If we look at the global printing industry, since there really isn’t that much difference between what’s happening here in Australasia in comparision to what’s happening in the US and Europe. We see that there has been a consolidation of printing establishments, to adjust for the changing market demands. On one hand there has been a displacement of certain types of printed product, like forms, directories and newspapers, etc., driven by the increase in computer adoption and the use of the internet. But, the internet which brings us a unique way to distribute information in a variety of forms, is primarily successful at allowing people to find in formation in a “pull direction”. For those who are trying to reach their audience in the “push direction”, the internet is only offers mass data confusion.
On the other hand, as a result, there has been an increase in more quick turn marketing related printing. With so many different mediums to communicate messaging today, the most succcessful companies are using multiple methods for reaching their intended audience. An ideal example of this is the multi-channel selling vehicle approach. We are starting to see “brick and mortar” companies start to sell their products through print catalogs, internet catalogs, and the stores themselves. And they use each of these mediums to drive traffic to each of the selling vehicles. In addition, the most successful catalogues companies have expanded their business messaging and sales presence to include “brick and mortar” stores to augment their catalogue business. They even use postcards, email, television, and radio. The need to use multiple methods to reach their customer is driven by a number of factors. Primarily, the need to stand out in the increased volume of information reaching people, and the changing reading and shopping preferences of the different buyers.
And there are many other similar opportunities that have surfaced. So while the days of ‘print is king’ may be over, the reality is that there is still a very viable role for print in todays marketplace.
Use the new tools that maximise your ability to support the market
In this new marketplace data is king. Whether we are speaking of client buying preferences, product data, or print publishing and manufacturing data, there is an increasing amount of data, and it plays a key role in the individual processes as well as business as a whole. The ability to collect, store, and manage that data is a key part of your business. While some only consider this as an opportunity for value added service to their clients, the reality is that it is also the foundation of your production and operations processes. If, like most you have built your data support infrastructure in an ad hoc method, with many different server and storage solutions, it may be time to stop and look at the new consolidated data solutions that are available. These will allow you to efficiently build, manage, support, and grow your process support, and client support infrastructure, with less cost over the long term.
There are a also whole new complement of production tools that are either starting to hit the market, or are coming to the market soon to allow you to better support the demands of this multi- channel market. While some of them are full blown integrated systems targeted at a specific process, many are component based and allow you to mix, match, and tailor them to your individual needs. Many of them will also offer you the flexibility to grow your business in different direction. Whether you were a designer, a prepress house, a printer, a mailing house, etc. 5 years ago, the chances are you are either now a hybrid of some or all of these, or will be in another 5 years. Many of the growing and successful companies have usually found themselves moving in this direction, and are very happy that they did. So ensuring that you build your data and production infrastructure to support these needs will undoubtedly benefit you.
Use Standards and Best Practices
Finally, many look at standards as something that reduces the industry and processes to a lowest common denominator level, when the reality is just the opposite. In order to compete in the global economy you need to communicate with many people, especially since we are seeing an increase in distributed production processes, all around the world. Standards facilitates that need.
The standards and best practices of today have been built with the goal of optimising the process and the product. Whether you are looking at PDF/X-Plus, JDF or ICC based Color Management; all of these when implemented result in higher efficiency, less cost, and a higher quality product.
Addressing many of these opportunities can sometimes be a challenge in an environment where just delivering your product is all you can think about. But it is really important, especially now, to stop and reflect on where you are and where you would like your business to be in 5 years. As part of that process, look at where the market and your customers are going, look at the new tools out there to support your decisions, and fully embrace standards to ensure that you are ready and successful to compete in the new marketplace.
David Zwang is the principal consultant of Zwang & Company, specialising in strategic business planning and analysis to companies in the vertical publishing market.