Retiring software solutions can be overwhelming. Continuing to pay maintenance on legacy software solutions is maddening. Start the process of transition by setting a realistic date – draw the line in the sand, rally your troops around what it takes to get from where you are today to throwing a retirement party for your legacy software.
Due to their nontraditional approach to life stages, marketing to Millennials has been a challenge. Despite this ongoing challenge, there’s a whole new game in town with the rise of Generation Z. This article discusses how Gen Zers engage with brands and highlights tactics that marketers can employ as they strive to keep up with this up-and-coming demographic.
Artificial intelligence, connecting the dots that no one else sees, and print as the igniter … some key learnings from EFI Connect 2017. The WhatTheyThink team was there and captured some great video interviews. In this post, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne shares the highlights that caught her attention.
In his new role as Senior Editor of Labels and Packaging, David will be looking at the demands, technologies and inflection points that are driving the use and growth of digital packaging and labels. The shift from analog to digital production in this area has already started, with the real growth still ahead of us.
The national employment data may have had a headline of +227,000 payroll jobs, but the household survey did not indicate the same. Every year, the report released in February includes revisions to the prior year. The press release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics said that employment was “little changed.”
Estimating is a core function of Management Information Systems (MIS). As companies look to update, upgrade and replace estimating systems, it is important for printing companies and suppliers alike to understand changing business requirements. This article cites a recent RIT research study on the desired features of modern estimating systems.
Is data-driven marketing a fundamental part of what drives your company? If not, your efforts in that area won’t be sustainable or optimally effective. Oracle recently published an article on that topic, and the WhatTheyThink staff has summarized key points as well as providing a link for the white paper download.
Xerox and EFI have further extended their strategic partnership, with Xerox selling its Xerox FreeFlow® Print Server DFE business to EFI. This sale does not include or impact the Xerox workflow solutions that carry a FreeFlow sub-brand name.
The way in which organizations compensate their sales personnel is especially important in 2017 because print service providers are projecting sales force expansion efforts based on improved economic conditions, expansion of service offerings, and an increase in customer communications budgets. This article cites recent InfoTrends research to explore how sales personnel should be compensated.
Your print software strategy is your responsibility. It requires strategic thinking to both define the challenges and the results you want to create (vision). Don’t make the common mistakes with your print software strategy.
There are two major workflows that a job travels through in your print business. The production workflow which results in a printed product and the business workflow which results in an accurate invoice. The job must travel through both workflows; often in parallel and frequently requires some collaboration and/or communication between the workflows to reach both desired results - high-quality print product(s) delivered on-time and an error free invoice.
The next big communication disruption is upon us. There are many ways print businesses should respond, but focusing on specialty items is one way. This article cites IPMA and WhatTheyThink research to explore opportunities in-plants and commercial printing establishments are seeing in 2017.
Since so many firms in the graphic communication industry are following outdated staffing practices, they are ill-suited to meet today’s new challenges. This article cites recent InfoTrends research to explore how business owners can staff themselves for success in 2017.
There’s very little in the way of graphic output that this omnifaceted imaging emporium can’t offer its customers—and now, with the addition of an HP Indigo 12000 digital press, probably nothing at all.
The torch passes from one administration to another. How should the new administration be judged for its economics? The economy has a lot of ground to make up and population demographics make its urgency all the greater. The louder one complains on the campaign trail, the more responsible you have to be. What's the real story behind the complaints about trade fairness? It may not be about trade at all, but about what happens after the deal is done.
Due to its ever-increasing acceptance and popularity, augmented reality (AR) is a technology that print service providers need to understand. This article explores the significant value that print service providers can deliver with this up-and-coming technology.
Finding a niche for your print business (a target market with specific pain points) is not about aiming small, it’s about FOCUS and EXECUTION to build a repeatable product offering and to dive deeper into learning about your customer’s problems.
At Thomson Reuters Core Publishing Solutions, the focus on lean manufacturing is core to its business. WhatTheyThink recently visited the company’s Eagan MN facility to learn more about the operation. Read the full story.
