WhatTheyThink

Commentary & Analysis

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Seeking Inspiration from Outside Our Industry

Being in a rapidly evolving industry is always challenging. As you decide where to focus your business for the future, think about looking outside the industry for inspiration and new ideas. Here are two very different industries that bear an uncanny resemblance to printing/graphic arts – and offer lessons you can use in your own business.

Seize the Data and be Relevant!

Generating relevant marketing communications generally means creating personalization or customization for potential customers. Print and marketing service providers that are successfully participating in the more lucrative data-driven marketing value chain have four common traits—culture, people and processes, data, and technology. This article discusses the importance of these traits and includes examples of companies that are profiting from data-driven marketing.

Differentiation through large format presses

This article examines how to differentiate your printing company through the use of large format press equipment. It looks at how large format presses can create a competitive advantage for your company. Costs associated with moving to large format press equipment are also considered.

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee: Straight Talk about M&As in A “Cup O Joe”

The partners at New Direction Partners join financial management firm Margolis Becker for the monthly Cup O Joe, a conference call with printers on a selected topic. With the help of NDP partners Peter Schaefer and Jim Russell, Cup O Joe tackled the topic “Acquiring A Company from an Owner’s Perspective.” Some excerpts are presented here.

Hunkeler Innovationdays - Where It All Happens

Hunkeler Innovationdays running this week in Switzerland will cover trends and developments in digital printing and print finishing for digital printing. The following is a brief outline of the event, identifying some major announcements being made. WhatTheyThink will report on the event, keeping up to date with the latest news.

Xerox enters production inkjet game

Xerox chose Hunkeler Innovationdays 2011 in Lucerne, Switzerland as its platform to make its long-awaited production inkjet announcement.  The company has been showing technology concepts, beginning with drupa 2008, and speculation was it would be some time before they were able to get a product to market.  That time has come, with an innovative waterless printing process that can use virtually any type of uncoated substrate without pretreatment.

Cross-Media Services… Beyond Personalization

Customers are clearly in control of the media they consume. Mobile devices, iPods, DVRs, and the Internet have changed marketing forever. Effectively utilizing cross-media communication and giving prospects a variety of ways to respond can have a dramatic impact. Media dynamics are changing and we’ve covered how businesses are taking advantage of this evolution.

Océ Print Business Forum Envisions the Future

Océ’s Envision the Future Forum, held last week in Houston, TX, drew on keynote presentations, strategy sessions, networking opportunities, and a print shop tour to help printers understand which aspects of print are growing, get a sneak peak at some cutting-edge “interactive print” applications, and develop business strategies for success.

Is Your Print Business Effectively Leveraging IT?

Print businesses are actively diversifying their services to include marketing services, online print ordering, and more. To enable quicker time-to-market and offer greater differentiation, printers are shifting the roles of their IT departments away from administration and closer to development. This article discusses why this shift is occurring and how your business can effectively deal with it.

The Employment Disappearing Act: Where Did 500,000 Jobs Go?

Sometimes you see a lot by looking, according to famed economist Yogi Berra. Somehow, the labor statisticians’ “whoops” factor involves over-counting the number of employed people by a mere half million. Then they say unemployment got better, except, of course, for the parts that got worse. At least there was exceptionally good news from the Institute of Supply Management reports, the best in quite a while. Dr. Joe explains what printers should assume in their planning, saying that skill really matters, and that luck will have nothing to do with it.

2010 U.S. Commercial Printing Shipments Finish at $86.7 Billion, +0.9% Versus 2009

December 2010 commercial printing shipments were $7.48 billion, up $347 million (+4.9%) compared to 2009. Adjusting for inflation, shipments were up +3.3%. This brought the year's shipments to $86.7 billion.

Tribute looks at Océ

Andy Tribute looks at how the agreement between Océ and manroland is about more than just distribution but an opportunity for these two companies to leverage their strengths. And Andy tells us what's the big deal about Kodak entering the consulting business for the printing and publishing markets.

