GRAPHIC ARTS Your perfect connection to the printing, graphic arts, sign and packaging industries
POST-PANDEMIC PREPRESS PART 2 METASKILLS FOR THE ROBOTIC AGE
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Contents GRAPHIC ARTS October 2020 | Volume 23 | No. 8
Your perfect connection to the printing, graphic arts, sign and packaging industries
October 2020 | Volume 23 | No. 8 | $7.95
9 Post-pandemic prepress: Part 2
POST-PANDEMIC PREPRESS PART 2
Evolving tools enabling the new normal of ‘distributed’ work Dan Sparrow
18 Pitko – passion-driven print on demand Inside an automated photo print fulfillment centre Peter Dulis
METASKILLS FOR THE ROBOTIC AGE
22 Metaskills: Five talents you need for the robotic age Five skills you’ll need to keep you ahead of machines Diana Varma
24 Blockchain technology: A game changer Post-pandemic prepress: Part 2
How it’s transforming traditional business models Caterina Valentino
26 Printed newsletters to help reopen your business Why they’re a better way to get your clients back Staff writers
28 The future of transactional printing How disruption is creating opportunities Wally Vogel
29 Claiming home-office expenses during the pandemic Answers to your most-asked questions Steve Aprile
30 The four quadrants of selling printing Metaskills: Five talents you need for the robotic age
How to successfully sell to today’s print buyers Dave Hultin
34 Four tips to social selling success The evolution of social selling and its four pillars Joanne Gore
In every issue
The future of transactional printing
Four tips to social selling success
8 14 20 32 33
Print industry news New products Installations List of advertisers Classifieds
View from the publisher
With great challenge, comes great opportunity As we say goodbye to the summer heat and welcome in the fall season across Canada, I am excited and thankful for you taking the time to check in with Graphic Arts Magazine. Just as we were becoming comfortable with the eased social distancing measures over the summer, COVID-19 cases are again on the rise with the feared “second wave.” With this, professionals working within Canada’s graphic arts and communications sectors have been pivoting operations, to ensure they still provide value to their customers in our new normal. This pandemic has been challenging, but as the saying goes, “with great challenge, comes great opportunity.” In this issue, Graphic Arts Magazine columnists provide insights into possible solutions that can turn these challenges we face into opportunities to bank on. Our team has been working diligently to uncover proven tools, tactics and technologies to help professionals across the country. The futuristic sounding theories of process automation, artificial intelligence, blockchain technology and social selling are all becoming realities of modern business. The adoption of these technologies will surely have massive impacts on industry, and we are proud to share all that we have learned about them with you in the following pages. A must read this month is part two of Dan Sparrow’s series entitled, Post-Pandemic Prepress, which can be found on pages 9-12. Be sure to also learn from Diana Varma with her review of Marty Neumeier’s book entitled
Metaskills: Five Talents for the Robotic Age, which highlights the humanistic skills that will be required to operate our seemingly robotic future. Peter Dulis also brings us a fascinating feature on Pitko, who are an innovative print on demand photo lab based in North York, Ontario. Huge thanks to Pitko Founder and CEO, Andre Souroujonan, for giving us an inside look into his business. They have successfully implemented automation in their workflow to create some truly stunning works of art. Also, we are proud to welcome student interns from Ryerson University's Graphic Communications Management program to join our team for the remainder of 2020. We are close to finalizing selections, and are excited to announce the new additions to our team later this month. And finally, if there are topics that you are interested in seeing more coverage of in Graphic Arts Magazine 2021, please reach out to me directly. We are proud supporters of Canada’s graphic arts and communications sectors, and we are always available to support the research and awareness efforts that are needed to keep our collective profession informed. All the best to your success,
10,671 industry professionals are using Graphic Arts Magazine as their perfect online connection to the printing, graphic arts, sign, and packaging industries of Canada. So if you have something to say, join the conversation today!
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GRAPHIC ARTS MAGAZINE would like to thank our contributing writers: Dan Sparrow • Tony Curcio • Dave Hultin Joanne Gore • Caterina Valentino • Peter Dulis Diana Varma • Wally Vogel • Steve Aprile
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4 | October 2020 | GRAPHIC ARTS MAGAZINE
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The case for keeping a positive attitude during COVID-19 I believe that one key to defeating this seemingly endless pandemic lies in our overall attitude. For example, if the company you work for continues by paying you a reduced salary (or paying you anything at all), please treat it well – because 2020 is all about survival, not profits. Those pre-pandemic complaints now seem frivolous, don’t they? Some of the changes we’re experiencing may be permanent and many printers will continue to encourage flexible working arrangements. But the trends I’ve been seeing are largely positive. For example, thINK, an independent community of Canon inkjet customers, reported record attendance at its thINK Ahead 2020 virtual event September 8, more than doubling its attendance compared to last year. Starting this month, drupa’s online platform, drupa preview, will offer exhibitors and visitors an additional channel for touching base with the worldwide printing sector, discussing trends and presenting product portfolios, until the live event takes place April 20 – 28, 2021 in Düsseldorf, Germany. Industrial inkjet printing is proving to be resilient during the pandemic. Mark Andy even saw a noticeable improvement in its digital business in Q2.
Conference, will now take place online October 19-30 over a number of selected days. Dscoop Edge Fusion, the largest conference of HP graphic arts equipment users in the world, has been rescheduled to May 16 –18, 2021. Bottom line: we’ll continue to keep you up-to-date on rescheduled events and other COVID-19-related news on our website (www.graphicartsmag.com). As you can see, we’re adapting and we’re keeping in touch. So cherish those small successes – and be thankful that you’re still healthy and live in a country where healthcare is a basic human right, and where most workers and employers can still access federal financial help, if needed. Getting back to normal isn’t going to be easy. However, I’ve been genuinely inspired by so many unselfish individuals who have remained positive. We know who they are. Heroes! Until next time, always remember that we’re here to help.
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Print Industry News
Bellwyck installs second Heidelberg Speedmaster CX 102 Bellwyck Packaging (Toronto) has installed a Heidelberg Speedmaster CX 102-8+LY-1+L offset press with Push to Stop technology at its Toronto headquarters – its second CX 102 in the past 18 months. Both presses are powered by Heidelberg’s Prinect workflow and are part of Bellwyck’s vision of transitioning into a packaging ‘Smart Factory.’ Bellwyck also recently installed a new Diana Easy Folder-Gluer at its Owen Sound location. Bellwyck serves the premium cosmetics, confectionery, personal care, high-end spirits and pharma/healthcare markets, helping customers consistently differentiate their brands through innovative packaging. “With our new Speedmaster CX 102, we are continuing to make significant investments to help our clients drive their efficiencies as well as stand out on the shelf,” said President John McVeigh. Client differentiation is also why Bellwyck decided upon a custom configuration for its newest Speedmaster CX 102 – which has nine printing units, From left are: Bellwyck’s April Burke, VP two coating stations, of Operations; Jerry Malfara, Director U V c a p a b i l i t i e s , of Technical Services and Innovation; and is the longest and John McVeigh, President, with press of its kind in their second Speedmaster CX 102 at its Canada. Toronto headquarters.
