The US economy was reported to be stronger in the third quarter than originally thought, but much of it was a rise in inventories. If retailers were stocking up for Black Friday, that might have been a mistake based on early reports. What's happened to the relationship of commercial printing and department stores? Dr. Joe has the history of that and also previews what's coming in this week's economic data.
If you been to Comic-Con in the last five years, you have seen Las Vegas based Off the Wall Signs & Graphics’ work. Its updated fleet of grand format printers have enabled bigger projects with shorter cycle times and are the basis for the company’s growth. Learn more in this story sponsored by HP.
Five years ago, Kodak CTO Terry Taber began building a technology pipeline that he hoped would lead the company into new businesses, including a key focus area for CEO Jeff Clarke, Functional Printing. He speaks with Senior Editor Cary Sherburne about the current state of the organization from a technology perspective.
Packaging isn’t everything at Island Pro Digital, a printing company with a highly diversified product base. But, it represents some of the most interesting work that the firm fabricates for its clients.
Even the usual industry dynamics are dynamic. The latest commercial printing industry birth-death data comparing 2012 to 2011 show a rising birth rate and a declining death rate. The +1608 births and -2262 deaths in 2012 were recent lows, as was the net change of only -654 establishments.
The news story reporting that James Eby, a 25-year veteran of Wunderman, joined Tukaiz as Chief Creative Office caught my eye. Tukaiz, which recently started an in-house agency, agenz, has long been an innovator and thought leader in the industry. Now they have taken that to a whole new level with Eby leading agenz.
Allison Payment Systems was founded in 1888 by Noah Allison, who is credited with the invention of the coupon payment book. The focal point for Allison Payment Systems is personalized customer communications through electronic delivery and first class mail … and lots of it.
The choice of a digital front end (DFE) is perhaps one of the most overlooked decisions in the purchasing process. In some cases, there is only one choice. But for a wide range of toner-based digital presses, two (or even more) options are available. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with a number of printing professionals to better understand how they are approaching this decision and what criteria they use. Read more for advice from the front lines.
It’s hard to believe that the Xerox DocuTech Production Publisher was launched 25 years ago last month. This was truly a breakthrough product that is credited with launching the print-on-demand market and ultimately generated billions of dollars of revenue for Xerox and its customers.
Following on the success of their 2012 book entitled The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation, authors Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson have published a new book entitled The Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results. This article outlines ideas from the new book and explores how winning the right types of customers can enable salespeople to do their jobs more effectively.
Your Print MIS or Print ERP is the most important print software in your business. The process for purchasing a Print MIS is dysfunctional; avoid these five common mistakes in your Print MIS sales process.
The recovery indicators had a better month than last. Five of the six indicators increased and one fell below the level of the start of the recession. New orders for manufacturing and non-manufacturing were impressive in their increases, in stark contrast to government reports about September's durable goods and factory orders.
The Box is in – paperboard, corrugated, decorated, foil-stamped, bar-coded, laminated, textured, embossed, pearlized, diecut, folded, glued, large and small. Folks in the business of printing love the box. Unlike the box’s troubled cousin, commercial printing, the box is reordered on a regular basis and is far less subject to disruption by online internet-based technologies.
The economic pundits were out in full force about the unemployment rate falling to 5%. Was it meaningful? Is this the sign of a bullish economic rebound? Then there's the 16 month rise in printing shipments. You'd think there'd be cheers from the audience that Dr. Doom is dead, and long live Dr. Boom! Instead, we hear nighttime crickets. What's behind the rise in shipments, is it real and will it last?
A recent academic paper published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives (Volume 29, Number 4, Fall 2015), “Household Surveys in Crisis,” illustrates the problems of government surveys that are used to make multibillion dollar and multiyear decisions of government and business.
It’s not so much Hotlanta as Humidlanta, and although the SGIA Expo officially opens on Wednesday, Tuesday saw a full slate of programs that ran the gamut from the highly technical (the Printed Electronics Symposium), to the specialized (the vehicle wrapping hands-on workshop), to the very basic (Wide-Format 101).
A label and carton company doesn’t get to be 137 years old without having made an unwavering commitment to quality. The 137-year-old label and carton company profiled here has done it by adopting a well-known philosophy of continuous improvement as its playbook.
Consumers have all channels turned on and they are in control of how they gather information, obtain advice from friends and family in their social networks, and complete transactions with suppliers. This article cites recent research from InfoTrends to explore the role that service providers can play in delivering an omni-channel experience.
The advance estimate of third quarter 2015 real GDP is +1.5%. We much prefer the year-to-year comparison, and also without the fluctuations of inventories. Those figures, also indicated in the chart, are +2.03% and +2.18% respectively. Net inventories have been running very high, but in the third quarter were $56.8 billion. This figure was cut in half from Q2, and is close to the 2010 to 2014 average.
There’s an important point that needs to be made upfront, boldly and italically: Print and printers are two distinct things. We all love print. But we love printers and the people who work in print businesses more.
Digital Lizard of Las Vegas reports an astounding 500% growth from 2011 to 2014. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne speaks with Digital Lizard President Bill Wieners to find out how this growth was achieved and what his expectations are for the future in this article sponsored by HP.
