Archive for the ‘Inkjet’ Category

Are in-plants up to speed on offering cross-media marketing services?

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Although cross-media marketing services are becoming more prevalent amongst print and communications partner providers, we in the print industry have yet to discuss how this evolution affects in-house, or in-plant, offerings. Last week, Canon Solutions America sponsored an InPlantGraphics webinar surrounding the question at hand: How are in-plants making the cross-media connection? Barbara Pellow, Group Director at InfoTrends, offers key background information on how in-plants are moving up the value chain and provides a breakdown of planned market investments for 2014. This overview could not have been more appropriately complemented by the examples of leading edge solutions from one of the industry’s most progressive in-plants at The World Bank. Both David Leonard, Manager of Printing & Multimedia Services, and Jimmy Vainstein, Printing Facility Manager, pose important questions and review a business model in transforming a print-focused in-plant to a full service, cross-media solutions provider.

We know having a broad range of services and capabilities, price point, and speedy turnaround time are at the top of everyone’s vendor criteria wish list. But the kicker surrounds what types of services are provided to connect with the 2014 target audience. In an InfoTrends survey, mobile marketing, multi-channel integrated marketing, web hosting, and web design services trump that wish list. This by no means comes as a surprise given the direction of communications trends and increased digital access. Barbara drives home the point: “This market is in transition. It’s an evolution, not a revolution.” The winners in this evolving market are going to figure out how to make paper interactive, how to extend value of media, and how to create solutions that are easily measurable.

That might sound like a complicated process, but really it boils down to first understanding what options are out there. For example, four ways to make print interactive include:

  1. Mobile codes – example: QR code, which links to web address
  2. Mobile messaging – example: text message containing discount receipt instructions
  3. NFC Tags – example: printed poster containing tag, which links to mobile web offer
  4. Augmented Reality – example: printed brochure, which links to digital expanded version

Knowing these channels, understanding a client’s needs, and investing in the proper software and print solutions will make for a seamless transition.

There is tremendous room for growth in most in-plants. InfoTrends highlights that the majority of in-plants foresee a stable or increase in overall revenue thanks to strategic software purchases and a re-vamped business model. As Dave and Jim explain, these investments strengthen the goal of knowledge sharing while delivering cutting edge, multi-channel communications solutions. Their business model explanation and examples successful communications pieces drive home the fact that in-plants can provide equally—if not more-so—competitive solutions.

For more insight and key questions to consider from Dave and Jim, be sure to check out the full webinar:

 

Canon Solutions America Celebrates 2013 and Unveils 2014 Progress

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

As a linguist, I am fascinated by the art of institutional ‘storytelling’. The narratives of a company make up its history, business plan, mission, and yearly goals. They shape relationships with their audience, like their partners, customers, the media, as well as other stakeholders. Stories essentially showcase the work and structure of a company, and that is exactly what was celebrated at Canon Solutions America in Delray Beach, FL in early February.

At a press and analyst 3-day event, industry leaders came together to celebrate the anniversary of Canon and Océ’s integration and to learn about their 2014 direction. Executives offered updates on the company’s progress to journalists and analysts, a panel of customers discussed the role that Canon technology played in their success, and visitors saw CSA technology in action at the company’s Customer Experience Center.

With their newly integrated infrastructure, production sales, service, and support organizations, CSA reached $1.7 billion in revenue in 2013. President and CEO Toyotsugu Kuwamura cited a $2 billion target by 2016. A number of presentations unveiled how this growth will be achieved: through the strengthening of existing and newly formed partnerships.

“Over the course of 2013, we’ve partnered with every single paper mill in the United States of America,” said Francis McMahon, Vice President of Marketing for Production Print Solutions. This expansive industry partnership lead to the decision to open North America’s first media lab designed for live testing across inkjet and toner-based products. Opened on March 1st, the lab will provide CSA the capacity to work with all paper mills to test even more sheets with more inks. “When a customer calls, we want to be able to quickly and effectively assess their needs and objectives and provide them a solution,” said Kris Albee, Marketing Director of Production Print Solutions. “Our collaboration with the mills in developing, testing, and optimizing new products and formulations gives us the first-hand insight to do just that.”

Additionally, CSA recently invited its media partners to participate in an industry-first effort to develop a global, vendor-neutral inkjet media catalog. The result is a best-in-class tool that allows the user to examine all of the paper products qualified for Océ inkjet platforms. “Both our partners and our customers have been asking for a tool like this, but no one’s been able to bring the parties together before,” stated Albee. Along with the catalog, CSA will continue to collaborate with the launch of a CSA User Group Committee and a second advisory council, known as the Digital Print Advisory Council (DPAC).

CSA’s 2014 direction fosters win-win opportunities for all parties involved, especially for their customers and partners. It will be interesting to see how these innovative, collaborative efforts revolutionize the print industry all together. For further insight, especially regarding product reviews, check out PODi Insights account here.