PrintChina Trade Show Scheduled for April 9-13, 2011 in DongGuan City

In mid-January, show organizers for PrintChina 2011 hosted more than 40 journalists from around the world to raise awareness about the importance of PrintChina and to encourage foreign visitors to attend the show. WhatTheyThink represented North America at this event, which featured presentations from government, industry and supplier representatives as well as a visit to a Chinese printing factory. Interesting data, and some thoughts about the future of print in China. Read more.

Inside Scoop on the EFI/Heidelberg Deal

Last week, EFI and Heidelberg announced an agreement under which Heidelberg will distribute the VUTEk GS series of superwide format digital printers to the commercial print market across the U.S. WhatTheyThink spoke with both Heidelberg and EFI to get the inside scoop on this deal.

Allegra: Retooling its franchise network with Marketing Central

This article provides a case history of the Allegra Network, a Michigan-based company that began franchising in 1977 and launched its franchise brand name in 1996. The Allegra Network is embarking on an aggressive plan to help its members evolve into cross-media specialists and marketing service providers who also excel at the delivery of print.

Visions of Vistaprint: Will Strong Financials Continue?

Vistaprint has been a unique model of success within the printing industry – particularly during financial downswings. Here is a closer look at the company as it seeks to stay ahead with new product lines and capitalizing on the Asia-Pacific market.

Printers Get Social: Industry Utilization Trends

As social media become more and more popular for personal use, it is becoming an increasingly common tool in the corporate world. Companies utilize social media in a number of ways to accomplish a variety of tasks. The print industry is not immune. Learn how they’re finding value in posting, updating and tweeting online.

In an M&A Deal, Time Is on Your Side—Until It Isn’t

Knowing when to do the deal is probably the trickiest judgment call in any merger of printing companies. Correct timing is a must for both parties, but choosing the right moment to step forward into the M&A marketplace rests with the seller. It’s a decision that calls for introspective as well as strategic thinking.

We’ve Moved: From Offline Print Business to PRIMARILY Online Print Business

Where does your business transition start? Changing WHAT you do or HOW you do it? The first step to evolving your business in the digital economy is to transition your existing business from an offline business to a primarily online business (HOW you do your business is leveraging the digital infrastructure).

What Are You REALLY Good At?

As communications channels and tools undergo seismic changes…and as sourcing options continue to expand…it has never been more vital to understand, build upon and expand your core competencies and company strengths. Here are some tools, techniques and elements that can help you discover and take maximum advantage of what your company really does best.

November U.S. Commercial Printing Shipments Up +4.2%

November 2010 commercial printing shipments were $7.48 billion, up $303 million (+4.2%) compared to 2009. Adjusting for inflation, shipments were up +4.2%. “This was a very encouraging month, and continues the consecutive gain in current dollar shipments for eight months,” explained Dr. Joe Webb, director of WhatTheyThink's Economics and Research Center.

Where do Printers Get Their Information?

It’s no secret that the methods companies use to communicate with the public have begun shifting to electronic media. As printers shift to electronic media services and print e-commerce storefronts, the sources they use to obtain industry information are also changing. Recent research gives us a glimpse into the top sources that printers are leveraging to stay informed.

When Will Digital Printing Take Over from Offset Printing?

The recent study by PRIMIR showed the changes in the printing market for offset and digital and looked at when the “tipping point” when digital would be of more value than offset would take place. This article looks at the PRIMIR projections and compares them with figures generated by Heidelberg. The assessment shows that the “tipping point” is still years away and that there is a good future for offset printing.

Upcoming FESPA Americas 2011 to Offer Unique Hands-On Events for Screen, Textile, and Wide-Format Printers

FESPA Americas 2011 comes to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, in February, and offers business strategies, market trends, new technologies, and unique hands-on workshops for commercial printers, wide-format specialists, and screen printers. The Wrap Cup Masters is an open competition where contestants vie to wrap a variety of vehicles right at the show.