There's a new poster that hopes to attract students to the printing workplace. Dr. Joe wonders if it can. He's got some ideas. Is getting involved in events a real business opportunity? There are so many touchpoints in the event process that there are numerous opportunities to help your clients and build your business
A number of applications that blend print and mobile technologies are emerging, and some of these creatively leverage Near-Field Communication (NFC) tags. This article explores how certain firms are merging print with NFC tags to deliver exciting new applications for their customers.
This pace of change is outrunning your print business’ technology decisions. A web-to-print platform decision you made two years ago could be completely out of date with the mobile-first world we live in today. Your aging ERP/Print MIS system has no way of understanding a product that exits your building via an Ethernet cable rather than a shipping truck.
At drupa 2016, expect post-press to emerge as a Cinderella story. Already, prepress and print have benefited from technologies that speed work through the production process, but for many companies post-press processes are still a bottleneck.
There's no COLA for Social Security recipients this year, and that has nothing to do with the popular drink. The campaign trail leads to all kinds of abuse of economic data, so Dr. Joe adds a different perspective to things. Income isn't always income, because it's spending that really matters. Dr. Joe explains why. The winner of the Nobel Prize in economics explains the contentious political environment.
The 2015 Xerox Premier Partners Congress (October 6-7 in Prague, Czech Republic) explored how the power of networking can be put to work. This article highlights just a few of the positive experiences that attendees and business partners enjoyed at this year’s event.
The Pew Internet Survey has released their latest survey (free download) of social media use and the long term trends are striking. The organization started tracking use in 2005 when social media use was by just 7% of the US population. Now, 65% of adults use social networking sites. Our chart shows the increases by age group.
Ninety percent of those between 18 and 29 use social media, which is not a surprise. Those social media users who are 65+ has more than tripled from 11% in 2010 to 35% in 2015. The report includes data about social media use by various demographics including income, race, gender, community, and education.
Dreamworks Graphic Communications calls its HP Indigo 10000 a game-changer, eliminating one offset press and increasing the amount of hybrid offset/digital work it does. EVP John Perkins shares his thoughts on the benefits of digital printing with Senior Editor Cary Sherburne in this HP-sponsored article.
Although cross-training is certainly important, it is only one component of the overall training pie. This article discusses other considerations that are equally or even more important, including how well our industry trains and how your company compares to the leaders in the industry.
The chart shows the changes in the average number of employees per establishment in the US and large printing states. The average size of printing businesses in an area offers clues to the kinds of printing produced there and the history of the industry in that area.
All printers should be thinking about “workflow automation” as a strategic initiative; produce more with less labor, less waste, in less time as a way to remain competitive. Time savings should be strategically invested in diversification, new skills acquisition, and cross-training.
We’re always trying to look at things—trends, technology, etc.—from a historical perspective. We try to compare new phenomena to older phenomena that we understand. That’s normal. History is cyclical, isn’t it?
The PIA Financial Ratios have been published for decades, and may be the most recognized of the association's publications. There are, of course, problems with all kinds of research gathering efforts, but the positives of the Ratios reports outweigh the negatives from a methodological standpoint.
Many people confuse debt and deficit when they see it as part of the Federal government's annual budget. Deficit is the annual shortfall between a government's spending and its revenues. Debt is the accumulation of all of the deficits and surpluses of the prior years in that government's history.
Even in the industry's most profitable and growing years, the mantra “there's too much capacity in the industry” was always heard. It's been a misplaced and inaccurate portrayal of the business, yet it persists.
Mobile technology can interact with the consumer at the most contextually relevant time and location possible. Mobile can and will work when it is used properly. This article discusses the fundamentals of creating a true customer experience and explores how Target Stores created an effective mobile campaign for the 2014 holiday season.
One of the most common calls we get is from people frustrated about trying to build storefronts for their customers. The questions we get are often along these lines: “I’ve had this software for 6 months and we have only launched one store. Why is it taking so long?”; “Are my people qualified to build these storefronts?”; “I have no idea where to start, where should we start?”
In 1981, L.A. photographer Steve Reisch captured legendary director John Cassavetes and his stock company backstage as they rehearsed and performed an experimental series of plays. Unseen for 34 years, the images have been brought back to life thanks to a partnership between Reisch and Canon USA.
Print is a manufacturing process built on technology. As new technological developments emerge, the print industry grows in capability, productivity, and value. In the last twenty years, a boom in global innovation has coincided with new business models and brought print into the fold in a lot of newfound industries. Allan Brow, Kodak's Vice President Software Solutions Division shares his thought on the future of print in this article sponsored by Kodak.
Dr. Joe wonders why there isn't a little spring to the industry's step with 14 months of better sales levels. It could just be that printers a feeling a sense of relief as they wonder what's next. And then there's the economy. Second quarter GDP look great, but was really less filling. He scratches the economic surface and finds some skepticism inside. If he didn't, he wouldn't be Dr. Joe.