This post looks at the importance of influencer marketing and the role dimensional mailings can play in supporting it. Encourages MSPs to help their customers develop targeting techniques to help their customers get products into the hands of key influencers using dimensional mail.
The digital revolution has put the marketing landscape in a state of flux, making exact attribution highly complex. Nevertheless, attribution is critical because it can provide clear and accurate insights into how, when, and where marketing efforts affect customer actions across devices and channels. This article sites recent InfoTrends research to explore how marketers can leverage data to optimize their marketing mix.
The NFIB's small business index came in at 105.8. It has had two months near-vertical increase, now at levels not seen since December 2004 when it was 106.1. It's sheer optimism that small business concerns about taxes, regulation, and the economy will improve. There are many reports about improved confidence, especially among consumers, but it seems like it's too much too soon. While the new administration might be able to provide some regulatory relief in its early days, most of its desired actions require acts of Congress. Those can sometimes take forever... or longer.
User group meetings create a space for you to find peers for collaboration. Use these meetings to find your people. Do not proceed in these disruptive market conditions on your own! I invite you to attend the sessions. For those of you who are not planning to attend, I want to provide you with some of the key learnings that will be delivered.
The US commercial printing industry finished the year with 439,900 employees, down -11,200 compared to 2015. The number of production employees was down -3,100, a -1.0% decrease. Non-production employees represented the biggest change, down -8,400 (-6.0%).
Australian packaging company Orora stakes out US position in retail display, acquiring The Register Group, ICV Partners buys out SG360° ESOP, Cimpress acquires National Pen, Moore DM buys PS/PS Digital and more.
With the Dow Jones and S&P 500 at all-time inflation-adjusted highs. The recovery indicators are stronger than they have been in a while, with very bullish increases in new orders for manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors, and a strong reading of the NASDAQ stock index.
The beginning of the 2017 should be noisy from a political perspective, but the opportunity for distraction might be the biggest opportunity one can have. Stay focused as we're in the midst of a third media wave that may trap print businesses that have not prepared for it. And then there's the teenager who bought a newspaper. No, not a copy of a newspaper, but a newspaper business. This will be a strange year.
2016 marked my first visit to the Color Conference. Over recent years, the conference has broadened its audience to include more content for designers and brand owners while still sticking to its color technology heritage. Read more to find out why this conference was a great way to end 2016.
As we move into 2017 and beyond, data-driven marketing is going to get bigger, better, and more integrated into the consumer experience. Technology-savvy, data-driven marketers want to get the right message in front of the right audience at the right time to drive the desired behavior. This article leverages information from InfoTrends’ latest Multi-Client study entitled Lead with Data: Follow with Print to explore some areas of key importance as we enter a new year.
When people get frustrated with software, they are looking for an easy answer to get closure. One of the most common reactions to web-to-print frustration is to shop for a different solution. Before you start shopping, take a long hard look at your investment in really learning the web-to-print solution you already have.
The halls, they are decked, the silver bells, they are ringing, and throughout the land a festive Christmas spirit is finally descending upon us. It’s also the electric company’s favorite time of year, I would guess, and it’s always entertaining walking or driving around and seeing how extravagantly some homeowners festoon their homes—tastefully, garishly, and everything in between—with all manner of lights, inflatables, and giant electric snow globes.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis released its third report of real Gross Domestic Product, at an annualized +3.5% over the second quarter. This is considered the final report, revising the advance report of +2.9% two months ago, and +3.2% in last month's preliminary report. This is important because each release of GDP data is based on increasing amounts of actual reported data. The advance report relies the most on estimates and models.
2016 was a very busy year in the printing industry, but the highlight of the year was drupa … it marked what appears to be a turning point in the industry energy level. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne revisits drupa and other key events that occurred during 2016.
Implementing a Print MIS is challenging, it requires a focus on end results without an attachment to “the way things have always been done”, persistence, and adaptability. Look for these personality traits in the people you assign to lead your Print MIS implementation.
