Editions   North America | Europe | Magazine

WhatTheyThink

Commentary & Analysis

Displaying 3801-3900 of thousands of articles

VDP for you and me . . . finally

VDP volume is less than 10 percent of all digital printing and digital printing is less than 15 percent of all printing. The use of variable data (or document) printing has been retarded over the last decade by short-sighted suppliers, specifications, and associations. Now perhaps we are on the cusp of opening VDP to all users, big and small. ISO is about to release a worldwide standard for variable data exchange.

CPI – Turning a Vision to Reality

This article looks at how HP partnered with Europe’s leading monochrome book printing group CPI in creating a totally new fully automated book production solution. This is a system that takes in digital data and outputs with out any manual intervention totally finished books. The article also provides an update on the current market status of HP’s T300 high-speed inkjet printing systems.

Effective job descriptions: What to put in them & how they help you achieve employee excellence

Although creating and maintaining effective job descriptions are both considerable tasks, most employers will recognize how indispensable the end results are in helping staff understand their responsibilities. After all, without a job description, how can an employee properly commit to—let alone be held accountable for--a position?

Winning New Fulfillment Services Business

Selling fulfillment services requires problem-solving skills. This means understanding how your customers develop their products and how they are used. Once their job has been printed and bound, for instance, why do your customers feel that you must ship the job to them and take up space at their facility?

Positive Signs for the Printing Industry? Standard Register and a review of Global Document Solutions and Astoria Graphics

There is no question that 2008 and 2009 were difficult years for our industry.  It seemed that every week, we received news of another plant closing.  This week, Dr. Joe Webb, Director of WhatTheyThink’s Economics and Research Center, indicated that we are “climbing out of the swamp” and may be getting a little closer to the safety of economic high ground. We have a ways to go, but there are positive signs if you look for them.

Bundling - Know What It’s Costing You

Bundling is a popular way to sell more products or services. You, as a buyer, hope that the extra money spent delivers a bargain. Just make sure to keep your eyes open!

Capitalizing on the Photo Merchandise Opportunity

The new revenue potential within the traditional photo printing market is decreasing, but photo merchandise transforms those digital photos into dollars for service providers. This article provides a brief overview of the current photo merchandise market and includes some recent survey data to highlight the opportunity.

How to be the "Pro" in Transpromo

Transpromotional communications… a fantastic business opportunity for those of you who have acquired the capabilities to offer it to your customers. Here are five examples from my own mailbox. These are companies I regularly do business with, who have Transpromo opportunities that they are just plain missing.

First, The Good News

Dr. Joe gives us the good news... first... and there really is some! Then he explains how some of the good news is like a Hollywood movie set: great facades, and then only braces and forms behind them, but some of it is really good. He then reminds us that turmoil creates opportunities, and turmoil also creates content. The challenge to printing entrepreneurs is to translate that to value for their businesses.

What do print buyers think?

This week Frank presents a review of responses to polls included with Margie Dana's Print Tips. These polls provide insight into print buying trends. Frank also includes one of his song parodies.

Packaging… The Next Major Analog-to-Digital Opportunity (Part 2)

Packaging is a key opportunity for the digital printing market. The global packaging industry is still in the beginning stages of adopting color digital printing as a key tool, which means there is big opportunity in digital packaging print. This article explores the top nine drivers for double-digit growth in the packaging arena.

M&A Activity to Remain on the Upswing as the Industry Regroups

Despite the industry's shrinkage, printing companies continue to be born “under the radar screen” as firms win new leases on life by merging with other firms. New Direction Partners foresees an increase in M&A activity as the industry regroups around the strengths of its healthiest and most survivable firms.

New For Ipex - What to expect

With Ipex rapidly approaching more and more companies are putting out advance information of what they will showing at the event. Today’s article covers Heidelberg, Atlantic Zeiser, EskoArtwork, Enfocus and Kodak. The more we hear the most interesting Ipex appears as a not to miss event.

As The Industry Churns

The Census Bureau publishes printing industry births and deaths data, but the data take years to be published. The latest data are from 2006, but Dr. Joe estimates what's happened since,especially 2008 and 2009.

