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Wide-Format and Specialty Graphics - What's Next in 2017?

Last week, we took a wide-format look back at 2016. What lies ahead for wide-format and specialty graphics printing in 2017?


Technology is Powerful Stuff: Grab On or Duck (Premium Content)

“It's not worth it for us” was the comment during a CEO panel that Dr. Joe attended, and that comment was about print. It was hard to take, but he wasn't surprised. What did the comment really mean? Does it fit with the unfolding new media allocation and shake-up ? Then Dr. Joe reviews the explosion in smartphones in information search and sharing, and how it exploded in the start of the holiday shopping season. What does it this mean for print, printers, and consolidation? Dr. Joe pulls it all together.


Big Wall Street Deals Get Done Faster Than Small Business M&A: Here’s Why

How is it possible that corporate giants AT&T and Time Warner reach an agreement on the terms of a merger in only two months while many small business owners languish over deals for six months, nine months, or even years?


When It Rains It Pours

We’re all familiar with the first telegraph message, the first phone call, and maybe the first message sent from one computer to another . But what about the first cellphone call?


Commercial Printing Inflation-Adjusted Shipments Per Employee

The effects of consolidation, a challenging pricing environment, cost controls and productivity measures have sent shipments per employee to unprecendented levels. The prior peak was just before the recession began. The industry is more efficient in many ways, especially with the exit of weak and marginal establishments. But is it more profitable? In the December 15 webinar and in the new Forecast 2017 report, industry profit levels are discussed. Despite reaching new levels of sales per employee, profit levels have become tepid, a sign of tightening market conditions. In the webinar we discussed the possibility that another wave of media change is underway. The last major one was the rise of social media ten years ago, and now the growing impact of mobile media, especially this year.


2017: The Transformation Journey (Premium Content)

Although the term is often overused, true business transformation is about making fundamental changes in how business is conducted to help cope with a shift in market environment. This article explores how savvy print service providers are changing their go-to-market strategies so they can sell their services in new and innovative ways.


Sometimes comedy is just the thing: Taking business lessons from improv (Premium Content)

Many companies avoid asking tough questions because the discussion can lead to tension and controversy. How can you help promote an open and productive discussion to fairly evaluate potential growth opportunities?


That Was the Year That Was: A Wide-Format Look Back at 2016

2016 is almost over! Whew! So, what were the top growth areas for wide-format? What applications are ascendant? What technologies have emerged and evolved?


New Inkjet Press Lets Graphic Image Label Get Better at What It Does Best

A label shop serving customers on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border found everything it was looking for, and more, in a highly capable inkjet web press from Epson.


Trump Inside the Beltway: Foggy with a Chance of Chaos (Premium Content)

The Presidential transition certainly has its uncertainties. Traditional media had a tough election cycle, and that creates concern what business information executives can rely on as they make their plans. Perhaps they should just keep their heads down and focus on their customers and let the fog and chaos run its course. Small business is very optimistic, it may be too early to be so, but that's not stopping them or the stock markets.


Cimpress Acquires National Pen: The Inside Scoop (Premium Content)

Today, Cimpress, the parent company of Vistaprint and multiple other Internet printing brands, announced it is acquiring National Pen, a leader in custom writing instruments. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Cimpress CEO Robert Keane to get the inside scoop.


Keypoint Intelligence: Building a Brand Strategy

InfoTrends and Buyers Laboratory, LLC (BLI) recently unveiled a new branding after a long and thorough process of strategic evaluation and analysis. Given the importance of branding to your organization and our recent experience, this article shares the journey that BLI and InfoTrends took to evolve into Keypoint Intelligence. It also outlines the steps that we will be taking to formally establish our combined brand in the market.


“Just One Word: Plastics” – November 2016 M&A Activity

Multi Packaging Solutions in holiday mood, buys gift card printer, OneTouchPoint has the right touch for acquisitions, Novolex bags another one, Fort Dearborn on a roll and more.


