FESPA Global Summit Blue Print: Innovation – the Way Forward This FESPA Blueprint is the distillation of the key themes, discussions and presentations that came from the FESPA Global Summit on 25-26 March 2010 in Miami, Florida. The Summit successfully connected leading innovators from Europe and the USA. In addition, the event also benefited from delegates from outside of these two main regions including Hong Kong, New Zealand, Canada, India and Brazil. The purpose of the Summit was also to create a practical outcome. It was a gathering of leaders, brought together to discuss the challenges, problems and opportunities for our market. Its aim is to create a programme of action for attendees and the wider community. This ‘FESPA Blueprint’ attempts to outline the themes, discussions and presentations from the Summit. And it also outlines some of the ideas, agreements, models and behaviours deemed necessary for a successful, innovative print oriented business of the future. Using the broad themes of change, leadership and innovation – the FESPA Blueprint is an outline of ideas for success, by embracing and integrating innovation into printers’ businesses for the future.
1 Change The Summit agreed that significant macro and micro change has impacted our marketplace and that print production volume has been universally affected across the world. FESPA surveys with InfoTrends outline a dip of 15% to 20% in volume demand for print. The pressure this has placed on the market has resulted in many businesses closing and many businesses along the supply chain being bought or consolidated by others. This has also resulted in an even more intense focus on price and speed of production. That said, the market is most certainly in a more positive state than that of 12 months ago. According to the FESPA/InfoTrends Economy Survey 1 & 2, the marketplace has responded to this downturn by focusing on efficiencies. This has been a sensible short term reaction but is not sustainable, profitable, long term behaviour for any
Global Summit Blueprint business. With a focus on efficiencies, the desire to take risk is muted. And risk is a vital component of innovation. Innovation and progress don’t exist without creativity and risk. Throughout 2009 we saw a focus on the reduction of price and on a focus on increased efficiency and the consequent reduction of decision making. This is defensive activity. Many print businesses were able to survive 2009 by running their businesses this way. However, as the market returns to a more positive state, this behaviour is not sustainable. The Summit also accepted that, despite a more positive economy, the market had not returned to its previous position. This ‘new normal’ is a more competitive environment. On the shop floor competition has intensified further and, consequently, there is a more intense focus on speed of production. Decisions on retail promotions are being made later and print shops are expected to respond to this fierce demand whilst charging less for an enhanced service. This is reinforced by findings from the World Wide Survey 3 report, a FESPA research project in partnership with InfoTrends. This altered landscape demands a more focused, higher performing and innovative business able to continually meet production demands and enhanced value for their customers. Wider change in consumer and marketing trends and how the buying population interfaces with information were also accepted and noted as another core motivator for change amongst the wide format community. The FESPA Global Summit tackled the need to use innovative technologies to produce conceptual marketing solutions for customers.
the summit attendees regarded complementary technologies, such as social media, digital signage as well as other printing and sign making technologies, as an opportunity to integrate print into the wider, strategic marketing objectives customers may have. Delegates did not see new marketing technologies as threats to print but accepted, for example with social media, that perhaps they themselves were not exploiting the promotional opportunity social media provides. In fact some delegates had successfully deployed digital signage with their printed products to great effect through effective blending of technologies. QR Codes (which was also highlighted at the Summit) is also a new complementary technology that can integrate print with new interactive technologies designed to enhance communication performance in outdoor advertising.
1a) Market Forces Jeff Hayes, President of InfoTrends, in his presentation, outlined that in the U.S, in a typical year, 1,000 print shops close down. In 2009, more than 6,000 closed down due to the economic downturn. He described the need for operational refinement and innovation as the most effective ways to move ahead in today’s wide format marketplace. As Denise Gustavson commented, this is inevitably increasing the level of over-capacity in the market as the volume is yet to return to the pre-recession position. Jeff also asserted that a blend of technologies (print and IT) will be required to meet the new demands of both production and sales and marketing. The successful companies that are emerging from this economic downturn are going to be faster, leaner, more opportunistic and smarter. Jeff said that companies in the sign and display market have to re-evaluate; they are really integrated promotional services providers, and as such they should invest in the kind of IT systems that will enable competition in this new, “print-plus” world.
