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Trends to Watch in 2015: Will This Be the Year of Marketing Automation? (Premium Content)

Marketing personnel will be more accountable than ever before for generating sales results. Marketing automation software can dramatically increase leads and profit, and it also provides a greater return on investment in relation to conventional marketing platforms. This article is part of a series exploring trends worth watching in the printing industry.


EFI Connect: Bigger and Better than Ever

2015 saw a bigger and better EFI Connect, with more than 1,000 customers in attendance and a total attendance of more than 1,500 people. As usual, the conference featured many educational sessions and outstanding keynotes. But there were some differences this year.


Printing Employment Data Revised Up in 2014

Every February, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) updates employment data for the prior year and beyond. This year, the revisions to printing industry employment went back to April 2013. When the BLS calculates employment, especially for industries, it uses estimation methods because actual data are not readily available. That actual data are derived from the Social Security tax filings of employers. In this case, the BLS was underreporting employment, especially in mid-2014. Employment data are used as an input into Commerce Department data for the estimation of industry shipments. Those new employment data, though not released publicly, were probably used in recent months shipment calculations when 2014 shipments began to have favorable comparisons to 2013. It is possible, based on these data, that 2014 industry shipments will be revised up in the annual mid-May shipment revision report. An educated guess would put the change at approximately $1 billion, bringing shipments from +0.2% in current dollars to about +1.5%, or flat with 2013 after adjusting for inflation. Nonetheless, employment in December 2014 was less than December 2013. As can be seen in the chart, January 2015 employment is reported as dropping considerably. January and February tend to be slow months, and March can be one of the best. February employment may rise in anticipation.


The Water “Bottle” You Can “Eat,” and Other Definition-Stretchers

What does a package do? It contains, protects, transports, and identifies what’s inside it. That’s the neat, four-cornered functional description of a package. Here are some edgier ones—and a couple that don’t have edges at all.


End of the Line for MeadWestvaco – January 2015 M&A Activity

Paper and packaging industry giant MeadWestvaco appears to be at the end of its life as an independent entity. The company agreed to a merger with RockTenn to form a yet-to-be-named successor company. RockTenn’s expertise in kraft paper, corrugated cartons and retail displays will combine with MeadWestvaco’s strengths in paperboard and folding cartons. The result will be a powerful player in the increasingly global packaging industry, with over $15 billion in annual revenues.


Technical Printing Sends Print-for-Pay Providers Back to the Drawing Board (Premium Content)

Technical printing—graphics that serve the architectural, engineering, and construction markets—has been changing in both positive and negative ways, and “reprographics” shops are changing with the times. And it’s not always just about the equipment.


“Radius” of Label and Packaging Capability Grows Longer Within New EFI Enterprise Packaging Suite

Radius software for MIS/ERP has been at work in label and packaging printing plants for many years. Now part of EFI, Radius will significantly expand its toolkit within a new framework called EFI Enterprise Packaging Suite.


Own Your Print Software: Web-to-Print and Print MIS (Premium Content)

Let’s get one thing perfectly clear, you DO NOT invest in print software to run your business as it is today. The whole point of software is to enable you to run your business differently - creating more efficiency.


Production Inkjet—The Next Wave: HP High Definition Nozzle Architecture

As expected, but still exciting to see, another Next Wave production inkjet print technology has been introduced. This one is from HP, and it continues to show that they haven’t been sitting idle in the time since we last took a good look at their production inkjet offerings.


Magnum Force

There has been a surge of growth in what are called “large-format wine bottles.” Magnums, essentially (or would that be “magna”?), or wine bottles greater than 750ml. Indeed, popular sizes include 1.5 liters, 3 liters, and 6 liters. Now, obviously, some of these are intended for parties and other events with large gatherings, not a quiet romantic dinner for two, lest it descend into drunken anarchy (which depends on your approach to dating, I guess).


Trends to Watch in 2015: Delivering an Interactive Customer Experience (Premium Content)

At the heart of nearly differentiation strategy are techniques for enhancing the overall customer experience. By improving the customer experience, organizations hope to increase customer satisfaction and boost loyalty. This article is part of a series exploring trends worth watching in the printing industry.