Meet the Niagara

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

“Exhilarating and fast” is how VP of Marketing Francis McMahon describes the integration of Canon and Océ in his PRINT-13 interview with Mark Michelson of Printing Impressions magazine. In the interview, McMahon explains how the integration of the two companies allows them to do more for customers than ever before. Joint R&D, funding, training, programming, and the addition of new leadership have heightened the speed at which CSA successfully brings solutions to market. Hear for yourself what McMahon has to say…

Among the many exciting 2014 products, did you catch the name of one of the industry’s first cutsheet inkjet device?!

Meet the Niagara. “Exhilarating and fast” is also one way to categorize this high-volume sheetfed color inkjet press. Revolutionary to the print industry itself, the Niagara features a patented four-color ink system (with a planned future extension of up to six stations) that will produce at a speed of 3,800 duplex B3 sheets per hour and up to 8,500 duplex letter-sized sheets per hour, with a monthly volume of up to 10 million letter sheets per month. The Niagara consolidates sheetfed black-and-white and color workflows on to one production printing system, which ultimately streamlines print jobs and can reduce overall operating costs. One of the most exciting and celebrated features of this product surrounds its ability to leverage many already existing in-line finishing options. The ultimate combination of speed, efficiency, quality, and consistency. Look out for the Niagara at the end of 2014 and early on the 2015 market!

Interested in learning more? Check out the full press release here

Canon Solutions America Hosts Sales Meeting, Talks Digital Adoption

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Post provided by IWCO Direct. 

I recently had the honor of being invited to be a guest speaker at Canon’s annual sales meeting. Presenting at the enormous MGM Grand in Las Vegas was quite an experience. My topic was the growth of color digital printing in the direct mail space with a specific focus on how our customers are using the technology and why IWCO Direct chose Canon Solutions America.

I took the opportunity to explain, from a customer perspective, the advantages and disadvantages of CSA’s equipment, as well as areas that need improvement. My presentation was followed by a spirited Q&A session. It was a great opportunity for IWCO Direct to provide CSA with customer insight on their products.

Digital Explosion Continues

The biggest takeaway from this year’s sales meeting was how quickly the adoption of color digital printing technology has accelerated in the past 18 months. As well as direct mail, book printing and packaging are also leaping into digital printing. This technology is evolving so rapidly that supporting disciplines, such as consumables (ink and paper) and workflow (software tools), are scrambling to keep pace and support the process. That’s why IWCO Direct works collaboratively with all our vendors supporting the digital print process to ensure they stay in sync with our changing needs and with each other.

Support for Our Troops

My favorite part of the meeting was participating in CSA’s team building exercise. We not only assembled 500 care packages (consisting of toiletries and personal care items) for our troops stationed abroad, we also listened to servicemen and women speak about receiving care packages and what it means to receive support from back home. There was also a Marine Color Guard, which opened the activity with the Pledge of Allegiance. It was an outstanding event.

TPAC Committee Update

In December I completed my term on CSA’s inaugural Transactional Print Advisory Council (TPAC) committee. It was an excellent experience. Not only did the TPAC team make an impact on CSA’s approach to the design and functionality of the ColorStream equipment line, it also shaped their approach to color digital printing as a whole.

I have also been asked to join a newly-formed customer steering team, which will provide input to CSA on a variety of issues. This team will allow IWCO Direct the opportunity to interact with CSA senior management, engineering and marketing to express our ideas and recommendations on all areas of our partnership and business relationship. Canon has demonstrated they take our input seriously, which has made our participation very rewarding.

Our first big event is a soon-to-be-formed customer user conference. This conference will provide CSA customers a wide variety of opportunities for input and education. Our first meeting will be in April. Stay tuned for more information.

Overall we had a great time in Las Vegas. We’re excited about the direction of our partnership with Canon Solutions America and the efforts being made by the TPAC committee to shape the future of digital printing. It’s also encouraging that CSA is so eager to listen to its customers and make changes based on their feedback.

You can catch more from Dave Johannes on IWCO Speaking Direct Blog

Blog Author: Dave Johannes
Vice President of Digital Print and Mailing Operations. Richland College and Greenville Technical College. IWCO Direct team member for more than seven years. 35-year veteran of the Industry. Graphic Communications Innovator Award and Allan J. Williamson Continuous Improvement Award winner. Personal business philosophy: “Provide leadership based on the principles and courage required to live the change and drive the results we strive for.” Loves wine tastings and cooking with his wife. Texas Rangers fan.

Stay Ahead of the Curve with Automated Web-to-Print Solutions

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Want to learn how to keep your print services on top within the fast-paced marketing community? If so, InfoTrends’ Kate Dunn offers insight and recommendations on how to adapt and automate print services for your clients. Sponsored by the PressGo program of Canon Solutions America, this webinar gives you the information needed to bolster your online business.