1b) Economic Change In the opening session Summit delegates were reminded that the economic balance of power is in the process of shifting from the west to the east. China’s economic growth continues to affect economic and foreign policy. This relentless shift is unstoppable; however, according to economic commentators, China isn’t necessarily an environment rich for innovation. Established marketplaces have an opportunity to continue
to out-perform developing economies with regards to innovation being the driver of value, differentiation and growth. Competing on price is impossible.
1c) Consumer Change With increased expectations, a more affluent, time poor, demanding, informed and empowered consumer expects products that perfectly match their needs. The modern consumer is more concerned about personal image and demands that their products are personalised. They want to receive products quickly, at the right price and to a high standard. The advent of social media means that groups and individuals have the power and motivation to make or break a new product. The brands that market to this new breed of consumer recognise this change and are continually attempting to engage the customer with experiential, emotional style marketing that enlists the advocacy and loyalty of the consumer. There is significant opportunity in any business that can help a brand to reach a customer by producing arresting, innovative marketing that generates impact, creates differentiation and delivers results. The World Wide Survey research projects have charted increases in this regard (over a 2 year period when comparing responses to questions around demand for personalisation, speed of production etc) of up to over 20% reinforcing that consumer demand is also driving digital inkjet innovation.
1d) Marketing Change Social Media Simon Burton and Alex Hunter talked about the need for anyone in business to be ‘part of the conversation’ that is taking place online. The astronomical growth of social media as a participative forum for bloggers, networkers, opinion formers and activists has turned the media world on its head. Traditional broadcast media is in decline. Niche and ‘user generated’ communication is coming to the fore. This style of media enables personalised consumption and participation and enables the user to generate value for free – this connection is bypassing traditional media which is unable to compete. The newspaper industry in the USA was held up as an example of how this shift has led to decline in business further compounded by the economic downturn.
Denise Gustavson comments on social media for print businesses, ‘twitter and social media allows companies to extend their brand and interact in real-time with customers and potential customers. A presence both on the web and in social media is required these days, because in many cases, this might be the first impression a PSP is giving a new customer. Print buyers are looking at these mediums increasingly to determine who they will want to work with for upcoming campaigns’.
The Change Summary The Summit’s closing remarks outlined the need to recognise change and innovate accordingly. The successful business is aware and has compensated for this change strategically, using a positive approach to moving the business forward via innovation. Leading the change and being at the forefront is a proactive approach that enhances the likelihood of business success. Reacting or responding to change means that you don’t control the future of your business. Change is in control of your business and this is dramatically reducing the likelihood of success.
2 Leadership The Summit was a gathering of leaders so it was particularly relevant to outline the importance of leadership. Innovation requires commitment from the top. The leader sets the tone, environment, culture and creates the vision for the business. However, the summit challenged the traditional notion of leadership being one of power, hierarchy and dictatorship. The modern leader isn’t necessarily a ‘larger than life’ figure that assertively and instinctively knows the right thing to do and mobilises workers to reach goals laid down by him or her. The modern innovative business benefits from both a leadership team and an innovation team. Even in a small business, an innovation culture can be created. In many respects, it is easier to mobilise and motivate a smaller number of people around a shared future vision of success. In the ‘Change’ section of the event we saw how consumers want information and how, as Alex Hunter described ‘Content is Queen’ and ‘User is King’. The wider spectrum of consumption is now participation. This, it was suggested, should also be prevalent in