We Three Things of Disorientation Are

Dr. Joe digs into the details of the economy now that it's three years since the recession started, and eighteen months since the recovery started. Does it really feel like a recovery? The headlines of the various economic news stories seem to be quite different than reality, so Dr. Joe explains what's happening behind the scenes as he starts his ninth year with WhatTheyThink. And they said it wouldn't last.

Tips for Improving Operations in the New Year

This article includes tips for saving money and improving your operational excellence by using all your resources – especially your vendors. Areas covered include: consumables, freight, paper, and recycled waste. By picking one or two of these ideas you can improve your operation and lower your costs.

Eleven New Year’s Resolutions for 2011 to Add Value (and Profit)

It's a New Year, and we all know what that means... resolutions! Deciding what we want to achieve is easy, but actually reaching our objectives can be quite challenging. This article outlines eleven value-added strategies that graphic communications service providers can consider for additional success in the year ahead.

Former HP Executive Bill McGlynn Talks About New Role at Memjet

Bill McGlynn was well-known to many of our readers during his 25 years with HP, where he helped accelerate the company’s printing business from $150 million to $24 billion in annual sales, including his role in the Indigo acquisition which led HP’s entry into the commercial printing space.  Now McGlynn is building Memjet’s Home & Office Business as its President.  Read more…

Pitney Bowes Launches Digital Mail Initiative

Mailing giant Pitney Bowes has announced a new secure online mailbox initiative.  Volly is a secure repository for bills, promotional mail and even household documents that attempts to solve many of the issues that have been barriers to more rapid adoption of online billing.  Read more...

Hunkeler CEO Stefan Hunkeler Discusses Hunkeler Innovationdays

As the WhatTheyThink team prepares to head for Lucerne, Switzerland in February to attend the Hunkeler Innovationdays, we talked with Hunkeler CEO Stefan Hunkeler to gain insight into what to expect at this unique event. We also asked Hunkeler to share his thoughts about the current state of the industry.

CGX CEO Joe Davis Shares Latest CGX Strategies, Industry Insight

What better way to end the year than by having a conversation with Joe Davis, CEO of Consolidated Graphics and WhatTheyThink’s Print CEO of the Year.  Davis tells us what’s new at Consolidated Graphics, talks about acquisition strategy, and shares valuable insight into the strategies that have delivered business success for the company.

Deck the Halls with... New Year’s Resolutions for the M&A-Minded

In the time-honored tradition of ending the present year with resolutions for improvement in the year to come, New Direction Partners offers guidance for print company owners who may find themselves on one side or the other of an M&A transaction in 2011.

Employment Trends to Propel Business Success

Press headlines and reported hiring trends in both the U.S. and Canada indicate a modest increase over the past few months. PrintLink believed employment would start to moderately improve at the end of Q3/beginning of Q4 2010... and our stats demonstrate this is indeed the case. See how this should impact the way your thinking about hiring.

Just in case you didn’t get it…

In the twelfth and last article of this series, industry expert and WhatTheyThink contributor David Zwang finishes his discussion about cross-media communications and production basics, this time with a review of what you should be doing and why you should be doing it.

Christmas is Coming and So is Mobile Marketing… Get Ready!

Retailers are working to combine the power of mobile and print as they attempt to convince consumers to shop with them. They can get the word out about holiday sales via print, SMS, the mobile Web, and branded applications, while brands can use various forms of mobile advertising to achieve their holiday-specific goals. This article provides examples of several retailers that are using mobile marketing to increase their reach.

Kodak Puts in A Good Word for Print Before, During and After the Advertising Age “Media Evolved” Conference

In the minds of media professionals whose the icon is the iPad, how much attention can print and other traditional channels expect to command? Speakers at this high-level event indicated that no matter what media are used, the quality of the content is what spells the difference between virality and oblivion for the brand message.

What Business Are You In?

In a recent article titled “How Well Is Your Business Positioned for the Future”, we posed a series of six strategic questions designed to prompt some reflection.  In this article we elaborate on the question: What Business Are You In?

