The Survey Says...Next 'Big Things' in 2014
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.
Print service providers also designated Web-to-print and personalized print services as key growth services. While these services aren't new, customer demand for them is picking up. Web-to-print is a key means to address marketers' increased demand for improving marketing supply chain management—the chain of suppliers that an organization relies on to produce marketing materials. Web-to-print systems provide marketers with an agile and scalable communication ordering process to reduce costs from over-ordering of materials, better control branding and provide real-time visibility into print costs.
The ability to personalize a document is a key aspect of making its content relevant. Personalizing printed documents to recipients isn't new, but marketers' focus on personalized communication has moved to the mainstream as they explore options to enhance communication relevance.
Respondents identified wide-format graphics, high-speed inkjet, point-of-purchase displays, labels, textile printing and packaging applications as top digital printing services marked for expansion (see Figure 3). Emerging digital print applications, such as 3D printing and industrial print applications (i.e., printing on textiles, ceramics and laminate materials) will gain a toehold in 2014, as firms embrace new applications, according to respondents. Functional printing applications, such as pad printing and membrane switches, are beginning to surface, as companies look for innovative ways to expand printing services. 3D and industrial printing applications offer establishments the ability to take advantage of an emerging opportunity without pushing them too far outside their comfort zone.
Lisa Cross is the principal analyst of NAPCO Research (a unit of NAPCO Media) where she conducts market research and analysis on emerging trends and changing dynamics in the commercial, in-plant and packaging industries, and the market forces that are driving those changes. With decades of experience covering the graphic arts and marketing industries, Cross has authored thousands of articles on a variety of topics, including technology trends, business strategy, sales, marketing and legislation.