You Need Technical Leadership Inside Your Print Business (Premium Content)

As software takes on a larger and larger role in your print business, your technical leader plays a greater role in all aspects of your business performance. With the right internal technical leader, software can deliver almost everything that was promised in the demo! Without the right technical leader, you’re going to feel like your software investment was a complete waste of money.


The Regulated Package: Product Container and Social Contract (Premium Content)

Given all of the mandates and expectations placed on packaging today, there may be something socially significant to add to the list of traditional packaging functions.


Coming Soon: Hunkeler Innovationdays

Have you ever attended Hunkeler Innovationdays? If not, you are missing one of the most innovative and focused events in our industry. Scheduled for 20-23 February 2017 in beautiful Lucerne, Switzerland, this event is expected to attract more than the 6,000 attendees that graced the 2015 event, with more than 80 exhibitors and 40 dedicated multivendor production lines. Read more.


Live and In Person: Offline Marketing Strategies for Specialty Graphics Printers (Premium Content)

Advice abounds for using social and other electronic media for marketing, but don’t ignore some “old school” offline marketing strategies.


From Sharklet and Sappi, a Release Paper that Takes a Big Bite out of Bacterial Growth

Neoterix ST gives medical institutions and other germ-fighting environments the first completely non-toxic solution for blocking bacterial growth on high-touch surfaces.


Update on the Postal Service Reform Act of 2016

The Postal Service Reform Act of 2016 (H.R.5714) before the 114th Congress provides meaningful progress in removing regulatory requirements that are drowning the Postal Service in debt. Without passage the Postal Regulatory Commission may change its postal rate process resulting in drastically increased rates.


Paving the Way for a GHS-Compliant Label Process

Michael Garcia is Supply Chain Manager at Smark Company writes about how on-demand color labeling has increased flexibility and cuts label production time in half at Smark


Heeter: Making Disruptive Technology Work for Commercial Print (Premium Content)

Commercial printers have historically had more stringent quality requirements and a more complex workflow, with substrates varying from job to job. Inkjet quality levels continue to improve, however, and more and more commercial printers are making the decision to invest in the technology. This article discusses the steps that Heeter (Pittsburgh, PA) took to make the inkjet transition.


Q3-2016 Real GDP Revised Up from +2.9% to +3.2%; Little Change in Yearly Comparison

The Bureau of Economic Analysis issued its second estimate of real gross domestic product, raising it to +3.2%. Real GDP for 2Q-2016 was +1.4%. Each advance release of GDP data is revised monthly as “more complete source data” is used rather than estimates. We prefer comparing GDP data to the same quarter as the prior year, which helps minimize the variation and possible distortions of seasonal adjustments. Compared to last year, Q3-2016 was +1.6%. Because inventory changes can distort GDP estimates, we also look at the data less inventories, and it shows the economy still hovering around a +2.0% growth rate. Lately, the inventory adjustments have been small. Theoretically, they should be zero in the long run, and for these last two quarters that has nearly been the case. In 2015, it averaged +$82 billion per quarter. Some of 2016's sluggish performance has been an inventory adjustment in the overall economy. The Atlanta Fed's GDPNow estimate for the current Q4 is running at +2.4%.


Print MIS Product Spotlight: PrintJobManager

Aleyant PrintJobManager™ is a cloud-based entry into the Print MIS market. Most printers will recognize Aleyant as the maker of the popular Aleyant Pressero™ web-to-print solution. Aleyant is entering the Print MIS market with a stand-alone solution PrintJobManage


The Value of In-house Creative Services in a Printing Company (Premium Content)

A recent survey conducted by Clemson University's Graphic Communications department examined current trends regarding printing company involvement with creative services as a driver of business growth.


The View from “Oz”: Label and Packaging Producers Chart a Changing Business Landscape

To many, Australia may seem to be on the far side of the world, but the business issues confronting packaging and label producers there are much the same as they are anywhere else. A recent conference by a newly formed trade association addressed some of them.