You might be asking, “What are some of the web-based market models out there?” For starters, there is the standard Ad-hoc Send-and-Print, which most printers already have in place. This allows the customer to upload a single file, receive a cost estimate, and send the file to print. The Catalog and Template based models mainly surround business communications, sales and marketing collateral, and direct mail, which are customizable to certain degrees. The holy grail of models is Process Automation, which integrates an enhanced supply chain with fully customizable print ordering.

OK, let’s apply a model to a real-life scenario. With an automated template process system, a realtor can sign-in online, choose a business card template, select copy that pertains to his property sales pitch, send the card to print, as well as have the business cards packaged, postmarked, and mailed to recipients. Accomplished all in a series of clicks without having to juggle communications with a number of service providers.

Let’s review: why are automated print services so important? Well, InfoTrends predicts that 40% of all printed materials will be procured over the Internet in the coming year. Customers are asking for automation services in order to streamline their supply-chain and maximize profits. In short, web-based automation adds value for both you and your clients. Today’s marketing supply chain consists of multiple, interconnected suppliers that an organization relies on to produce materials (print, promotional, and point-of-sale) to market their products and services. It’s astonishing, however, that 70% of businesses surveyed have no way to track or predict obsolescence within their supply chain. The last thing any client wants is a loss of control over their brand! That’s where a web-based approach is applied to fix the gap. Some of the benefits include: customer access 24/7, increased print accuracy, reduced customer service workloads, and enhanced volume production. Sounds like a nicely packaged offer to me.

If you want the complete list of benefits, the stats, and further insight into web-to-print solutions, view the webinar here:

Looking forward to 2014!

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Every year, I like to think of my trip to PRINT/Graph Expo as a preview of what the coming year will bring. This year, we asked Madison Advisors to jot down their notes about what PRINT indicates will be big in 2014. Here is what they offered:

According to Madison Advisors, expect to see growth in digital color continuing through 2014. The firm’s recent engagements have shown an increase in production color printers in both in-plants and service bureaus. Outsourced print providers without high volume color capabilities are reviewing the market for the best solution to meet the needs of existing and new client opportunities. Most understand the need to have the color devices in place when bidding on color jobs as the learning curve is too great to take an “if they come, we’ll build it” approach. Creative sales approaches are needed to get these placements so the service bureaus can control their capital expenses while building volume.

Madison Advisors is also forecasting growth for outsourced customer communications platforms. As the IT department at more than one large company has observed, it is increasingly difficult to hire, train, motivate, and retain skilled IT professionals in the area of document composition. When the guy next to you is working on a cool mobile application, it’s tough to get excited about putting dots on paper. As a result, we see an increasing number of companies outsourcing their document implementations and ongoing operation to external vendors.

Custom packaging and product labeling is a growth area for commercial printers and there were a number of products at PRINT 13 geared toward this, again, many inkjet-based. The opportunity here is two-fold. For the printer, digital packaging printing allows them to respond quickly to changes in labeling from their clients. Short runs can now be profitable as you can print fully customized single units. For the marketing manager, digital printing of packaging and product labeling allows them to customize the messaging on each product to a specific micro market or respond to an outside event with special packaging.

The message from PRINT 13 was that color digital print is the future and the industry is prepared to deliver solutions to streamline the production process. Printer vendors are investing in new print technology, software providers are taking what they have learned over the years and investing in new solutions that are more user-friendly and easier to support. 2014 will be an interesting year as these new print solutions get into the hands of users and we can see if they deliver on the hype.

Convergence to Digital Inkjet Shifts to Hamburg Facility

Monday, December 16th, 2013

This morning we announced the expansion of our digital platform with the installation of an Océ ColorStream® 3900 at our Hamburg, Pa. facility. As the news release referenced, and as Joe Morrison noted in a recent post, the next 12 months will mark a period of aggressive investment in digital inkjet technology. This strategy will capitalize on the convergence to digital that is reshaping the direct mail industry.

Our customers have experienced eye-opening results using highly targeted and personalized campaigns that only digital print technology can produce. In some cases this equates to double or triple-digit lift in response rates. But that’s not the only benefit they’re experiencing. Using the single-stream optimization that digital technology allows also lowers their postage cost. We will expand on how our digital technology impacts postage in an upcoming article. Digital print technology also powers cross-channel campaigns by making it easier for print communication to connect consumers to online channels.

Harnessing the power of digital print technology does require an adjustment from marketers and their design team, however. If you’d like more background on what we mean, please read some of the content we’ve developed that relates specifically to digital printing.