Visiting Shutterfly was an amazing experience. The company produces hundreds of thousands of orders per day during peak periods across its three U.S. production sites in a highly architected and efficient manufacturing process. Read the article to find out more.
“It's not worth it for us” was the comment during a CEO panel that Dr. Joe attended, and that comment was about print. It was hard to take, but he wasn't surprised. What did the comment really mean? Does it fit with the unfolding new media allocation and shake-up ? Then Dr. Joe reviews the explosion in smartphones in information search and sharing, and how it exploded in the start of the holiday shopping season. What does it this mean for print, printers, and consolidation? Dr. Joe pulls it all together.
How is it possible that corporate giants AT&T and Time Warner reach an agreement on the terms of a merger in only two months while many small business owners languish over deals for six months, nine months, or even years?
The effects of consolidation, a challenging pricing environment, cost controls and productivity measures have sent shipments per employee to unprecendented levels. The prior peak was just before the recession began. The industry is more efficient in many ways, especially with the exit of weak and marginal establishments. But is it more profitable? In the December 15 webinar and in the new Forecast 2017 report, industry profit levels are discussed. Despite reaching new levels of sales per employee, profit levels have become tepid, a sign of tightening market conditions. In the webinar we discussed the possibility that another wave of media change is underway. The last major one was the rise of social media ten years ago, and now the growing impact of mobile media, especially this year.
Although the term is often overused, true business transformation is about making fundamental changes in how business is conducted to help cope with a shift in market environment. This article explores how savvy print service providers are changing their go-to-market strategies so they can sell their services in new and innovative ways.
Many companies avoid asking tough questions because the discussion can lead to tension and controversy. How can you help promote an open and productive discussion to fairly evaluate potential growth opportunities?
The Presidential transition certainly has its uncertainties. Traditional media had a tough election cycle, and that creates concern what business information executives can rely on as they make their plans. Perhaps they should just keep their heads down and focus on their customers and let the fog and chaos run its course. Small business is very optimistic, it may be too early to be so, but that's not stopping them or the stock markets.
Today, Cimpress, the parent company of Vistaprint and multiple other Internet printing brands, announced it is acquiring National Pen, a leader in custom writing instruments. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Cimpress CEO Robert Keane to get the inside scoop.
InfoTrends and Buyers Laboratory, LLC (BLI) recently unveiled a new branding after a long and thorough process of strategic evaluation and analysis. Given the importance of branding to your organization and our recent experience, this article shares the journey that BLI and InfoTrends took to evolve into Keypoint Intelligence. It also outlines the steps that we will be taking to formally establish our combined brand in the market.
As software takes on a larger and larger role in your print business, your technical leader plays a greater role in all aspects of your business performance. With the right internal technical leader, software can deliver almost everything that was promised in the demo! Without the right technical leader, you’re going to feel like your software investment was a complete waste of money.
Have you ever attended Hunkeler Innovationdays? If not, you are missing one of the most innovative and focused events in our industry. Scheduled for 20-23 February 2017 in beautiful Lucerne, Switzerland, this event is expected to attract more than the 6,000 attendees that graced the 2015 event, with more than 80 exhibitors and 40 dedicated multivendor production lines. Read more.
The Postal Service Reform Act of 2016 (H.R.5714) before the 114th Congress provides meaningful progress in removing regulatory requirements that are drowning the Postal Service in debt. Without passage the Postal Regulatory Commission may change its postal rate process resulting in drastically increased rates.
