WhatTheyThink’s Forecast 2018 report, by Dr. Joe Webb and Richard Romano provides detailed analysis of the most recent Print Business Outlook Survey, the latest industry economic data and macroeconomic trends, as well as industry and cultural technological trends to look out for in 2018.
Today marks the launch of a new Finishing Section on WhatTheyThink and section editor Trish Witkowski gives us an overview of the kinds of things she'll be covering in this special interest area. Welcome to the future of finishing!
The US Commerce Department has released data for November 2017, and this is the first look at the full year by making an estimate for December. Based on shipment and employment trends, it appears that 2017 came in at $76.3 in current dollars. That's a -6.4% decrease in current dollars compared to 2016, and a -8.4% decrease on an inflation-adjusted basis. The chart includes selected prior years starting at 1995. December data will be released at the beginning of February, and will be revised in March. In May, the Commerce Department will revise the last three years of data, plus minor revisions to the years prior to that.
What options are available for financially troubled print businesses? John Hyde, the leading expert in M&A involving financially troubled printing companies, talks with Graphic Arts Advisors about how there are more choices than ever, including Non-Bankruptcy Debt Restructuring.
In the year ahead, changing customer demands, ongoing technological shifts, more intense market competition, and ever-changing communication trends will require print providers to make innovation a top priority. This article, the third in a three-part series, highlights the biggest challenge print service providers face—transforming their creative ideas into business realities!
For many companies, digital communications promised fast, easy, relevant, and more affordable customer communications. But now marketers are realizing that print has a valuable role in the customer communications mix that cannot be underestimated. As a result, the role of print in an omnichannel world is being redefined yet again, with print as a key element.
A business is a set of processes that are done over and over, do you have those processes written down? Do you review them? How often do make mistakes due to a human error that just involves “I forgot”? Process improvement starts with defining the process, adhering to them, and then constantly learning and adapting the process to the smarter you.
In this new series, David Zwang will look at how the new requirements of print and packaging manufacturing, and how the demands and opportunities of Industry 4.0, are being facilitated by new bespoke production and workflow methods. These new methods are becoming available as a result of the evolution of current and emerging digital technologies. He will look at the requirements, technologies, methods and the educational processes necessary to bring it all together. In this first article in the series, he takes a look at the changing landscape to lay the groundwork for future discussion.
Idealliance, NAPM, and PostCom announced a coalition designed "to work towards the long-term vitality of mail and ensuring that the mail industry remains at the very center of communication and commerce in the United States and around the globe." Is this the right approach? Read more for my opinion.
Inflation distorts our interpretation of history and clouds business decisions. All dollars may look alike, but what a dollar bought in 1950 is a lot different than a dollar in 2017. Unfortunately, commercial printing prices have not kept up with inflation, but the costs of running a printing business usually have. This means that it's harder to keep earnings and payrolls up to this level. If past dollars had greater value, this chart can be used to adjust past financial statements to bring those data to current value. This is especially important in budgeting processes where looking for trends in prior years is one way of assessing performance and goals.
Have you ever shopped at Zazzle? The company personalizes just about anything and has both paper and textile offerings. In past Zazzle stories, we have focused primarily on the paper side. But the company was actually founded with textiles. Read more to find out what Zazzle textile offerings - and its view of the market - looks like today.
In the year ahead, changing customer demands, ongoing technological shifts, more intense market competition, and ever-changing communication trends will require print providers to make innovation a top priority. This article (the second in a three-part series) highlights key application trends that are expected to have a significant impact on print providers' prospects for growth in 2018.
Technical resources are hard to find. Keeping up with technology requires constant learning. When looking for technical staff; probe for the candidates willingness and ability to learn new things - it is an absolute requirement.
Much has been written on the benefits of print and how we can help it compete for marketing dollars against digital marketing. But why try to compete at all? In 2018, why not capitalize on the capabilities of print that digital marketing cannot replicate?
We have a new report out, the Printing Forecast 2018, based in large part on the results of our Fall 2017 Business Conditions Outlook survey. There is quite a lot in the 172-page report, but here are some highlights specific to wide-format printing.
PIA’s Color Conference grew attendance by about 30% compared to 2017, with 25% of attendees representing the brand/design community. For anyone with a color-critical role, this is an excellent venue to increase color knowledge, network with peers, and have in-depth in-person conversations with conference sponsors about solutions that can assist with specific challenges.
Dr. Joe has a special message: he was wrong 15 years ago, and it worked out fine. The economy is showing improvement, and some reluctant data series are starting to be break their recession levels. Government shutdown? That won't stop them from collecting taxes! Many of the economic indicators show a strong Q4-2017 GDP report is in the offing - but the shutdown may prevent that data release. Dr. Joe warns of a data issues ahead - if small business booms, it may not be recognized right away. But there's one difference in big and small that's showing up right now in printing profits data.