A Look at the Quad/Graphics and World Color Press “Arrangement”

The joining of Quad/Graphics and World Color Press followed an intricate dance between giants. Quad/Graphics was the smallest of the three players in the contest for ownership of World Color Press. RR Donnelley's attempt to buy World Color out of bankruptcy failed and, shortly after, Quad/Graphics began discussions that brought the much larger World Color Press under the control of the Quadracci family.

EFI’s Marc Olin Speaks about EFI Connect

EFI Connect, one of the larger user groups in our industry, will be taking place in April at the Wynn in Las Vegas.  Since the event overlaps with the On Demand Conference in Philadelphia, WhatTheyThink is splitting its forces to cover both events.  Marc Olin, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Advanced Professional Print Software, of EFI, shared his thoughts with WhatTheyThink about what attendees can expect to experience at the 11th Annual Connect conference.

Packaging: The Next Major Analog-to-Digital Opportunity

Packaging is the material surrounding a consumer item that serves to contain, identify, describe, protect, display, promote, and otherwise make the product marketable and keep it clean. Packaging is also a key opportunity for the digital printing market. This article highlights the opportunities that digital printing technology can bring to this market.

Reinventing Your Business: It Can Start by Taking This Simple Test

This article introduces you to a powerful tool -- highly useful in a brainstorming setting -- that can spark a new level of discovery about how to adapt your business to today’s realities. It is all about considering what you have refused to consider before.

Weathering the Employment and Printing Shipments Data

The employment report was better than the cable channel talking heads thought it would be. Printing shipments continued their unfortunate relationship with economic growth. The Postal Service continues  a summer sale initiative that only fat cats can like.

Marketing Communications: Making Customers

he primary goal of marketing communications is to build awareness of a business, its products, and its position through customer-facing materials such as brochures, press releases, Web sites, and trade show presentations. Marketing communications can transform non-customers into customers or get existing customers to buy more or purchase new products and services. Successful print/marketing service providers have integrated marketing communications that reinforce their messages with target audiences and motivate customers to buy using multiple marketing channels.

Third Annual Print UV Conference in Las Vegas, March 7-9, 2010

Make your reservations, buy your plane ticket, pack your golf clubs, and head to Print UV 2010 at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas. This year’s event takes place beginning Sunday, March 7, and concludes on Tuesday, March 9.

Donnelley and Bowne: Financial Printing Powerhouse

What will DonnellyBowneBantaMooreWallace look like? The addition of Bowne’s products and services will support and leverage Donnelley’s financial print, statement outsourcing, document business process management, and print management services.

IPA/IDEAlliance Merger: What does it mean for members and for the industry?

Although there has been much discussion in the industry about whether we have too many associations and how much consolidation is needed, IPA and IDEAlliance seem to rarely come up in those discussions. WhatTheyThink spoke with the Executive Directors of both organizations to learn what brought them together and the benefits they believe will come from the new integrated organization. It is a fascinating discussion. David Steinhardt: “We don’t want to be fighting or addressing past issues. We want to be moving forward with a new model and new definition…we have to get out of our bubble to get reengaged where [the market] is moving.”

The Grapes of Wrath: The Brand Protection Conference Offers a Sobering Look at Wine Counterfeiting

At the Brand Protection Conference, the hands-on demonstration of wine label counterfeiting draws some sobering conclusions about brand protection, fraud prevention, and digital printing.

Graphics of the Americas Takes On New Dimensions

Graphics of the Americas keynote speaker looks at the future of interactive displays--it's all very touching.

B2B: It’s A Social Opportunity!

Buyers are embracing social media, and the tools and possibilities for collaboration continue to improve. As a result, social media is becoming a critical channel for print/marketing service providers to help buyers find one another and market to them. This article provides a brief overview of some recent social media initiatives and offers examples of companies that are getting into the game.

Freight: Additional Profit Opportunities

Most companies do a reasonably good job controlling costs in the outbound freight area. This responsibility usually rests in the shipping department, where shippers take pride in getting the lowest price. However, there are ways to lower your freight costs which may be overlooked.

Making Every Hire Count:  Maximizing Your Human Capital Investment

With today’s leaner staff and budgets, every new hire counts drastically. Badly conducted hires will yield you staff who amount to little more than a cost of doing business. But although the money you spend on payroll could well be your largest cash commitment, a staff of properly hired and maintained employees can increase your profits far beyond their cost. Your staff is therefore an investment—easily the most important investment your business ever makes.