Pearson Leads the Switch to Color Digital Book Printing

This past year several publishers realized they could increase their print runs for digital books beyond what was previously thought profitable. The key was high-speed, continuous inkjet printing. WhatTheyThink caught up with Pearson Publishing to explore their thoughts on this new format.

Countdown to FESPA Americas 2011

Set to open February 24th, FESPA Americas 2011 is the best opportunity the print industry gets to bring its international community together. We’ve highlighted six special features of the show that promise to entertain and enlighten.

U.S. Commercial Printing Businesses Produce Estimated $1.1 Billion in Profits in Third Quarter 2010

The third quarter of 2010 continued a welcome continuation of profitability for the industry. It has had seven consecutive months of increased sales, but it's clear that the profits trend is increasing, but the long term sales trend is flat.

Evaluating the Total Cost of Ownership

Even if you know the price of new equipment, do you really know the total cost? We show you the questions you should be asking to get a comprehensive picture of what your total cost of ownership looks like.

Cross-Media Communication: It’s Not Just Buzz, It’s Your Future!

The formerly manageable world of marketing that primarily used print and mass media has exploded into countless choices related to cross-media communications. Marketers can now successfully engage their customers to achieve higher brand awareness and consumer ownership of their brands.

How Well Is Your Business Positioned for the Future?

Six strategic questions designed to prompt reflection and introspection. All are designed to get you thinking about positioning your business with more clarity.

OK… I get it, but where do I start?

David Zwang continues his discussion about cross-media communications and production, this time with a discussion of how you should begin your new voyage into Cross-Media Production.

October U.S. Commercial Printing Shipments Up +1.4%

October 2010 commercial printing shipments were $7.61 billion, up $108 million (+1.4%) compared to 2009. Adjusting for inflation, shipments were up +0.3%.

A Short Course in the Fundamentals of M&A

New Direction Partners has taken its M&A consulting on the road in a series of presentations. In these briefings, NDP offers an overview of the business climate for mergers and acquisitions, along with practical advice for owners pondering the next step in the life cycles of their companies.

Deinking… What Does It Mean to the Environment?

Recovered paper is currently one of the most important raw materials in paper and paperboard production. To keep products other than cardboard and packing paper lightweight, the ink must be removed during recycling. As such, most recovered paper undergoes the deinking process. In October 2010, INGEDE News reported issues with HP’s deinking processes. WTT Contributor, Barb Pellow, had the opportunity to interview Nils Miller of HP. This article discusses the specifics of the interview and provides HP’s perspective on the INGEDE piece.

The “Right Size” is the Same Size: Heidelberg Offers Another 40" Press in the Speedmaster CX 102

Believing that there’s room in the 40" market for an addition to its Speedmaster line, Heidelberg rolled out the Speedmaster CX 102 in a customer event at its U.S. headquarters earlier this month. This newly engineered machine is said to transfer the best features of Heidelberg’s XL-series presses to the 102 format, its most successful product category.

X-Rite – The Color Company

X-Rite has long been a leading supplier of color measurement tools, and with their recent acquisition Pantone they’re in the business ink color specifications. Now X-Rite is looking to move beyond the print world to become “The Color Company” for all your color needs.

To Prepare for 2011, Imagine It Is 1994 Again

Dr. Joe must have a time machine, because all he wants to talk about is 1994. He wonders why the planning process used by companies large and small always seems to miss critical market shifts and reinforce the status quo, actually constraining the ability to change. What can make the planning process more effective and our companies more adept when the marketplace takes an unexpected turn?

Enter the Dragon: A Chinese Press Manufacturer Probes the Market at Graph Expo 2010

By bringing just one offset press to Graph Expo 2010, it accounted for one-sixth of all offset presses at the show and one-third of the conventional (non-DI) printing machines on the floor of McCormick Place. That would be an unusual distinction for any exhibitor of press equipment, but it seems to have worked out well for Gronhi Graphics International, the U.S. arm of a Chinese vendor seeking a reputation and a toehold in the American market.