In the year ahead, changing customer demands, ongoing technological shifts, more intense market competition, and ever-changing communication trends will require print providers to make innovation a top priority. This article (the first in a three-part series) highlights key technology trends expected to have significant impact on print providers’ prospects for growth in 2018.
Every industry has different roles, in the software industry there is a role called the “Product Owner” also referred to as the “Product Manager”. First, I’ll explain this unique role in the software industry; then I’ll make a case that as print continues to evolve and become more digitally friendly and software dependent printers are going to have to have this role in their organizations.
In this industry, we like to talk about the value of paper to connect with audiences and engage them in a way that digital content does not. What we don’t spend as much time talking about is how consuming forest-based products like paper benefits real people, real families in our communities, and actually improves the environment, too.
This post provides five critical takeaways from Salesforce.com’s “Fourth Annual State of Marketing” report that paint a very different picture of the marketing landscape than a few years ago. MSPs need to be prepared for significant retooling.
Details for the 2018 edition of Xeikon Café Exhibition & Conference, the fourth such event held in Belgium, are becoming available,;and there are exciting changes planned. We spoke with Xeikon Corporate Communications Manager Danny Mertens to get more details. Read more.
Most of today’s printers realize that software plays a critical role in keeping operational costs down and remaining competitive. This article explores how software vendors can help PSPs with their workflow bottlenecks so they can better prepare for the future as we move into another new year.
What makes your print business unique? This is a question every print business should ponder over the new year. In 2018 how will you guide your company to create differentiation? Will it be based on the past or the reality of our shared future?
Personal voice assistants and the Internet of Things, wide-format graphics and specialty printing—what are some of the new (and old!) technologies to which we should pay attention and how will they affect us in 2018?
Want a vision of the future of the world of digital textiles? Skya Nelson of Fed By Threads has a unique perspective on the market, and is already implementing much of it with the company’s “dirt to shirt” approach to socially responsible, environmentally sustainable apparel.
The fifteenth year of Dr. Joe at WhatTheyThink comes to a close, and he’s got a lot of topics (and some charts, of course) to get off his mind. Tax reform, recruitment, hours online, profits, consolidation...you name it, it’s probably mentioned in this year’s final column. Oh, and we forgot Bitcoin...that’s here too.
More industry consolidation in response to decreased demand. Yet, encouraging business conditions, and challenges with managing productivity. Meanwhile, inkjet continues to conquer the world and new print product and business opportunities emerge in strange new places. Let’s take a look back at the year that was.
There has been a lot of hype over the last few years about 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, being the next big thing in the print-related world. We recently learned that EFI hired Gal Barak as its Inkjet Eastern Region Sales Manager. Barak most recently worked for 3D printing company Stratasys. Why did he make this move and what are his thoughts on 2D versus 3D? Read more.
When approached to participate in a survey, the initial response for many is to decline because participation takes time and the value proposition is not always clear. This article explores the benefits that survey data can deliver to the industry as a whole.
With the exploding growth in e-commerce, the ability to prove print’s value as a primary driver of online activity becomes increasingly important. This includes m-commerce, which is growing even faster than e-commerce in general. This makes investment in print-to-mobile technologies a must.
Are you reaping the benefits of free consumer trends reports to benefit your client base? If not, you are leaving opportunity to help your clients refine their targeting, improving their messaging and channel mix, and better understand the competitive landscape.
Direct-To-Shape (DTS) has become a commonly used term in recent times. We want to try to clarify a little around the definition of DTS and to describe the state of this particular art. We are prompted to do this by our recent visit to the InPrint Europe Industrial Print show in Milan, Italy, where there was a lot of discussion of the potential of DTS as a market.
This holiday season, savvy retailers are working to meet customers on the channels where they are shopping and buying, whether it’s in a physical store, online, or via social media. This article highlights how various retailers are driving sales and encouraging engagement with multi-channel integrated campaigns.
Brick and mortar retailer has been struggling with foot traffic. According to early estimates all signs are pointing to more ecommerce, less in-person commerce this holiday season. What does this mean for retail graphics?
When we think about the cloud, we think about benefits such as anytime, anywhere access, cost savings from the elimination of servers, and automatic updates. But there is one benefit that many people don’t think about—computer agnosticism.
What’s more important than tax reform? A tenth anniversary! It’s been ten years since the recession started. What does one get as a gift? We’re told it’s tin or aluminum. Does that mean someone’s giving all of us litho plates? Tax reform is a much better gift for the celebration. The reform is flawed, but better than nothing. There are some signs that the economy is improving for real, and Dr. Joe has his unique twist to offer.
Even in this digital age, tried-and-true direct mail communications continue to get noticed. This article cites recent research from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends to explore how direct mail can be used to cut through the clutter and capture the attention of today’s “always on” consumers.