Just When I Thought We Were Becoming Japan, Stagflation Seems More Likely Again

Is the U.S. Economy playing out like 1990s Japan or 1970s U.S. stagflation? Dr. Joe changes his mind... again. All it took was the Producer Price Index and Consumer Price Index releases of last week. Well, so much for his lecturing about the tendency of managers to react to the last thing they hear rather than pondering things. He also suggests buying oil with gold might be a good idea after looking at the last 20 years of data. That should be interesting to try during the New England heating season when the oil truck stops by. And if you thought Keynes was dead, you should see his new rap video with Frederich A. Hayek. If dead economists can make a rap video, can Elvis be far behind?

35th Annual Graphics of the Americas Comes to Miami Beach

It’s that time of year again, when graphic arts snowbirds flock to the Sunshine State to take in the pastel-hued wonders of South Beach—and learn about the latest developments in graphics and printing.

The era of our ways

When Komori and Heidelberg drop out of a Graph Expo show, it portends seismic changes in the printing industry. But it is all part of 500+ years of changes. All things have a lifespan, whether they are living things, inanimate things, or even the universe (the ultimate collection of things). They start out as nothing, become something, and ultimately become nothing again. This pseudo-philosophical statement begins a discussion about technological change, a subject dear to all of our hearts.

So you say you want to be a marketing services provider? Tips on closing the “credibility gap”

For printers who want to make the transition to a marketing services provider, we provide some ideas to help answer the question: How do you gain credibility in the eyes of your customers, that you aren’t just the print services vendor they know…but that you can be a communications problem solver for them?

I Want MY Book!

The custom book market offers tremendous opportunity for a number of different constituencies, including creative content providers, Web publishing solutions, and print service providers. The combination of more affordable high-speed digital devices, Web-based content and tools, and a desire for personalized content is causing the custom book market to grow. This article highlights examples of two companies (Penwizard and RPI) that are capitalizing on this opportunity.

Heidelberg & Komori pass on Graph Expo 2010; KBA, manroland and Presstek to exhibit

As the 2010 show season begins, the emphasis has shifted increasingly toward digital solutions, including printing equipment as well as workflow. WhatTheyThink spoke with several offset press manufacturers to find out more about their plans for the most significant North American printing show, Graph Expo, scheduled for October 3-6, 2010, at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

Ipex – An Indicator for the Future

Last week’s Ipex Media summit in London outlined what we can expect at the Ipex show in May. In this we can expect to see many of the products previewed at drupa now becoming available in the market. The article outlines the size and scale of Ipex and why it is such as important show this year. It also gives a few briefs on new products being shown there.

Pitney Bowes President, Document Messaging Technologies, Ramesh Ratan Shares PB Strategy, Industry Outlook

In September 2009, Ramesh Ratan left his position as COO at The DMA (Direct Marketing Association) to become President of Pitney Bowes’ Document Messaging Technologies (DMT). In this interview with Senior Editor Cary Sherburne, Ratan talks about his reasons for joining Pitney Bowes, his top strategic initiatives for the organization, the role printers can play in the age of digital media, and much more. 

Broadband hours and the statistical relationship with printing volumes

Broadband use by adults has been increasing and the number of households with broadband service has almost doubled since 2005. What's the relationship with commercial printing volume? Last year, there were about 48 billion hours of broadband use by households, and every additional hour of use decreases commercial print volume by about $2.

MSP Digital Marketing and TecDoc Digital Solutions: The Case History of an M&A Transaction Done Right

When four print industry veterans decided to form a national network of digital services for marketing communications, they knew they would need the help of an M&A expert. Realizing that the digital universe is huge, they understood that locating the right acquisition targets within it was a task they could entrust only to an advisor possessing "industry knowledge, financial acumen, and a great database." Read how MSP Digital Marketing, with the help of New Direction Partners, took a successful first toward building its network with the well-executed acquisition of TecDoc Digital Solutions.

Your Web Site… It’s Where Prospects Find You!