Hemlock partners with PDI to acquire PrismTech Graphics The equal-partnership acquisition of the wide-format and specialty printing leader will provide customers of both companies with a complete, end-to-end solution for their printing needs. Hemlock and PDI will promote a comprehensive service offering to their sign and display clients requiring regional and national in-store graphics production and distribution. The PrismTech team and brand will be retained, while Hemlock’s wide-format operations will move into PrismTech’s 30,000 sq. ft. plant in Burnaby. Combined capabilities of the new company will include flatbed UV, screen, roll-print technologies, finishing and installation services. Richard Kouwenhoven, President and COO of Hemlock Printers, will serve as President, and Paul Milburn, former owner of PrismTech, will remain with the company. Jamie Barbieri, President of PDI Group, will become Director. Richard Kouwenhoven
Jones Healthcare Group installs Aquaflex LX 2350 Label Press Jones Healthcare Group (London, ON), a market leader in advanced packaging and medication dispensing solutions,
8 | October 2020 | GRAPHIC ARTS MAGAZINE
has installed a custom-built Aquaflex LX 2350 Label Printing and Converting Press. The press expands the company’s capacity to produce customized laser pharmacy labels with enhanced speed to market. The new press features doublewide printing at 500 fpm through a series of five high-precision flexo print stations, allowing for a range of colour options and double-sided print capabilities using sustainable, water-based inks. With three die stations, the press can produce multiple label conf igurations with dual-web construction, including paper and self-adhesive paper. The new press also Kyle McVey, Senior Director of includes a unique matrix Manufacturing (left), with Dave Dixon, extraction system for Manager of Web Operations, beside continuous production. the Aquaflex LX 2350 Label Press.
Printful and Getty Images to provide access to over 80 million images Printful, one of the largest custom on-demand printing and warehousing companies in the world, and Getty Images, have announced a partnership that will see Getty Images integrate its API into Printful’s Mockup Generator, allowing Printful customers to easily access over 80 million images. The integration will allow customers to create high-quality mockup photos and print files for their e-commerce stores. The Mockup Generator offers a built-in text design tool and collection of more than 600 clipart and sample designs. In 2019, more than 40,000 Printful customers used ready-to-use designs for their products. The integration with Getty Images will open up over 80 million photos and illustrations with countless searchable categories for customers to choose from.
Canon launches whitepapers on print buying Canon U.S.A. has sponsored a five-part whitepaper series, "Print In The Eye of the Buyer" with NAPCO Research. Based on insights from over 200 surveyed print buyers in early 2020, the whitepapers reveal strategies to guide printers in meeting customer expectations, enhancing buyer experiences, and improving customer engagement – especially when directing investments in sales, marketing and technology. Five whitepapers will be released over the next few months. Topic titles are: Identifying and Meeting the Needs of Today’s Customers; Identifying Print’s Role in the New Communication Mix; Enhancing the In-Plant Customer Experience; Enhancing the Print Customer Experience; and Navigating Customer Purchasing / Procurement Processes.
Post-pandemic prepress: Defining the new normal – part 2 In this two-part series, industry veteran Dan Sparrow explores the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on prepress operations, including what we’ve learned and the likely legacy. Here in Part 2, about 8 months into the pandemic, he looks at the evolving tools that have enabled a “distributed” production ecosystem. But first, let’s review some key points from Part 1 that ran in our July / August issue.
PART 1 REVIEW If you’ll recall, in Part 1 of this series, author Dan Sparrow – a print industry veteran with 25 years of experience – revealed that for many printers and converters, “distributed” prepress production will likely remain the norm for the remainder of the pandemic – and even beyond! Part 1 examined how prepress has had to adapt to accommodate pandemic restrictions. Many businesses have already moved from an isolation strategy to a mitigation platform. Printers have even announced return-to-work dates for selected staffers. With so many printers forced to push their organization’s capabilities to the limit, a new, viable direction became apparent. Sparrow characterized these new changes by declaring: “Welcome to the new normal of distributed prepress.” What did he mean? Futurist Mike Walsh presented a fresh perspective when he said: “The phrase ‘remote work’ implies that somewhere there’s an office where the ‘real work’ gets done.” He continued: “There’s no such thing as remote work, just work. So we need to stop thinking about it as remote work and instead consider it to be ‘distributed work.’ ” While quoting Walsh, Sparrow added that this is obviously different from the business practices we’ve become accustomed to. But, if done properly, non-traditional approaches to business can lead to happier employees, improved productivity and even greater profits. “Today there is a vast array of online collaboration tools that enable remote operations,” Sparrow said. “Those who’ve gotten it right have been able to accommodate current demand while developing and
implementing new processes.” To understand their success, he added, we need first to accept that the percentage of employees engaged under traditional working conditions continues to decline. In a 2017 Bentley University study, about three-quarters of millennial respondents said businesses should be flexible and fluid in the face of volatile working environments and not enforce a rigid structure on employees. With millennials now comprising half of the workforce, we need to be listening, Sparrow insisted.
meetings dominated their schedules to the point that deadlines were being threatened. Gradually though, prepress operators learned to use collaboration tools like Slack, Teams, or Hangouts – and are regularly joining ad-hoc video conferences that provide face-to-face connections and facilitate production. “What was awkward in March is now effortless in June and beyond,” Sparrow pointed out.
Part 1 also revealed that perhaps the largest hurdle to overcome in the transition to ‘distributed’ prepress operations, is the actual impact on the operators. Suddenly finding themselves working from home, many prepress operators were also “making it up as they go along” while developing a totally new work routine at home. Casual conversations between colleagues became structured calls scheduled in 15-minute increments. For the first month or two,
The subject of return-to-work dates is being met with mixed reactions from many ‘distributed’ staff, including prepress operators. As expected, some miss the traditional working environment and the social distraction it allows. Most will concede that spending some time in the plant has its advantages, and that eventually they’d like to physically attend meetings with their peers. However, rapidly evolving collaboration technology and its eager adoption are reducing the
Some conclusions from Part 1
GRAPHIC ARTS MAGAZINE | October 2020 | 9
Post-pandemic prepress: defining the new normal – part 2
reasons for a physical presence. The good news: Many remote workers are actually processing more work at a lower cost and with greater efficiency.
PART 2 The past eight months haven’t been easy, but the industry has adapted and improved distributed prepress production strategies with varying levels of success. Let’s examine some best practices and tools used by the most agile and efficient printers and converters. This pandemic has created an unforeseen complication by significantly reducing the opportunity for “surreptitious brute-force intervention” in failed processes. These surreptitious interventions are what American quality control expert Armand Feigenbaum described as hidden plants – lost productivity / capacity due to work performed correcting mistakes and accommodating waste. With many employees responsible for these surreptitious interventions being sent home at the onset of the crisis, plant managers quickly became aware of the deficiencies in their standard processes. Clearly there was an undocumented, situational, human decision component to their production processes. In its absence, productivity suffered. To achieve the best practice in distributed prepress production, the entire production ecosystem needs to be deeply integrated and reflect standardized processes.
Robotic process automation Automation has come a long way since the basic and cumbersome task automation of the late 1990s when the norm was operator-assistance focused. Operators would, perhaps, manually initiate many automated tasks, each specific to one element of production, engaging a
10 | October 2020 | GRAPHIC ARTS MAGAZINE
variety of applications in the course of completing a job. The vast majority of these discrete jobs followed the same pattern and rules – but the “automation” was still done manually, and was initiated by a prepress operator. Modern robotic process automation (RPA) now connects those dots, allowing for customersupplied information and files to enter a production workflow and be made fully compliant and prepared for production – with no intervention. With the advent of automation platforms, true RPA was enabled in the printing and converting industries. The rules-based, repetitive functions are integrated within the platform, allowing for “lights-out” automation of compliant files and for the redirection of non-compliant files for additional scrutiny. “Lights-out” refers to fully automated environments that require no human presence on-site. With advanced programming, these platforms can be modified to automate the handling of jobs that are exceptions, gradually reducing f iles that are rejected and drawing ever closer to true “lights-out” production.
which can translate into huge dollar savings and earnings opportunities for the client. The printer / converter can also re-purpose ideation portals as intuitive internal ordering sites, or as the back-end to engage effective procurement or e-commerce sites. In both cases in the development of orders, there’s both forced compliance and automated preflighting. With effectively implemented ideation portals, the responsibility for file integrity is shifted left to the point of origin. This means that non-compliant data and files simply cannot enter the system, thus eliminating the opportunity for a significant portion of downstream defects. Ideation portals can be set up to provide immediate feedback to users regarding brand compliance, content errors and print requirements. Companies that lack these tools often take days or longer to provide that feedback, if they catch errors at all. That can have a significant negative impact on their client’s overall experience – and their bottom line!