successful, innovative businesses. From the lowliest administrator to the leader, everyone has a voice and should be given the forum to air their views and ideas. The organisations that innovative leaders create are flatter, more informal and inclusive – as opposed to autocratic, structured and hierarchical. This was seen as integral to success in future oriented, innovative media businesses of the future. The hierarchical structure of information consumption has changed. And the hierarchy typified in modern, innovative businesses has moved also. The notion of an autocratic structure with the ‘boss’ at the top making all of the important decisions and a reactive, subservient workforce executing demands is also outdated. The modern, innovative and less autocratic business allows for autonomous action and a high level of trust amongst the employees that work for it. This is typified by many leading online brands, where all employees feel part of the vision, are allowed and encouraged to grow and innovate in their own sphere. Denise Gustavson adds to this point by explaining that in her experience, ‘speaking with owners of many PSPs, they’ll always say that their most valuable asset in their companies is their employees. And while that is true, I’ve also found that the most successful shops are the ones who are able to find employees that have complimentary and strong skills but maybe don’t necessarily fit the “traditional” mould. This gives them a unique perspective on the market and their business. If owners are able to harness the ideas and innovation from their staff as a whole—combining traditional employees with non-traditional employees—and find ways to “make it work” they can find themselves in a in a much better position with their customers and their business.’ As well as the right mix of people, the structure has to be more flat. In this type of organisation, team members communicate more consistently and proactively and a culture of innovation is stimulated. Google has demonstrated an enlightened approach by allowing key workers to dedicate 20% of their working time to developing new ideas. Innovations as iGoogle and Gmail have come from this approach, proving that an
empowered environment results in cool, applicable, practical innovation. Sophie Matthews-Paul expands on this point: ‘It also is clear that people provide a major key to innovation and diversity. However, resistance from existing established companies has caused a chasm between younger individuals who have a youthful and fresh attitude to all communications’ channels and their older counterparts. A fresh approach is apparent with recently formed businesses, including those with no prior print experience; these have an open book in how they utilise their technology.’ The Summit didn’t suggest that being an innovative business is easy. But a business that is likely to want to grow and remain at the forefront of the marketplace must embrace innovation at its very core. And innovation isn’t defined as purely investing in innovative technology. The leader has responsibility for defining the environment and ambition of the business. With the right people in place, an innovative and successful business can be created.
3 Innovation – an organisational commitment To be a leading innovative business demands a commitment. The innovation doesn’t have to be purely technological. In fact, innovation in printing should be more about how a leader creates the right fertile environment for innovation. This requires a holistic approach and a strategic commitment in order for a business to position itself fully for innovation. ‘Innovation calls for a special type of creativity – team creativity’ says John Adair, in Leadership for Innovation. But what does innovation mean? Nova = Latin for ‘New’. For our businesses it is a new idea that generates value. This may be profitable value created by a new idea or product that enables efficiencies or differentiation, through a service or technology. What do Google, Apple, Virgin, Nintendo, Starbucks, IKEA, Honda have in common? Apart from success, all of these businesses have a strategic commitment to innovation. They place innovation at the core of their strategy. They manage and have successfully managed change by innovating. They are also
seen as leaders in their respective fields. As Steve Jobs says, ‘Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower’. The Summit agreed that there has possibly been an over-reliance on technological innovation. The market, in order to begin to grow once more, needs to innovate in all areas, not just by investing in the latest innovative technology. This doesn’t really mean you are an innovative business. It means you have invested in innovative technology. And this is something that the printer’s customer does not value. They want their printed product cheaper and quicker, remember! In the eight steps to innovation, we outline a process that will increase the likelihood of success for your innovation venture. This process can be used but will only succeed when the ‘innovation vision’ of the organisation has been successfully created. ‘Soft innovation’ could work as well as technological innovation! Innovation doesn’t have to be purely technological innovation - it could also be related to a process, service or a concept. The essence of brands like Virgin is in experience as opposed to technology. The print business can innovate through service differentiation, increased value of consultancy, the generation of valuable creative ideas and an inspiring customer experience.
Getting the right people on board On the theme of recruitment, the Summit felt that one benefit generated by the recession is that all businesses are running lean and, as the market recovers, there is an opportunity to pay particular focus on recruiting the right people to do the right jobs in a recovered market. This, it was felt, was worth spending time and effort in doing as the cost of recruiting the wrong people can have a devastating effect on a small business.