Possibly the most important reason that print service providers need to have an active Internet marketing strategy is because of the transformation that has occurred in how print buyers seek information. Yes, customers and prospects still talk to sales representatives, look through magazines, and talk to business associates to gather product information, but print service providers need to understand that customers and prospects are turning en masse to the Internet as their primary knowledge source. More than three-quarters (78%) of adult online consumers in the U.S. made some type of purchase via the Web in the previous six months. According to a survey from Nielsen Online, the top transaction categories are travel, credit card management, and online banking.

Nothing Confuses Like Statistics

Things are not always what they seem, especially when statistics are involved. How else can one explain a GDP report of +5.7% and a decrease in the unemployment rate being matched with long faces and pessimism? The economic side-step is continuing, and a mild upturn is being viewed with suspicion. Every time there's good economic data, it seems to barely survive the headline and first paragraph of its press release without devolving into adjustments, revisions, and clarifications. Our job as managers is not just requiring navigation skills, but seems to need a refresher course in defensive driving.

The acronym that is improving graphic arts education

ACCGC. You never heard of it? Accrediting Council for Collegiate Graphic Communications. Doesn’t ring a bell? It is a group of dedicated graphic arts educators and industry suppliers who foster graphic arts education at the college level. Accreditation is how colleges and universities serve professions and industries—by making sure that educational curricula meet the needs of professions and industries.

Print Service Providers Are Going Social!

Now that social media has entered the mainstream, print service providers that build the right marketing strategies have more opportunities than ever. A number of savvy print and marketing service providers are getting into the game and effectively leveraging social media to keep the lines of communication open with their customers. This article discusses how companies like Vistaprint and Tukaiz are using social media to drive business results.

An Interview with Mark Hischar, KBA North America

As it did to every other print equipment manufacturer, 2009 brought a host of challenges to Koenig & Bauer AG (KBA). Declining orders, a change of leadership at the top, job cuts further down the structure, and uncertainty about the future cost this global distributor of sheetfed and web offset presses some momentum.

Differentiating Your Business: Make Sure it’s More Than Just Talk

After presenting you with the tools to develop your Differentiating Strategy and Unifying Business Idea, we’ll turn our focus to creating real differentiation in your business. This means, going beyond what you hope to be…and just peppering your marketing and sales materials with “the new strategy.” This means aligning your entire organization; your policies, practices, products, services, hiring, pricing AND your communications to your new Unifying Business Idea. The stories we share show the payoff.

A Buyer’s Guide for Inkjet Presses

This year is being seen as the real start for sales of high-speed inkjet presses. This article looks at some of the key items that need to be considered by potential buyers of these presses. This includes substrates that can used, the types of ink and the life of the print heads.

Year/Year US Gross Domestic Product

Why was Q4-09 GDP +5.7% met with a stock market decline and more handwringing about the economy? Dr. Joe looks at the yearly change in GDP, and explains it all.

Printing in the Dominican Republic

I had the opportunity recently to visit one of the largest printing operations in the Dominican Republic, in a visit arranged by Executive Vice President Fernando A. León. I have visited many printing operations in the U.S., and I was interested to see how this compared—it was quite impressive. I thought our readers might enjoy sharing a virtual walk-through.

Disrupting the Future

A contrarian look at the printing industry and the new rules and strategies needed to succeed.

Quality of Hire Begins With Sourcing:  Pick Your Method to Suit Your Needs

The first step toward achieving quality of hire is effectively sourcing the candidates from which to choose. In this article, we take a look at what options there are for sourcing new hires and some of the pros and cons to each of them.

Small and Medium-Sized Businesses, A Marketing Services Opportunity!

Small and medium-sized businesses have a wide range of communications needs. This article discusses the tremendous opportunities that small and medium-sized businesses can represent for print service providers with the right go-to-market strategy.

How To Stand Apart from Competitors: Define Your Unifying Business Idea

Having a Unifying Business Idea (UBI) is arguably the most powerful strategic tool you can develop for your business. The purpose of a UBI is to help govern a company…to help guide what markets to enter and new products to develop…to help create customer service policies…to build employee training programs so that people can make daily decisions. A UBI is the “container” for your company strategies, practices and values. The goal is to have a UBI that summarizes the very essence of your company.

