Written by:
Howard Fenton
Senior Technology Consultant
NAPL

As we prepare to publish our fourth Digital Services White paper, we are analyzing the data and following up with phone interviews trying to figure out what is working and what is not working. One question we ask on many studies is “What’s expected to grow the fastest”? It is hoped that the answer will help better identify changes in customer demand and identify new growth opportunities.

It is also interesting to compare these answers over time, to see if there are any trends developing. So let’s take a brief look at how our latest results compare to the results of the 2006 State of the Industry report.

  • In the 2006 data as in the 2012 data, variable data printing was the number one answer growing from 57% in 2006 to 62% this year.
  • The number 2 answer this year was a tie between web to print and static digital printing at 41%. In comparision static digital printing was the number four answer in 2006 at 40% and web to print the #9 answer at 19%
  • Mailing dropped from the #2 spot in 2006 at 44% to the #6 spot this year at 26%.
  • Four-color or more litho dropped from #3 at 43% in 2006 to number #10 at 18%.
  • Fulfillment dropped from its #4 spot at 39% in 2006 to #7 position at 22%.

Looking at this comparison speaks volumes about the changes in the industry. Six years ago, the digital changes in our industry were just starting to be recognized; at that point, the traditional services were just starting to slow. As we look at this comparison, we see clearly the decline in 4C litho, mailing and fulfillment and the increase in web-to-print, marketing/cross media services, and database management.

After listening to presentations at the Vision 3 Summit and MFSA recently, I heard two metaphors that stood out and described the impact of these changes. One was “get on board the training, it is leaving the station and if you don’t get on the train you will be left behind.” The other was “An ostrich with its head in the sand is just as blind to opportunity as to disaster.”

Two questions to consider. Is your head in the sand? What are you doing to get on board the digital train?

Howard Fenton is a Senior Technology Consultant at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers, in-plants, and manufacturers on workflow management, operations, digital services, and customer research. He is a paid contributor to this blog.