Too often, being busy is misinterpreted as being productive. In a well-managed printing plant, the best approach for efficient daily production can actually be determined to a mathematical certainty. Often, the optimal decision is unknown – but it is not unknowable. Generally speaking, there’s at least one element of our production ecosystem that limits production capacity. Obviously our goal is to identify and mitigate those constraints, and this should be part of any printer / converter’s continuous improvement strategy. However, perfection is elusive and even with constraints in place, there’s an optimal way to schedule and
As part of their Shift-Left (i.e. pre-test systems early and often) initiatives, and with an eye on innovative disruption, many printers and converters have adopted ideation portals to better serve the business needs of their larger customers and brands. This is a win–win for the client and the printer/converter. The ideation portal provides a secure platform for clients to develop their creative media, and acts as a collaboration space for all stakeholders. Ideation portals can significantly reduce the time it takes to develop and launch a client’s campaigns,
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
batch jobs to achieve maximum daily productivity. Advanced tools such as Phoenix from Tilia Labs, a software developer based in Ottawa, use constraintbased AI to provide real-time production optimization. George Folickman, Director of Global Sales for Tilia Labs, explains: “Reliance on human decision-making for complex planning and imposition is becoming unsustainable. With shorter print runs and more jobs per day than ever before, we need to start centralizing our expertise inside of dynamic, AI-driven tools like Phoenix. Phoenix is able to model production environments and assist even an inexperienced planner in calculating the most-effective way to produce a set of jobs.” The software provides consistent results and considers all jobs currently waiting to be processed, including operational constraints and capabilities of the equipment. It does this in seconds, providing shops operating with distributed staff that the best business and financial decisions are being made right on the plant floor. Further, because these decisions have been standardized and are
rules-based, they can be a component of a true “lights-out” production strategy.
Internet of Things (IoT) The pandemic has driven home the need for, and best uses of, IoT connections and reporting inherent in most modern production devices. More than just online / offline data, robust IoT can provide the information to predict issues before they arise and to better understand the factors that affect production on each device. By learning to harness this data, printers can make better real-time decisions on the plant floor. When this information is filtered back to prepress, it can ensure that they’re preparing files for the optimal production machine at actual the time it’s intended to be produced. Again, a rules-based structure allows for this data to help optimize a “lights-out” production strategy. Plus, proper interpretation provides valuable insights for decision making.
Business Intelligence Printers and converters have struggled to gain insights and make use of the
massive amounts of useful data generated by IoT-equipped devices. Even basic stop/start, operating speed, operating time and downtime reporting can significantly improve management decision-making. HP has made it easy to understand the data by creating a cloud-based tool called PrintOS. The technology captures IoT data from its professional devices and reflects it in easy-to-understand dashboards. With the luxury of direct physical access to devices, dashboards like these were getting limited use, but as employees started working remotely, these information dashboards became a valuable tool for production tracking, equipment monitoring, and management decision-making. “Historically, our clients have focused on the production value of the equipment. As our clients began sending team members home as a countermeasure to the pandemic, the value of our cloudbased utilities was highlighted,” explained Bob Raus, North American Category Manager of Cloud Solutions at HP. “A good number of HP clients were already taking advantage of the free features of PrintOS. But in response to the pandemic, we chose to make all of the paid features available to all of our customers from April until August to help them adapt to the new production reality. We also developed, provided and recorded a series of free training webinars to get them started. The response was amazing and the adoption exceeded our expectations. As a cloudbased solution, PrintOSx (as the whole suite is referred to) gave every client access to their production data and business intelligence, wherever they chose to operate from.” Other developers followed suit with versions of a similar program. Consequently, business owners and leadership teams have been learning to use these tools to replace “hands-on” confidence, which was no longer possible. With skilled equipment operators watching for physical signs of equipment issues, business leaders can look for the trends and anomalies that will guide inquiries and business decisions.
GRAPHIC ARTS MAGAZINE | October 2020 | 11
Post-pandemic prepress: defining the new normal – part 2 Cloud Licensing Cloud-based solutions have been available for many years, but the tradition of user licenses attached to a specific workstation has caused many printers and converters to be slow to adapt. So, several software developers soon adapted their programs to accommodate distributed workers. Others, like Tilia Labs, were way ahead of the curve. “Printers and converters needed the flexibility for their workers to work from home without complex and clunky network-based licensing systems. We responded to that need by allowing users to access Tilia Labs licenses from anywhere there’s an Internet connection – whether working from the office, from home, or from halfway around the world,” Folickman added.
Facilitating better communication Even with printers and converters struggling to adopt new work styles, make better use of existing tools, and quickly purchase and integrate new solutions, one major hurdle still remained – distributed working conditions were new to managers and operators alike. Operators were working from their home environments with little direction or feedback. Managers found themselves either at home or in otherwise empty offices without their traditional ways of tracking productivity. Chaos ensued for many companies. Communication soon became a key to successful operations.
12 | October 2020 | GRAPHIC ARTS MAGAZINE
Most quickly adopted virtual meeting tools like Zoom, WebEx or Skype. But the quest for the same comfort and control they were used to, eventually led to “meeting overloads.” In an attempt to recreate the continual casual communication of the office environment, meetings were held for too long, too often, and with too many participants.
may have adapted to the technical requirements of distributed work, the human requirements are many and varied – and managers will need to treat each distributed worker as an individual. By making the best use of contemporary technical solutions, managers can have more time to focus on the needs of their prepress operators.
Over the course of the past several months however, companies adapted to a better use of the technology and added collaboration suites like Teams, Slack or Google Meet. These collaboration tools better replicated live office communications, allowing for quick ad-hoc meetings, data sharing and team chats, as well as promoting a sense of community that was missing in distributed workspaces. Better use of these tools has given managers more time to focus on the final gap, which is the psychological pressure that prepress operators have been working under during this pandemic.
The industry has evolved at an incredible pace over the past several months, shortening reasonable projections by many years. As the gig economy continues to develop, the new skill sets, processes and infrastructures we are developing will continue to serve us well. Soon, hopefully, pandemic prepress will settle into a post-pandemic prepress paradigm that will eventually just become the distributed prepress norm. But make no mistake, with all of the innovations and efficiencies we’ve discovered during this pandemic, I doubt that we’ll be returning to our “old ways” after the pandemic ends.
