Ahead to Generation Next

The first-generation Memjet-based devices have hit the market, and have helped wide-format inkjet conquer the speed challenge. What will second-gen Memjet look like?

For Packagers, Some (Pet) Food for Thought

We Americans love our pets, and there’s no surer proof than the staggering sums we spend on feeding them. That spending drives a gravy train for packagers serving the pet food vertical.

Million-Dollar Presses: High End Presses Remake the Role of Digital in Packaging

Digital presses in B2 formats are starting to make their presences felt in corrugated, folding carton, and even flexible packaging, where analog production predominates but where the demand for short-run, variably printed packages is rising. Although placement of these presses remains modest, interest in them is undeniable, and adoption will grow.

The Print MIS Job Costing Challenge and Opportunity

Undoubtedly one of the hardest and most stressful parts of configuring and then running your Print MIS is the job costing component. Being in a position to use your Print MIS to accurately compare estimate to actual costs is often given up on in frustration due to the complexity of the setup and configuration. However, when it is done, and done properly it is the ultimate definition of a successful Print MIS system.

Redefining Print: Joel Quadracci Discusses Quad/Graphics and the View from the Industry’s Front Ranks

At the recent PRIMEX East leadership conference by IDEAlliance, Quad/Graphics Chairman, President and CEO Joel Quadracci gave a keynote presentation in which he reviewed the state of the industry, discussed the impact of new technologies, and commented on Quad’s rise to the number two position among all U.S. printing firms.

3 Critical Factors for Web-to-Print Sales & Marketing Success

Would you put your Sales department in charge of your next IT project? Heck no! So why do you put your IT department in charge of your web-to-print projects?

Labels without Limits: Meet the Graphium Hybrid Press

Developed in partnership, the Graphium offers a unique combination of digital printing, conventional flexo and various finishing options geared towards the tag and label market. It is a totally modular solution that lets printers configure the press to fit the needs of their customer bases.

Inflation-adjusted Commercial & Industrial Loans Growing

Commercial and industrial loans took a while to start growing again, almost two years after the recovery started. Loans now total $1.7 trillion, the highest amount in the history of the data series, a little more than 10% of GDP. Overall, they are up about 40% on a current dollar basis since mid-2010.

Game-Changers for the Printing Industry: Beacons

We all know that mobile technology is prevalent in our day-to-day lives. Beacons are capturing the attention of technology junkies, retailers, and event planners alike. This article, which is part of a series discussing disruptive forces that are expected to impact the market, explores the effects that beacons are expected to have on retail shopping, tradeshows, and events.

Technology Money Pit or Worthwhile Investment?

If you have ever purchased a heritage home with the vision of renovating it to become a beautifully restored family home for a reasonable budget that you have carefully considered and thought out, you know how foolish that budget may feel once you have actually completed those renovations and uncover all of the hidden heritage wonder. I call our 1908 house the lovely money pit – it’s lovely but it sure proved to be a money pit.

GI Solutions Doubles Throughput with Second-Generation Production Inkjet Presses

GI Solutions in Leicester UK is on its second generation of high-speed production inkjet presses. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Patrick Headley, Deputy Managing Director, to find out what the drivers were for the technology replacement and what benefits the company is seeing.

Big Points: A “This Point Forward” Approach to Wide-Format Printing

Creating a printing business that can cope with a changing market for print and that is “future-focused”—is imperative as we hurtle toward 2020. If you’re a wide-format printer, you may be halfway there—but that’s no excuse for complacency.

Consumers Say, “Nice Package,” but Only Up to a Point

If looks were everything, consumers would be over the moon about their packaging. According to packaging solutions provider MeadWestvaco, appearance is the one aspect of packages that consumers rate higher in performance than they do in importance. It's what prompts two-thirds of them to buy products off the shelf without knowing anything about them or doing any research into them.

Choosing “Commitment” as Its Brand Identity, Lofton Label Regroups and Succeeds

Lofton Label targets its vertical markets with care and serves its customers with scrupulous attention to detail. In this company profile, CEO Mike Lane talks about how he developed the objectives and implemented the strategy that turned the business around.

Why Printers are Vulnerable to Brokers, Distributors, and Print Management Companies

Customers expect more from their vendor partners than simply delivering the product on time and at a fair price. As the print industry continues to contract, differentiation is required to remain competitive. Printers are at risk from print-manufacturing independent service providers because customers are looking to reduce the number of vendors and engage with vendor partners who make doing business with them very easy.

