FESPA has published its comprehensive new Print Evolution research study, launching with a live interview at FESPA Digital - 'Who Said Print Was Dead?' - on the FESPA Stand (Hall A3, Stand B60) at 13.00h on Tuesday 24th May.
With this latest body of research, FESPA set out to establish the extent to which service providers embrace the need to evolve, and the specific measures they are implementing to achieve their objectives. The research was conducted on behalf of FESPA by InfoTrends, with the support of FESPA's Global Technology Partner Xaar.
The finished study is two-tiered, comprising data from an international electronic survey of 150 selected print service providers conducted in the first quarter of 2011, and a series of detailed case studies that present examples of companies that are implementing evolutionary business strategies.
The results show the pace of evolution is quickening, as service providers apply innovative strategies in technology, business processes and sales and marketing. The study reveals that despite mixed opinions on whether the sector has recovered from the downturn—49 percent believe it has—the majority of businesses are exploring an impressively wide range of ideas that change the products they provide and how they deliver them.
Themes and Findings
A central theme of the study is that of business transformation, with the integration of digital technology at its heart: three quarters of those surveyed have transformed – or are busy transforming – 'old line' offset/screen businesses into digital operations.
The survey divides evolutionary strategies into those that are operations-driven, providing greater speed, quality, efficiency and so on, and innovation-driven measures that deliver new services or products to new customers via new business models. The three most common strategies—followed by over 50 percent of respondents—are to make pricing a non-issue (56.8 percent), invest in technology to raise service levels (53.7 percent) and launch a new wide-format digital service (51.8 percent).
Other popular strategies include developing new processes to fuel growth or enable entry into new markets (47.8 percent) and selling wide-format services in a different way (45.7 percent). The study also indicates that 39 percent of respondents have introduced project management efficiencies and improved inventory management.
Less common, but equally welcome as a sign of evolutionary thinking, is an awareness of the potential of cross-media elements such as Quick Response (QR) codes: although just 18.2 percent of service providers have integrated such features into creative designs, 13.1 percent are working on it and 20.4 percent plan to. According to one respondent, they were totally ignorant of interactive components less than 12 months ago but now offer QR code integration and website development to clients as a matter of course.
Differentiation from competitors is a key element in breaking out of the price-driven, commodity print business, and a significant number of businesses regard certification in international colour standards as a means to do this—24.1 percent are already certified and 42.9 percent are either in the process of gaining certification or planning to do so. Web to print is a key business growth strategy for 45 percent of businesses, while sustainability also remains high on the agenda, with 45 percent of PSPs surveyed reporting that they have developed 'green' printing practices.