Digital Book World: Were You There?

WhatTheyThink was present in force at Digital Book World, our first time to attend this event which is in its 6th year. Were you there? We didn’t see many printers! See what Senior Editor Cary Sherburne has to say about this event and begin planning to attend next year.


Recovery Indicators

Recovery indicators in manufacturing continued to retreat in the ISM manufacturing report, in concert with news earlier this week from the Commerce Department that showed five months consecutive decline for factory orders. Non-manufacturing orders rose slightly, but imports continued to pull back. The ISM new orders for manufacturing and non-manufacturing are still above 50, which indicates future growth, but at a slower rate. The NASDAQ index was up in the last month, but is still lower than it was two months ago. Trading has been choppy, which sometimes is indicative of a developing turning point. The one bright spot in the report is a measure of small business, proprietors income, upbeat news in an otherwise tough month.


Web-to-Print Product Spotlight: MarcomCentral

Twenty years ago when we described the function of marketing we would have started with terms like “creative” and “messaging.” Then we would have talked about distribution channels for getting these creative assets and messages out to the target audiences, primarily consisting of print, TV, and radio.


Relevant Regulatory Revisions for 2015

Throughout the years, our printing industry has always faced challenges with meeting regulatory compliance of existing OSHA rules. Now, in 2015, there are new changes that will bring new impacts. Two of the changes discussed below have come about because of revisions to OSHA’s record keeping and reporting rules and the third is attached to the recent revision of the Hazard Communication Standard.


From the Yellow Pages to Google

When local businesses moved from “getting found” via the yellow pages to internet search so much changed.


King Printing: At the Finish Line

King Printing continues to grow in a highly competitive book printing market, spurred by its investments in production inkjet printing presses. In this article, sponsored by HP, Managing Director Adi Chinai explains how inkjet printing has changed its business and that of its publishers.


Heidelberg’s “Vision 2020” Hinges on Growth in Services and Consumables (Premium Content)

When a business model needs reinvigorating, the first thing to do is to revisit the fundamentals. Heidelberg acknowledges this with “Vision 2020,” a strategic redirection that places new emphasis on the non-machinery parts of its portfolio.


What We Mean—and Don’t Mean—When We Say, “Sustainable”

Will it surprise anyone to learn that there’s no universally accepted definition of “sustainable packaging”? Probably not, but the extent of the confusion raises eyebrows all the same. Readers of Packaging Digest discovered this when they scanned the results of a recent survey by the magazine and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) into what’s standing between packagers and their desire to make their products more sustainable.


The Role of the Project Manager in Print Software (Premium Content)

Every business owner has ideas, plans, and a vision for what they want their company to become. There is never a shortage of ideas; there is a severe lack of execution. Good project management can convert more of your ideas to reality through a disciplined execution process that annoys most people involved (especially impatient, attention deficit prone business owners).


Job Openings Steadily Improving but Have More to Go

The following charts show how job openings have been on a steady rise since the beginning of the recovery in mid-2009, and have now passed the recent peak when the recession began at the end of 2007. But that was a long time ago, and population has grown since that time. The 2000s have a long way to go to catch up with population-adjusted job openings since the turn of the century.


Trends to Watch in 2015: The Domination of Mobile Technology (Premium Content)

PCs are expected to become secondary to smartphones and tablets for a significant share of consumers. This trend is driving marketers to focus on mobile application development. This article is the second in a series exploring trends worth watching in the printing industry.


Your Niche Or Mine? (Premium Content)

How do you decide what kinds of wide-format or specialty printing products and services to add to your current mix? You can jump into a new niche application as a newbie, or organically expand into new directions. As it turns out, there is no right answer—but plenty of wrong ones.


Retail Trends in Wide Format

I was talking with the owner of a sign shop recently, and we got to talking about new technologies that sign and display companies were starting to utilize—I was thinking specifically of EFI’s SmartSign Analytics—but he happened to mention other new technologies such as “smart fitting rooms” whereby sensors in a clothing retailer’s fitting room mirror track RFID tags on the clothing you brought in to try on and suggests accessories or complementary items. Sound creepy? It does a bit, doesn’t it?