Commercial printers have historically had more stringent quality requirements and a more complex workflow, with substrates varying from job to job. Inkjet quality levels continue to improve, however, and more and more commercial printers are making the decision to invest in the technology. This article discusses the steps that Heeter (Pittsburgh, PA) took to make the inkjet transition.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis issued its second estimate of real gross domestic product, raising it to +3.2%. Real GDP for 2Q-2016 was +1.4%. Each advance release of GDP data is revised monthly as “more complete source data” is used rather than estimates. We prefer comparing GDP data to the same quarter as the prior year, which helps minimize the variation and possible distortions of seasonal adjustments. Compared to last year, Q3-2016 was +1.6%. Because inventory changes can distort GDP estimates, we also look at the data less inventories, and it shows the economy still hovering around a +2.0% growth rate. Lately, the inventory adjustments have been small. Theoretically, they should be zero in the long run, and for these last two quarters that has nearly been the case. In 2015, it averaged +$82 billion per quarter. Some of 2016's sluggish performance has been an inventory adjustment in the overall economy. The Atlanta Fed's GDPNow estimate for the current Q4 is running at +2.4%.
Aleyant PrintJobManager™ is a cloud-based entry into the Print MIS market. Most printers will recognize Aleyant as the maker of the popular Aleyant Pressero™ web-to-print solution. Aleyant is entering the Print MIS market with a stand-alone solution PrintJobManage
A recent survey conducted by Clemson University's Graphic Communications department examined current trends regarding printing company involvement with creative services as a driver of business growth.
To many, Australia may seem to be on the far side of the world, but the business issues confronting packaging and label producers there are much the same as they are anywhere else. A recent conference by a newly formed trade association addressed some of them.
Dr. Joe went to lunch and heard a three-word sentence that changed his Graph Expo and his industry conversations thereafter. When he said those three words, jaws would drop, but curiosity would rise. The three words? “Print is Intimidating.” And we always thought we were being nice. Find out why in Dr. Joe's column.
Radiation-curable inks and coatings represent a world market that is forecast to grow at a healthy CAGR of 4.1% to 2019, with cartons and labels claiming the largest share. But, making sure that curable fluids are safe for food packages remains a prime concern for the entire packaging supply chain.
Although the selling environment has never been more challenging, today’s digital age makes this a perfect time to leverage all of the latest sales tools and technologies. Today’s technologies must be integrated with effective selling techniques to transform a prospect into a loyal customer.
Will the newly inaugurated President Trump be dealing with a recession like his predecessor did? In December 2008, a recession was declared, and the experts said it started almost a year before then. Several economic indicators, like durable goods orders and factory orders, have been negative compared to the prior year's level for almost two years. The Federal Reserve's Industrial Production Index released on November 16 marked its thirteenth consecutive negative comparison to the prior year. The only sector that is holding up in the GDP reports is the consumer side of that bookkeeping. That can't hold up for long unless the production and investment side of the GDP ledgers start to perk up. There is optimism in the markets about a Trump recovery, but it must be noted that there are many legislative hurdles ahead, and most economic plans take about 18 months to develop notable impact.
Your web-to-print needs to solve two core challenges, the challenge of e-commerce and the unique challenge of selling print online. Design ‘N’ Buy took a different strategy for getting to market with a print-enabled e-commerce solution. They left the e-commerce part to the open-source community by proactively integrating with the most popular open source e-commerce platforms.
Senior Editor Cary Sherburne recently had the opportunity to have in-depth discussions with three leading companies about their success with workflow automation and what it has meant for their businesses.
Eight years ago we were changing presidential paths as we are today, and Dr. Joe had a webinar amidst that tumult of the freshly declared recession, jittery markets, and that upcoming transition. This week, he goes into the archives and reviews what he forecast – and grades himself accordingly. He even gave himself an F for one of the forecasts – how did he do on the others?
There is no question that digitalization is bringing major challenges to the printing industry. It is no longer enough to manufacture and sell products and services—value must be added. This article cites a recent article in the McKinsey Quarterly to highlight the importance of transformation in the printing industry.
Scaling your print business requires the removal of bottlenecks from order inquiry to accurate invoice payment. Your Print MIS is the system of record that can drive you to a more efficient business and enable you to scale.
There was a time when I could describe lenticular imaging thusly: “You know those prizes that used to come in boxes of Cracker Jack, little cards that if you held it one way it displayed one image and if you held it another it would flip to another image?” It was a low-tech 3D effect or animation, kind of the analog equivalent of an animated GIF.
