A Brave New Year

11 03 2013

The SwamiThe year seems to be sprinting ahead with the new financial year just a few short weeks away already!!!

2012 ended up being a “full on” year for the entire Dunedin team and, I for one,  was really glad for the Xmas break when it finally rolled around. This will also be an interesting year for me on the home front. With my youngest princess becoming a teenager – we now have a household containing two teenage girls. Everything has suddenly become a hell of a lot more complicated.

Just over a year ago I posted a blog predicting some events in the print industry (see Nov 2011 – Merry Xmas – New Year Picks) I thought it is probably  worth taking a look at those predictions to see how many were proven accurate and also making some more predictions for 2013.

Pick Number One: Digital print will move into the rotary phase

OK – I had a bit of a heads up in this one knowing that we were going to order two rotary inkjet digital presses. However, the impact of rotary digital really did take off during 2013. Apart from our purchase of two Fuji Xerox FX2800 inkjets other transactional and mailing organisations (such as Datam and HP) have also commissioned rotary inkjet presses. Rotary technology has impacted the billing and mailing market so much so –  that there has been some large staff layoffs recently. A trend that looks set to continue in the mailing industry.

I think we are only just getting started with inkjet technology and beginning to understand the possible benefits and application. There are already obvious advantages for short run newspapers, newsprint mags, catalogues, variable data work  and any other application where large page count, small run size items are required.

Pick Number Two: The “Touch Revolution” will continue to grow and develop – especially in Video

There has certainly been an increase in the use of smart phones with mobile plans steering more toward data usage. My predicted drop in tablet prices hasn’t really  come about yet but there are signs of it being just around the corner. As a footnote, the above mentioned teenage daughters both have smartphones and NEVER use them as a phone. They text, kick, chat, google, tumble, listen to music and play games ……..but never use the devices as a phone. Are we seeing the beginning of the end of the voice call?

We have certainly seen the on-line market eat into magazine publication numbers and volumes with many customers trialing on-line publications and measuring results/ROI against printed publications.

Pick Number Three: Social Media and mobile will continue to eat into print’s share of the Marketing Spend

There is no doubt that SM is effecting the way marketers think about, conceive and execute marketing plans. We have identified the need to re-skill our sales team to understand the new needs of our customers – particularly the way our customers communicate with their customers.

Pick Number Four: The Print Industry will merge locally and fragment nationally

Well I nailed this one. In Otago we acquired Taieri Print, in Manawatu we acquired Keeling and Mundy and Print Council in Auckland. All this moves the Kalamazoo group to 4th largest Printer in NZ overall and largest privately owned print organisation.

Nationally we have seen BlueStar sold and Geon Group enter receivership. I think this year will see further fragmentation or consolidation of these two groups capacity (perhaps moving us to number three).

Pick Number Five : Print orders will increasingly be placed by a new breed of “broker”

There has been a definite rise in print consultants and brokers in the market. This is partly due to many struggling print firms focusing on survival – which often means that they become less innovative when offering solutions to customers. This opens the doors to experienced brokers.

From my experience this situation occurs during periods of industry unrest and turmoil and lasts for some years until the cycle continues and  printers again begin to focus on service and innovation.

It’s my pick that web-based solutions will rise in the next few yeas to offer a reduced cost of serve and reduced price for smaller jobs. Leaving consultants/brokers focusing on the large run, complex and big ticket items.

Pick Number Six : End to end Process Automation will become an essential part of print

This has proven key to survival for printers in the print industry. The challenge is for printers is to adapt to the ever decreasing print run volumes and still make a profit. One way to do this is to make the business of supplying print very fast and very efficient.

We have done some very interesting work in this space and will be showing our customers some of the new tools we have developed during 2013.

So what will this next year bring us in the print industry?? I have fewer picks for this year but here goes

Social-Media-MarketingNo 1: The Print industry will start to stabilise

There has been a real shake out over the past three years with many of the less adaptive and financially stable players falling by the wayside.

Hopefully, we will see NZ’s print capacity become more aligned to the market size and some more effort go into customer needs analysis as opposed to survival. This will, in turn, lead to innovation and the print firms once again developing their role in marketing and communications.

N0 2: Printers will embrace integrated marketing and become more than just printers

You won’t readily find a printer now that will argue against the speed of uptake that marketers are converting to on-line publishing,  social media and the touch devices that support this.  Most printers are now moving away from the denial phase and into begrudging acceptance that the future is less around heavy metal and more about data and value added products.

I believe 2013 will see more printers move into acceptance of this and many into active participation. This could be the game changer the industry needs to revitalise itself – especially for small regional print firms.

No.3: Many printers will become more automated

Achieving profit will become more about reducing the cost of serve and the ability to charge for more value added services and products. Automating the basic processes such as quoting, input and workflow will allow printing organisations to become more nimble and change faster. This will enable more time and resource allocation to innovation and research.

I will revisit these in 2014 to see if any of these prediction hit close to the mark.

Meanwhile feel free to contact me or your rep if you would like any more information on any of the above topics or products.