Prepress operators have diverse home / life experiences. For some single operators, work may represent the largest portion of their social interactions. Some operators may have a busy home life to work around. Some may have inadequate space at home to accomplish their work. Some may have challenging domestic situations. By being forced to work from home, these situations will have been brought into sharp relief. So, while printers
Dan Sparrow has been at the disruptive forefront of the industry for the last twenty-five years in the Americas, Europe and Asia. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sustainable Commerce, and advanced certificates in Behavioral Economics, Lean Six Sigma, and Strategic Negotiation. He’s held senior positions with Heidelberg, HP and Esko. He’s currently a consultant to printers, converters and brands, with a focus on lean production, automation and cultural / digital transformation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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A sheetfed offset press for highend B2-format production Featuring comprehensive automation to shorten makeready times, versatile configurations and finishing options, applicationoriented measuring and control systems, and access to a wide range of digital services, is the new generation Rapida 76 Sheetfed Offset Press from Koenig & Bauer. The B2 press has an extremely high level of automation and print speeds up to 18,000 sph. Key features include DriveTronic dedicated drive components for simple handling and parallel processes during job changeovers and makereadies. In addition to its ErgoTronic console with wallscreen, the Rapida 76 adds other decentralized touchscreens for easier operation. Up to 11 printing and finishing units can be combined to configure the Rapida 76 to individual production needs. Further variants incorporate raised foundations for higher piles with board substrates, or various delivery extensions for coating applications. Ink duct dividers can also be chosen to enable rainbow printing. Because of its comprehensive range of measuring systems and optional facilities for inline sheet inspection, the Rapida 76 is ideal for a vast diversity of special applications – including security printing. As on all Rapida presses, inking units not required for a job can be disengaged from the press drive. This reduces roller wear and makeready times. When production is resumed, the units can be re-engaged with the press of a button. On the Rapida 76, unbent plates can be mounted, regardless of whether an automated or simultaneous plate-changing system is in use. With EasyClean duct-plate coating, extremely fast ink changes are possible. With simultaneous plate changing, plates can be changed in only 45 seconds. In combination with CleanTronic Synchro, the blankets and impression cylinders (or optional ink rollers) can be washed parallel to plate changing. In short, application-orientated measuring and control systems contribute to faster makereadies, reduced waste and consistently high and stable print quality. A range of digital services is also available – from PressCall to connect with remote maintenance engineers, to VisualPressSupport that uses photos to better illustrate the reason for a remote maintenance call.
roll-to-roll performance at up to 2,700 sq.ft./hr. makes it ideal for large orders of high quality textiles for fashion, sports apparel, home décor, soft signage and more. A redesigned 9” touchscreen control panel allows operators to see images printing, monitor print, paper and ink status, and understand environmental conditions. The SureColor F10070 also includes a new air filtration system and supports an advanced autopaper tension control and fabric head wiper system to clean media and remove dust prior to printing. A new compact media dryer includes both a front and underside heater. The F10070 is also compatible with Epson’s new productionmanagement cloud solution, PORT, providing a dashboard view of a production line with printer-fleet reporting.
Epson SureColor F10070
Faster, more efficient wide-format printers Canon U.S.A.’s Arizona 2300 Series of wide-format UV-curable flatbed printers speeds up production, improves operational efficiencies and fuels growth via its new applications. The series features new Arizona Flow technology – a unique vacuum technique that supports a zone-less, multi-origin table layout. Flow technology offers up to 20% more productivity, as it requires less masking and taping, and is supported by three-sided pneumatic registration pins to better secure the substrate. The pins also allow edge-to-edge printing. Users can also print double-sided and on odd-shaped, heavy, smooth or pre-cut media without the use of a jig. Flow technology also allows for printing on more challenging media – including canvas, wood and glass. Even printing large images tiled over multiple large boards can be done. The overall result is less waste, faster turnarounds and reduced labour at up to 1,001 sq. ft./hr. An automated maintenance system can restore nozzle function in as little as 24 seconds – including white ink. The printer averages less than 0.74 ml of ink per sq. ft. Canon Arizona 2300 Series
Koenig & Bauer Rapida 76 Sheetfed Offset B2 Press
An industrial dye-sub textile printer for large orders Epson America’s SureColor F10070 features four 4.7” replaceable PrecisionCore print heads and a new hot-swappable ink system that automatically switches from an empty ink pack to a new ink pack mid-print, reduces overall ink costs by over 50%, and allows for longer runs without user intervention. Continuous
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Pikto – Passion-driven print on demand I’ve had the privilege to work with Pikto’s automated photo print fulfillment since 2003. Pikto's mission has always been to create a community of photo enthusiasts who can learn from and interact with one another, with the ultimate objective of continually evolving the end product of their creative vision. Andre Souroujon and his team at Pikto are photo enthusiasts themselves, with a shared love of photography and craftsmanship – whether in producing photo prints, giclée prints, photo books and albums, wall displays or promotional products. In 2018 Pikto moved from Toronto’s historic Distillery location to a new state-of-the-art facility nearly four times larger, close to Keele and Steeles. The new facility allowed Pikto to provide faster service throughout Canada and the United States. I thank Andre, founder and CEO of Pikto, for taking the time to take us through a tour of his facilities, and allowing me to put them to the test with a new floral series of photos I had been working on. Pikto is certainly a great example of what a photo lab in 2020 should look like in order to survive in a very competitive environment. First and foremost, Pikto has been at the cutting-edge of automating its workflow for quite a while now, allowing for fast turnaround service. The workflow starts on its website using either HP Smartstream RIP for press products, or Chromira Workstream for photo prints. Once a customer places an order, the files are automatically rendered at 300 dpi and then queued to the printers. Pikto utilizes the following print production equipment:
ZBE Chromira ProLab 5X. This fully integrated, professional 30” digital printer/processor lab system automatically nests, sorts, back-prints, cuts and collates package orders of small prints, larger prints and murals.
Fujifilm Frontier 5700R – a high-volume, standalone printer processor with a compact footprint that produces up to 2,040 4R prints per hour and up to 620 8” x 10” prints per hour.
HP Indigo 5600 7-colour digital press, capable of printing well over two million color pages or five million monochrome pages per month.
Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000 44" 12-colour printer and to the right, a Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2100 24" 12-colour printer.
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Esko Kongsberg X24 – a cutting, creasing and milling table. Flesher Premere Auto-Debosser – offering foil stamping, embossing, debossing and personalization of book covers. All the printers are calibrated regularly with the appropriate custom ICC to ensure correct colour calibration. These profiles are then automatically applied.
For decor (wall-display) items, after the prints are made, they’re mounted on substrates and then cut using the Esko Kongsberg Cutter and Router. The boxes for each order are also custom made on the Kongsberg to fit the products exactly. For photobook products, once the pages are imposed automatically (using the HP Workstream RIP), they’re automatically printed. Pikto has programmed steps on the guillotine and binding equipment for each size, to automate the cutting process. The book covers are printed on the Canon large-format printers and then cut using the Kongsberg cutter. For debossing, Pikto uses a Flesher’s Premere Stamper, which is the most capable hot-foil lettering system in the world. The Premere takes data from the online order and debosses the covers automatically. Finally, when the products are ready to be shipped out, they’re scanned, and shipping labels are automatically created. The couriers come right after that for pick-up, once a day. Pikto works hard on making their processes as efficient as possible, with tight ICC colour management in place in order to allow for fast and efficient product turnarounds, with the best and most faithful reproduction possible. Having used Pikto for many years, I would highly recommend them as well.
About the author. Peter Dulis (above) is an award-winning photographer and large-format printing executive, and has worked with Canon Canada for the last 14 years as National Manager for Large-Format Printers. He’s a frequent contributor to Luminous Landscape, Graphic Arts Magazine, Photo News and Visual Wilderness. His photography and articles can be found on his websites: https://www.peterdulisphotography. com/ and https://photographyadventures.ca/ Peter is also available for consultation or keynote speaking engagements related to photography and large-format printing: pdulis@ rogers.com.