Having the Capability to Personalize Communications is Not Enough Today

The concept of personalized communications – in the way we all think of it today – has been around for well over thirty years. And, acquiring the capability to create and produce personalized communications is still a hot topic in our industry. Yet, for each communication you’re involved in, can you answer the question: Am I contributing to “communications pollution” or am I compelling enough to survive in our world that has become an electronic messaging free-for-all?

Analytics: What am I doing and can I prove it?

In the tenth article of this series, industry expert and WhatTheyThink contributor David Zwang continues his discussion about cross-media communications and production, this time with a discussion of you need to do to get audience attention, and what tools and services you need to prove you are succeeding.

FESPA Brings Global Wide-Format Printing Expertise to the U.S.

For the first time ever FESPA Americas will be held in the United States. FESPA has existed for almost 50 years, and this years’ event promises not to disappoint. Richard Romano has laid out all the details you need to learn more about the organization, the event and its history.

Googled: A Book Review

Google is arguably one of the most fascinating companies of our times. Founded in 1998, the typical Silicon Valley “two guys in a garage,” the company quickly skyrocketed to prominence as the preferred search engine for many as well as a premier advertising platform. In his book, Ken Auletta does an outstanding job of documenting the company’s history and accomplishments to date.

Building an Innovation Platform

This article discusses how Apple’s iPad has created a scalable technology platform for growth where the end customer becomes loyal and continues to invest in new applications. It also strikes a comparison to Mail Print’s Web services platform, which has created new ways of doing business and a growth platform for new offerings, applications, and services.

Océ's New Strategy for the Future

Océ is already the leader in continuous feed inkjet presses. If things are working so well, it seems unlikely they would make a drastic change. At the recent Canon Expo though, they made an announcement that Andy Tribute claims will dramatically shift their strategy.

Sharp Decrease in Layoffs Due to Bankruptcy Reflect Industry Improvement

Even something that sounds bad, like the number of printing industry layoffs due to bankruptcy, can be good if they're declining. Dr. Joe explains the sharp decline in the last four quarters and why it's very good news.

Conventional Print at the GASC Shows: What Was, Isn’t, and Will Be

The Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC) events were due to reach an inflection point, and it seems clear that at Graph Expo 2010, they reached one from which there will be no turning back. The break in the connection between showing heavy printing equipment and selling it made Graph Expo 2010 a watershed event. No longer do press manufacturers makers need elaborate displays of machinery at the GASC shows in order to achieve the marketing impact they desire.

Personalized Packaging Brings Sweet Success

Irongate Digital of Derby, U.K. has used its Web-to-print and digital color printing expertise to develop personalized chocolate boxes to catapult its clients’ candy sales. Irongate leveraged its existing technologies to enhance the value of print for its customers. WhatTheyThink.com caught up with them and assembled some recommendations for print service providers that are hoping to expand their Web-to-print offerings into packaging applications.

The Three-Letter Problem!

Why are so many companies in the print industry choosing three-initial names that prove completely indistinguishable from the next three-initial name. Whether it’s ABC or XYZ, Andy Tribute tries to sort out the confusion.

Reading Past the Employment Headline: Someone's Got to Do It

Sometimes you actually have to read past the first paragraph to find out what's going on, and looking at the tables of statistical reports with the real data leads to conclusions that are quite different than the headlines. Dr. Joe does the statistical equivalent of going into the kitchen to see how clean it is before believing a restaurant's reviews. You may have heard that there were elections last week, and that they might have been important. Keep it all in perspective, and don't get ahead of things. There's political chaos ahead that may only increase the uncertainty.

What are the required and available tools for Print + eMedia

In the ninth article of this series, industry expert and WhatTheyThink contributor David Zwang continues his discussion about cross-media communications and production, this time with a discussion of what tools you need for your new workflows. It will cover the options you have for Design and Workflow tools to help you determine what will work most effectively for you.

