Wide format graphics ink jet printing is entering its second decade of commercialization and is belatedly being discovered by commercial print-service-providers. The ubiquitous availability of wide format output at the consumer level is opening the door to promote wide format graphics print as an alternative to traditional advertising for small businesses.
This new series by David L. Zwang focuses on the processes and products that can lead to the transformation of your current workflows and business, to prepare you for the new challenges ahead. This series runs once a month over the course of the year, with the first article appearing in January 2013. Zwang looks at process transformation and automation, and the steps you need to take to be successful. He will also look at some of the current product offerings and how they are being, or could be, used to help you transform your business and strengthen your customer relationships.
Technology is driving changes in all aspects of our business; the way we manufacture, the way we go to market, the way we engage our clients as well as our employees. So why not expand the use of technology to the way we attract, recruit, hire and on-board our next generation work force?
Please excuse this article coming after my retirement last year and my statement that you had seen my last article. I am taking the opportunity given to me by Randy Davidson to write the occasional guest editorial if I see a subject that I feel needs my own ‘unique’ take.
There has been lots of press about the struggles of traditional publishers in making the transition to a more digitally-enabled business model, but less attention has been paid to the impact of digital on catalogs and other retail-oriented pieces that typically have been produced in print. Printers take note: There is significant change coming your way if you are in the business of producing print for retail.
During EFI’s recent 2013 Connect user conference in Las Vegas, CEO Guy Gecht took time out to talk to Senior Editor Cary Sherburne, followed by a discussion after EFI released its financial results on January 24th.
Some marketers are taking funds out of their print budgets and investing in online, while others are cutting back on direct mail to focus on e-mail. In a recent InfoTrends study entitled Understanding Vertical Markets: Enterprise Communications Requirements, InfoTrends surveyed more than 1,000 enterprises with 500+ employees. The results confirmed that marketers are planning to shift more dollars to alternate media. This article discusses how print and digital channels will be linked for success in 2013.
A walk down the street, a drive on the highway, or a trip on mass transit today provides ample opportunities to experience one of the hottest specialty graphics growth areas: vehicle graphics. From personal vehicles with custom graphics, to commercial vans and tractor-trailers, to buses, rail cars, and even planes, fleets of all kinds are becoming more picture-esque than ever.
As the publishing market continues to seek ways to innovate and to take advantage of the opportunities extent in digital publications, Adobe continues to support their efforts with ongoing enhancements to its Digital Publishing Suite and a growing number of publications on board with the solution. And the executive editor of Fast Company magazine shares his thoughts on the digital transformation.
Don’t look for exhibits by Eastman Kodak Co. at Print 13 in Chicago this year, at IPEX 14 in the U.K next year, or at most other graphic communications trade shows after that. In a statement published last Friday, the company announced it would significantly reduce its participation in conventional trade shows and turn to other means of engaging with its customers.
Over the weekend, those blazing a virtual trail in the industry relative to digital printing and its applications will be blazing a different kind of trail on their way to Las Vegas to attend the 2013 PODi AppForum. WhatTheyThink will be there as a long time supporter of the event and here’s what to expect.
During the fourth quarter of 2012, InfoTrends published its most recent research on The True Cost of Business Communications. This report examined the entire document lifecycle for an array of different applications including manuals, brochures, sell-sheets, and presentations. This article provides a brief overview of the survey’s findings and explores strategies for success among service providers.
Using information from a number of surveys conducted by SGIA during 2012, I’ve put together a snapshot of a “typical” specialty imaging company. While the specialty imaging industry is highly diverse, with lots of companies doing lots of things, it is both interesting and thought-provoking to create a typical company using trends and high points from the data we’ve received.
As you attempt to execute your thoughtfully designed strategies, the greater the value your employees can add to your internal and external clients' lives, the easier it will be to differentiate your offering and gain a competitive advantage
For the last several conferences, a highlight at EFI Connect has been the fireside chat between CEO Guy Gecht and an industry luminary. This year’s “luminary” was Benny Landa, and the fireside chat was a highlight of the event. Read more EFI Connect highlights.
