By Frank J. Romano August 8, 2006 -- A spectre is haunting the printing industry--the spectre of new media. So-called new media garners recognition, as print is relegated to "old media." The time has come to establish a direction for the future of the printing industry and do what must be done to prosper. 1. Increase printing company profitability . Margins remain under continuing pressure as costs rise and competition increases. Printers must improve cost control and tracking systems. Without profit, there cannot be investment in new technology; there cannot be a business. 2. Improve productivity. Printers must accelerate productivity improvements. The printing industry faces significant competitive challenges, not only from global competition but also from media substitution resulting from Internet-based technologies. 3. Increase the availability of people with required industry skills. We must deal with an aging workforce and low attraction rate for new employees. IT, pre-media, workflow, database, and other skills are essential. 4. Attract more young people into the industry. We need the infusion of new ideas to move the industry ahead. Old-thinking continues to hold back the performance of printing companies. 5. Develop innovation and value-added services. The printing industry is about marketing--helping customers sell their products and services. We must expand our services to meet those needs. 6. Develop and embed a culture of collaboration in the workplace. Print-related management training programs should be mandatory. Partnership between employers and employees is key to the industry's future success. 7. Influence government to act in the best interests of the industry. A consolidated lobbying effort is essential. We must speak with one voice as an industry to be heard in the corridors of power. 8. Improve safety, health, and environmental performance. Environmental management will grow in importance and the industry is directly subject to an increasing level of environmental regulations. Initiatives to reduce waste within supply chains must be enhanced. 9. Promote print as a viable communications medium. The image of print must be improved. Outsiders generally see printing as an unexciting industry and this image makes it difficult to recruit graduates, investors, or to gain the attention of the media. 10. Support industry research and development Technological developments will continue to change the shape of the industry; digital workflows will see content received and processed in electronic form, with investment in information technology hardware and software.