Newspaper Industry Woes Not Being Cured By Online Revenues

Newspapers were supposed to survive the new media age because of their highly educated, high income audience, and then when that didn't work, their superior content would make news websites into Internet advertising magnets. Now, even online advertising is shrinking for newspapers. What's next?

Adobe Discontinues Worldwide Adobe Partner Connection Print Service Provider Program

On January 4th, we posted a PrintCEO blog notice that Adobe had decided to discontinue the worldwide Adobe Partner Connection Print Service Provider program, effective February 4th. Since that time, we spoke with Adobe and connected with a number of people in the field, both through live conversations and dialog on the blog. This was important, since the Adobe announcement came as an email through its PR agency, rather than letters to customers or a formal press release, although we do understand that all authorized and premium members received an email about the program closure. We wondered, as did many of our readers, what was behind this, why Adobe chose to do this now and what it means for Adobe’s commitment to the printing industry.

Adobe, you're breaking my heart

Adobe Systems helped to build the modern printing industry and now, it appears, they are hellbent on destroying it -- not by willful action, but by neglect. Without the de facto standard of PostScript, digital printing could not have made the inroads it did; CTP would not have happened as we know it; and PDF would not have created the ability to move files around with ease, irrespective of device or resolution. They were active supporters of the printing industry and worked with print providers and users alike. But, today, Adobe appears to have written off print as it focuses on Flash and new media. Some say Adobe has given the printing industry the finger.

2010: A Year of Innovation for the Graphic Communications Industry (Part 2)

This column is the second in a two-part series that provides Barb Pellow's perspective on a strategic direction for 2010. Last week's article discussed techniques for increasing share and adding value in the new year, and this one outlines strategies for product innovation that service providers can use to position themselves as market leaders.

How Unique Is Your Business? 

Have you gone through an honest process to land on a differentiating strategy – and taken a more focused approach to your business? I’m going to share the first of two great tools to help. In this post we cover: Creating Your Differentiating Strategy.  Learn how to wrestle with, and answer, three fundamental strategic questions: Who is your core target customer? What business category are you competing in? And, what is your unique point of difference?

IPA Leadership Conference Takes Fresh Approach

The IPA Leadership Conference is taking a different route and it looks like a not-to-be-missed event where you can hear from and hobnob with thought leaders from the marketing discipline, including the former CMO of Walmart.  If you think you know what marketers want, you may want to think again and take advantage of this opportunity.  As a special offer for our readers, IPA is offering a $100 discount off the cost of conference attendance.

Is 2010 the Year for Digital Printing for Publishers?

The world of publishing has hardly been impacted by developments in digital printing, unlike other areas of printing. Almost all the developments in digital printing have been aimed at short-run commercial printing, variable data printing, and more recently web to print operations particularly in the business to consumer area. It is only in the area of reprints of monochrome books where reprinting by offset would be too expensive for publishers that digital printing has had an impact in the publishing space. It would appear that this year will see the start of a change as book publishers look to digital printing to change their business models to reduce their capital tied up in inventory. This is becoming possible through the use of high-speed continuous inkjet presses that will allow a switch from offset to digital printing for first runs of books. It is however unlikely that we see either many newspapers or magazine publishers moving to the use of digital printing at this time unless they rethink their advertising driven business models.

Same Old, Same Old is Getting Tiresome

Dr. Joe starts his eighth year with WhatTheyThink, and he's less Dr. Doom-ish. There are some signs, though not confirmed, that the industry may have finally finished riding a steep and traumatic downdraft and found a steadier level with a more gradual and predictable outcome. November shipments were down at the lowest rate of any month in 2009, and there were only 100 fewer print workers in December than there were in November. The national economy still has its problems, employment is actually worse than most realize, and incomes are still under pressure. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast print employment for 2018, and their forecast is, unfortunately, already fulfilled.

Are You Utilizing All Your Purchasing Options?

At one time, size was the primary means for independent printing companies to gain leverage in the purchasing arena.  Few other options were available.  Today, however, companies can maximize their profitability in a variety of ways.  Here are a few ideas...

2010: A Year of Innovation for the Graphic Communications Industry

This column is the first in a two-part series that provides Barb Pellow’s perspective on a strategic direction for 2010. It discusses how print service providers and marketing service providers can position themselves for success in an industry that has undergone permanent shifts and changes.

