The Survey Says...Next 'Big Things' in 2014
Backing Plans with Investment
When asked what specific actions firms will take in 2014, more than half reported plans to invest in hardware (58 percent) and software (52 percent). The overall sentiment for adding or expanding services was to build them internally, as only 19 percent planned to partner with another company to add services and 14 percent planned to acquire another company.
The top investment category for respondents was hardware. Investments in finishing and digital printing technology are the top investment areas identified by respondents (see Figure 4). The continued competition from online channels has many businesses seeking to leverage and enhance printing's tactile advantage through innovative finishing techniques. Digital color and wide-format printing also are top investment categories as they serve increasing customer demands for short-run, on-demand production and personalization. More than 50 percent of respondents reported that business growth is driving investment in digital printing devices. High-speed inkjet is also on the 2014 PSP investment agenda; about half of respondents either plan to or are considering investing in it. More than a third of PSPs are considering or planning to purchase a high-speed color inkjet device to grow business or expand offerings.
Software investment plans focused primarily on print production workflows. Creative, workflow, Web-to-print, MIS and VDP software were the top software types budgeted for this year. Color management software is the top software investment that PSPs are considering.
As business plans for 2014 are put into action, the key challenge for print service providers will be to find the right combination of "new" and traditional services to better serve customers and grow business. Printing companies need to take action to find that balance and pursue new growth opportunities. 2014 promises to be a year of innovation in core, ancillary and new services, as providers look to harvest and profit from the "next big thing." PI
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.