Customers expect more from their vendor partners than simply delivering the product on time and at a fair price. As the print industry continues to contract, differentiation is required to remain competitive. Printers are at risk from print-manufacturing independent service providers because customers are looking to reduce the number of vendors and engage with vendor partners who make doing business with them very easy.
Your business generates a lot of data; your Print MIS should be the system of record for that data. The data should drive your business decisions based on meaningful metrics/key performance indicators (KPIs). Making data a part of your culture will make you a better leader and help your staff understand how their daily actions impact the business.
As the number of employed workers has been slowly increasing, and the total workforce has been growing, initial claims for unemployment have been decreasing. The historical perspective is very interesting. This past recession, as bad as it was, did not come close to the levels of the 1970s and 1980s recessions (about 0.6% of the workforce). This most recent recovery is already at the best levels of prior expansions. It doesn't feel “that good”; what's different? The workforce has not kept up with population growth, and about 2 million workers have permanently left the workforce. Also, companies have been cautious in their hiring, meaning, that there are fewer workers to dismiss when businesses of the past needed to. One could look at the chart and say that when this ratio reaches this current level (0.2%) a recession has always followed. Probably not in this case: this ratio may go to unprecedented lower levels because of the workforce exodus and the slow pace of hiring that has made this recovery so different than previous ones. Economist Mark Perry at the American Enterprise Institute discussed the steady rise in job openings at his blog. They are at a 13-year high (not adjusted for population growth), and still less than January 2000 by 800,000.
Changing how you are perceived in the minds of your customers is one of the biggest challenges that print service providers face. This article provides a brief overview of the strategies that successful service providers are pursuing to bring more value to their customers.
Forbes achieves stunning price in sale to Asian investment group, Scripps and Journal Communications merge and immediately spin off all their printed publications, commercial printer SG360° buys Lehigh Direct from Visant, and more - July 2014 –Mergers, Acquisitions & Restructuring in the Printing, Packaging & Related Industries
Customer preference is trending towards self-service, yet most printers continue to offer only one way to do business with them – a full-service order entry process that involves multiple back and forth communications between customer and printer via e-mail/FTP.
What could arguably be deemed the strongest of the printing industry trade associations is now surveying its members, asking them to describe whether the future of "print" is grim or bright. They will get a wide range of responses, and setting aside the value of reporting to their members what those members already think, the question itself is much too broad.
In one of our recent active discussions on the new Print Software section, a WhatTheyThink reader asked “in your support for mobile do you recommend looking for just the sites being "responsive" or applications to be "native" or just plain "compatible", i.e. no Flash?” After my third paragraph response to this question I decided this warranted a full length feature article to describe and comment on the varying degrees of mobile support in web software.
GLS, founded in 1984 as a small printing company, is now celebrating its third decade in business. This article provides a brief overview of how the company is remaining on the cutting edge by updating its services and making strategic acquisitions to further expand its offerings.
Workflows are becoming more complex and savvy print service providers are looking to streamline and automate business and production processes for a more sustainable business and production environment. Utilization of vendor professional services can be an effective means of finding opportunities to take time, cost and touches out of both business and production processes as well as to introduce innovation. Learn what Canon Solutions America has to say about the changing world of professional services.
In this two part series, Dan Marx of SGIA talks about the basic truths of digital printing in general and wide format in particular. While the basic truths have remained unchanged, the details surrounding them have.
In May, the HP Graphics Solutions Business effected an organizational change at the top of the Americas organization. WhatTheyThink Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with the new Vice President and General Manager Yishai Amir to see what’s up.
It is so easy in your very busy world to not sit back and take a look in the rearview mirror at how things are going in terms of processes, applications and projects underway in your company. One area where this effort can pay off tremendously is in terms of your Print MIS system. Making a conscious effort to do an annual Print MIS checkup can help keep your system fresh, moving forward and also tune-up any areas that may not be performing as they should.
Digital marketing is relatively new on the scene, but there is no question that this form of communication is already making its mark. Perhaps the biggest single driver in today’s market is the cultural change that is taking place among end consumers. This article, which is part of a series discussing disruptive forces that are expected to impact the market, covers two increasingly influential demographics—Millennials and Generation Z consumers.