Sales Strategies: Sell Print and More by Connecting the Dots

How do you wring more out of the sponge? How do you provide your clients with greater benefit? How do you match your services to your clients needs? Mike Philie of the NAPL has some advice on how to “hear” what your customer is really asking for.

Pulling the Trigger: Marketing Service Providers Are Stepping Up to the Challenge

To send timely messages, marketers must have a clear understanding of the customer’s situation so they can generate the best event-based marketing activity. This is where something called trigger-based marketing comes into play. Trigger-based marketing works on the premise that you communicate with your customers at the precise time when they have a high propensity to purchase. This article provides information on two companies (RT Associates and Associates International) that are stepping up to the challenge of trigger-based marketing.

September U.S. Commercial Printing Shipments Up +3.4%; Six Consecutive Months of Growth Versus 2009

September 2010 commercial printing shipments were $7.58 billion, up $248 million (+3.4%) compared to 2009. Adjusting for inflation, shipments were up +2.2%. “This continues the consecutive gain in current dollar shipments for six months, a welcome change for commercial printers,” explained Dr. Joe Webb, director of WhatTheyThink's Economics and Research Center.

Thinking Creatively: It’s Time to Revisit the Basics of “Conversation”

In a world where text messages outnumber mobile phone calls...and social network usage eclipses email…and customer service has turned into self service… the nature of conversation is being revolutionized. Specifically, this means “the commercial conversation”.

That Book of Business You’ve Acquired: Could It Be Missing Some Pages?

How do you know that business you just bought is going to keep earning what you’ve been promised? What questions should you be asking, what contingency plans should you be building, and what hang-ups should you be looking out for? The partners at New Direction Partners have some answers for us.

Memjet: Bringing disruptive change to packaging and labeling?

Memjet may be a new name to many of our readers.  The company was founded in 2002 and designs and manufactures low-cost high quality inkjet printheads, print controllers and inks designed for use in printers for packaging and mailing applications.  Although OEMs have only had product components for 60 days, Memjet has been busy—five shows in the last six months in North America and Europe.  Read more about this potentially disruptive technology.

Q3 2010 Real GDP on Quarter/Quarter and Year/Year Basis

Dr. Joe looks at the advance report for GDP in 2010's third quarter and explains what it means, what it doesn't, and why it might be worth ignoring.

Former HP Executive Bill McGlynn Talks About New Role at Memjet

Bill McGlynn was well-known to many of our readers during his 25 years with HP, where he helped accelerate the company’s printing business from $150 million to $24 billion in annual sales, including his role in the Indigo acquisition which led HP’s entry into the commercial printing space.  Now McGlynn is building Memjet’s Home & Office Business as its President.  Read more…

The Paper Chase

Planning for paper is one of the most important factors when running a print shop. Getting a read on the current state of the printing industry though, can feel like firing at a moving target. John Braceland tries to simplify your paper planning process and point your team in the right direction.

Pulling the Trigger: Bringing the Right Message to the Right Person at the Right Time

While marketers are doing a better job at getting the right message to the right person, it is becoming increasingly important to send that message at the right time. Sending timely messages requires marketers to have a clear understanding of the customer’s situation so they can generate the best event-based marketing activity. This article discusses the concept of trigger-based marketing and also provides some examples of common triggers.

EFI CEO Bullish About Future of Industry, Company

EFI released positive quarterly earnings last week with 28% revenue growth. CEO Guy Gecht indicated that EFI’s transformation is complete. EFI has gone from a single family of products (Fiery) to a broad portfolio of products, including VUTEk, Rastek, and Jetrion inkjet printers as well as APPS. They’ve aimed their efforts at key growth areas of the print industry: short run digital printing for documents, signage, packaging and software that automates business processes, with multiple channel strategies. WhatTheyThink spoke with Gecht following the earnings call to learn more.

King Printing - The Birthplace of Digital Book Printing?