Table Service at McDonald’s

The dining experience at fast food restaurants isn’t about the dining experience at all. It’s about the price, the availability, and the consistency no matter where you are in the world. The value proposition is clear, you serve yourself, you’re encouraged to clean up after yourself, and clearly by the comfort of the seats, you aren’t encouraged to linger.


From Across the Atlantic, Lessons to Be Learned About Sustainable Packaging (Premium Content)

A review of recent news about sustainable packaging initiatives in the U.K. and Europe raises confidence that global strategies for managing packaging’s impact on the environment can be developed.


AF&PA’s PaperRecycles.org Sends the Right Message the Right Way

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) has done a nice job of consumer outreach with PaperRecycles.org, a new web site that aims at better educating the public about recovering paper and paper-based packaging for recycling.


Focus on Solutions in Print Software

Frustration happens, especially with print software projects like Print MIS and web-to-print. When frustration happens do you flex, adjust, look for a solution or do you stay in that frustrated state? Find evidence of the behavior you want more of and reward that behavior, in your people, in your vendors, in your partners – that will accomplish more than yelling, escalating, and threatening will ever do.


EFI Connect and the Imaging of Things

About 15 years ago—give or take—in a monthly humor column I wrote at the time for the late, lamented Micro Publishing News, I proposed the idea of a drive-through wide-format printer for vehicle graphics.


Trends to Watch in 2015: Data Analytics and Micro-Targeting

To thrive in today’s environment, service providers must connect strategy, capabilities, technology, and specific initiatives. Print and marketing service providers who are willing to embrace change can drive profitable business growth. This article is the first in a series exploring trends worth watching in the printing industry.


Production Inkjet—The Next Wave: Super Web Digital with Memjet Aspen

In a continuation of the Next Wave of new production inkjet presses and technology series, we cover Super Web Digital, a ‘Made in America’ press manufacturer, which has introduced two new web press platforms based on new Memjet inkjet imaging technology. What makes this interesting is that both Super Web and Memjet have introduced new technology in these products, bringing both of their offerings to a new level.


Latest Inflation Multipliers

For those who have been following along, the chart below is the latest update for budget planning. It's always a benefit to understand your sales and costs in historical perspective. Without adjusting for inflation, you could be working on assumption of trends and relationships that are untrue. Make it “real.”


What to Strive For in 2015 (And a Plea for Help)

Build your business in 2015 by exploring new opportunities, developing a clear vision for success, and stretching the boundaries of what your shop and your shop’s equipment can produce.


Guinness record: World’s largest wad of paper!

We can’t improve upon a recent press release from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) about the creation of the world’s largest ball of paper—a stunt with an important point to make about recycling for packaging.


Pennsauken, NJ Printer Follows “Value Stream Map” to Packaging Success

At Contemporary Graphic Solutions, manufacturing efficiency and process improvements are 24/7 preoccupations, especially as they apply to the company’s demanding but rewarding packaging business.


Swiss-Based Trendcommerce Group Looks to Production Inkjet for Business Growth

Swiss-based Trendcommerce (Schweiz) AG has always been a trendsetter in Switzerland. The company has secured its market-leading position through the acquisition of production inkjet presses. This has enabled a white-paper-in workflow, virtual elimination of offset printing, reduction in black & white toner-based volumes and a revenue growth of 50% since 2011. Read more in this HP-sponsored story.


Industry Events, Peer Recommendations, and Print Software Decisions

EFI Connect, Dscoop X, AMPS Executive Leadership, NPOA, and PODI, the upcoming industry events where you have an excellent opportunity to connect and collaborate with peers. Do you want to do everything in your power to assure your next print software decision is a good one? Get the whole story from a peer who has already implemented the solution.


Full Time Employment Still Not Recovered

The number of workers with full time jobs has still not exceeded levels at the start of the recession about seven years ago. This is despite continuous population growth and higher GDP levels for 21 of the last 22 quarters. Of last year's +2.2 million increase in employment, about 970,000 were part time positions. Many part time positions are by choice of the employee, an unknown number may be from distortions resulting from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and others are from uneven economic conditions and low expectations about future business conditions. There is some employment optimism in recent surveys of the National Federation of Independent Business and both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing surveys of the Institute for Supply Management.