Creating results in your company takes coordinated effort by a group of people – some would call that a “project”. Project management is the art of keeping all the contributors to the project on task “herding the cats.” This skill set and this role is underappreciated in our industry. When you need to get complex things done with a group of people – you need a project manager to drive the project to successful completion.
Whether it’s for administrative, production, or marketing initiatives, the cloud brings significant benefits to businesses of all sizes. One of those benefits, and one that is the easiest to implement, is collaboration. Let’s take a closer look at this low-hanging fruit from the cloud.
Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a powerful tool that can be used to benchmark, identify areas for improvement, and measure progress. It combines equipment availability, performance, and quality (waste) into a single metric.
As an industry, have we moved past the terms “prepress” and “workflow”? Are they too broad to provide any significant benefit to the industry discussion? There is an argument to be made that it’s time to break up the process and discuss it in terms of its discrete elements.
When you buy print software for your business, it needs to “fit” into the technology stack you already have. This means that it solves challenges you cannot solve with your existing software and it will fit with the other pieces of your technology.
A new report from eMarketer looks at the growing use of marketing automation to help marketers better manage their marketing consistency and effectiveness across channels. Data is drawn from third-party data over the multiple years. The results beg the question: What are the implications for MSPs and print?
Look at the shiny object, and please don’t peek behind the curtain. It’s a data game that’s played by many, and it starts with a good headline, and sometimes includes a great chart. A rising stock market without increasing revenue? Declining e-book sales that conveniently ignore niches that are contrary? And then there’s one for the record: the LP record. A pretty chart makes that story convincing, but only if you forget history. Don’t fall into that vinyl LP trap: there’s a hole in the middle of it.
Printing business executives and managers who have learned to fortify their companies' business plans and strategies with a consistent flow of useful and compelling business data will be much better positioned to unlock growth potential and protect against sales declines. This article explores how business leaders can use internal and external information to drive business expansion.
The Print MIS/ERP system is the foundation to your overall print business technology stack. It is the system that should run your business. Many Print MIS solutions have and continue to expand their support for a diversified printing operation. One of printIQ’s strengths is its approach to and the execution of a modular approach to supporting additional manufacturing processes
The solution sale only works if you’re solving the problems that are most important to the customer. The race to find solutions often results in sales teams wasting tremendous effort solving the wrong customer challenges. When you first agree on the challenges and their importance to the customer – solution selling works.
The company’s unique rebranding project resulted in an anthology of current authors writing about work, a series of videos, and a book launch event with author readings at New York’s venerable 92nd Street Y.
Call tracking provides vital insight and marketing intelligence to help clients optimize their marketing channels, messaging, and focus. This post takes a look at how three clients benefited from using call tracking to prove and optimize the value of their direct mail.
Wide format printing is a profitable and complementary product offering for print service providers that are seeking new markets and higher-margin businesses. This article discusses the three key practices for success in this market.
OSG Billing Services, now owned by PE firm Aquiline Capital, adds first bolt-on with acquisition of Microdynamics, label printer Brook & Whittle acquired in secondary buyout, Vomela buys another commercial printer; and more…
Following last week’s announcement of the strategic alliance between EFI and Xeikon, transferring sales, marketing and service responsibility for Jetrion inkjet label presses to Xeikon, Zwang and Sherburne had the opportunity to speak with Benoit Chatelard, President & CEO of Flint Group Digital Solutions, to gain a bit more depth to the story. He was joined by Mark Brussel, CFO.
Purchasing new software is exciting; it’s full of potential, the vendors invest a lot in making the sales process enjoyable. This influences our reaction to when our existing technology gets hard or frustration – it can feel easier to quit and buy a different platform thinking that will solve all our challenges.
In our rapidly evolving world of often disruptive technology, making sense of the options available to printing companies can be challenging. Buying a new press is no longer a sufficient investment to ensure ongoing profitability. Printing companies must also invest in a range of solutions that optimize productivity and streamline workflow. In this article, Bondy and Sherburne provide concrete advice that will help printing companies in making the right technology decisions as they plan for 2018 and beyond.
We have a new chair at the Fed who is likely to stay the course, no matter how damaging that is. This month’s shiny object is the unemployment rate; don’t look at how it got there. A kerfuffle and a scuffle, and it all happened because of used equipment, which means the once mighty aren’t any more. And printing shipments… can we talk about something else?
This week, after several months of negotiation, EFI announced a strategic partnership with Xeikon whereby sales, marketing and servicing for the Jetrion line of digital UV inkjet label printers would be transferred to Xeikon with the Jetrion trademark and ownership of ink manufacturing remaining with EFI. Zwang and Sherburne dug into the details.
Are your customers mapping their customer journeys? If so, those journey maps can provide critical insights into where your customers are using their channels well and where opportunities are being missed. These insights can help you help your customers while also getting a greater share of wallet.