Print is Good. So What? Print is Intimidating. That Matters. (Premium Content)

Dr. Joe went to lunch and heard a three-word sentence that changed his Graph Expo and his industry conversations thereafter. When he said those three words, jaws would drop, but curiosity would rise. The three words? “Print is Intimidating.” And we always thought we were being nice. Find out why in Dr. Joe's column.


RadTech Europe Evaluates UV/EB Ink Curing for Food-Safe Packaging

Radiation-curable inks and coatings represent a world market that is forecast to grow at a healthy CAGR of 4.1% to 2019, with cartons and labels claiming the largest share. But, making sure that curable fluids are safe for food packages remains a prime concern for the entire packaging supply chain.


A Trio of Hot Wide Format Application Areas for 2017 (Premium Content)

What wide-format and specialty printing products will be in demand in 2017? Sure, one could say “all of them,” but here are three particular areas to pay special attention to in the new year.


Dealing with the Sales Challenge (Premium Content)

Although the selling environment has never been more challenging, today’s digital age makes this a perfect time to leverage all of the latest sales tools and technologies. Today’s technologies must be integrated with effective selling techniques to transform a prospect into a loyal customer.


Fed's Industrial Production Index Down for 13 Consecutive Months: A Recession on Inauguration Day?

Will the newly inaugurated President Trump be dealing with a recession like his predecessor did? In December 2008, a recession was declared, and the experts said it started almost a year before then. Several economic indicators, like durable goods orders and factory orders, have been negative compared to the prior year's level for almost two years. The Federal Reserve's Industrial Production Index released on November 16 marked its thirteenth consecutive negative comparison to the prior year. The only sector that is holding up in the GDP reports is the consumer side of that bookkeeping. That can't hold up for long unless the production and investment side of the GDP ledgers start to perk up. There is optimism in the markets about a Trump recovery, but it must be noted that there are many legislative hurdles ahead, and most economic plans take about 18 months to develop notable impact.


Web-to-Print Product Spotlight: Design ‘N’ Buy

Your web-to-print needs to solve two core challenges, the challenge of e-commerce and the unique challenge of selling print online. Design ‘N’ Buy took a different strategy for getting to market with a print-enabled e-commerce solution. They left the e-commerce part to the open-source community by proactively integrating with the most popular open source e-commerce platforms.


Workflow Automation: Stories from the Trenches

Senior Editor Cary Sherburne recently had the opportunity to have in-depth discussions with three leading companies about their success with workflow automation and what it has meant for their businesses.


Stuff I Said in 2008: How It Turned Out

Eight years ago we were changing presidential paths as we are today, and Dr. Joe had a webinar amidst that tumult of the freshly declared recession, jittery markets, and that upcoming transition. This week, he goes into the archives and reviews what he forecast – and grades himself accordingly. He even gave himself an F for one of the forecasts – how did he do on the others?


Transformation with a Capital T: Great Advice for Print Service Providers (Premium Content)

There is no question that digitalization is bringing major challenges to the printing industry. It is no longer enough to manufacture and sell products and services—value must be added. This article cites a recent article in the McKinsey Quarterly to highlight the importance of transformation in the printing industry.


Print Software Enables Your Business to Scale (Premium Content)

Scaling your print business requires the removal of bottlenecks from order inquiry to accurate invoice payment. Your Print MIS is the system of record that can drive you to a more efficient business and enable you to scale.


Moving Pieces Around on the PE Chessboard – October 2016 M&A Activity

Billionaire Pritzker brothers capture ProAmpac, buy Vitex next day, Capital Partners win Outlook Group in secondary buyout, IBS Direct merges with Maestro Media Print Solutions and more.


“Push to Stop” the Presses: Heidelberg Demonstrates Concept of Autonomous, Navigated Printing (Premium Content)

Imagine a press so thoroughly automated that it almost seems to be a member of its own crew. This is what Heidelberg says it has made possible with the concept it calls “Push to Stop.”


