Print Service Providers in Transformation

The proliferation of the Internet, email, mobile devices, and social media is having a dramatic impact on all aspects of print. The challenge to PSPs is to find ways to transform their businesses in a rapidly changing world of new technologies. The economic recession reemphasized the need to embrace the transformation, but to do so in a way that balances the investment requirements with the size of the opportunity.

To better understand this transformation, PRIMIR (Room S101), in conjunction with InfoTrends, completed a North American study of more than 300 PSPs. Entitled Transformative Workflow Strategies for Print Applications, the study targets five segments: promotional, publication, financial/transactional, commercial, and in-plant. Over the past two decades, print technology has been marked by innovative production workflows, beginning with the analog to digital transformation of the 1990s (see Figure 1). Each technology wave overlaps with the next as adoption begins, peaks, and phases out. The industry is centered today on the Networked Digital phase, though some leaders are well into the next stage, Interactive Digital, which is typified by dynamic content, cross-media delivery, and a variety of new media.

The leaders are those who have experienced higher revenue and profit increases, and who also position themselves ahead of their peers. They are beginning to embrace the next wave of technology innovation, Social/Mobile Interactive, which will drive interactivity beyond one-direction communication into more conversational customer relationships. The fifth technology wave, Neural Interactive, describes customer engagement by using behavioral data to understand how to target the audience in real-time.

Through these changing technology waves the key question for PSPs is this: What is your customer value proposition? The value being provided is what determines how the evolving workflows support the new business model.

Three business concepts are strategically important in this business transformation:

Focus on core: This represents their existing core offerings which they work to improve and perfect.

Adjacency takes the experience from the core offerings and applies that knowledge to a new market.

White space represents new business offerings that, when combined with core offerings, can offer significant value.

Figure 2 shows how the respondents’ strategic future initiatives in the survey map to these concepts.

Leading PSPs are looking beyond their core offerings and comfort zones to adjacent markets and “white space” opportunities in non-print services. These include things such as cross-media programs, Web and portal design, print-on-demand, and just-in-time production. It’s not a matter of eliminating the print channel, but complementing it with new technologies.