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The future of the print industry: Linking the Physical and the Digital

 

The world is sitting on the cusp of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) – changing how industries operate, bringing greater automation and accuracy to a variety of business processes.

 

In this series, we will explore how 4IR is going to affect the industries of our clients, and how we believe the right strategy can empower you to embrace the inevitable.

 

First up: The future of the print industry.

 

Forbes article: Why everyone must get ready for the 4th Industrial Revolution

 

 

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 How is the future of the print industry turning into a reality around you?

 

In the last few years, we have seen a proliferation of small and start up label printers leading to increased competition. Good digital presses cost little more than US$45,000 – not a laughable sum, but certainly more than affordable for entrepreneurs with the right idea.

 

Meanwhile in emerging regions, larger multinational corporations are expanding operations and establishing themselves as they navigate the pricing politics of new territories.

 

The LaManna Alliance projects that “In 2017, you should be pushing 20-30% growth rate. Otherwise, you’re lagging.”

 

We recently visited PacPrint 2017, the region’s “premier show for print, sign, display and graphic communications” and with over 150 exhibitors and a rumored 15-20 million dollars in sales taking place on the event floor, it’s understandable that key players in the industry are looking to shake things up and keep this momentum going.

Quick Link: Our CEO, Vivek Aiyer, recently spoke of trust and the Designer Enterprise

 

What are some challenges faced by the industry given this success?

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How can the future of the print industry be populated with millennials Generation Y and eventually, Generation Z?

Ageing workforce: The growth of the digital industry has meant that younger, computer-literate and tech-savvy employees have been more inclined towards seeking employment outside the print industry.

Companies are increasingly realizing the need to standardize onto the one platform helps with strategic alignment across business systems and broader business processes.

Standardization, Centralization & Flexibility: Most companies in this space have different systems and machines through acquisitions or then, as with most large organizations, inherited implementations of legacy software. These, in turn lead to errors in compliance, alignment, downtime and ultimately, inefficiencies.

How can we prepare audiences for these technologies, bearing in mind that innovation doesn’t always come cheap?

Active & Intelligent Packaging (A&IP): When it comes to product security, authentication and even preservation to some extent, A&IP will grow increasingly commonplace around us. It certainly seems like these technologies for a part of the future of the print industry.

Clients now require “relationships” with “partners” – as compared to “services” from “suppliers – and this is unavoidable!

The vendor/client relationship: Clients of all sizes are becoming increasingly demanding of one-on-one service. The fact of the matter is that there are a number of players who can top quality service, and price competition isn’t the only factor anymore.

 

Previous post: Customer Experience is all about Managing Relationships

Previous post: Culture of Trust – How does your customer feel?

 

How does a digital transformation lead to the future of the print industry?

Tech-driven process/information management & workflow tools

Have systems set up for verification of jobs, improved reporting and integrated with management tools. Enable remote access of presses – improving efficiency as the press process becomes more computerized. Tech processes can also improve internal processes and stock ordering and tracking. Clients (or Partners) with their increased expectations can now be empowered to track their orders through all stages of production.

 

Customer/Client/Partner engagement & New business

Technology proliferation has led to a variety of methods to increase and improve engagement. For example, QR codes, NFC, RFID, Augmented Reality and randomized designs. Understanding how these technologies serve well as data collection points and having them integrated into information managements systems help track interaction and build insight. In addition, improved traceability and big data enable the client relationship evolve into one of consulting – and partnering for growth and offering unique and individualized experiences.

 

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“Labelprinter 4.0” – Digital transformation & change management 

 

On the outset – it all seems tremendously exciting and simple. But that is the fallacy of innovation. Installing systems doesn’t just mean clicking one button – it includes change management. Upgrading machinery isn’t just reinstalling software – sometimes it’s training staff who are afraid of failing (or trying). Terms like myopia and pain avoidance are a lot more real than the buzzwords they are dismissed to be sometimes.

 

Opportunities like bundling print and digital ad sales to push greater RoI sounds great, but how does that mean the adsales team needs to be re-structured? For example, having a sales team that also possesses analytical skills and understands programmatic sales becomes critical. In such scenarios – if that’s the preferred mode of linking digital to physical – then print companies must understand marketing requirements, more so than before – as these multimedia experiences reach out to audiences with more targeted accuracy than ever before.

 

 How can we help?

 

Innovation is no longer “nice-to-have” but that’s not to say it’s something to jump into. The key remains identifying a larger strategy that can assist with the growth of the clients you work with. Adding value to the labels and packaging produced, but also understanding how these products are being disbursed and the user experience of the final consumer.

 

At Appearition, we understand that the print industry has traditionally operated within certain models – for example, buying hardware outright or leasing systems for slow and steady returns. Crossing the chasm of technology is one that isn’t so simple. Our goal is to enable others success – and finding the neutral state of partnership so we can all grow together. We look forward to hearing from you.