Agfa 3D Lens Technology Adds a New Dimension to Printed Signage

There was a time when I could describe lenticular imaging thusly: “You know those prizes that used to come in boxes of Cracker Jack, little cards that if you held it one way it displayed one image and if you held it another it would flip to another image?” It was a low-tech 3D effect or animation, kind of the analog equivalent of an animated GIF.


US Commercial Printing Shipments in Mild Downturn; Employment Consolidation Continues

US commercial printing shipments for September 2016 were down -$8 million compared to the prior year (-0.1%). On an inflation-adjusted basis, shipments were down by -$118 million. Interestingly, inflation-adjusted August shipments were up by +$118 million, making the net change for the two months zero.


US Employments Report: Not What the Headlines Said

The business headlines about the October employment report may have said “unemployment rate falls to 4.9%; payrolls grow +161,000,” but the details of the overall employment picture deteriorated.


Recovery Indicators Mixed Again

Last month's recovery indicators bounced back big from a dreadful report, but this month's have moderated. The ISM manufacturing and non-manufacturing new orders decreased, but they are still above the 50 breakeven level, showing growth. The non-manufacturing side is still strongly on the growth side of the line.


Omnichannel Content Publishing and Marketing to Be Demystified at Idealliance’s “INKredible” Conference

Idealliance is billing INKredible as “a showcase for innovators in orchestrated content marketing and publishing”: a category that most definitely includes print service providers.


Top 5 Web-to-Print Questions (Premium Content)

Web-to-print is part of your self-service offering and an expectation of most customers. The following article covers the top five questions I hear around web-to-print.


Holiday Season is Right Around the Corner… What Are Marketers Thinking? (Premium Content)

Most consumers begin purchasing for the holidays on November 1. If retailers wait too long, they miss out on valuable sales opportunities. This article provides strategies for attracting customers and driving them to engage with your brand as the holidays approach.


Color Your Work Exceptional

Are you planning to attend the Color Conference in December in Phoenix? If you have anything to do with color in your daily work, you should consider it. There have been many advances in color management as well as launching of new standards. This is the best place to get the scoop on all of it and rub elbows with the experts – consultants, printers, suppliers and brand owners who are passionate about color.


Q3 Real GDP +2.9%; Soybeans Lead the Charge?

Prior to the release of Q3's advance estimate of real GDP, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow forecast was +2.1%. The official figure came in much better, at +2.9%. It is likely to be revised down slightly, but it was a much better showing than recent data.


Wide-Format and Specialty Printing: New Opportunities for In-Plants (Premium Content)

A recent state of the in-plant industry report finds that in-plant printing departments are well-poised to expand their wide-format and specialty printing options—not just for their parent organizations, but for outside customers, as well.


National Retail Federation Forecasts +3.6% in Holiday Retail Sales

The National Retail Federation issued its forecast of holiday retail sales. It expects a +3.6% increase compared to 2015. But what's the real increase? After deducting for inflation, that's about +1.5%. If real GDP comes in at +2% in the October 28, 2016 advance report for Q3, holiday retail sales growth will be in line with the growth rate of +1.4% for the year. In some ways, this can be a good year compared to recent history. Holiday retail sales have averaged +2.46% since 2007, with a net after inflation of only +0.64%. On a per person basis, that's actually a decline in that period.


The Customer Experience Gap (Premium Content)

Today’s technologies have completely transformed the buying process. A customer can browse a physical retail shelf, handle everything virtually by visiting an e-commerce site, or do a combination of both before making a decision. This article discusses the need for marketers to connect with customers wherever they are.


Where Is Print’s Place in a Digital World?

For years, people have been predicting the demise of print – beginning with the dot com boom of the early 2000s and the beginning of the digital age. The industry’s fate, said experts, was all but sealed thanks to the Internet. For distinct segments like printed newspapers, this prediction came true. The Internet and social media has transformed the news landscape in previously unimaginable ways – shifting consumer behaviour away from single paid to multiple often free and certainly freely available news sources.


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