The future of print is you

Written by Colin Thompson on 04 May 2016.

Colin 011The printing industry will continue to evolve into new and exciting `electronic imaging driven by digital technology`. Digital technology, economic restructuring, global competition, market changes, emerging new media and other market forces are combining to `dramatically` change the operating environment of the printing industry.

The traditional printing industry is very mature with overcapacity in the established countries and also suffers from very poor training of personnel and very few people entering the industry. We are in the `emerging information society` driven by technology, where by the very nature of the role of the printer is changing rapidly, driven by `customer demands`.

The major drivers are first, technology, particularly the digitisation of data, which is reshaping the communications industries. The rapid experience of the convergence of computers, telecommunications and television, plus the use of `multimedia` and the speed of change in the `information superhighway`.

The second major driver is the changing macro environment, particularly the rapid restructuring of the world economy and global competition.

The consequence of these two major drivers is the movement in print markets worldwide. The emerging `new` countries who invest into the print/communications industries with the latest equipment are global players whom will significantly drive down prices by the economies of scale.

Print companies are redefining their business (or they should be) to one of identifying customers changing communication needs brought about by the digital processing and storing of information and delivering it through the most effective distribution channel. Since printer’s are/should already well be established in `imagery`, they are well positioned to participate in new channels as they develop. If print companies do not take on board new technology, they will not survive in this rapid changing environment.

Over the last 40 years industry profitability has moved in cycles roughly corresponding to industry investment cycles. With the current need to invest in `new digital technology` coinciding with a slowing of market growth world-wide, printing companies profits will be `squeezed` further in there remainder of the decade as structural change continues on a global scale.

The implications for the printing industry structure and profitability in the future are:

• The number of large printing plants is declining. (Costs out way benefits of net profit)
• Large printing companies will become larger by acquisition, at the expense of less well-managed large companies and medium sized companies.
• The less innovative companies will face serious issues in a slow growth business environment.
• The rate of failure for less well managed small companies will be high. This is the majority of the industry globally.
• Medium size companies particularly those without well-defined speciality niches will continue to be squeezed by larger companies.
• The impact on the printing industry profitability will be a continuation of the pressure on overall industry profit margins.
• The profit leaders will continue to make attractive profits by acquisition/cost controls/economies of scale/skilled and experienced personnel in `all` areas.
• The impact of `Print Management Service` programmes on the manufacturing sector that does not participate in this customer driven environment.

The future has many challenges to be successful and to survive, so wake up now or there might be no future for you and your business.

Colin Thompson

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