In this continuation of the last article, while the kinder gentler Zwang continues his summer vacation, his alter ego… a shadowy figure dressed in a trilby and trench coat and telling stories, digs deeper into the drivers and tools that are influencing your clients’ business decisions and how this can and will affect your business decisions.
Konica Minolta used the launch of three new digital presses as an opportunity to brief a media and analyst group at its Manhattan showroom earlier this month. In addition to learning about the new presses as they were launched, the group also received a strategy update from the company. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne was there and shares her thoughts.
Print technology of all kinds; presses, production software, Print MIS software, and web-to-print technologies have one thing in common – they are constantly changing. This one factor probably causes the most pain in the purchasing process. As a buyer you want to feel confident with your purchasing decision, yet the very thing you’re investing in is in a constant state of change.
Hamilton Costa, a leading consultant to the printing and publishing industries in Latin America, shares his thoughts and insights on the recent Expoprint Trade Show in Brazil, highlighting the opportunities for growth in Brazil.
In one way or another, making packages better vehicles for brand communication underlay most of the presentations at EskoWorld 2014, a user conference that drew more than 700 people to Orlando. Esko also used the occasion to launch Suite 14, a software collection that aims to provide a common interface for all participants in the package creation workflow.
If you look around your home or office (or home office), you’ll notice numerous examples of what I’ve referred to in the past as “stealth printing,” printed materials that don’t fall into what we consider commercial printing, but is a huge market nonetheless.
Mobile is a technology that is increasingly disrupting the role of traditional communications. Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore some of the disruptive forces that are expected to impact the market. This week’s article is the second in a two-part series exploring mobile. It covers augmented reality (AR).
A Print MIS transition is like a battlefield of sorts. For the person leading the transition it is a time of scrutiny, chaos, incredible intensity and unexpected disruptions. It is, without a doubt, one of the most complex and stress generating events you can face. While it is incredibly rewarding to get through it, you usually don’t come out of it unscathed.
Nearly two years after its acquisition by AIP, Presstek named Jeffrey A Beck as CEO. Previously, the company had been managed by AIP executives as they restructured the organization and set a go-forward strategy. Prior to Presstek, Beck was COO of Boston-based iRobot. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne visited with Beck to learn more about his background and Presstek’s strategies for future success.
As wide-format graphics buyers increasingly demand faster turnaround, higher quality, and lower price—as well as an ever-growing range of specialty print applications—print service providers are looking for the fastest and most versatile equipment possible. Manufacturers are helping…but is there really a “silver bullet”?
The NFIB index has been trapped between the bottom of two recessions, that of the early 1990s and the early 2000s recession bottom. Though the latest report retreated a bit, it's still above the 2003 low. Small business is improving at a very slow pace, but this may finally be a good sign after the very disappointing Q1 GDP report.
Mobile is a technology that is increasingly disrupting the role of traditional communications. Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore some of the disruptive forces that are expected to impact the market. This week’s article is the first in a two-part series exploring mobile. It covers mobile barcodes and near-field communications (NFCs).
A printer e-mailed me recently and said, “the Vice President of Procurement at our biggest customer is open to a meeting but she wants to know what I can do to save her money.” Of course she does, she’s always wanted her vendors to engage with her in a way that solves her business challenges and makes her look good.
The newest old company, Time Inc., was very busy in June. The venerable publisher of magazines, including household names such as Time, Fortune, People, and Sports Illustrated, was spun off from Time Warner, separating the aging print-centric parent from its progeny’s profitable entertainment and programming businesses.
In this article, at the request of JW (aka the printing industry’s own Deep Throat), Zwang displays his alter ego… a shadowy figure dressed in a trilby and trench coat, and takes a departure from focusing on your businesses to look instead at the rapidly changing requirements and the resulting workflows of your clients and potential clients, and how that may undermine your very existence.
Once considered science fiction, the ability to do 3D printing—to produce objects on demand at relatively low cost—has become a reality. 3D printing is a game--changing technology and this article, part 2 of a series on disruptive technologies, explores its applications and opportunities.
On July 2nd, Veritiv, the result of the Unisource/Xpedx merger, began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: VRTV). WhatTheyThink’s Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Chairman and CEO Mary Laschinger shortly after she rang the Stock Exchange’s Opening Bell.