US commercial printing shipments for September 2016 were down -$8 million compared to the prior year (-0.1%). On an inflation-adjusted basis, shipments were down by -$118 million. Interestingly, inflation-adjusted August shipments were up by +$118 million, making the net change for the two months zero.
Last month's recovery indicators bounced back big from a dreadful report, but this month's have moderated. The ISM manufacturing and non-manufacturing new orders decreased, but they are still above the 50 breakeven level, showing growth. The non-manufacturing side is still strongly on the growth side of the line.
Most consumers begin purchasing for the holidays on November 1. If retailers wait too long, they miss out on valuable sales opportunities. This article provides strategies for attracting customers and driving them to engage with your brand as the holidays approach.
Are you planning to attend the Color Conference in December in Phoenix? If you have anything to do with color in your daily work, you should consider it. There have been many advances in color management as well as launching of new standards. This is the best place to get the scoop on all of it and rub elbows with the experts – consultants, printers, suppliers and brand owners who are passionate about color.
Prior to the release of Q3's advance estimate of real GDP, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow forecast was +2.1%. The official figure came in much better, at +2.9%. It is likely to be revised down slightly, but it was a much better showing than recent data.
A recent state of the in-plant industry report finds that in-plant printing departments are well-poised to expand their wide-format and specialty printing options—not just for their parent organizations, but for outside customers, as well.
The National Retail Federation issued its forecast of holiday retail sales. It expects a +3.6% increase compared to 2015. But what's the real increase? After deducting for inflation, that's about +1.5%. If real GDP comes in at +2% in the October 28, 2016 advance report for Q3, holiday retail sales growth will be in line with the growth rate of +1.4% for the year. In some ways, this can be a good year compared to recent history. Holiday retail sales have averaged +2.46% since 2007, with a net after inflation of only +0.64%. On a per person basis, that's actually a decline in that period.
Today’s technologies have completely transformed the buying process. A customer can browse a physical retail shelf, handle everything virtually by visiting an e-commerce site, or do a combination of both before making a decision. This article discusses the need for marketers to connect with customers wherever they are.
For years, people have been predicting the demise of print – beginning with the dot com boom of the early 2000s and the beginning of the digital age. The industry’s fate, said experts, was all but sealed thanks to the Internet. For distinct segments like printed newspapers, this prediction came true. The Internet and social media has transformed the news landscape in previously unimaginable ways – shifting consumer behaviour away from single paid to multiple often free and certainly freely available news sources.
We’ve been talking about cross-media, multi-channel, omni-channel – whatever you want to call it – for a long time. But now technology has arrived to add a brand-new element to these consumer experiences that is accessible to printing firms of all types. Read this article to find out how Fenske Media has harnessed real-time interactive video to achieve up to 284% increase in engagement and an 80% improvement in click-through rates, while still growing print volumes.
The industry’s solutions for cultivating workforce talent aren’t perfect. But, given the graying of the industry and the thinning of its ranks in production occupations, it’s urgent to use them to their full extent.
There's nothing like print enriching itself, and mobile might be the way to do it. A surge in mobile information preference is underway. How should printers plan? Diving in of course, by turning on static print materials into Internet and other gateways. If printers have sidestepped the digital media revolution to concentrate on the media they do best, this may be an opportune time to enliven their offerings as technology, economics, and consumer preference seem to be aligning themselves in a very special way.
Mobile devices are changing the customer experience and forcing organizations to rethink how they engage with their customers and employees. This article shares how CCG Marketing Solutions and Rethink CMYK have leveraged cross-media and mobile technologies to catapult their businesses forward.
WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's leading independent media organization with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, PrintingNews.com and WhatTheyThink magazine versioned with a Printing News and Wide-Format & Signage edition. Our mission is to provide cogent news and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today’s printing and sign industries including commercial, in-plant, mailing, finishing, sign, display, textile, industrial, finishing, labels, packaging, marketing technology, software and workflow.