There is no shortage of talk about web-to-print technologies; there is too little talk about printer’s online strategies. Printers can talk for hours about how this or that web technology has failed them or this or that technology is what made all the difference.
WhatTheyThink recently visited two German printing houses that provide an aspirational lesson for printers everywhere who want to know how far investments in production technologies can take growth-minded companies.
This two-part series shares Barb Pellow’s perspective on the top 10 trends that service providers should be thinking about as they plan for 2013. Part one focused on the areas where it is important to “stay the course” in terms of investing in digital print, and this second part explores the opportunities that are emerging from new media options.
Senior Editor Cary Sherburne recently had the opportunity to visit Allegra Network’s Marketing Resource Center, established more than two years ago to provide support to Allegra Network’s franchisees as they expand horizons into new business opportunities.
Still #1 in sheetfed, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG nevertheless is adjusting to a new place in an industry over which it used to loom larger. Its leaders outlined the company’s go-forward strategy in a year-end media briefing that hinted at significant change to come.
In real estate, they say, it’s all about location, location, location. In business consulting, the triple crown is perspective, perspective, perspective. The most recent addition to the consulting team at New Direction Partners brings a long and multi-angled view of the printing industry to his new role as an architect of mergers and acquisitions within it.
HP recently had a unpublicized change in management in its Graphic Arts business with the retirement of SVP Chris Morgan. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Stephen Nigro, who has rejoined the group as Global Business Leader for Graphics Solutions and Inkjet.
This two-part series shares Barb Pellow’s perspective on the top 10 trends that service providers should be thinking about as they plan for 2013. Part one focuses on the areas where it is important to “stay the course” in terms of investing in digital print, while part two will explore the opportunities that are emerging from new media options.
Change management clearly requires talented leaders; frequently the managers on your team do not exhibit the leadership competencies that are required. Defining the critical leadership competencies required and the ability to predict who has those traits is a crucial process.
In this article, David lays out the key steps necessary to prepare for a successful transformation. While it is important to look toward the final destination goal, without a map delineating the best path to achieve that goal, there are many more pitfalls along the way and unseen problems in the future.
In “Survival of the Small to Mid-sized Printing Company in Today’s Chaotic Environment”, I talked about the four attributes of long-term successful companies, this article will address the first attribute – Viability
I.T. Strategies surveyed Wide Format Print Converters and buyers in the US to gauge output-selling price for wide format printed output. They interviewed sellers and buyers of output produced on low-end, high-end, flat-bed and roll to roll printers, and all ink chemistries-UV, solvent, eco solvent, and latex to get a sense of current retail output prices.
SGIA just released its Industry Pulse Benchmarking Report for the third quarter of 2012. The purpose of the report is to provide specialty imaging companies with information they can use to compare their business with the broader community.
The CMO Council recently published The State of Marketing 2012: A Global and Multi-Regional Marketing Assessment. Findings indicate that marketers are positive as they head into 2013 with confidence in their roles and their business performance. This article highlights some of the report's findings as the New Year approaches.
HP recently announced that Hamburg, Germany, based RAKO Etiketten acquired five new HP Indigo WS6600 digital presses. This large investment caught the attention of Senior Editor Cary Sherburne, who spoke to RAKO about its investment, production platform and strategy moving forward.
Last time, Dr. Joe explained why business development is rising as a critical function in print organizations. The nature of selling is changing just as the nature of print in the communications mix is changing. And no, cold-calling has nothing to do with Winter temperatures.
We have a choice how we react to mistakes/failures. This is an area where we can learn from the technology startup world. Mistakes are learning events; sometimes very expensive but invaluable learning opportunities which should be analyzed to get everything you can out of them. Learning from mistakes requires you to remove the moral mindset to your reaction and replace it with an economic mindset.
This new series by David L. Zwang focuses on the processes and products that can lead to the transformation of your current workflows and business to prepare you for the new challenges ahead. With this introductory article, David lays out the business drivers and some of the series topics. As the print industry and the marketplace as a whole continue their digital evolution, business process transformation becomes an increasingly critical success factor.