The recovery indicators were mainly better this month, with the NASDAQ bouncing around then finishing well, and three of the four ISM indicators increasing. The one that didn’t is still firmly in expansion territory. The original estimate of proprietors’ income was $1,371 then it was reduced to $1,366 billion and now it’s $1,359.
One of the biggest challenges printers face when transitioning to a new Print MIS system is to pick a go-live date. Picking this magical date is a bit like gambling – you really don’t know for sure when the cards are going to line up the way you need them to.
Your sales team creates customer demand for your products and services, your production team fulfills that demand by manufacturing quality printed products on-time. Both your sales team and your production team need to be SOLD on the strategic, long-term importance of creating digital connections to your existing customers and using digital connections to win new customers.
WhatTheyThink recently attended a Canon Solutions America customer event at Canon’s Customer Experience Center in Poing, Germany. We had an opportunity to speak to several executives about the future of the company and its achievements to date.
As evidenced by the explosive, innovative changes that are occurring in today’s printing industry, creative destruction is clearly taking hold. Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore some of the disruptive forces that are expected to impact the market. This week’s article explores wearable technologies like Fitbit and Google Glass.
Customers have challenges; the best way to increase your sales is to provide your products and services wrapped into solutions to your customer’s challenges. Solution selling is an easier topic to write about then it is to execute on. Too many people write about the idea without providing guidance on how to get from where you are today (selling print jobs) to selling print programs or solutions.
The chart below shows the latest revenue data, on an inflation-adjusted basis, for ad agencies and publishers. Note how ad agency revenues are rising. While there have always been agencies that specialize in certain media, like television, direct mail, or others, the industry is media agnostic in the aggregate. Its job is to increase the positive visibility of its clients and help spur their customers into action.
At an event in San Diego, Calif., held June 9 and 10, HP announced that they are scaling up their PageWide technology for use in wide-format printers. PageWide made its debut in 2013 in the Officejet Pro X Series of desktop multifunction devices.
Over the years the cost of spot colors has increased due to reductions in ink company branches, minimum quantities, rush charges and additional delivery costs. If you use a lot of spot colors your ink costs have most likely grown. GFI Innovations manufactures an ink dispenser that can help you reduce your spot color ink costs and reduce your environmental impact.
Branding is about getting your prospects to see you as a company that provides a solution to their problems. To be successful, you must demonstrate that you understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. This article explores how Vincent Printing is changing with the times to meet its clients’ evolving needs.
Last week I was in Bali, Indonesia, speaking at Dscoop Asia. The event, the travel, and the reading I did along the way came together with a common theme which can best be summed up by a quote from the book I read on the way home.
I recently had the chance to talk with Scott Crosby of Holland & Crosby, Ltd., about issues relating to bottlenecks in the wide-format production process. In the article, it’s interesting to see how changes (and improvements) in technology can strongly affect a company’s complete process. The comments included here may sound familiar to many using wide-format equipment.
Last month, being in touch with the latest developments in wide-format inkjet printing for graphic arts and industrial applications meant being at FESPA Digital, a European trade expo billing itself as the “largest focused digital print exhibition worldwide this year.”
Digital content platforms attracted financial and strategic buyers last month, as increasingly sophisticated online systems drive information to centralized providers that automate the design, hosting and distribution of content.
IPMA 2014 (Milwaukee, WI) featured a tagline of “Full-Throttle Communication.” This article describes how today’s in-plants are moving up the value chain to better serve their customers, and also provides examples of in-plants that were awarded for innovation at the show.
A Print MIS implementation/transition is a massive undertaking. It is usually driven by an extensive technology-focused project plan and/or strategic document. These projects can take anywhere from 6-18 months to implement. So much thought and effort gets put in to so many elements.
Now that time has passed, and many of the production inkjet vendors are beginning to introduce new offerings, David will look at many of these new products in the context of what was learned in the original series as they are introduced.
Now that time has passed, and many of the production inkjet vendors are beginning to introduce new offerings, David will look at many of these new products in the context of what was learned in the original series as they are introduced.
interpack, a once-every-three-years trade fair held in Düsseldorf, Germany, is like Pack Expo in Chicago—a huge show that’s heavy on packaging and packaging automation but light on digital printing (with the possible exception of coding and logistics labeling).