What Is Wide-Format?

As I was planning the 2015 editorial calendar for our Wide-Format section, I began by drawing up a list of topics that I had covered, topics that were heavily featured at trade shows like SGIA and ISA, and topics tend to get covered elsewhere in the industry press. And aside from the basic technological topics like “Roll-to-Roll Printers,” “Flatbeds,” “Finishing,” and so forth, the majority of the subject matter was on specific applications—and applications that were all over the map (and some even included maps!).


Will You Thrive, Survive, or Die in 2015?

In the coming year, trying something new rather than continuing with business as usual can be the difference between success and failure. This article leverages recent research from InfoTrends to explore how industry leaders are making the most of today’s turbulent market.


SGIA Webinar Considers Web-to-Print for Wide-Format

Web-to-print is not a new technology, but despite its many advantages, when evaluating solutions, be sure to ask some specific wide-format questions.


December 2014 – Mergers, Acquisitions & Restructuring in the Printing, Packaging & Related Industries

The Darwinian process of growth, change, merger, and failure proceeded with full vigor during 2014. The 241 transactions announced during 2014 in the printing, packaging, and related industries in the US and Canada represent a 40% increase compared to the 172 transactions that we noted during all of 2013. The vibrancy of the market is consistent with the M&A activity noted across many industries over the past year


Precision and Pride Drive Label Manufacturing at Mossberg & Company (Premium Content)

Mossberg & Company, a commercial printer since 1930, has built an equally successful label printing business through judicious investments in technology and scrupulous attention to quality assurance.


Looking Toward Hunkeler Innovationdays

2015 is already shaping up to be a busy year, and one of the highlights is Hunkeler Innovationdays scheduled for February 23-26 in Lucerne, Switzerland. Cary Sherburne speaks with Standard Finishing President Steven Reny to learn what we might expect at this year’s event.


The False Security of the Print Software RFP (Premium Content)

The checklist RFP (Request For Proposal) fails to deliver the best purchasing decision. Your peers (the voice of current customers) are your most trusted source of information about how print software products perform in live environments and how print software companies support their customers after the sales process.


This Is the New Year and I Have No Resolutions

New year’s resolutions are ephemeral things. January 2, for example, is a kind of Black Friday for gyms and fitness centers, but by the end of the month, the crowds have returned to normal.


Innovairre: Rebranding Done Right!

In today’s world, the introduction of new offerings is not always enough; rebranding is sometimes required to truly respond to changing market dynamics. This article explores how Qdmh has rebranded itself as Innovairre.


Federal Debt as Percentage of GDP Over 100%

Economic press coverage of the Federal budget is usually limited to the annual deficit, the shortfall of tax and fee collections versus spending. While the deficit as a percentage of GDP is down to about -4% from 2009 when it was more than -9%, the deficits do accumulate. Now, the total debt of the US exceeds GDP. This is likely to keep political pressure on the Fed to keep rates down. It also means that a 1 percentage point rise in interest rates would cost $180 billion and can double the annual deficit. But the Fed may not be able to increase interest rates when they want to no how hard they might try. International rates, such as those in Germany, have recently been below 0.5% for the 10 year bond. US rates are comparatively high in the 2% range, and any push upward by the Fed would probably be met by arbitrage actions in the other direction.


2015 Should Be Chock-a-Block with Opportunity for Packagers, Market Watchers Say

The end of the year always brings a flurry of state-of-the-market reports from research organizations and commentators tracking the global packaging industry. Here are pulls from some of the year-end pronouncements for 2014 that we gathered last month. They tell us that despite the unpredictability that always has to be factored into forecasts like these, 2015 is shaping up to be a promising year for the world’s packaging printers and converters.


Wide-Format Roll-to-Roll Printer Roundup

In today’s wide-format market, flatbed printers are all the rage and, for certain applications, deservedly so. But the earliest wide-format printers were all rollfed (or roll-to-roll) devices, and it wasn’t until the early 2000s that flatbeds existed as a product category. Flatbeds emerged to take time and materials out of the “print-then-mount” process; after all, why not just print directly on the surface you want the graphic?


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