A year ago at this time many of us sat with a sense of relief that we survived the worst economic downturn of the modern era. In the previous two years (2008 & 2009) consolidations and shop closures were the norm. Spending, or the lack thereof, had affected everything and everyone in one way or another and Digital Printing was no exception. As we looked forward into 2010 it was one of continued caution. Let’s see what is going to happen and hopefully things will improve.
Although the economy has had it’s affects on print sales, 2010 represented a transition year of sorts. 2010 had most segments in the print industry seeing a leveling off of the downturn in term of volumes and revenues. Some printers even experienced increases in their business. For others, these times signaled an opportunity to reassess, re-evaluate and re-invent their companies. The silver lining is that they learned to control cost and reduce expenses through eliminating waste, improving processes, and improving turnaround times.
Well the good news is that the second half of 2010 has seen a turning point. Despite the ever popular opinion that “Print is Dead”, print shipments were up for the last two quarters.
2010 saw IPEX and Graph Expo turned into the Digital parade. Major announcements on exciting new Digital products from most major companies offering everything from cut-sheet & roll-fed, Monochrome and Full Color, from Toner to Inkjet. Various new Web-to-Print, Workflow, and TransPromo solutions were also unveiled.
Things have improved thanks mainly to the new digital phenomenon. Companies like Apple and Google have helped to create a Digital Tsunami and the explosion of Social media giants Facebook, YouTube and Tweeter have made communication instantaneous. Digital technology is driving us into a very exciting future that will be ripe with new applications and potentially new revenues.
So what does 2011 have in store for your Digital Print operation? Where should you focus your efforts? What is the right technology for your business and what impact will it have on your customers? The questions are many. In 2011 the areas of debate will continue on cut-sheet vs. roll-fed, toner vs. inkjet. color vs. black & white. Although there is no prefect technology, success can be found through a variety of applications. Areas of opportunity include the expansion of data-driven print with a continued focus on transpromotional capabilities; customized and personalized book printing, including self publishing books will continue as a growth area. Highly personalized direct mail combined with interactive components like QR codes and purls will begin to be common place.
Predictions are as varied as the number of vendors and providers in the marketplace. However there is a common theme that Technology will be the key. The ability to embrace technology and the changes in the marketplace that it brings will be the difference. Leverage technology and create a solid business plan for your long-term Digital success. If you are looking for more information on driving your digital business, check out the article on “Driving Growth with Digital Print in DPS magazine’s December 2010 issue.