Make Data-Driven Business Decisions with Your Print MIS

Your business generates a lot of data; your Print MIS should be the system of record for that data. The data should drive your business decisions based on meaningful metrics/key performance indicators (KPIs). Making data a part of your culture will make you a better leader and help your staff understand how their daily actions impact the business.

Initial Jobless Claims as a Percentage of the Workforce

As the number of employed workers has been slowly increasing, and the total workforce has been growing, initial claims for unemployment have been decreasing. The historical perspective is very interesting. This past recession, as bad as it was, did not come close to the levels of the 1970s and 1980s recessions (about 0.6% of the workforce). This most recent recovery is already at the best levels of prior expansions. It doesn't feel “that good”; what's different? The workforce has not kept up with population growth, and about 2 million workers have permanently left the workforce. Also, companies have been cautious in their hiring, meaning, that there are fewer workers to dismiss when businesses of the past needed to. One could look at the chart and say that when this ratio reaches this current level (0.2%) a recession has always followed. Probably not in this case: this ratio may go to unprecedented lower levels because of the workforce exodus and the slow pace of hiring that has made this recovery so different than previous ones. Economist Mark Perry at the American Enterprise Institute discussed the steady rise in job openings at his blog. They are at a 13-year high (not adjusted for population growth), and still less than January 2000 by 800,000.

Being More than a Printer Means Changing Perceptions!

Changing how you are perceived in the minds of your customers is one of the biggest challenges that print service providers face. This article provides a brief overview of the strategies that successful service providers are pursuing to bring more value to their customers.

Forbes Lands the Whale – July 2014 M&A Activity

Forbes achieves stunning price in sale to Asian investment group, Scripps and Journal Communications merge and immediately spin off all their printed publications, commercial printer SG360° buys Lehigh Direct from Visant, and more - July 2014 –Mergers, Acquisitions & Restructuring in the Printing, Packaging & Related Industries

Self-Service vs. Full-Service

Customer preference is trending towards self-service, yet most printers continue to offer only one way to do business with them – a full-service order entry process that involves multiple back and forth communications between customer and printer via e-mail/FTP.

What is the Future of Print?

What could arguably be deemed the strongest of the printing industry trade associations is now surveying its members, asking them to describe whether the future of "print" is grim or bright. They will get a wide range of responses, and setting aside the value of reporting to their members what those members already think, the question itself is much too broad.

Latest Recovery Indicators

Dr. Joe's Key Recovery Indicators were started in 2009, and track the monthly ups and downs of the economy in terms that are relevant to small and mid-size businesses.

The Keys to Mobile Support in Print Software

In one of our recent active discussions on the new Print Software section, a WhatTheyThink reader asked “in your support for mobile do you recommend looking for just the sites being "responsive" or applications to be "native" or just plain "compatible", i.e. no Flash?” After my third paragraph response to this question I decided this warranted a full length feature article to describe and comment on the varying degrees of mobile support in web software.

GLS: What a Difference Three Decades Makes!

GLS, founded in 1984 as a small printing company, is now celebrating its third decade in business. This article provides a brief overview of how the company is remaining on the cutting edge by updating its services and making strategic acquisitions to further expand its offerings.

The Role of Professional Services in a Complex Production Environment - A Conversation with Canon Solutions America

Workflows are becoming more complex and savvy print service providers are looking to streamline and automate business and production processes for a more sustainable business and production environment. Utilization of vendor professional services can be an effective means of finding opportunities to take time, cost and touches out of both business and production processes as well as to introduce innovation. Learn what Canon Solutions America has to say about the changing world of professional services.

Re-Examining the Inherent Benefits of Wide-Format Digital (Part I)

In this two part series, Dan Marx of SGIA talks about the basic truths of digital printing in general and wide format in particular. While the basic truths have remained unchanged, the details surrounding them have.

HP Graphic Arts Reorganizes, Shares Strategic Direction

In May, the HP Graphics Solutions Business effected an organizational change at the top of the Americas organization. WhatTheyThink Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with the new Vice President and General Manager Yishai Amir to see what’s up.

Making Time for an Annual Print MIS Checkup

It is so easy in your very busy world to not sit back and take a look in the rearview mirror at how things are going in terms of processes, applications and projects underway in your company. One area where this effort can pay off tremendously is in terms of your Print MIS system. Making a conscious effort to do an annual Print MIS checkup can help keep your system fresh, moving forward and also tune-up any areas that may not be performing as they should.