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Associated Labels and Packaging installs world’s first Ares 400-SUP Associated Labels and Packaging (Coquitlam, BC) has installed Canada’s – and the world’s – first Ares 400-SUP Pouch Machine from bag-converting equipment manufacturer Hudson-Sharp, part of the Paper Converting Machine Company (Green Bay, WI). The first global installation of Hudson-Sharp’s newest narrow model stand-up pouch machine will provide additional capacity, support Associated Labels’ growth into new markets, facilitate faster changeovers, and produce recycle-ready structures with low scrap rates. “We are extremely happy with our new Ares Pouch Machine,” said Kyle Vleeming, Flexible Division Manager at Associated Labels and Packaging. “We chose to purchase an Ares because of its ability to tackle short runs and its recyclable SUP technology. Hudson-Sharp’s history with manufacturing machines that can run poly stand-up pouches with ease was also a deciding factor.”
products it brings to market. It also sources its films, adhesives and substrates from local suppliers to improve timing and reduce its carbon footprint. The Ares 400-SUP is the newest pouch machine from specialist Hudson-Sharp, designed for short and medium runs. All of its pouch machines feature modular designs for versatile machine configurations that are capable of producing a wide variety of pouch styles. It can accommodate recycle-ready PE, laminated films, paper and bio-films at a low scrap rate. Industry 4.0 options include video troubleshooting and data monitoring to reduce downtime. Hudson-Sharp has four major production centres worldwide – in the U.S., England, Italy and Belgium. The Hudson-Sharp Ares 400-SUP Pouch Machine
Family owned and operated since 1980, Associated specializes in custom bottle labels (flat pouch, sachet, shrink-sleeve and bar-wrapper), as well as packaging for containers of all sizes. Substrates include paper, foil, fluorescents and metalized polymers. The company uses a three-pronged approach to sustainability (recyclable, compostable, reduced shipping weight) that aligns with its clients’ core values and the
Wholesale Pocket Folders installs Scodix Ultra 101 Enhancement Press APD Printing of Brantford, ON (operating as Wholesale Pocket Folders in Canada and Trade Only Folders in the U.S.), has installed a new Scodix Ultra 101 Digital Enhancement Press, dramatically boosting its finishing capabilities in the production of food labels and product shelf packaging, saddle-stitched and perfect-bound promotion materials and literature, as well as various other high-end products. Founded in 2001 by the father-and-son team of Luis and Gregory Perez, who emigrated from Colombia, APD has built its reputation on delivering superior quality and high value to national and international graphic designers, franchise printers and independent service providers and resellers. “Delivering value-priced quality has been the foundation for our success, especially in the pocket-folder market,” said APD General Manager Luis Perez. “Our production team continues to take quality to the next level, and the Scodix press will enable us to go even further. Traditionally, we’ve produced raised embossing effects by standard analogue spot-UV and foil-stamping methods. Though we’ve only just installed the Scodix system, we’re already very comfortable with how much easier and production-friendly these enhancements now become. We recently applied some enhancements to our own advertising, as well as a few smaller jobs, and the feedback has been overwhelming. You simply can’t compare the reaction it generates with any other finishing techniques,”
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Perez added. The Scodix Ultra 101 is designed for commercial offset and HP Indigo presses. It supports up to six different Scodix applications including variable data, foiling, Scodix Metallic, Scodix Cast & Cure, Scodix Glitter and Scodix Sense raised printing effects – adding substantial value to standard two-dimensional prints.
APD Printing General Manager Luis Perez (left) and company President Gregory Perez beside their new Scodix Ultra 101 Digital Enhancement Press.
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• GAM provides details and speciﬁcations for your new product demonstration / promotion campaign. • You provide the information used in the live webcast presentation. • GAM’s education team manages the webcast recording using a speciﬁcally designed platform and hosts the recordings. • Your presentation is broadcast live. It is also recorded for distribution online via all of GAM’s channels. • Marketing initiatives will drive printers to your new product promotion. • Lead inquiries will be directed to your designated contact.
A Multi-Media Approach for Distributing Your New Product Webcast Session
• 360 Degree Video Tour of your Facilities (If based in GTA/Golden Horseshoe) • Hosted on GAM’s YouTube channel • Posted on GAM’s Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook pages • Hosted / posted on the newly launched www.graphicartsmag.com • Included in one GAM’s e-news update to entice the community to engage. • Included in one GAM printed edition – a half-page announcement with a link back to your video tour on our website.
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Metaskills: five talents you need for the Robotic Age In his book Metaskills: Five Talents for the Robotic Age, author and designer Marty Neumeier describes his vision for aligning the future of creativity with the future of humanity. As our world becomes more complex in almost every facet of life, he’s proposed a set of five talents that will help keep humans ahead of machines in a world where many jobs have already been outsourced to devices. He calls these talents metaskills. “We have an unfounded fear that machines will someday start thinking like humans. What we should really fear is that humans have already started thinking like machines…Employers in the Robotic Age don’t want employees to be robots. They have robots. What they want are people who think for themselves, use their imagination, communicate well, can work in teams, and who can adapt to continuous change.” The “robotic curve” is Neumeier’s term for the downward pressure on the value and cost of work – with creative work that’s unique, imaginative, no-routine and autonomous at the top of the curve and representing the greatest value. This turns into skilled work as the creative process becomes standardized, which then becomes rote work that becomes interchangeable and outsourceable. Finally it becomes robotic work that’s algorithmic, computerized, efficient and purchased. Neumeier argues that today’s complex, interconnected, nonlinear challenges must be met with five metaskills: feeling, seeing, dreaming, making and learning. He argues that these skills are essential for helping humans solve critical problems now and in the future, as well as differentiate ourselves from the work machines will inevitably do. More fundamentally, the five metaskills are what it actually means to be human.
1. Feeling Research has uncovered that the more evolved a species, the more emotional the species. Emotions are helpful in situations that are overly complex and
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allow us to “feel” our way through them instead of stumbling through a battlefield of facts. Emotional learning (the kind that leaves us with a lasting memory, like when you’re stung by a wasp) leads to intuition (next time you see a wasp, don’t swat it). Therefore intuition is something we earn. Specifically, experienced errors (such as the aforementioned wasp sting), create emotional events that are inherently memorable, leading to intuition. Intuition can be defined as “thinking without thinking” and it’s a gut feeling; a result of deep experience that can be used reflexively in situations when there’s no time to think. Using intuition, showing empathy and harnessing social intelligence will help us feel our way into solving the problems of tomorrow.
2. Seeing Neumeier argues that the only path to profound knowledge lies in systems thinking, or the ability to think whole thoughts instead of thinking in bits and pieces. A system can be defined as “a set of interconnected elements organized to achieve a purpose.” Systems can have sub-systems or be part of larger systems. In other words, they’re complicated. It’s also shown that the human mind likes simple choices, including either/or propositions. Two choices. No other options. When dealing with complex problems, either/or statements tend to be false dichotomies (they present logical fallacies that appear to only have two alternatives, when there are actually more). An example of a false dichotomy is: “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” The only possible results when there are two sides include: win-lose, lose-win or compromise. Progress is not necessarily possible if these are the only three options. Neumeier believes that our future depends on our rejection of the word “or” and our embrace of the word “and.” Author Roger Martin calls this process of embracing bigger-picture thinking as “integrative thinking” – as in choosing not to break a problem into individual pieces and instead seeing
how all of the pieces fit or integrate with one another. Complex problems are nonlinear, so thinking that we can solve nonlinear problems with linear thinking is a sure-fire way to arrive at incomplete or underdeveloped solutions that don’t account for the bigger picture.
3. Dreaming Dreaming is applied imagination. Dreaming while asleep and imagining while awake are intimately connected, whereby unfocused attention and unplanned associations run rampant through both. During the act of dreaming, our emotions are engaged while our reasoning is disengaged – and this is exactly the state that will help us imagine solutions in our complex world. One of the most exciting things about imagination is that it’s a renewable resource. It’s not depleted when used and, in fact, the opposite is true: the more we use our imaginations, the stronger our ability to see the world in new ways. In order to dream, the skill requires removing your thoughts from what’s linear and logical. In fact, the greatest obstacle to dreaming is knowledge! While knowledge opens our eyes to the world and possibilities contained within, it can also leave us in a trap of thinking
smaller than what’s truly possible. To dream bigger, Neumeier suggests discovering what is, imagining what could be and describing the attributes of success. One of the many meaningful insights from this process is the concept of identifying constraints. Constraints shrink the problem down to a size that’s manageable and can be focused on. Without constraints, solutions lose focus and become less meaningful and useful than more focused solutions: “...bounded challenges provide not only a starting place, but a booster shot of adrenaline.”