Digital book printing is one of the hottest areas in the print industry today. Andy Tribute went to visit King Printing – a medium sized printer of modest origins - that may have been the first to provide digitally printed books. He discovered a ridiculously innovative family–run shop that has kept itself on the edge of new print technologies.

Building the Infrastructure… Managing both the content and the process

In the eighth article of this series, industry expert and WhatTheyThink contributor David Zwang continues his discussion about cross-media communications and production, this time with a discussion of what you need to build a good infrastructure for your new workflows. It will cover Content Management as well as other options you have to determine what will work most effectively for you.

Capacity Utilization: (Virtually) Meaningless

Dr. Joe has quite the capacity to cause an argument about most anything economic, especially capacity utilization. Perhaps the state of employment in our industry is showing an unexpected shift from the big printing enclaves to new areas of growth. This unusual finding deserves some further scrutiny. Magazines get a boost from the auto industry, which was a clunker until recently. The sideways movement of the economy is obvious again, but Dr. Joe was flying high on WiFi and gives it the thumbs up.

The new world of print buying

For the majority of us lay people print buying seems like a trick for the anointed few who can piece together a much larger puzzle of production parts. Frank Romano looks at the new world of the print buyer, how it has changed, how they do their jobs, and where congregate to share their secrets.

Lessons from a Visionary: An Interview with Mike Panaggio

A visionary leader anticipates challenges and growth opportunities before they happen, positioning people to produce extraordinary business results. Real visions can lift organizations into the higher realm of new possibilities. In some ways, true visionaries spread the seeds of their visions so that those possibilities might take root in their organizations. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview DME Founder Mike Panaggio. This article outlines Mike’s predictions about the future of the communications industry.

Charlie Ying 1946 - 2010

The print industry lost a legend last month. Charlie Ying, and his company Atex, revolutionized prepress and changed the industry forever. Andy Tribute offers these memories of one of the great innovators of our industry.

The Turning Point: Graph Expo as Watershed for Digital Production

As Graph Expo made abundantly clear, there’s no longer any segment of the industry that can’t be addressed by digital solutions that will work as least as well as conventional lithography, at least in shorter runs. The industry’s embrace of digital production is now complete, and all that’s left to debate is how long it will take the pockets of resistance to get on board or go away.

Change in Commercial Printing Segments 1997-2008

Dr. Joe updates his look at the recent trends in printing industry employment and the last five months of increased sales are playing out.

Marketing and Innovation: A Lesson from Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker, the father of business consulting, stated that the business enterprise has only two basic functions—marketing and innovation. This article discusses how print service providers can leverage Drucker’s advice to improve their businesses. It also provides real-world examples from DME, Sandy Alexander, and the University of Iowa.

Value-Based Pricing: A New Business Transformation Model

The commoditization of our product is a risk we face every day. This essay by Joseph Truncale of the NAPL highlights the difference between just selling print and making the shift to being a strategic partner who can deliver unique value to his customers.

Looking Back at Graph Expo 2010

There have been mixed reviews about Graph Expo. A slow start on Sunday. Not much offset. Andy Tribute, as always, was right in the thick of things. In this article he wraps up his thoughts on the event, and looks forward to Graph Expo 2011.

Do You Live in the Future?

Looking for a good read? Check out this review of I Live in the Future and Here’s How It Works: Why Your World, Work and Brain are Being Creatively Disrupted, by Nick Bilton. Bilton calls it “a unique reading experience,” and it is. Each chapter begins with a QR Code! (And this from a “Gray Lady” reporter.) It even includes some history about how print was one of the original disruptive technologies. Read on!

I'm a printer…can I do this, or do I need a degree in programming?

In the seventh article of this series, industry expert and WhatTheyThink contributor David Zwang continues his discussion about cross-media communications and production, this time with a discussion of what new skills are required and obstacles likely to be encountered for printers to bring cross-media services into their businesses. It focuses on how to grow the talent, or where to find the talent, that is required to be successful.