Employment Outlook for 2010:  Where have all the good people gone?

In a recession, ambitious, proactive people don’t just sit around and wait for a return to economic prosperity. Even if they aren’t employed already or can’t find work along their usual lines, they’ll turn to some entirely different pursuit instead—responding to all the hype being circulated about working for yourself by choosing from among the multitude of support mechanisms and project, franchise, work-from-home or consulting options available. While some may be forced into it by circumstances, others will welcome the self-employment alternative as an avenue to change their career path – something they may have wanted to do for a while. And the most inventive ones may go on to even greater career success by launching novel innovations into the marketplace. In the past such enterprising spirits have been responsible for many of what have become today’s mainstream products and services.

What Happened to LVI?

As a follow-up to Gail Nickel-Kailing’s post on PrintCEO about DS Graphics’ acquisition of LVI (formerly Lavigne Inc.), I spoke to DS Graphics’ Vice President, Jack McGrath, to find out how the integration of the two companies was proceeding, and to gain more detail about the actual events that occurred leading up to DSG’s acquisition of the assets of the company.

The Twelve Days of Printers’ Christmas

On the first day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
An ink cartridge in an HP.

On the second day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Two ruddle gloves,
And an ink cartridge in an HP.

HP – Moving Ahead in High-Speed Color Printing

On a recent visit to the USA I was invited to meet with executives of HP’s Inkjet High Speed Production Solutions division to discuss the current status of its program for the HP T300 inkjet web press. I found this to be an interesting visit as almost nothing had been written about what HP had been doing by either the trade press or the industry analysts following Print 09.

Coleman Kane Shares Printable Update, Industry Thoughts, Getting Marketers Hooked

It has been some time since WhatTheyThink has hooked up with Coleman Kane, CEO of Printable. Following a flurry of press releases on new integrations, WhatTheyThink checked in with Coleman to get more detail, and to get his perspective on the industry as we exit what has been a difficult 2009 for the industry.

The show’s the thing

Andy Tribute’s column this week was thought-provoking as usual. He opined that an annual printing event is no longer viable and that GraphExpo should be on a different schedule. In the 1980s (the heyday of the printing industry) there were multiple printing events. The New England show was every two years — in January! New York had an annual show at the old Coliseum, PICA had a large annual event in Charlotte, and Midwest Graphics floated around different states. Graphics of the Americas took over the Miami Beach Convention Center. The Gutenberg Festival in Long Beach was a major event.

Reinventing The Print Business Model

A 2008 Harvard Business Review article, "Reinventing Your Business Model" by Mark Johnson, Clay Christensen and Henning Kagerman states that the secret to maintaining a thriving business is recognizing when it needs a fundamental change. According to the article, “Great business models can reshape industries and drive spectacular growth. Yet many companies find business-model innovation difficult. Managers don’t understand their existing model well enough to know when it needs changing—or more importantly, how to change it.”

Do We Need Graph Expo Each Year?

There has been much discussion about association consolidation and the limited funds industry suppliers have to support many of the organizations and events in the industry. I want to discuss the PRINT 09 event that is organized by the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC).

Oh, Those Cable TV Talking Heads

You'd think that all of the economic wounds of the U.S. economy were healed all at once when last Friday's unemployment report was announced. For some reason, the good news in it was glossed over, and the bad news was ignored.

Ubermarketer Vistaprint Makes Course Correction

Many in the investment community view Vistaprint as an extremely successful and profitable printing company. Printers across North America point to the company as a model: “If I could just be another Vistaprint.” If you look a little more closely, you’ll see that Vistaprint is not “just another printer,” it’s a sophisticated marketing company that sells marketing products and services to consumers and small/micro businesses. They just happen to print those products.

Augmented Reality…It’s More than Hype!

As we look back at 2009, a technology milestone for the printing industry, marketing communications, education, and the media world may be the rise of augmented reality. Augmented reality (AR) is a field of computer science that involves combining the physical world with an interactive, three-dimensional virtual world.