Over reliance on technology? In a blog post on www.fespa2010.com – ‘Don’t sell the plant list’! We tackled the common activity that print businesses undertake when trying to enlist new business in ‘Don’t sell the plant list’! Printers tend to talk technology to customers who are more interested in the output. Not only that, the
reliance on technological innovation has meant that the development of creative, innovative marketing concepts may have suffered. Sophie Matthews-Paul agrees: ‘There is a definite tendency for “older school” print service providers to cling onto their existing business models and show reluctance to change or refresh either the work they provide or the way in which they promote it — or both. Enormous attention and effort are put into trying to win orders on price or turnround but less emphasis seems to be given on bringing something different to the party.’ This was agreed within the media panel, which featured some of the leading editors and among the leading printers in the innovation debate. Although digital technology allows a raft of innovative applications, the major battles have been fought over price and process. The technology has fought the battle and speed is still the biggest concern amongst printers when purchasing new print technology. The Summit agreed that as a marketplace/industry we are too reliant on the technology and not on how we develop our businesses by embracing technology. The relationship that print service providers have with print technology manufacturers was seen to be a very positive one, and one that is vital for a print shop in terms of continuing to produce product in line with demands from the customer. The summit also agreed that selling the ‘plant list’ was no longer an effective approach to marketing and communicating credentials to customers.
Behaving like a media and not a trade! Selling a ‘plant list’ is not effective selling – historically printing has been regarded as a ‘trade’. This has consequently shaped its behaviour with its customers and how it communicated. The Summit agreed, for example, that ‘selling the plant list’ was not effective selling. The fact that print is looked upon as a ‘trade’ has led to the customer and supplier relationship being one of ‘master’ and ‘servant’. This, it was felt by the summit attendees, has to adapt in order for print production to be sustained as a viable medium and in order to grow its share of the ‘media pie’.
If the wider print marketplace became more ‘media savvy’, the likelihood is it will be rated as a higher value industry in the eyes of the brands and agencies that are responsible for buying large volumes of printed products. Print needs to achieve parity in the eyes of the customer, the agency, the print buyer and marketer. Print companies need to develop relationships with customers on a strategic level. If the customer feels there is competitive advantage to be gained by working with a supplier that provides them with access to innovation, this relationship ceases to become transactional and becomes a partnership. The printer becomes an extension of the customer’s business and is therefore more valuable.
Experimentation The Summit agreed that not all innovation needed to be radical, disruptive innovation. The innovation could also be incremental and should and could also be applied through experimentation. This is effective in that it enables the company to see the innovation work and allows time for any ‘glitches’ or ‘imperfections’ to be ‘ironed out’.
Recruiting Young Talent The summit agreed that recruiting the right people and keeping them was absolutely critical to the chances of success. But the fact that print isn’t necessarily viewed as a contemporary medium, as it should be, also impacts on the recruitment of young people into the community. The fight for the best people, it was felt, by the Summit is sometimes lost to other areas of media including agencies, online, design, publishing etc. The Summit felt that as a marketplace we are not on the radar of universities’ curricula and not taken seriously enough. Again, Sophie Matthews-Paul agrees: ‘The lack of awareness amongst school and college leavers doesn’t encourage a career in the wide format sector. Yet computer skills are in evidence throughout the younger generations and these capabilities are becoming increasingly necessary as webdriven content is used throughout all commercial and industrial environments as well as for social and recreational purposes.’ The irony of our market being incredibly visually arresting and not being visually connected to young people is contradictory and something Summit delegates felt this offered
an opportunity, with the new breed of digitally led print businesses being more engaged with current media, trends and fashion.