By improving the customer experience, businesses can drive value, reduce cost, and build a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Customers are seeking partners that deliver solutions beyond simple variable data, pURLs, and customized landing pages. The article explores how businesses can gain a competitive advantage by delivering an improved customer experience.
Those who came to the show in search of answers for packaging production should have had no trouble locating them in the vendor stands and specialty areas where packaging solutions were being featured.
Production inkjet held center stage at Graph Expo 2015, proving that has gone mainstream. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne looks at some of the announcements and the North American debuts for this game-changing technology.
Canada's commercial printing industry had a small rebound more than three years ago, before that of the US, and has been on a somewhat steady course since. In US dollars, however, Canada's gains market have been erased recently with the stronger dollar.
Although things are changing, traditional mailing and printing methods are still an important part of the ecosystem. Early predictions about the rapid adoption of electronic invoices and online payments have proven to be exaggerated. This article references recent InfoTrends research to explore how transactional printing and mailing is changing over time.
One of the unexpected challenges of a Print MIS system can be lack of adoption, along with the lingering dependency of third party tools. These two factors take away from the data integrity of the system itself. Ease of use is the sure-fire way to build compliance, and will also remove the reliance on external tools.
Not every packaging printer has what it takes to pass muster with this performance-certifying organization. But, those that clear GMI’s high bar can claim elite status among packaging service suppliers.
Dr. Joe summarizes what he would say at Graph Expo 15 breakfast. Content creation is proving to be a big money maker for the ad agency business. Publishers are still having monetization problems which makes that whole “content is king” still questionable. Maybe it's because the real king is the marketplace of millions of content consumers.
Today at the very first Graph Expo press conference, Komori and Screen shared some big news: Komori and Screen have entered into a strategic selling agreement that effectively joins the two companies’ sales organizations.. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne was on the scene to bring WhatTheyThink members additional insight on the news.
Mobile facilitates new thinking because its capabilities and tools enable marketers to transform why, when, where, and how audience members engage with their brands. This article explores how mobile technology is changing consumer behaviors and creating new opportunities for highly interactive engagement.
The nearly $15,000 profit per employee of 2000 may not be in the cards for the US commercial printing business any time soon, but it looks like this measure is headed to its second best performance since the end of the recession. Using the latest data for the second quarter of 2015, and adding the previous three quarters to create a full year, profits per employee seem to be headed to $7,700, a thousand dollars more than the level of 2014.
The new UnSquaring the Wheel project from Chris Bondy, Wayne Peterson, and Dr. Joe Webb is a new methodology for transforming print businesses. And it is ideally suited for those looking to add wide-format printing.
Senior Editor Cary Sherburne presents details and insight relative to Pantone’s announcement today about its new Extended Color Gamut Coated guide – what is it and what does it mean for printing and packaging for designers and print providers.
The 4-quarter moving total of inflation-adjusted US commercial printing shipments have been increasing, but unfortunately profits have not. Q2-2015 four-quarter shipments are up +2.3%, but profits are unfortunately down for the last four quarters -10.8%.
Nearly 2,000 marketers attended, up from about 1,350 last year, to hear 50 speakers from companies including Google, Starbucks, Adidas, Twitter and more. Ricoh was one of 100 exhibitors with a very busy booth that featured lots of information and examples of cross-media marketing solutions, featuring direct mail.
The Securities and Exchange Commission wants to modernize the way the investment industry reports on what it does. The plan could include freeing these companies from having to print and mail certain shareholder documents.
Data offers businesses new opportunities to better understand their customers through a limitless number of sources, including purchasing behaviors, interactions, demographics, and history. Last week’s article discussed the challenges that marketers face in today’s data-driven world, and this one explores the strategies that Innovairre is pursuing to help clients effectively use data.
July's inflation-adjusted US commercial printing shipments continued to outshine prior year shipment levels. This was the best July since 2008 on a current dollar basis and since 2010 on an inflation-adjusted basis. On average, monthly industry shipments have been about $200 million higher than the year before. They are also tracking closer to GDP growth rates, a feat the industry has not done for almost two decades.
A sales focus is external. A production focus is internal. A sales focused print business leader is constantly asking the question, “How does this activity/investment improve my customer’s experience or business?” A sales focused print leader escorts the external rate of change into the business at a rate that often makes their employees uncomfortable.
Four of the six recovery indicators fell last month, but the non-manufacturing new orders indicator remained very strong. World markets had a rocky month, and the NASDAQ fell -7% since the last indicators.
As wide-format and specialty graphics play a larger role in the industry, they are also playing a larger role at general commercial printing shows like Graph Expo. Here is a preview of some things to look for at this year’s show.
You remember the effect the Internet had on your business from 1995 through today? It’s nothing compared to what’s coming your way now. That’s the basis of a new book that is a must-read for anyone who owns or manages a business. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne speaks with Scott Stawski about Inflection Point: How the convergence of cloud, mobility, apps and data will shape the future of business.
Corporations are increasingly relying on data to learn about customers, invest in new products and services, adjust sales and marketing activities, and assess new market opportunities. This article discusses the challenges that marketers face in today’s data-driven world.
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.