The rationale for adding social media services is very compelling. It's the new word-of-mouth machine that drives customer perceptions and purchasing decisions. This article outlines just a few examples of the new social media services that today's marketing service providers are offering to their customers.
New developments, and at least one new system, are opening up magnetic media to entire new applications for small- and wide-format printers and installers. Vehicle graphics is one burgeoning field, as is magnetic signage, and even entire wall coverings.
Zumbox, a digital postal mail service, recently announced that Chuck Teller, formerly of CatalogChoice.org and TrustedID, has joined the company with the objective of identifying new industries that can be served by digital postal mail and broadening the range of mail (documents) recipients can migrate to digital-only. Here's what he had to say to Senior Editor Cary Sherburne.
As companies look for ways to grow the digital printing portion of their business, they're finding multiple options. And this is great news. Every company is different. Not every company that adopts digital printing needs to become a marketing solutions provider.
WhatTheyThink's Senior Editor Cary Sherburne had the opportunity to visit Boston-based King Printing Co., Inc. recently and found an amazingly efficient manufacturing operation with a great family story behind it.
Hunkeler Innovationdays has become a tradition in the digital printing world. The organizers promise an even more exciting event in 2013, with visitors able to see live demonstrations of an impressive line-up of end-to-end multivendor digital solutions. The WhatTheyThink video team will be there to capture the action. Read more.
Although social media is clearly a vast space of infinite possibility for marketers and service providers, it is largely misunderstood, untapped, and unknown. Fortunately, there are great benefits for print service providers who can pioneer this area. This article explores the ways in which service providers are leveraging social networks to promote their businesses.
Effectively managing a team of sales professionals requires a well thought out and designed structure. Once your management system(s) are in place and the key performance indicators (KPI) are defined and communicated, management can focus on managing the system and coaching the people. Your goal should be to optimize the performance of each individual.
In Part One of this two-part column, Dr. Joe explains how the changing dynamics in the printing industry are dynamically changing the sales process. It used to be that a sales call didn't need to start with explaining print-everyone already knew what it was, and the needed it. Not so much today…successful businesses are increasingly turning to business development practices. This is much more than sales lead generation and that will be the topic of Part Two.
Technology can be used creatively to solve problems and create products that weren’t there before. Red Fluorescing Dry Ink from Kodak is one of those products that can do just that. And the judges for this year’s InterTech awards thought so too.
The print industry is facing a tectonic level change in the communication business. You have to chart a new course that takes these changes into consideration in order to remain competitive. There are many options; the only one that isn't viable is the status quo.
The Dscoop Print United event enabled owners, operators, sales personnel, and marketing professionals to exchange experiences with peers about HP Indigo equipment, applications, and related solutions. In this article, Barb Pellow discusses her participation in this event and explores the topics that were covered.
Since 1963 Tukaiz has built a $35 million, family-owned-and-operated marketing services production company. The philosophy has paid off with continued revenue growth. In fact, in 2011 Tukaiz achieved an impressive 8.3% revenue increase, earning the company a spot on a list of the 50 fastest growing companies in Chicago.
There are over 1.8 million non-profit organizations in the U.S. And direct mail is still the favored medium for non-profits. In 2010 approximately 17% of the US bulk mail sent, roughly 11 billion pieces, was related to the non-profit sector.
There was no uncertainty about the election results, but there was plenty of whining about "uncertainty" for months and months prior to the election. Now that the election is over, is there really any less "uncertainty"? Why do executives get the big bucks? To make decisions when there's uncertainty, real uncertainty. Dr. Joe explains what's uncertain and what's not... at least we think he does. Guess you'll have to read it to be sure.
With this eighteenth and final article of the series, David looks backward and forward at Digital Print, its evolution and the many changes that will continue to come. These changes will continue to have a significant impact on the print industry and marketplace as it continues its digital evolution.
