Digital Printing Technology Advancements Are A Great Reason for Printers to Get Fired Up!
Amid the flurry of attending the third-annual thINK conference for Canon Solutions America production inkjet users in Florida last month, moderating a webinar where two printers raved about the business success they’ve experienced since installing Scodix digital enhancement presses, and touring Ricoh’s Commercial & Industrial Printing Business Group’s expansive showroom, product development and testing labs in Boulder, Colo., I found myself more fired up than ever about the growth prospects emerging industry technologies, such as production inkjet, digital enhancements, industrial printing and others, are creating for those printers that are positioning themselves for the future.
Perhaps nowhere was that sense of growing optimism more apparent than among the more than 500 attendees at the thINK 2017 production inkjet user event. With over 30 educational sessions - most of which featured panels of current Océ production inkjet press users - speaker after speaker discussed the new business opportunities and production efficiencies that webfed and sheetfed production inkjet devices are enabling within their respective businesses.
Following the conference, I reached out to thINK board member Dave Johannes, among several others, to get his key takeaways from the conference itself and his views on the current state of the digital printing industry in general.
Johannes should know. A printing and mailing industry executive who has held key operational roles at leading direct mail and catalog printing operations during a 40-year industry career, he was also an early production inkjet press adopter and has witnessed first-hand how print has benefitted from the powerful impact that 1:1 digital personalization enables.
And, to his credit, Johannes is a big believer that open information sharing - even among competitors - about best practices for rapidly emerging technologies like production inkjet furthers our industry as a whole and, in the end, helps to lift all boats.
Here were Dave Johannes’ Key Takeaways:
- Interest in digital printing [especially production inkjet] is at its highest point so far. Printers of all sizes, from all markets, are beginning to investigate the purchase of equipment and are striving to understand how digital printing is going to affect their markets.
- There is a growing understanding that for print to remain relevant it must compete with, or complement, digital channels. Understanding a customer’s data and how to leverage it is more important than ever. Especially if you are supporting marketing channels - just being a good printer is no longer enough.
- Digital printing is at its best when it can be used to create 1:1 communication opportunities between sender and recipient. However, it can also be used to effectively produce quick-turn, short-run products, even if the content is static.
- Papers, inks and software tools are now evolving at a pace that is starting to keep up with production inkjet equipment technology. Workflow is also evolving at a rapid pace, making it easier to support the transition from conventional print to digital.
- Smart companies understand that the capital investment model for printing equipment is changing, at least in the near-term. It is much shorter, more like computers. It is no longer a seven- to 10-year proposition due to the pace of change and evolution.
- The future of our industry, and print in general, is very bright. We may actually be at the start of a printing Renaissance in which opportunities exist for those with vision. More importantly, we need to recognize that print is no longer constrained by static content. Instead, a piece of paper is now essentially a blank digital canvas.
I couldn’t agree more, Dave. The future truly does lie with those able to develop a solid game plan with a clear vision - and be able to pivot, when necessary - in an industry that’s evolving at a breakneck pace.