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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 (Premium Content)

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 (Premium Content)

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! (Premium Content)

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 (Premium Content)

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 (Premium Content)

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 (Premium Content)

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 (Premium Content)

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 (Premium Content)

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 (Premium Content)

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 (Premium Content)

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 (Premium Content)

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 (Premium Content)

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.


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