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dotgain.org Conference outlines the future challenges for printers

Press release from the issuing company

The first annual dotgain.org Conference entitled "Fast Forward to the Future," has outlined the changes printers will have to address if they are to embrace the challenges and opportunities that new media technology is currently putting forward.

A packed audience, filled to capacity with industry personnel heard BPIF Chief Executive Michael Johnson inform those gathered that, "The future of UK Printing is in our hands." Michael said recent European research had shown that there clearly was a lack of understanding by printers of their customers. "I believe there are only a fraction out of 10,500 printers who get it," he stated. Michael went on to urge those present, "It's time to talk ourselves up."

He went on to reveal that UK plc is currently the world's fifth largest producer of printed products, with a turnover of £14.3bn, and a gross value of £6.4bn, employing 140,000 people in 10,500 companies. In 2009 the UK print industry made a positive trade balance of £1bn, and made a capital investment of £700m in 2008.

The findings came from the research on "Restructuring in the European printing industry," recently published by Intergraf and Uni-Europa Graphical, which also showed that, Customers view the industry as male, stale and pale. It's a battlefield out there where participants attack each other and new multi-media attacks the industry as a whole. However, new technology will help us to stay competitive and defend our place in the industry.

The successful business Michael indicated would be one that adapts the technology to new market conditions.

He went on to stress that the skill set of the print industry was a key advantage, dealing with everything from data to digital images and IT delivery.

Michael revealed that, "Customers don't want to talk to a plethora of suppliers, which is where printers and their range of experience and service offerings have the advantage."

The research had also indicated that, All printers can supply and deliver these services, and we're on every street corner, in every town and have local relationships.

By repositioning the industry, with a diversification of activities and changing the culture of organisations will help make them more attractive to young people. This he said would all support the change required to attract the workforce of the future.

The BPIF had started this process ten years ago with the creation of PRINT – the original IT industry. It's been a slow journey. We now need to pick up our game alongside digital applications.

Keynote speaker at the conference was Richard Romano, who opened the conference by discussing the content of his pivotal book, Disrupting the Future. Richard revealed that the US printing industry has also faced difficulties, reducing from 45,311 companies in 1990 to 26,859 in 2010. In addition staffing levels have also dropped from 816 in 1990 to 495 in 2010. And the road ahead doesn't look much better, with Richard warning that industry forecasts predict that the number of employees is set to fall by a further 40% to 295 by 2020, whilst the number of companies is set to reduce to just 18,481 in 2020.

Richard also revealed the impact of new technology, with the sale of e-books up 20% during 2008-9, whilst during the same period UK book sales had increased by just 0.0003%.

During 2010 Richard said over 50m iPhones have been sold, as well as 35m iPod Touches and over 3m iPads. He forecast that there would be eight ways in which the iPad would impact on print.

1.    e-book sales will continue to grow;
2.    Newspapers will continue to lose sales and drop circulation;
3.    Magazine applications will provide more added value for readers than printed magazines;
4.    Applications including mobile apps systems will take advertising revenue away from older forms of media;
5.    Documents on portable devices will reduce the demand for printed documents;
6.    Forms and other similar documents can easily migrate to the iPad;
7.    Young users will shift their media consumption habits;
8.    Electronic tablets can replace other stealth uses of print.

However, Richard stressed that to adapt, businesses needed to look at a number of key elements. "Identify new opportunities – look at the market; understand how people communicate and watch for new technologies."

But, as he revealed we have seen this before. The industry used to be entrepreneurial, by outsourcing proofing and bindery then bringing it in-house. Like it or not, e-media are the new complements to print.

He concluded. "There is no such thing as business as usual. Don't wait for the new rules of print to be written, write them yourself."

Conference delegates then broke for a series of informative sessions, all of which were designed to help companies embrace the new media technologies and each encompassing the three conference themes: Innovation, Application and Harnessing New Media - across nine sessions, which concluded with an interactive panel forum on cross-media and its impact on print. The sessions provided useful insights into the opportunity for businesses to utilise and take advantage of new communication platforms and media, such as Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social and cross media marketing and communication.

In his concluding speech, Michael Johnson said he was pleased that the BPIF had taken the journey to establish dotgain.org as a platform for all forms of media to come together as he stated, "We need to be seen as an organisation that is leading the way."

As part of its on-going aim to help businesses, and to demonstrate it s leading edge initiatives, dotgain.org announced it is organising two seminars on marketing. One will be held in London on 1st March 2011 and the other in Cambridge on 26th June 2011. For details please contact the BPIF.

The dotgain.org conference was held at the King's Fund, London on Tuesday 30th November 2010.   

Sponsorship for this flagship industry event was provided by initial sponsor Kodak and colour print management software specialist EFI, software technology specialists GMC and brand management software specialist, Storepoint International.


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