Workflow Automation: Software Budget AllocationsApril 2014 By Stephanie Pieruccini
Industry experts, including ourselves, often talk about how today's production environments need to focus beyond solutions that enable workflow automation and, instead, on those that provide value-added services that meet the customer's evolving needs. Workflow automation is no longer the next "big trend" in production printing—it is now just a good business practice.
Finding out if print service providers (PSPs) have taken these recommendations to the production floor is a question we found to be worth asking. In an effort to identify the current state of workflow automation within print-for-pay operations, InfoTrends has surveyed the readers of Printing Impressions.
The survey is part of an ongoing partnership between InfoTrends and North American Publishing Co. (NAPCO) to monitor emerging market trends. The latest survey, conducted in January, focused on finding out what types of workflow automation software are currently being used and invested in; out of 128 participants, 72 were print-for-pay providers. The results point to where PSPs are putting their money to improve their operations, while also serving as a guide for those who are undecided on what investments to make in 2014.
The following are the top three software solutions print-for-pay providers reported as planning to invest in throughout 2014.
The top solution print service providers are planning to invest in during 2014 is Web-to-print. The Web has revolutionized the way we make purchases for quite some time. Despite the USPS facing challenges when it comes to mail volume declining, parcels and packages are at an all-time high. Most organizations are jumping on the online ordering wave to purchase anything, from office supplies to business cards.
Leading print service providers have already invested in Web-to-print, understanding the value it provides for customers to more easily and quickly place orders. Others have waited for clients to come forward with requests for such tools. Either way, the demand for customer storefronts is continuing to grow. Knowing how to sell and provide this service is becoming a necessity for printing businesses going forward. Not only does Web-to-print provide a solution for print shops to become more efficient, it also provides a platform for introducing and promoting new products or services to their existing customer bases.
Of those surveyed, 47.2 percent already were using some sort of Web-to-print-based system, but nearly half that number (22 percent) were still considering the purchase of such a software solution. Web-to-print solutions offer additional advantages to print-for-pay operations, such as a storefront for marketing the print business, as well as allowing customers to view and order services, manage branding, collaborate on documents in process and enable quick reordering.