Communication Performance The Summit agreed that as a marketplace, community or industry, print is not a leader in terms of communication. Print is more process oriented and less about engaging and inspiring customers. The ‘transactional’ approach is seen as a possible way to conduct business when times are good and orders are coming in but it is not sustainable in the ‘new normal’. A vital component of any innovative business is the ability to communicate these innovations. The most innovative business will not enjoy the same level of success if they fail to communicate effectively. This weakness, it was seen, was a core problem hampering print’s ability to compete with other media which are more effective, proactive and consequently more attractive. It has also allowed the existence of print management and broker companies who provide a communication bridge between printers and printers’ customers. In addition to highlighting the problem, Simon Burton, an independent marketing impresario toured the Summit through a number of options available to any business, for free, or at very little cost, on the Internet. The perception amongst us all is that marketing has to cost us a lot of money and investment. Burton’s presentation pointed to the eventual demise in the need for agencies. With the increased availability of a number of resources on the Internet, the individual is now empowered to market himself without the need for a expensive marketing consultant or agency. Simon Burton showcased all that was possible with the Internet in terms of utilising free marketing tools available to anyone. The shocking reality is that some print shops still exist without feeling the need to have a website. Burton identified dozens of web tools that would facilitate marketing in a digital era – presenting PSPs with tips and ideas for reaching wide format print buyers in new ways, many of which are free or very low cost.
Focus Burton also discussed focus in his session. He highlighted the story behind the success of the Matthew Pinsent and Stephen
Redgrave partnership that dominated rowing for a number of years. ‘Scarred after not winning the European Championships, the partners decided that they would not allow themselves to be distracted from their core aim of winning the Olympic Gold in Athens. They agreed that any training activity or programme related to their preparations would be assessed against this maxim. Does it make the boat go faster? ‘If it didn't make the boat go faster, they simply refused to do it. They won the gold medal. But how often do we stray from our core vision and how often do we simply not write down and agree what the aims and visions of our businesses are? If we had a simple maxim, vision statement or goal that was agreed upon by the whole organisation – success would undoubtedly be increased as a result. So, does it make our print shop faster? Leaner? More profitable? More innovative? Your goals are up to you to define and decide!
Blending Technologies With the advent of the digital revolution and the consequent convergence of technologies, processes and businesses – there is a trend to blending technology and processes. In fact, it was suggested that the word ‘print’ may no longer be an accurate way to describe a business within the ‘imaging’ sector. Research indicates that the marketplace we inhabit is describing itself differently and fragmenting. This was occurring anyway, but the economic crisis has increased the speed of this change. The downturn has forced many businesses to look to niches and the relative growth of wide format has enticed new entrepreneurs into the industry who describe themselves differently and serve different niches – for example: photography, interior design, design, architecture, fine art. This fragmentation also means that technology is blended with other processes that would not have normally been possible through analogue. For example a screen printer can vary between one of only three different types: Graphic, Textile and Industrial. The modern printing business may have multiple processes that allow the business to provide value for their customers. This may also be in-house design, marketing services, concept creation and build, direct mailing, smaller format print and web services. At the
top end of the scale there is a move towards integrated marketing services or ‘one stop shops’, while at the smaller end of the scale, niches are fragmenting the landscape. In the middle, we believe that there has been the most negative change with business closures and consolidation. These businesses are the most difficult types of businesses to sustain as their speciality is less clear, their pricing less competitive and their future more uncertain.
The Pro-Sumer Opportunity Undoubtedly, consumers are interfacing with wide format digital printing far more now than ever before. Their knowledge of the technology is increasing and in some cases, as with photography, they are actively seeking this technology to add value to images they have taken. This links in with the mega-trend around consumption and personalisation. As wide format is now commonplace in interior design, retailers, manufacturers et al are successfully exploiting the potential of digital personalisation as a commercial revenue stream. This is an exciting trend and a digital print specialist would do well to leap onto this by experimenting with how to create new applications, then grasping the opportunity by going out and selling this to retailers. Michael Ryan in his presentation showcased his successful approach to selling digital print for the construction industry.
Personalisation through software The increase of demand for sophisticated communications from the retail sector has resulted in a heightened demand for personalisation, versioning and customisation. This affects point of sale printing through versioning or variable data printing, shorter runs and faster turnaround. This means that the effective use of technology improves the power of communication and the value in the eyes of the retailer. This also addresses the eventual impact of digital signage and other competitive media which are able to quickly message and personalise to different audiences, different products, at different points of the day.