4. Making While textbooks tell readers that the design process resembles something that looks logical and orderly (example; discovery, definition, design, development and deployment), anyone who’s ever tried making something knows the process looks much different in reality. Neumeier sees it as a much less rational process (example; confusion, clutter, chaos, crisis and catharsis). Why doesn’t the creative process work the way it should on paper? Neumeier’s response is simply “because creativity doesn’t respond to project management so much as passion management.” We all have days where we’re highly productive, creative and seemingly overflowing with ideas. We’ve also experienced days where we’re stuck, unable to squeeze out even an ounce of creativity. It’s a matter of embracing the days that are creatively bountiful, while forgiving days that are starved for insights.
5. Learning If Neumeier’s five metaskills were symbolized by a human hand, the former four skills would be the four fingers, while learning would occupy the thumb. Learning is like the opposable thumb because it can be used in conjunction with the other four metaskills to elevate the power of each. “While the ability to learn is powerful, the ability to learn how to learn is unstoppable.” Learning is something that we’ve all been taught to do, but there’s a flaw in our system of thinking about learning. Rote memorization and answering only questions posed by others is not enough. We need to be able to formulate new questions and apply the answers to different situations and contexts if our efforts are to rise above the ordinary. While there’s a lot of strengths in our public education systems, current modes of teaching and learning have been criticized for only rewarding students for shallow learning, while sometimes even punishing deep learning. Neumeier’s solution? “Take education into your own hands.” It’s not a rejection of our educational system, but encouragement to take what you can from broad topics covered in traditional schooling, while discovering ways to learn new, specialized skills and deep interests through other means. Self-directed learning (autodidacticism) can be achieved through activities like workshops, extracurriculars, online
learning, reading a variety of books, and special projects. Autodidacticism is so powerful because it pays compound interest: learning connects old and new knowledge, creating skills and abilities beyond the immediate area of study. Mastery in any domain becomes possible when exploring education through this formula: Practice x Passion = Skill. In order to maximize our skill sets and see beyond what’s possible today, Neumeier’s five metaskills provide a framework for harnessing talents in the Robotic Age. By listening to our intuition, we can feel our way through problems. By thinking about problems as a whole, instead of individual parts, we can see a solution. By using our imaginations to think beyond the limitations that practical reasoning confines us to, we can dream up new realities. By understanding the value of creating while embracing a messy creative process, we can make the next life-changing product. And by re-evaluating the role we play in our own education, we can learn to learn and become unstoppable. The future belongs to those who can harness these metaskills – and in doing so, elevate humanity along with them! Diana Varma is an Instructor at the School of Graphic Communications Management at Toronto’s Ryerson University and the Owner of ON-SITE First Aid & CPR Training Group, a health & safety company that provides training to the Graphic Arts Industry.
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Blockchain technology: A game changer Last month columnist Wally Vogel examined the potential impact of blockchain technology for print in protecting data and synchronizing transactions. Here, columnist Caterina Valentino delves deeper into its opportunities and DNA. Blockchain technology may be the next game changer for the print industry, especially when it comes to variable data, direct mail and the tracking of sensitive files and inventories. It’s another way for printers to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Quocirca’s March 2019 report, The Blockchain Opportunity, notes that its ability to validate transactions across networks allows printers to offer clients more efficiency and security. Chaining documents together prevents tampering and creating individual transaction ‘hushes’ secures the information. Blockchain’s increased security translates into trust – a priceless trait that printers want to earn from their clients. Blockchain technology is akin to a Google doc. It allows several parties to collaborate on the same document, synchronously and asynchronously, with changes made and saved in real time. The ability to have one master file distributed to remote computers speeds up and encourages collaboration, reduces issues of misnamed files or incorrect versions, and means that at any given moment, every party to the transaction views one up-to-date document. Because transaction changes can only be made through consensus, the data remains accurate, consistent and transparent. This distributed process of sharing a single document with multiple users ensures that only one “true” document prevails. That’s the foundation upon which blockchain technology is built. To ensure data security, blockchain encrypts each transaction with a hash. A hash is a long string of numbers that serve as proof of work. Each transaction generates a new hash that links specifically to the original transaction, to ensure
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that each new transaction matches the original data. Furthermore, hashes operate only one way and can’t be used to ‘backtrack’ to the original data. The opportunities. With direct mail, offering a secure network that encrypts each transition with a hash is attractive to printers receiving variable-data files. Print shops with the ability to control a multitude of devices across many networks, allows them to secure an entire print ecosystem, reducing lost files and eliminating questions about which document contains the last edits. In 3D printing, blockchains can assist in resolving the challenges of digital-rights management and licensing. “Safety concerns and commercial risks require a solution that creates a chain of trust between licensee and service provider, and also delivers visibility over the production process, which blockchain could provide,” said Quocirca.
Transforming traditional business models Create transparency. Data transparency is especially important in recording and tracking transactions through supply chains. Many technology firms developed blockchain-enhanced networks for tracking critical medical supplies. For example, IBM developed Rapid Supplier Connect based on blockchain technology. Rapid Supplier Connect creates an ultraefficient supplier on-boarding process that includes validation with inventory data almost immediately. No reason exists why enhanced networks can’t be used to track critical supply-chain and inventory movements in the print industry – especially when it comes to valueadded services such as distribution and warehousing. Enhance security. The use of hashes by blockchain to ‘tamper-proof’ data is of utmost importance to printers receiving sensitive material from financial services, government, or healthcare organizations, particularly if the files are shared with others in the supply chain. The
need for consensus among all parties before changes can be made to transactions further enhances security. Improve traceability. Technological and paper-based invoicing and tracking systems are time-consuming and subject to human error. That’s not going to change. However, the blockchain’s structure of a single ledger distributed among secure network users speeds up transaction approvals and reduces the need for intermediaries. Reduce costs. Costs are reduced because the data is trusted. Trusted data diminishes transaction redundancy and time spent fact checking.
Game-changing potential Harvard Business Review calls blockchain a transitional technology. “It has the potential to create new foundations for our economic and social systems. But while the impact will be enormous, it will take decades for blockchain to seep into our economic and social infrastructure. The process of adoption will be gradual and steady, not sudden, as waves of technological and institutional change gain momentum.” What’s important is for printers to be aware of what’s on the horizon. In that way, they’re prepared when the game actually changes. Caterina Valentino, PhD, is an Instructor at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University and the Faculty of Health Disciplines at Athabasca University. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get more productivity out of your staff Do you have a creative employee who is always coming up with “outside the box” ideas but when it comes to writing a report, reading copy or spelling they fall short? This may be a sign of a learning challenge. The government funds programs for employers who are willing to send their employee for training to improve their skills. If you would like to hear more about this program call us today at 905-853-3363 Let’s make everyone more productive to enhance your bottom line!
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As you reopen and try to get clients back, printed newsletters can be the solution In previous articles, we’ve highlighted the effectiveness and better response rates of printed direct-mail marketing versus email-only campaigns, all backed by statistics from Canada Post and other recent research. Today, print buyers have come to expect a higher degree of service and quality during their purchasing journey. You must earn their business. And in many cases, traditional email campaigns that can clog inboxes and may not even be opened, simply won’t cut it. As you’re reading this, people are slowly emerging from isolation to once again experience a degree of normalit y and human interaction – albeit at a distance. This could yield a unique opportunity for printers right now to make a huge impact with former, current and potential customers. Remember what business was like before the pandemic? Remember greeting regular clients and walk-ins with a smile and a handshake, while showing off samples of your work? With most people still spending the majority of their days at home due to the current pandemic, being able to get a direct mail piece or a printed newsletter directly into their hands is the next best thing to greeting them personally – particularly when they’re becoming bored with television and being online every day. Offering something physical that communicates the messages you want can be a powerful way to build loyalty once this is all over. It’s also an excellent way to remind your customers that you’re thinking about them while reminding them that you’re “back in action,” so to speak. Right now, many people are still living their lives online. However, the constant bombardment of online ads and content makes it difficult for any company to cut through the noise and engage a consumer or potential client. Bottom line: done well, direct mail has the power to stop people
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in their tracks, grab their attention, and compel them to take action.
