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The Survey Says...Next 'Big Things' in 2014

January 2014 By Lisa Cross
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At the end of every year, industry pundits and prognosticators attempt to predict the next "big thing" in the printing industry and where firms will invest. Instead of making guesses on where the industry is headed in 2014, Printing Impressions and InfoTrends surveyed print service providers (PSPs) to find out what firms plan to invest in and the rationale behind investment plans.

The survey is part of an ongoing partnership between InfoTrends and North American Publishing Co. (the publisher of Printing Impressions) to monitor emerging market trends. The latest survey, conducted last September, focused on finding out the key equipment, services and software investments on the agenda for the coming year.

Respondents' investment plans for 2014 center mostly on supporting print, however the addition of marketing services, digital media products, and industrial printing applications are also on the agenda, albeit on a smaller scale. Print service providers are also expecting 2014 to be a year of double-digit revenue growth, as the 97 decision-makers responding to the survey anticipate revenues to increase, on average, 10 percent compared to 2013. That's up from the 4.2 percent revenue growth reported last year.

Print service providers plan to power growth on many fronts (see Figure 1), including strengthening print through adding ancillary support services (i.e., fulfillment, Web-to-print, personalized print, mailing, marketing, data and content development) and emerging technologies to make print interactive, such as mobile codes, augmented reality and near field communication.

At first glance, respondents' plans for 2014 look like firms are sticking with the status quo and expanding more in service areas that aren't new. That's partly true. The other half of the story is those companies that are expanding by adding marketing-type services and pursuing methods for making print interactive. Those firms are evolving services to differentiate from the competition, move up the customer value chain, grow business and respond to new customer demands.

When asked to identify the specific reasons for new service investments, those services dominating business growth leaned more to nontraditional services (see Figure 2). Respondents identified content development, data services and digital media applications as key services for growing business. Emerging technologies that make print interactive, such as mobile codes, augmented reality, and near field communication, are also viewed as services for growing business—signaling the industry's move to bolster print's role in a new media world.



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