In a recent InfoTrends study entitled U.S. Production Software Investment Survey 2015, commercial print service providers and corporate in-plants were polled about their businesses, software adoption plans, services, and investment plans.

Overall, the outlook is optimistic with approximately 40% of print service providers expecting a 1% to 9% revenue gain in the coming year, while 20% are expecting a 10% to 19% gain. The report takes a deep dive into workflow software investments, outsourcing IT services, and as we will discuss, an analysis of profitability per service.

As you look at the figure below, a few things will quickly become readily apparent. The first thing to notice is that the corporate or employment responses are very similar to the commercial printing responses.

Most-Profitable-Print-Business

When participants were asked what are the most profitable parts of your business, both in-plant and commercial printers listed digital printing first, wide format printing second and offset printing third. However, digital printing services, wide format printing, and offset printing were reported more profitable for corporate in-plants than commercial printing company. In contrast, online services, fulfillment, warehouse services, and finishing / distribution services were considered more profitable by commercial printers.

It’s not exactly clear why there are differences when comparing corporate in-plant printers to commercial printers, but it was consistent in this study. When participants were asked, “What are the fastest growing parts of your business?” responses from in-plants show that digital printing and wide format printing is growing more for in-plants than commercial printers. Responses from the commercial printers show that online services, creative services, and marketing services were all growing faster than in-plants.

One possible explanation is that commercial printers are more actively migrating to marketing services, database services, and web-based services while in-plant printers are focusing more on traditional print and mail related services. We see this in our consulting work. For the last few years, we’ve seen in-plants focusing more on their core competencies (print and mail) while commercial printers are more actively pursuing new services and alternative revenue streams.

But you might have a better explanation.

Why do you think some products and services are growing faster and more profitable for commercial printers and in-plant printers?