Unless you have been lost, you are all too aware that the market for print has been changing, changing dramatically, and not changing for the best. We’ve had this discussion for a long time, so we need not dwell on it here. As a result, many companies have looked to wide-format and other types of specialty printing as a compelling replacement.
Two-thirds of print service providers consider workflow automation a top investment priority simply because it enables them to better service customers and increases customer satisfaction. Today, customers typically want more speed and less cost, whether it’s 100 business cards or a half-dozen editions of 1,000 books each in different page dimensions—by tomorrow—from facilities on three continents.
Xerox announced the grand opening of its expanded Impika Inkjet Innovation Center in Aubagne, France, with a customer Inkjet Summit on June 4th. Chairman & CEO Ursula Burns was on hand to officially open the new center. WhatTheyThink Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Andrew Copley, President of Xerox’ Graphic Communications Operations, to understand the extent of the expansion and what it means for the Xerox production inkjet business.
About a year ago, we interviewed X-Rite Pantone President Ron Voigt shortly after he took on the leadership role. In this interview with Senior Editor Cary Sherburne, he updates our readers on what has transpired in that year and strategies moving forward.
Eager to promote the outcomes of its integration with Océ, Canon is making a concerted marketing effort to acquaint printers worldwide with the merged product lines and ongoing progress in R&D. Lately, Canon has been concentrating the effort in Europe, where it recently made a series of major announcements about new digital printing systems.
A web-to-print site is all about customer convenience, enabling your customers to order from you in a self-service fashion. One thing to understand about your customers is whether they are ordering or shopping.
Legal expert and printing industry pundit Kevin Keane contributes this article about the risks printing companies face as they handle an increasing volume of internal and external data. But he doesn’t stop there. He provides our members with specific steps that owners and managers must take to mitigate data breach risks.
There is an assumption that as service provider there are very specific, almost predetermined ways that a workflow to support your business operations should be developed and deployed. However, sometimes, to use a somewhat overused term, you need to think out of the box. In Part 2 of this article we continue to look at some other ways to approach offerings, and workflows.
The printing industry continues to look at how to improve processes and reduce the environmental impact of printing. Kodak has developed a new plate, Sonora, which is process free. Process free plates have been around for a long time but they have been more of a niche product. The Sonora plate may change that.
The folding carton industry has lost a legend. Alan Crane (1924-2014) was a visionary, mentor and cherished friend to many, including members and suppliers of the Independent Carton Group (ICG), who remember him fondly.
McKinsey Insights and Publications recently published an article entitled The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Digital Enterprises. This article provides a brief overview of the insights from this article and also explores their particular relevance to the graphic communications market.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis released the second revision of Q1-2014 US Gross Domestic Product (GDP), indicating a contraction of the US economy in the quarter. As reported in prior (“laughable and embarassing”) analysis, an inventory buildup in the last two quarters of 2013 distorted the underlying condition of the economy.
We think we know our customers, we think we know our market; we think we can predict the future, we can’t and we shouldn’t invest lots of money without building in the ability to test our assumptions with data rather than opinions and theories.
There is a hidden pitfall most of us in the position of purchasing print software are very susceptible to. We are all human, and while we have the best of intentions to do thorough evaluations while making a new print software purchase, we quickly fall victim to the ‘feature trap.’
There has long been speculation among business owners and their advisors over how to place a value on privately held companies. Now, newly developed business valuation models which replicate historical buyer experience sheds some light on the topic and provides some very interesting insights into value creation opportunities for current business owners and potential buyers.
The order of the traditional sales funnel has typically been to discover a new opportunity, initiate communication, conduct fact finding, develop a solution, propose that solution, evaluate the solution, negotiate the details, create a purchase order, and maintain the account. This article explores how today’s empowered prospects have rendered this systematic approach obsolete.
If you are currently functioning on a legacy Print MIS system, you know better than anyone that you are going to have to make a move ‘soon.’ Maybe soon is in the next 2 months or the next 2 years, but you know that your system isn’t going to lead you into the future.
The results are in from SGIA’s annual Specialty Graphics Industry Survey (the full report will be released in June), and the data we’ve received shows the wide-format graphics community going strong. The information included here covers some of the “high-points” of our findings, and provides a bit of analysis, from my viewpoint.