Showcase your creativity, products and services Give your prospects a colourful printed newsletter that they can physically hold, peruse and enjoy. Impress them with the print quality and creativity of your mailer. Offer news, interesting ideas and even humour to brighten up their day. Printed newsletters also reflect your professionalism and a commitment to your clients and potential customers that’s almost impossible to convey with e-newsletters on a computer screen. Do you have any “welcome back” print products or special discounts to show your appreciation to your clients for continuing to do business with you? Are you planning any open houses to welcome them back? Do you have a mailing list of clients or potential customers so you can target them using variable data? I’d bet they’d love to hear from you again. Show them that you’re thinking about them.
Now is the time to promote your business Communicating with customers and potential clients, especially during difficult times, is a basic strategy used by marketing professionals. This current
pandemic presents a unique opportunity for printers to showcase their creativity and product range in the very piece they create. And when we do finally, mercifully, return to the “new normal,” those shops that have continued to promote during the pandemic will be a step ahead of their competition. Yes, this pandemic has put financial pressure on just about every business. But at the end of the day, you need to balance the inexpensive nature of e-newsletters (i.e. no printing needed) with the many advantages of a printed format – not the least of which, as previously mentioned, is showcasing your shop’s creativity and exceptional print quality. If you’re wavering, perhaps you should consider using both. That being said, the question arises: “How do I find the time to execute marketing campaigns when I’m in survival mode, working hard for every dollar just to keep afloat?” Well, you might want to recall the old, tried-and-true marketing adage: The best time to market to people is when your competitors are not. If you feel you don't have the time or the staff to create a professionally designed and engaging newsletter each month, we can definitely help. Please read the next page. And good luck during your recovery!
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The future of transactional printing From transformation to disruption, the opportunity is in the user experience Transactional printing – specifically the printing of invoices, financial statements, cheques and so on – has undergone a significant transformation over the last few years. Yet the most disruptive changes still lie ahead. Disruption can pose a threat to legacy companies that are not able or willing to change. But at the same time, disruption creates opportunities for innovators.
There’s no paper, but the information and format of the document is typically identical to the paper form and it’s delivered in the same fixed format to all recipients. The simple (and probably accurate) assumption is that the 44% clinging to paper documents are the older demographic and that over time the paper preference will wane as the younger demographic becomes predominant.
Transformation – paper to paperless delivery
Disruption – customized information delivery
Looking at the current state of transactional printing, and the ongoing transformation to paperless billing and electronic statements, there’s an interesting dichotomy in the PDF versus paper delivery. About 43% of consumers have opted to go paperless, and are receiving digital-only bills and statements. Another 44% of consumers say they would be upset or annoyed if their provider moved to digital-only communications1. Clearly there are two camps with very different preferences – and neither can be ignored.
The potential for disruption lies in the information being delivered – whether by paper or in electronic format. Because that data is usually delivered in a fixed format defined by the originator, the receivers of these documents need to expend effort to parse out the information that they need from the document. For the recipients that are using an accounting or personal-finance application, they may be parsing out the data just to perform key entry into their application. This is common in a B2B scenario where invoices are received and then keyed into the recipient’s accounting platform. Setting up templates to read the data is time consuming, and AI (Artificial Intelligence) to read from various formats is expensive.
As a result, businesses today need to provide both paper and paperless options for delivery of transactional data. The print industry has adapted well to delivering this mix, perhaps not surprisingly. A PDF is effectively just a virtual version of a printed document.
What if the information was not in a fixed
Bills, statements and the critical CX impact, Broadridge 2019 Report (broadridge. com/_assets/pdf/broadridge-cx-and-communications-survey-2019-report.pdf)
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format, but was customized based on the recipient’s preference? Paper bills and statements could be delivered with the information that’s relevant to the receiver right at the top of the form, while data that isn’t relevant to the recipient is omitted. For the paperless recipients, PDF and other electronicformat invoices could be delivered ready to be imported into the recipient’s accounting system – eliminating data entry without requiring complex AI and parsing algorithms. Recipients of printed cheques expend the additional effort required to bank these cheques – whether using remote deposit capture or (worse) taking cheques to the branch. In this case, the remittance information could be delivered as email or PDF, and the funds received automatically by direct deposit.
Opportunity – the user experience There are significant challenges to customizing and delivering information in these new ways based on the recipient’s preferences. The opportunity for those that can overcome the challenges is for printers to provide a new dimension of value in transactional printing services by augmenting print capabilities with customizable information delivery. They’ll create a unique user experience to recipients, whether those recipients prefer paper, or PDF, or a direct electronicdata feed. Bottom line: the innovators that deliver a customized, engaging and time-efficient user experience to recipients, will add value in a new way. This is the disruption that will open opportunities for future growth. Wally Vogel is a Certified Engineering Technologist and a Certified Blockchain Professional. He has founded multiple software companies specializing in transaction processing for government entities and business enterprises. He’s currently serving as a director for Sparcblock, a Canadian company helping businesses streamline B2B transactions. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Claiming home-office expenses during the pandemic As the COVID-19 pandemic shifts employees from their offices to their homes, many employees are wondering if they can deduct home-office expenses from their employment income on their 2020 tax return. Here’s what you need to know about eligible deductions as we answer some commonly asked questions.
Will I be eligible to deduct home office expenses in 2020? Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, an employee could claim home-office expenses if he or she were contractually required to maintain a home office that they were not reimbursed for, and met one of the following two conditions: (1) The home office is the place where the employee principally performed his or her employment duties; and (2), the space is used exclusively during the period for the purposes of earning employment income on a regular and continuous basis, and for meeting customers or other persons in the ordinary course of performing employment duties. These requirements have become increasingly difficult to interpret and apply.
Do I need a written agreement to formalize a work-from-home arrangement? To deduct home-office expenses, an employee would generally need a workfrom-home arrangement included in the individual’s employment contract, and Form T2200, completed by the employer. Given the rapidly shifting environment, it appears the CRA may provide an administrative concession by not requiring employers to modify employment contracts with their employees to formalize COVID-19 work-from-home arrangements. Further, the CRA may review the requirement to complete Form T2200 for each employee (which may be burdensome for companies with many employees). With details on changes to be announced, Form T2200 should still be completed.
What if I only work from home during the COVID-19 period?
The test above is based on whether the employee worked mainly from home (i.e. over 50% throughout the calendar year. Based on preliminary discussions, it appears the CRA may accept that this test could apply only to the period where COVID-19 measures are in place. As such, employees may be able to make deductions for the portion of the year they’re working from home due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Can I “meet” customers over the phone or through other digital means? The CRA’s long-standing position is that meeting customers is a face-to-face event. Given current public health recommendations, it’s unclear whether the CRA will reconsider this position to include virtual meetings using online conferencing platforms such as Zoom or Skype.
I think I might be eligible. What expenses can I deduct? Expense deductibility is different for non-commissioned and commissioned sales employees. Generally speaking, non-commissioned employees can deduct a reasonable portion of rent, utilities, repairs and maintenance, and supplies. Commissioned employees can deduct a reasonable portion of rent, utilities, repairs and maintenance, supplies, property taxes, and home insurance up to the amount of commission income. This “reasonable portion” is generally based on the square footage of the space you use for work purposes as a percentage of the total square footage of your home. If that space is used for personal reasons as well, this would generally reduce the amount that can be deducted as a home-office expense. Documentation should be kept for all deducted expenses incurred in case of a CRA review or audit. Please note items such as home depreciation, mortgage interest, computer equipment, and home-office furniture cannot generally be deducted from employment income, as they are capital in nature.