On October 29, 2012, the U.S. Postal Service released its promotions calendar for 2013-offering discounts by integrating mail with mobile and emerging technologies. There is a clear drive to make print integral to the direct marketing mix by making it interactive. This article outlines the USPS's newest promotions and discusses what they mean for the industry.
Although predominantly known as a workflow company-"Fiery" is essentially synonymous with RIPing-EFI was demonstrating at SGIA a couple of weeks ago its prowess in developing wide-format hardware, with models on display that showcased two of the company's new technological developments.
Like many of our readers, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne is increasingly depending on a tablet computer for a growing array of activities. In this article, she talks about the business opportunities these devices offer for printers, and the tools provided by Adobe that make it easy to do.
Training and coaching are critical elements in the talent challenge. Whether you are focused on developing your current workforce to improve their overall performance or re-training them to prepare for your future strategies, a systematic approach is essential. As you struggle to attract and recruit the most talented individuals from multiple generations, you will repeatedly hear the question, "how will I be trained and coached so I can grow professionally?"
All consumers are different, and these differences drive purchasing behaviors. This article explores how savvy marketers are leveraging these differences to create direct-to-consumer communications that cater to individual preferences and characteristics.
Behind the many accolades SGIA has received is the undeniable fact that the specialty graphics industry in general, and the wide-format digital graphics industry in particular, is the current epicenter of today’s printing industry. The purpose of this article is to define why.
AlphaGraphics franchise owners came en masse to Graph Expo 2012, where Art Coley, the president of the network, briefed WhatTheyThink on steps taken to revitalize the business centers and the company as whole.
Thanks to Ben Miyares of the Packaging Management Institute for bringing this absolutely unique Absolut Vodka packaging story to our attention. Four million bottles, each different. How did they do it? Read more.
With this seventeenth article of the series, David begins to look at companies and their 'future' production inkjet offerings and applications. In this article, he looks at KBA, its products and new role in the sheetfed inkjet space.
NPES has commissioned The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) to produce an updated worldwide print forecast. WhatTheyThink's Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Ken Lane, Business Development Manager, Americas, Economist Intelligence Unit, an Economist Group Business, along with representatives from NPES, to learn more about what to expect from the forecast.
While the concept of TransPromo remains intriguing, many enterprises have found that it is not as simple as it seems in practice. This article discusses the evolution of transpromotional communications, citing a recent article by Matt Swain and Cary Sherburne entitled TransPromo Today: An Industry Perspective.
Messe Düsseldorf created a bit of a stir when it announced it was considering moving to a 3-year show cycle starting in 2015. WhatTheyThink's Senior Editor Cary Sherburne reached out to a few drupa stakeholders to get their opinions.
With drupa and Graph Expo under our respective belts, Ipex is looming on the horizon scheduled for London, March 26th through April 2nd. WhatTheyThink Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Trevor Crawford, Director of the Print + Media Group for Informa Exhibitions during his recent visit to Chicago.
At Graph Expo, both presented status reports: Kodak, on continuing to manage its emergence from bankruptcy; Xerox, on maintaining its commitment to graphics as the company shifts increasingly towards services.
You know you should worry when Dr. Joe uses phrases like "simultaneous critical mass." Then we find out that he thinks that data talks to him. His frugal ways are evident as he delights in the prospect of free broadband. Then there are boats and planes, too. It might be worth reading to make sure the next wave of innovation to hit the market is not one that means "goodbye" for your business.
During Graph Expo, I had the pleasure of meeting with Benny Landa to learn more about the progress of Landa Nanographic Printing since it took many of the headlines at drupa 2012. We also discussed other initiatives Mr. Landa has underway in Landa Labs, which has the tagline "Big Things from Small Particles."
According to research conducted by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) Sales Executive Council (SEC), the Internet has changed the way that customers buy. Customers no longer want suppliers-they want business partners that can show real value by providing business problems.
This week, today, to be precise, the annual SGIA Expo kicks off at the Las Vegas Convention Center and runs October 18–20. There is a tendency in pre- and post-trade show coverage to recite a litany of vendors, products, and specifications, but one of the important things to understand about the wide-format market is that it is all about applications.
