For the specialty imaging community, the challenge today is less about making a print and more about profitability. It wasn’t long ago that print quality and repeatability were the primary competition points among imagers, and the companies that could successfully and consistently manage the imaging process separated themselves from the rest. That is not the case today. In the current marketplace, print quality and repeatability are a given. Imagers are competing with their ability to offer their customers significant additional services and value.
The dramatic changes that have redefined our community have happened quickly—over a span of just a few years—and I’ve had a great vantage point from which to watch the community face these challenges. I’m really impressed with how effectively many imagers have changed their business models, corporate cultures and capabilities to maximize their opportunities in a dramatically different marketplace.
Back in the day, printers of all types and sizes referred to the "Unattainable Triad." This triad consists of a triangle with the words “quality” at one point, “speed” at another and “price” at the third point. They told customers you could have any two points, but not all three. For example:
- You can have good quality delivered quickly, but it will cost you more.
- You can have quick delivery and a good price, but your quality will suffer.
- You can have good quality for a good price, but it will take a long time to deliver.
Today, providing all three points of the Unattainable Triad is required just to get your foot in the door. It’s a good example of how the competition has changed in our industry.
The latest technologies and applications have played a major role in helping graphic imagers deliver new and exciting value to their customers. Equipment manufacturers have continued to push the limits of digital technology and have broken through the production barrier. In a short time they’ve advanced the technology so that it not only meets short-run imaging needs, but it also meets the needs of high-production graphic producers.
It’s incredible when you stop and think about how far the technology has come in just a few years—and the timing couldn’t be better. Emerging technologies are helping graphic producers improve their competitive position when they need it the most.
The 2011 SGIA Expo (New Orleans, October 19–21)—the gateway to the global imaging marketplace—will demonstrate a wide range of innovative technologies to help imagers enter new markets. The companies who take advantage of these new opportunities will be the leaders in tomorrow's exciting marketplace.
Attaining the Unattainable Triad has resulted in graphic imagers improving their print response to their customers. But today, that's not enough. Imagers have to incorporate value-added services—which are playing a serious part in winning business over their competition, such as:
- Distribution and fulfillment
- Creative direction and implementation
- Program management vs. project management
Several graphics producers have told me that customization is highly valued by their customers. It’s typical for them to produce a series of smaller projects instead of one big project. Many are contributing more to the creative process than they were previously, and most are taking a more active role in the storage, distribution and installation of finished graphics. This approach is proving to be a better fit for today’s marketplace.
Others are taking on more of the graphic management responsibility for their customers. They are working more closely with customers to provide a complete graphic management service and are fulfilling a role that was once the responsibility of the customer.
The SGIA Pre-Expo Business Development Conference (October 18) and focused educational sessions during the Expo will offer attendees an in-depth look at how to successfully implement these profitable strategies in their business.