What if my employer reimburses me for the cost of home office equipment? Given potential costs in setting up a home office, the CRA has indicated that reimbursements to employees of up to $500 for computer equipment will not be considered a taxable benefit to employees, provided they retain supporting receipts. The CRA may further broaden this policy to include other types of home office equipment, although this decision remains outstanding. For example, if an employee purchases a laptop computer for $800 and the employer reimburses the full amount, the employee would only be required to include a $300 taxable benefit in their income. The employer, however, would generally be able to deduct the full $800 reimbursement. It’s expected these rules and interpretations will continue to change rapidly. Steve Aprile, a valued member of our Editorial Advisory Board, is a CPA, CA and Certified Financial Planner at Grant Thornton in Markham, Ontario. His guidance has helped us greatly at Graphic Arts, and we hope his advice will also improve your financial success in 2020. He can be reached at Steven.Aprile@ca.gt.com.
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The four quadrants of selling printing In 1997, Steve Jobs returned to Apple, and it was a mess. He looked at Apple’s product line and found 15 different product platforms, each with many variants. His strategy was to simplify the line by dividing it into Consumer and Pro models, and Desktops and Portables. By 2000, Apple had neatly filled out its product matrix in these 4 quadrants: Consumer
Apple used this simple matrix model to focus attention to the computers that were to represent each quadrant, and it worked! That period of time was the turning point for Apple’s success. They would later expand the products offered in each quadrant – and, of course, invent new quadrants with the iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, etc. The matrix of print buyers. Now, let’s build a matrix to focus on how print buyers order printing today. Printing orders fall into two broad categories: simple orders (print buyer provides you with a production-ready file), and complex orders (your team must make them production-ready). Let’s put the simple order and complex order on the top of our matrix. Now let’s also add two broad location categories to the matrix. Print buyers will buy printing online (on your website) or in person. For this exercise, we’ll expand the “in person” definition to include orders that didn’t start on your website and call them “offline orders.” That means orders started by phone calls and emails would also fit into this quadrant. Let’s add online order and offline order to the matrix. When we illustrate this matrix, it looks like this:
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Now, take a look at the characteristics of each quadrant: Simple Online Orders. These orders show up at your digital doorstep ready to print. Success in this quadrant is characterized by: • Web-to-print services such as online template libraries with online design tools that allow your customers to create and/or personalize their document • Virtual printer drivers to enable customers to create and print documents from any software on their computer
products (a tabloid-sized flyer, for example) with limited variations (such as half-fold or trifold). But there’s no order form that successfully captures all the information needed for a truly customized (complex) printing order without intimidating the customer. That’s when an online order process needs human intervention. Success in this quadrant is characterized by: • An online order form that allows your customer to initiate the order process • A hand-off to a human to guide the rest of the process • Online communication tools (an online proofing system, for example) to facilitate the ordering process Complex Offline Orders. The customers in this quadrant want the expert human touch and will come directly to you to get it. Success in this quadrant is characterized by: • A Print MIS with a robust estimating system • A team that converts complex printing into something easy for clients to grasp
• A website that can process e-commerce transactions
• Systems and processes to manage the communication required to produce complex printing orders successfully
Simple Offline Orders. When a customer sends an email with a production-ready file attached, they’re placing a simple offline order. Customers in this quadrant expect a human touch to make sure their order goes through with no surprises. Success in this quadrant is characterized by:
Success in each quadrant requires a unique sales and marketing strategy finetuned for the prospects and customers in that specific quadrant. We’ll explore that further as we begin a series to uncover the secrets of success in each quadrant.
• Quick, efficient communication with your customer
Dave Hultin is the President and visionary behind Marketing Ideas For Printers. He’s on a mission to lead printers to success by providing powerfully innovative online ordering solutions and impossible-to-ignore content. If you’re looking to sell more printing and grow your business, follow him on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/davehultin
• A process to check the incoming files to ensure they’re production-ready •A system that allows simple orders to be quickly recorded in your print MIS Complex Online Orders. Online order forms are ideal for standard printed
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Four tips to social selling success During COVID-19 lockdowns, LinkedIn, the world’s preeminent social network for professionals, has seen ongoing growth in both total members and engagement. As of April 30, 2020, it had 690 million members, increasing from 675 million in January, according to Social Media Today. Professionals watched nearly 4 million hours of content on LinkedIn Learning in March, a nearly 50% increase month-over-month. LinkedIn Live streams are up 158% since February. It now has more users than ever before – and they’re growing more and more active as they embrace new customer engagement and social selling strategies. According to LinkedIn’s B2B blog, 90 million LinkedIn users are senior-level influencers and four out of five decision-makers are on the platform. More than two new members join LinkedIn every second. The evolution of social selling. Social selling, often mistaken for social-media marketing, is a tactic that enables you to connect with, understand and cultivate prospects on their preferred platforms – whether it’s LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, etc. This gives your buyer a chance to learn more about you and your company – and internalize how your products or services can help, why it matters, and why you’re the right business choice for them. Building these relationships generates a sense of trust. In turn, you become the first person/ brand/organization that comes to mind when it’s time to buy. Chances are your target audience already engages in social buying, and at least some of your competitors engage in social selling. An IDC whitepaper determined that roughly 75% of B2B buyers use social media networks as a part of their purchasing process. Another study found that customers are typically halfway through their buying process before they reach out to a salesperson. Social selling allows you to be present during the critical first half of the buyer journey. Cold-calling and face-to-face meetings are rooted into
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every sales department’s DNA. But they all but vanished in the wake of COVID, forcing seasoned pros to seek new sales engagement tactics – and compete against a new generation of digitalsavvy hunters. One LinkedIn study showed that over 70% of all salespeople have adopted social selling. If you’re a millennial salesperson, the adoption rate is nearly 80%. The leaders. Continually expanding your social network and connecting with new people helps to boost your profile recognition, puts you in the spotlight and helps attract even more prospects. Social selling leaders like Gary Varnychuk, Shay Rowbottom, Brian Golod and Sir Richard Branson know how to grow their reach, leads and sales. Curated and released weekly by David Rosendahl, co-founder and President of MindFire, the LinkedIn “Movers and Shakers” list for the print and marketing industries benchmarks those who’ve achieved the highest follower growth, and fosters social selling tips, strategies and engagement. How to get started. Providing meaningful information to your buying audience is the cornerstone to successful social selling. Here are four tips to help you get started. 1. Engage. Authenticity is key. Though you may be tempted to automate with liking and sharing tools, it can do more harm than good in the long run. Instead,
explain why you’re sharing, liking or commenting. 2. Listen. Your prospects essentially describe what they need in their social buying process, so pay attention! Monitor what they say about you, your industry and your competitors – whether it’s feedback, requests, etc. This will not only position you to serve them better, but also to become their “problem solver.” 3. Provide value. Contrary to what the name implies, social selling is not about pitching your products or services. It’s about helping your prospect transition from “I’m just looking” to “I’m ready to talk to a salesperson.” This leads us to the next tip. 4. Build relationships. Stay in touch and keep listening. Remember that building a human connection increases the likelihood that you – and your company – will be top-of-mind when it’s time to buy. Finally, whoever makes their way into the first half of your prospects’ buying process will find it much easier to close the sale. Joanne Gore is a B2B marketer who’s passionate about print and has spent the last three decades helping companies maximize their marketing and communications efforts. Founder of Joanne Gore Communications, she helps companies tell their story to a new generation of print and business buyers. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Follow her on Twitter: @joannegore121
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