Next week, O’Neil Data Systems (ODS) will be hosting an HP-sponsored event at their Plano, Tex, facility, which will bring together vendors, customers, and printers from all corners of the digital printing ecosystem to see the company’s high-powered “data-driven publishing” in action, as well as showcase their own contributions to this expanding print market segment.
Today’s hyper connected consumers are truly in control of the media that they consume. Today’s marketers must pursue media strategies that deliver holistic integrated communications to drive results. This article explores how printed communications are being combined with augmented reality to increase revenues and response rates.
US employment data has many cross-currents: the unemployment rate is down, but the labor participation rate is at 35-year lows. Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics published its JOLTS report, which shows they dynamic factors at play in the labor market. This chart shows the percentage of hires less the number of quits on a year-to-year basis. Note in the chart below the rapid rise in employment as the recession ended and the recovery began, and also how it has narrowed and turned negative in recent months. It's been mainly negative for about 18 months.
Web-to-Print is a sales and marketing project that happens to involve technology, yet most printers delegate the leadership of web-to-print projects to their technical resources. We are collectively as an industry putting too much emphasis on the technology and not enough emphasis on the sales and marketing aspects.
Although some companies only start looking at their brand image when things are not going well, successful firms are out in front of the market. This article discusses the importance of market dynamics and how they can be leveraged as key catalysts for change.
It was a Tale of Two Cities for sellers of printing companies in April. For some, it’s the best of times; they appear to have chosen wisely, believed in the power of the internet to transform the business of print, they saw the light and felt the hope of spring as they embarked on their journey. The market anoints these fortunate few with the ultimate reward – the high multiple.
In Part One of this two-part series, we discussed how printing companies are responding to changing market dynamics to future-proof their businesses, and offered some of the questions you may consider asking to stimulate new customer conversations. In Part Two, we look at people, processes and technology required to successfully and profitably change the conversation and deliver new services.
March 2013 US commercial printing shipments were down -$148 million (-2.2%) compared to 2012. The first quarter was down -$770 billion (-4%). On an inflation-adjusted basis, shipments were down -$270 million (-5.4%) and down -$1.05 billion (-5.4%) for the quarter.
Printing employment in April rose by 1,000 workers. It is always hard to determine if these were actual workers or if the changes were the result of issues with the estimation models of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Production workers were the greatest part of the increase (800).
There are several marriage mistakes that lead to divorce: cheating, dishonesty, addictions, and major changes in priorities. What does this have to do with your print management information system (Print MIS)? I am suggesting that your Print MIS is your most important business partner.
There is an assumption that as service provider there are very specific, almost predetermined ways that a workflow to support your business operations should be developed and deployed. However, sometimes, to use a somewhat overused term, you need to think out of the box.
While growing your client base is important, a strategic focus is essential for growing your business and setting yourself apart from the competition. This article describes how Sexton Printing is taking a strategic focus in the face of today’s changing industry.
The sales process sets up the critical transition period from lead to customer. Customers remember what was said in the sales process and they often use this to guide their approach to implementation. Don’t inadvertently focus your soon to be customers in the wrong direction.
Recently, WhatTheyThink joined more than 7,000 marketing professionals from more than 30 countries at the Adobe Summit in Salt Lake City. This is the world’s largest digital marketing conference, according to Adobe. It was a great place to network with marketers, benefit from great content and learn what marketers are thinking about the future of business communications and where their challenges lie.
We read a lot of articles and company profiles in the packaging trades that describe companies who are growing their businesses by focusing on a specific niche of the market and developing specialized offerings to serve that niche. I recently interviewed Preston Herrin and Patrick Green of trade printer 4over headquartered in Glendale California who described for me their new offering 4over Packaging.
David Zwang takes a look at today's announcement by Xerox of their new Versant 2100 press and provides some insight into how the press was developed and what impact it will have on the mid-entry-level production market.
The importance of a strategic business approach is becoming increasingly common as today’s technology-charged environment demands rapid change from us all. This article pulls ideas from Erika Andersen’s book entitled Being Strategic and describes how IMS, Inc. is serving as a role model to the industry by performing true strategic thinking.
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.