Sophie Matthews-Paul stated: ‘Customisation, variable data and versioning had been considered by remarkably few as a valuable and time saving tool in wide-format digital print on higher volumes where one or more text or graphic elements needed to be changed. The education on this facility has been lacking and, in a round table I chaired last year, an advertising agency representative present had absolutely no idea that such a facility was possible in the display sector. No-one had passed on this information or determined whether there was a viable interest in producing personalised print in our market sector. My own findings and reports on variable data are finally being taken up, although my views are that this is a feature unique to digital print which should have been addressed in the wide-format sector several years ago.’
Print Management Kills Innovation! In the breakout sessions the groups discussed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to our marketplace. Tim Greene of InfoTrends feeds back from his particular group session: ‘The session I was in focused on the idea that it is critical to protect margins in a business that has a lot of competition, and the best way to do that is through continuously offering better service and services in spite of the downturn. The people I was in session with seemed to think that print buyers are both a blessing and a curse.. Print buyers offer business, yes; but they also price-shop and can be very demanding, which reduces profitability. Some of them also reported that overcapacity is a big problem – I don’t believe this – I think companies buy capacity to allow them to meet the demand of their busiest times, which could be one to two days per week.’
Collaborate and Innovate! Print management companies and print brokers exist as they make life easier for customers who believe they get the best possible price for their print. At the Summit we heard how some print businesses are collaborating to counter the effect of print management by, in essence, beating them at their own game. Collaborating with other print businesses can enhance the value and power of your business. Smart printers develop a network of like-minded business partners that complement their core product offering, serve another type of market or extend their regional reach.
The Summit heard from Christian Duyckaerts from Print and Display in Belgium of how collaboration with other print businesses is possible. POP Europe is designed to extend the reach and the value of four businesses in the UK, Belgium, Germany and Italy, making it easier for customers to produce large cross border campaigns and for the printer to protect and extend their business.
Digital Textile Printing The Summit saw some great presentations on innovation in digital textile printing production. Clearly, this application has seen significant growth over the past two to three years and has been led by the European market. The benefits that digital textile production brings for customers are ease and relative low cost of shipping and transfer, a flexible substrate that can be used to create big impact environments that can be created and built very quickly and changed and altered at a lower cost than physical build or with solid substrate graphic production. Andreas Skantze of Big Image, whose HQ is in Sweden, delivered another inspiring presentation as to how print can be produced to meet and exceed customer expectations. Big Image have been at the forefront of digital textile printing and have revolutionised theatre set design through innovative printing onto black utilising light effectively to create multi-dimensional environments that take a fraction of the set up time and allow for impressive backdrops that require minimal install. They have since extended their business from this creative and innovative base. Big Images’ work includes a 40,000 sq metre concave print of Everest at Base Camp 4 which was commissioned to commemorate the first successful ascent of the highest mountain in the world. The Summit agreed that digital textile print production is making inroads into many areas of digital print production, including soft signage, and has some compelling benefits including its lightweight, flexible nature making it easy to move and install, and its softening texture helping to create a different effect and new and exciting results.
New Niches driven by New Applications Without question the notion of the ‘long tail’ (that the mainstream is now challenged by a
long tail of niches that serve a fragmented set of needs from more diverse consumer groups) mirrors the demand from the market for specialist print to fulfil a specific need. Many print shops have responded to the pressure on volume by downsizing and looking at more profitable niche applications. This has resulted in success for some traditional graphic print production specialist companies who were no longer able to sustain a commercially viable business by competing on volume and on price. The commoditised value of print declines when a customer no longer sees a price advantage with the supplier he uses. In the presentation by Michael Ryan from Brilliant Graphics we saw how ‘thinking out of the box’ could have dramatic results. Michael had successfully used digital inkjet technology to solve a technical problem for a construction brand that produces ceramic tiles for the consumer marketplace. By printing the tile samples, Michael was able to provide the client with a high quality sample that was more lightweight, flexible and user friendly in the confines of a sample book.