FedEx Office and UPS Face Off with Online Offerings

We recently spoke with The UPS Store's Christa Martin (VP of Product Development & Management) and FedEx Offices Anthony Norris (VP of Digital Access Marketing) about their businesses and competitive positioning in the marketplace.

Consolidated Graphics’ Jim Cohen on the State of the Industry and CGX

As this recession drags on, WhatTheyThink is reaching out to various companies to see how they are doing, and what they are doing to survive and thrive.  We had the pleasure of speaking recently with Jim Cohen, Executive Vice President of Mergers and Acquisitions at Consolidated Graphics.  He had some very interesting insights to share.

Getting a grip on mission-critical “soft” skills: 5 simple steps

Effective hiring and staff management aim to maximize the return from your company's human-capital investment and minimize the related financial risks. But obviously, you can’t hope to achieve these goals without at least a basic ability to assess the potential of people. In fact, people assessment is as essential a prerequisite for conducting performance reviews, promotions, and succession planning with your existing staff as it is for establishing benchmarks for new hires.

Protect Intangibles to Preserve Company Value

A company's general intangibles have a very tangible impact on a company's valuation. Intangibles that are perceived as attractive can greatly enhance a company's value while negative or negligible intangibles can drag it down. To safeguard the worth of their businesses, NAPL Senior Vice President and Consultant John Hyde believes that graphic communications company owners should take proactive steps to protect their intangibles.

How Valuable Are You in the Marketing Supply Chain?

I recently read two reports issued by the CMO Council that are definitely a must-read for anyone in our industry. Taken together, the two will arm innovative print service providers (dare I say marketing services providers??) with much of the ammunition they need to start a conversation at the highest levels in customer marketing organizations. Here are a few highlights, and some of them are pretty scary!

Look to 2010—Because You Really Have No Choice

This week, WhatTheyThink published our latest graphic communications industry forecast report, cleverly titled Print and Creative Forecast 2010, a look back at the year that was and, naturally, a look ahead at the year that will be. I worked on it with Dr. Joe Webb, whose Economic and Research Center data provided good chart-fodder for our quantitative analysis and forecast.

Tuck In, Luck Out: A Guide to an M&A Opportunity Built for Two

There’s strength in numbers, goes the old adage, but there’s also strength in the power of one—a cumulative strength that printing companies can achieve by undertaking the kind of merger known as a “tuck-in.”

Print Service Providers: Making the Connection

In today’s economy, print service providers face the same challenges as any other marketers. They must be creative and challenge themselves to push beyond the boundaries of their minds—they must think outside the box for innovative ways of reaching customers and prospects. This requires an effective communications strategy that builds awareness while educating prospects and clients about the capabilities you offer.

Behind the Agfa Acquisition of Gandinnovations

We may call this “the week that was” when looking back at the stories for 2009 in our year-end review! The Monday news opened a few eyes over morning coffee. While the Canon acquisition of Océ grabbed the day’s headlines; the second story – Agfa’s acquisiton of Gandinnovations – was just as interesting.

Canon and Océ, Can They Become Number One?

Yesterday’s announcement that Canon is to acquire all the shares of Océ is obviously of great interest. Canon and Océ aim to create the overall No. 1 presence in the printing industry building on an enhanced scale and a combined history of innovation and excellent client servicing. The combination of the two companies is designed to capitalize on excellent complementary fit in the product range, channel mix, R&D and business lines.

Canon's Acquisition of Océ: The Details

Following Canon’s announcement that it would acquire Océ, WhatTheyThink spoke with a number of sources to get more detail on this significant acquisition and continued sign of industry consolidation. While Canon proposes to purchase Océ at a 70% premium on the stock value, it works out to about 50% of Océ’s annual revenues. The press release is fairly detailed about the terms and conditions.

Following the Prinergy Saga

There was quite a firestorm of online activity following a post at Prepress Pilgrim indicating that Kodak was moving its Prinergy development efforts to Israel and laying off everyone at the Willingdon Avenue plant in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. This started rumors that Kodak was shutting down development of Prinergy.  PrintCEO blog posted a Kodak statement with the company’s assurances that Prinergy is alive and well, and fully supported by Kodak.  WhatTheyThink contacted Jon Bracken, Kodak’s General Manager, Unified Workflow Solutions, in the Burnaby location to get more details on the company’s move.