Dr. Joe is focused on denial but not in a myopic way. That may make sense once you dig into the column. Or like a lot of his columns, it may drive you to muttering all day. CNN claims that the USPS is being bailed out by election spending. That is, if you believe a decrease is an increase. And much more…
At Graph Expo 2012, WhatTheyThink livecast a speakers series live from the show floor. The WhatTheyThink.com Speaker Series, designed as a "show within a show," featured engaging discussions with industry experts, end-users and seasoned professionals moderated by the editors of WhatTheyThink.com.
In the July/August Edition of the Harvard Business Review, Matthew Dixon published an article entitled The End of Solution Sales. Customers no longer need suppliers because they can find out a great deal of information on their own. This article discusses the concept of "insight selling," which involves bringing value to customers that can't be found on the Internet.
The interview component of the hiring process is often the weakest link in winning the talent war. Too frequently the interviewee is better prepared for the interview than the interviewer. One of the greatest challenges that senior executives face is to build a team of talented employees; and getting the interview component of this process right is critical.
The web-to-print market is fragmented and hard to determine clear leadership or market share. EFI's acquisition of OPS consolidates the market (slightly). EFI's market share will grow, their product offering will be more comprehensive, and OPS will benefit from EFI's well developed channel partnerships.
Marketers across a variety of business segments are beginning to look at QR codes as a "silent salesperson" that can bring a competitive edge. This article provides examples of this trend within the automotive, retail, and real estate markets.
Scanning through industry publications that cover wide-format digital markets can be a daunting task for any company just approaching this area. The purpose of this article is to focus in on the center of the wide-format digital bulls-eye, and find out the markets and products that make up a majority of the money made using this technology.
With this sixteenth article of the series, David begins to look at companies and their 'future' production inkjet offerings and applications. In this article he looks at companies that were offset or electrophotography (EP), but are integrating inkjet into their product lines.
The Fuji J Press 720 was the only inkjet press to win an InterTech award for 2012. As with any piece of equipment the market and needs of the customer should dictate the piece of equipment. This press allows for an easy integration into the offset environment due to its hybrid nature and use of existing bindery equipment.
The month of October brings a brace of major trade shows for the printing industry; October 7–10 brings Graph Expo, as it always does, to McCormick Place in Chicago, while October 18–20 brings the annual SGIA Expo to the Las Vegas Convention Center. WhatTheyThink will be on the prowl at both shows with video, actual written reports, and more.
Repositioning a printing company involves making hard decisions about how the printing market is shifting to new and different media, developing the right product and services, and effectively communicating this transformation to customers and prospects. This article describes how Illinois-based Segerdahl group repositioned itself as SG360° to evolve with the market.
Heidelberg recently hosted a customer event at its North American Print & Packaging Technology Center in Atlanta for nearly 100 printing professionals and WhatTheyThink's Senior Editor Cary Sherburne was there. We spent an extra day with Heidelberg executives and product managers to gain more insight into what we saw at the event and at drupa as well as to discuss future strategies for Heidelberg in North America. Read more.
The process of assessing people for specific jobs is one of the most important tasks within an organization. Winning the talent war can impact all aspects of your business from sales, management effectiveness, client retention as well as product/service innovation.
In 1978, Gregory Muzzillo and a college friend founded Proforma because they saw an opportunity to start a business with no capital investment. Print distributors are independent agents that sell the services of printing firms. This article discusses how Proforma expanded its business and those of its customers by moving to a visionary franchise model.
Given present trends, the industry could be dominated by a relative handful of firms in a few years. Some companies can grow profitably into this new landscape. Others can make a safe exit before it fully unfolds. Each outcome demands a strategy-now.
The Fed took a look at the economy last week and panicked. In printing industry terms, they increased their run lengths and their page counts, and there's more money printing on the way. It's not much, just $1.4 trillion. What's a few billion dollars amongst friends?
Web-to-print has to become the set of tools that enable printers to be competitive on the web. This is a whole lot more than a B2B business card site. It requires us to rethink the way we shop for solutions and partners.
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.