Being Planet Friendly - Environment This mega-trend continues to be as important to us despite the adverse effects of the economy. It may have temporarily suspended itself in the pecking order, but its importance remains intact. The emphasis on planet friendly print production, certainly from established economies, continues to progress. Research taken from World Wide Survey 2 comparing developing economies with established economies, shows that this isn’t entirely a global trend. For example, developing economies still favour solvent over more environmentally responsible print production methods. Denise Gustavson also added to the discussion about the environment, ‘According to a recent InfoTrends survey, print buyers (while are not prepared to pay an additional/higher price) are looking for green solutions – and some of it is because of personal preference. It was interesting to see how much personal preference was starting to play in terms of print purchase.’ Clearly this issue is having an impact on personal opinion as well as corporate agenda.
Both Mike Horsten and Paul Lilienthal presented sessions from Europe and the US on sustainability and how to minimise waste and increase your carbon footprint. In terms of profitability there are businesses that are prospering. Nonetheless, the transition to a sustainable model for some may be too big a step to take. But as the opening session outlined – the notion of the minority campaigner ‘saving the planet’ has shifted mainstream as leading retailers pledge carbon neutrality. Being able to produce environmentally sound product is going to be a necessity. Tim Greene commented: ‘Paul Lilienthal gave a good talk about how his company Pictura Graphics has embraced sustainability and made it one of the differentiators for his company. Pictura was the first SGP-certified printer in the US and Paul has been on the forefront of the SGP since its inception. Paul’s major point on sustainability was that, while some of the “green” substrates and processes may cost more, Paul’s company has integrated sustainability, which has in fact reduced many of the perceived additional costs associated with ‘going green’. Sophie Matthews-Paul comments that in her experience, price is still the determining factor when customers are buying print. So whilst sustainability is still very much a key factor in the future of how consumers buy products, in the short term, price is overriding any concern buyers have for the environment.
Print Convergence Regions, technologies and trends are converging and this is taking place in print also. In terms of printing processes, this is an opportunity for an innovative business person who isn’t constrained by the process or the previous heritage of their business. It was mentioned that perhaps print would actually cease to be a word that is used to describe a company that has print technology deployed within it. Technologies used within businesses continue to fragment and the names used to describe these businesses are now more varied than before. As we noted in ‘blending technologies’, processes need to be combined to create print for customers who are looking to consolidate their suppliers and enhance their efficiencies and printer would do well to recognise this change. With blending
technologies, the traditional description of a business will change from ‘screen printer’ or ‘digital printer’ to ‘graphics solutions’. This is leading to convergence in the market as business leaders invest in technologies that enable them to build their business and provide solutions for their customers that exist beyond one single process. Denise Gustavson also commented that, ‘in a way, innovative PSP’s need to be “medium agnostic”. They need to be able to be flexible and work with their partners to provide a vast array of marketing collateral – from wide format display graphics and variable data pieces and small-format brochures and direct mail pieces to integrated web and text campaigns – to really broaden the reach/touch points of their customers and connect with the target markets.’ The World Wide Survey 3 also highlights that the adoption of digital print technology has fragmented. This is due to the fact that the technology is easier to use and apply in business. Previously, organisations may have outsourced this print service simply because it required craftsman like skills to reproduce the necessary results through screen printing. In addition, print businesses are adopting new digital print processes to deliver a more complete service to customers who may want to source all of their requirements from one source as opposed to multiple sources.
Future Technology With the continuing digital revolution in other spheres of technology, such as social media, hand-held cellular technology and online technology, time at work and time at home consuming information through similar technologies is growing exponentially. The Summit enjoyed two key sessions that delivered insight into the future of the printed world. The presentations included highlights of sophisticated marketing techniques utilising QR codes that enable marketing posters to talk directly with you via your iPhone. The Summit also heard about prints place in a world of augmented reality where technology and ‘real life’ interplay to provide the consumer with an enhanced, enriched living experiences.
QR Codes Sudhir Ravi delivered a fascinating presentation into the marketing potential of QR codes and print. Clearly, out of home marketing will continue to evolve in terms of
its sophistication and its ability to connect directly with the consumer. Tim Greene from InfoTrends enthused about this presentation: ‘Smart print really got me excited. I think one of the missing factors in wide format printing is the lack of a measure on how effective signage really is. The talk on smart print suggested that, through inexpensive integration of QR codes and other technologies, wide format printers could gain a bigger share of advertising budget and truly move toward becoming a partner for ad agencies and advertisers. In my opinion, this was one of the most powerful presentations of the Summit because several of the printers that I have spoken to subsequently were planning to go back and start working on a smart print strategy right away.’