We are biased towards solutions when the most valuable thing we can do it clearly define the problem first. The tech startup world calls this innovator bias (falling in love with solutions) – there are always many ways to solve something, the more time you spend understanding the problem, the better chances of getting to the optimal solution.
I was recently given the opportunity to review a new book, Pioneers of German Graphic Design. Did you know that modern graphic design originated more than 100 years ago in Germany? I didn’t. The book is fascinating and includes fabulous imagery. I’ll recap some of it here, but you might want this one for your personal library!
It seems like we just finished with drupa 2016, yet Labelexpo Europe 2017 appeared to be a subset extension of that event. Everyone in Label production on any level from around the globe was there, showing and looking at the latest products and trends. It is a very exciting time, with a very promising future for label production. In part one of this two-part series, we looked at some of the major trends and product announcements at the show. In part two of the series, David continues to look a bit deeper at some trends and some interesting futures.
Ricoh hosted a small group of media and analysts at its Global Executive Briefing Center in Boulder CO last week. This is one of four sites worldwide that has extensive capability to demonstrate Ricoh’s production printing portfolio, with the others being in Telford (UK), Thailand and Singapore. The company shared its strategy for the Commercial and Industrial Print Group, formed last April, as well as provided a tour of the facilities, including the demo center and some of the labs.
All too often, it seems that within the printing industry, we spend more time talking to each other than to customers. Ask yourself: How well do you truly understand your customers’ businesses, the issues they face every day, and how your services could help them meet their goals and objectives in truly unique ways? What services could you add to be able to do this even better?
A case story isn’t just something that you leave behind before you walk out the door. It is a tool that is delivered in a framework to bring personality and credibility to your business. This article explores how the ability to tell a compelling story can create a meaningful connection between a brand and a customer/prospect.
This article contains a young professional’s perspective on how to find a successful career in graphic communications. While it is directed at students, it is also an excellent piece that teachers and professors can use to inspire their students, and that parents can also use with their kids.
There is no magic innovation button, there is a boring execution button that can differentiate your business. Consistent execution on complex tasks is a path to profitability – checklists are a key tool to help you get there.
Today, Idealliance announced a new program – BrandQ, designed to provide brands with the proper tools and language to better manage print quality across complex supply chains. What is not addressed in the press release is what that means for packaging converters and suppliers to the industry. We spoke with Idealliance Vice President, Global Print Technologies & Workflows, Tim Baechle to find out more.
It’s an interesting time at the Fed, especially when Dr. Yellen’s turn is expiring and one of Dr. Joe’s favorite candidates is in the running. There’s a lot of claims about jobless claims, and the claims are not really what they’re claiming. Labels and wrappers? That’s a tiny niche market in the big printing industry. Now 1 in 8 commercial printing dollars are in that specialty.
The first-ever Xeikon Café North America drew a larger-than-expected audience. Xeikon has been using this platform as a gathering point for its customers and prospects at its European headquarters for the last several years. The success of the event prompted Xeikon to launch a North American version, which the company reported would be convened on an annual basis moving forward.
The third annual thINK 2017 event took place during October 9 – 11 at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. The sold out event was the largest thINK conference yet. This article outlines the key highlights and speakers at the show.
Phoenix-based Techniprint needed to adjust its business to account for a growing trend to digitally distribute document sets for architectural and construction projects rather than printing a large number of copies of these sets. Adding two HP PageWide XL 8000 wide format printers to its business resulted in a 25% increase in revenues in the first six months.
The interest in Augmented Reality has grown, especially with recent attention paid to the technology by Apple, Google, Snap and others. But there is also a great deal of confusion about Augmented Reality – what is it, really? How is it different from other technologies like QR codes? What is the relevance to print? Read more.
This year’s LabelExpo event in Brussels was so much more than a trade show that gave vendors a chance to meet customers and impress prospects. This article provides a brief overview of the event, which invited attendees to “Gain an Unfair Advantage.”
Many in the industry were surprised by this week’s announcement by SGIA and NAPCO about the launch of a reinvented SGIA Expo called PRINT United, designed to draw in more segments of the print market, including commercial print, publishing, 3D printing and more. I had a long conversation with Thayer Long of NPES, the organizers of two longstanding events, PRINT and GRAPH EXPO, to understand the organization’s reaction. Long was kind enough to provide a statement.
Everyone is talking about workflow automation; this article is about our attachment to artifacts of common print workflows. We have failed to upgrade our thinking beyond the “page” metaphor for sharing information and gaining agreement.
New Orleans may have dodged a bullet when Tropical Storm Nate veered to the east, but strong winds of change were nonetheless buffeting the Ernest Morial Convention Center, as 2017’s SGIA Expo opened on Tuesday with the surprising—some even thought shocking—news that the long-beloved Expo was undergoing a major change.
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.