Color Migration & Digital Delivery: Trends in Transactional Communications
“If you build it, they will come” a familiar quote from the movie “Field of Dreams” has come to mean for those in the business world that if something useful has been built, people will come to use it and pay for it. This is true in many instances; however, when it comes to color inkjet technology and transitioning away from monochrome print … not so much. Just ask the service providers who participated in our research.
Color inkjet has been around for more than a decade, and throughout the years, there have been significant improvements in this technology, including faster print speeds and better output quality — all while the price point for a color image dropped to a more attractive level. So what gives? Why has color adoption been slower than anticipated?
In February, Madison Advisors released a research report, “Color Migration and Digital Delivery: Trends in Transactional Communications.” Despite a lower number of research participants, our results proved similar to our previous study: monochrome still rules. We surveyed print service providers and enterprises that operate an in-plant production facility or have outsourced print and mail. As the author of this research, I decided to expand our purview beyond monochrome versus color image volumes to include the role color print plays in an omnichannel communications strategy and trends in digital delivery. Additionally, I decided to dig deeper and understand the barriers to color adoption from the perspective of print service providers and enterprises.
Despite the fact that all of our study participants (excluding enterprises who outsourced print and mail) have made the investment in color inkjet technology, there is still a high percentage of output printed monochrome — 75% for service providers and 79.5% for enterprise in-plants. Several reasons were noted for the high volume of monochrome print; however, the service providers indicated that cost per impression for color when compared to monochrome was the primary barrier inhibiting their clients from making the transition.
In the CCM industry, we often hear the terms multi-channel and omnichannel delivery in reference to how organizations communicate with their customers. Despite predictions made years ago that print will be a thing of the past, the truth is print is still an important communication channel and one that (in my humble opinion) will not completely go away any time soon. Of course, there are regulatory reasons why certain communications have to be in print, but despite the push for electronic delivery, not one participant in our research can boast overall e-adoption rates above 50%. This means that organizations must still consider print as an important component of an omnichannel communications strategy.
That said, the proverbial elephant in the room is preference management, which is a critical component of an optimized CCM strategy. I believe that it is still a gap based on experience working with enterprise clients and the results of this research. Since preference data is used in the composition process to optimize the content and the output based on the selected delivery channel(s), it presents an opportunity for print service providers to offer a robust solution in addition to composition services and multi-channel delivery.
But the question remains, if service providers build out a complete CCM platform that includes composition services, preference management and omnichannel delivery that includes color print … will they come?
Gina Ferrara is a senior analyst with Madison Advisors and provides advisory services to organizations in service provider and financial services industries. She focuses on helping organizations achieve their strategic customer communications management (CCM) goals and objectives and provides consulting services related to best practices for print and mail operations, postal optimization and address quality, and multi-channel delivery. Ferrara routinely helps clients with a variety of matters, including managing requests for proposals (RFPs) for print outsourcing and CCM hosted managed services, as well as conducting best practice assessments for enterprise and service provider clients.