But what is a QR code? Wikipedia defines a QR Code as: a matrix code (or two-dimensional bar code) created by Japanese corporation Denso-Wave in 1994. Although initially used for tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing, QR Codes are now used in a much broader context, including both commercial tracking applications and convenience-oriented applications aimed at mobile phone users (known as mobile tagging). QR Codes storing addresses and URLs may now have a number of applications, most interestingly for print in magazines, on signs, buses, business cards, or just about any object that users might need information about. This act of linking from physical world objects is known as a hardlink or physical world hyperlinks. Users can also generate and print their own QR Code for others to scan and use by visiting one of several free QR Code generating sites. The applications and uses are very interesting. For example with mobile/cellular phone tagging, a consumer can enter a shop and be welcomed personally by in-store marketing technology that could communicate directly the products that the person may be individually interested in knowing about. This could reduce the need for browsing for the shopper and could dramatically enhance the power of an in-store marketing method. Any printer able to integrate this technology could provide their customers with a very clever technique for in-store retailers and brands looking to increase the pull and performance of their communications. Whilst this is an evolving technology, its implementation is
bound to happen at some stage and a business well placed to exploit this new technology will get the value from being the first to be able to do so.
Augmented Reality Wikipedia defines ‘augmented reality’ as a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are augmented by virtual computer-generated imagery. The technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. Augmented reality research explores the application of computer-generated imagery in live-video streams as a way to expand the realworld. Advanced research includes use of headmounted displays and virtual retinal displays for visualization purposes, and construction of controlled environments containing any number of sensors and actuators. Roman Wiesphal of TrendOne presented an amazing glimpse of the future – one where print becomes integrated with futuristic technologies to augment the environments and the applications that we interact with. This glimpse into the future certainly had a place for print as both a platform and as a tangible and semipermanent feature from which augmented reality can perform. For an example of how augmented reality may look, check out this new application that will be soon available for the iPhone. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2uHjrsSxs
The Wrap Up Tim Greene concluded neatly: ‘The wrap-up session identified the greatest strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats that the wide format printing industry faces. These were identified by the groups and prioritised by the consensus or comparing of notes among the groups. The opportunities ranged from emerging applications (interior décor) to expansion of the digital print value proposition (variable data) all the way through to the attraction of new talent and advanced marketing techniques. The concept of cross media integration and digital asset management platforms as dis-intermediating factors presents a kind of structural change that will take time to create and explore, but worth developing.
There are also very real threats, including non-printed signage and other advertising methods that have grabbed a greater share of advertising spend, such as web advertising and digital signage. There are also a lot of unknowns related to sustainability and regulation of the signage (especially outdoor signage) market that has to play out â€“ but to the extent that it is possible, industry associations have to help membership with these issues, and have to help the print buying public and government regulators understand the reality of the issues being addressed; for example, is digital signage more sustainable than printed signage? Are signs and billboards drivers of economic activity? There is a new and higher level of leadership required to meet the challenges of the next decade â€“ the people in the room generally recognise that times are changing and that to compete in the market now they have to be every bit as tough, opportunistic, and creative as they ever have been, but now they must use the tools and technologies of today and of the future to develop innovative business models and business practices.â€™ The Summit agreed that in order to continue to succeed, a modern print business must recognise change and lead their businesses by creating an innovative culture and continue to challenge their customers with innovative solutions to their communication problems. The future is exciting, but the future, undoubtedly demands innovation at every level. Author: Marcus Timson Contributors: Tim Greene, Sophie Matthews-Paul & Denise Gustavson.
Global Summit Blueprint
This FESPA Blueprint is the distillation of the key themes, discussions and presentations that came from the FESPA Global Summit on 25-26 Ma...
Published on May 28, 2010
This FESPA Blueprint is the distillation of the key themes, discussions and presentations that came from the FESPA Global Summit on 25-26 Ma...