Three Numbers, 30-60-100, Foreshadow What's Ahead

Dr. Joe explains what the numbers 30, 60, and 100 have to do with 2020 and our industry. Somehow, it all adds up. The unemployment report shows an “L” shaped recession, even though we are now in an extended recovery. See what 30, 60, and 100 have in store for us.

August U.S. Commercial Printing Shipments Up +3.3%

August 2010 commercial printing shipments were $7.3 billion, up $235 million (+3.3%) compared to 2009. Adjusting for inflation, shipments were up +2.2.

Too Many Trade Shows?

The last couple of years have been difficult for both printers and suppliers to our industry. While there are positive signs that indicate a path to recovery, and many companies are investing to better position themselves for a brighter future, many suppliers to the industry believe that we have too many trade shows and too many of them are too siloed for today’s diverse environment. Hear what they—and GASC—have to say.

The Attendee Perspective: Why They Were at Graph Expo

Over the past several years, trade show attendance has declined due to economic downturns. Organizations are trying to do more with fewer people, which makes it all the more difficult to get away from the office to attend an event. Much of the product information that we used to get from trade shows is now available at your fingertips via the Internet. Barb Pellow took the opportunity to ask a number of people why they were at Graph Expo 2010 and to determine their specific areas of interest. The message was that attendees came to learn, listen, and network.

As Graph Expo Goes Digital, Where Exactly Is It Taking Us?

We’ll be happy to stand corrected if our count is wrong, but, after prowling the show floor of Graph Expo 2010 in search of lithographic printing equipment, we came up with only four fully assembled offset presses. Where did the heavy iron go? That’s not all that makes this year’s event seem a bit eerie when contrasted with the Graph Expo and Print shows of years past.

Graph Expo 2010: Back to the Future

Bo Jackson (yes, THAT Bo Jackson) was a keynote speaker. Offset presses seemed completely absent. Throngs of passionate spectators showed up at a time when some experts say the industry is perched for the second half of the double dip. Richard Romano reports on a Graph Expo that, so far, is full of pleasant surprises.

Technology's Role in Print Partnerships: Mimeo-FSI Alliance

These days software companies are building products that they know will get used in larger “mashup” solutions. The trend in software has moved towards simpler, interchangeable apps with fewer features but better functionality. The recent Mimeo-FSI partnership highlights a great example of an existing company getting dragged into the present to make the adjustments necessary to be competitive.

ISM Manufacturing Index - Selected Components Since December 2007

Dr. Joe explains the latest Institute for Supply Management manufacturing report in terms of its key components of new orders, prices paid, employment, and imports. The manufacturing side of the economy is still growing, but it looks like it's slowing down, and inflation is starting to creep into the system.

Peter Williams Discusses Ricoh’s European Business

In this interview with Senior Editor Cary Sherburne, Ricoh Europe Executive Vice President Peter Williams talks about the company’s IPEX experience, European distribution strategies, and the progress being made with integration of IKON and InfoPrint Solutions into the customer experience. Read the full interview.

HP's Inkjet Presses Succeed in Book Printing

The most successful print supplier into the book printing market has been HP with their T300 press. Andy Tribute looks at the success of HP in this market. He also visits the first installation of the new HP T200 "entry-level" continuous feed color press at O'Neil Data Systems where it will operate alongside the O'Neil's T300 press.

Chris Lyons at Kodak: The importance of an application focus

Chris Lyons, Kodak’s Global Market Segment Director, talks about his role at Kodak, what to expect from Kodak at Graph Expo, and his goals and challenges in this new role. Read the full article.

Graph Expo: Seek the Solutions that Deliver Change

Graph Expo 2010 (October 3-6 at McCormick Place South in Chicago, IL) represents an opportunity for print service providers to re-evaluate and re-assess their businesses. While this year’s event will certainly feature exciting equipment upgrades, enhancements, and new digital and traditional devices, savvy service providers will focus on solutions. This article provides an overview of just a few of the announcements that are designed to help service providers reduce their costs or grow their businesses.