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Heidelberg 2.0—Reinventing a Classic

How do you reinvent a 160-year-old business to address the new market requirements? This is a challenge that we have been seeing over and over again, and many companies have not been able to make that change. Heidelberg seems to have found the formula that looks at their internal organization, but more importantly, at their customers’ changing requirements as well.

By David Zwang
Published: November 20, 2018


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David Zwang travels around the globe helping companies increase their productivity, margins and market reach. He specializes in production optimization, strategic business planning, market analysis, and related services to companies in the vertical media communications market. Clients have included printers, manufacturers, retailers, publishers, premedia and US Government agencies. He can be reached at david@zwang.com.



By John Zarwan on Nov 20, 2018

(almost) Everything David says is accurate. The two main nits to pick are Heidelberg has reinvented themselves a number of times -- not the least of which was the move into offset presses in the 1950s (help me here Frank Romano -- might have been the 1960s). Second, Heidelberg saw the digital revolution early and in the 1990s moved aggressively to expand away from sheet fed offset. For a variety of reasons, some execution, some financial, some market-related, this effort failed. They are to be applauded for righting the ship and attempting a completely new and radical strategy


By Chris Lynn on Nov 20, 2018

I agree with John's point about Heidelberg's checkered history in digital. It embraced the new technology at DRUPA 2000, only to bail out with a bloody nose 4 years later. (I touched on this in a 2004 article in The Seybold Report which, I humbly suggest, still has some relevance. See http://www.hillamtech.com/publishings-fourth-wave-professor-christensens-lens/).
The new strategy looks promising, but the competitors are now more numerous and more daunting than they were 15 years ago.


By David L. Zwang on Nov 20, 2018

John and Chris
I would guess that we can attribute 'false starts' to many if not most of the software developers and hardware manufacturers in our space. However the fact that some, like Heidelberg, were proactive and willing to learn from those false starts and continue is what is important.

Those who didn't attempt or didn't learn and re-attempt are unfortunately just footnotes in the history of the industry...


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