Let's Be Strategically Social

Where did Dr. Joe go when he was stumped about social media? Amazingly, he used social media. Social media is not one big online cocktail party or teenagers arranging to meet up at the mall. It's real business that requires a strategy, and it's more like broadcasting than it is a one-time project. The rules for social media are still being written through trial and error every day, and it's brought new focus to public relations professionals. Dr. Joe recommends some resources to take a decisive step into this critical new area of business and social communications.

1995 and all that

Events converged in 1995 to change the printing world. Before that, it was the old printing industry. After that it would be the new printing industry. That year, paper, the Internet, the portable document format, the CD, and the PC converged to create a new paradigm. The number of printing companies would reach 62,000 in 1995 and it would be the highest number of printers ever.

Speaking of Networking...

Last Saturday was the twice-yearly Toastmasters District 53 Conference. I had been one of the two “co-chairs”—i.e., organizers—of the event, which was a long, nine-month process that was not unlike giving birth. The planning process generated seemingly terabytes of e-mails, an endless stream of phone calls (curse you, cellular technology!), and several reams of notes and other hard-copy documents.

Lessons From the Field I: Take Appropriate Action

Commercial printers often turn to consultants to help them learn how to tackle tough challenges, but many of the industry’s most experienced consultants know that they can learn quite a bit from their printer clients as well.

Moving Inkjet Technology into the Future

I have just attended the IMI European Ink Jet Printing conference in Barcelona. One tends to think that inkjet printing is something new but this was the 17th annual conference on this subject. One tends to forget just how long the inkjet technology has been around and also just how long it has been used in the graphic arts markets.

That Was the Economic Week That Was

The talking heads were shocked that unemployment hit 10.2%, but had they read the news all week, it would have been no surprise. There was news that almost seemed good in the report, but despite—or perhaps because of—their shock, the talking heads missed it. The Federal Reserve is doing its best Nero imitation as the dollar weakens, and they keep mistaking credit for capital. Don't tell the paper companies, but instead of wasting time complaining about China, they should be focusing on helping their customers deal with competition from digital media. Are they taking Nero lessons from Ben Bernanke?

Chaos in Control

There is no shortage of books on the market about the sea change in media, as the world continues its inexorable march from offline to online, a topic that, bookwise, is perhaps rivaled only by the supposedly imminent destruction of the world on December 21, 2012. (I wouldn’t expect that to be a particularly brisk Christmas shopping season.) But while 2012 will not be the end of the world as we know it (however fine we may feel), the changing media landscape is the end of the world—the end of the old world of mass media and mass marketing, and of a time when marketers could dictate the message.

Talking to the CMO… A New Language in 2010

Today’s marketers are operating under a new set of rules. They must respond to a range of new challenges related to new media, changes in consumer behavior, a difficult market environment, and global expansion. With the rules changing, businesses are seeking new ways to market to, communicate with, and reach consumers. The implications of the fundamental shifts in consumer behavior are having a profound impact on marketing organizations and how they are spending their budgets.

A New Role for the Magazine Publisher

The traditional role for the magazine publisher in the graphic arts market has been to publish news and articles about the industry, provide a medium for advertisers to get their messages across to readers, and in some cases provide seminars and tutorials, and for some publishers to run prestigious printing award events. What we are now seeing that some of these publishers are successfully extending their role to providing this information via the web as well as by printed means, and in certain cases this can be on a daily basis.

Duoyuan Printing, Printing Equipment Manufacturer Goes Public

How long has it been since an equipment manufacturer filed for a public offering – an initial public offering (IPO) – in the printing industry? Fiscal year 2008, regardless of where it begins and ends on the calendar, was a particularly tough time for vendors, and income/loss over revenue ranged from -20.2% (EFI) to 9.7% (Punch Graphix).

An Action-Packed Week Ahead, If You Love Economic Data

Economy geeks just love weeks like this. The beginning of the month has some of the most incredible data from the Institute for Supply Management, the Commerce Department, and especially, the Bureau of Labor Statistics. All of the data are highly charged politically, and it's hard to see through the fog to assess what's right. But these macroeconomic data don't really matter when you're running a business. It's important to keep them in the right perspective.