We will be making more investments in the coming months, as we’re intensely focused on having the best digital platform in the direct marketing industry. If you have any questions about our digital capabilities or designing for digital, please feel free to contact our Sales or Creative Services teams.

Post by Jim Anderson of IWCO Direct. Chief Executive Officer and graduate of American University in Washington D.C. Bringing the “we versus me” philosophy to IWCO Direct for nearly 15 years. 2010 Harry V. Quadracci VISION award winner from the Printing Industries of America and 2008 Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame inductee. Avid golfer and NY Football Giants fanatic. 

To see more, visit http://www.iwco.com/blog/

What’s the State of Personalized URLs?

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Once or twice a year, I update my educational reports and brandable white papers on a variety of topics related to digital printing and personalization. Recently, I updated the one on personalized URLs. What stood out to me?

How mainstream they’ve become. Years back, I remember regularly writing blog posts and articles on how personalized URLs were being unfairly criticized as under-performing in comparison to other personalization techniques. It wasn’t because they didn’t “work.” It was because expectations were unrealistic and they were being used improperly. (Sound familiar? Can you say “QR Codes”?)

I talked about how personalized URLs were not campaigns in themselves, but simple response mechanisms used for the right campaigns to achieve specific marketing goals. I talked about how success campaigns using personalized URLs were often (not always, but very often) being sent to in-house lists, not prospecting lists, and how critical targeting and segmentation were to success.

It really struck me how I don’t write about that anymore. In fact, response rates for personalized URLs and full personalization are equalizing, but not for the reasons one might think.

The ear-tickling answer is that people have figured out personalized URLs and response rates are rising to the level of the super-successful, full-blown 1:1 personalization, but that’s not true. It’s because expectations for what full-blown 1:1 personalization can do on a day in, day out basis are becoming more realistic.

When I first started writing on these topics, campaigns had to be getting response rates in the 20-30% range before they were deemed article-worthy. Today, they have become sufficiently mainstream and the focus has sufficiently switched to ROI that even single-digit response rate campaigns are written about when they are highly profitable. Response rates matters less now than conversion rate and ROI.

That’s good news for personalized URLs, which had a bad rap for a long time. But it’s really good news for everybody because it means, not that the personalized URL market is maturing, but that marketers’ understanding and expectations of these applications is.

What’s your opinion? What do YOU think is the defining change in this marketplace?

Digital Printing Technology In Action

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Last week, IWCO Direct President Joe Morrison described how the dramatic shift toward digital printing technology is driving IWCO Direct’s investment strategy. This technology increases relevance of marketing communications, makes cross-channel integration easier and allows for integration of Big Data into direct mail campaigns – all of which drives stronger ROI for our customers. And if PRINT 13 was any indication, it truly is the future of our industry. Today I’d like to offer a hands-on look at our latest digital printing technology. We’re excited about our new presses and hope you enjoy seeing them in action.

 

Blog Author – Dave Johannes
Vice President of Digital Print and Mailing Operations. Richland College and Greenville Technical College. IWCO Direct team member for more than seven years. 35-year veteran of the Industry. Graphic Communications Innovator Award and Allan J. Williamson Continuous Improvement Award winner. Personal business philosophy: “Provide leadership based on the principles and courage required to live the change and drive the results we strive for.” Loves wine tastings and cooking with his wife. Texas Rangers fan.

This post is provided by IWCO – see more from their blog Speaking Direct

4 Frequently Asked Questions on Using Digital Print

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Last week we announced the installation of our new Océ ColorStream® 3900 inkjet printer, which increases our capabilities and capacity for creating highly relevant, time-sensitive direct mail campaigns. As Jim Andersen pointed out in his post on the announcement, there are special considerations for creating direct mail that will be printed digitally. Now that our new press is installed and fully operational, it seems like the perfect time to address some questions we often get asked when it comes to deciding whether digital print is right for a specific campaign:

What can digital print do better?

Digital is most effective for very targeted (one-to-few) marketing with variable text and images based on what is known about the recipient. Digital also drives more efficient use of paper with less waste. Less set-up stock is required, and form sizes are no longer restricted by press cylinder sizes. While digital can be used for more conventional campaigns with minimal text variance and static images, these campaigns are typically supported using traditional production workflows (litho printed shells/monochrome personalization).

What quantity ranges are most appropriate for digital equipment?

The selection of digital vs. offset print is based upon the most effective means of production for the product in question, taking into account the variables of cost, cycle time and quality. The decision to use digital or offset is often driven by the number of format versions and quantity per mail drop in conjunction with the monthly and/or quarterly volumes by version. Smaller quantities (from a single piece to approximately 50,000 pieces) run on our Xerox iGen4™ cut-sheet color digital equipment. Larger quantities (into the millions) are supported by our Océ ColorStream 3500 and 3900 continuous color digital equipment.

What paper considerations should we keep in mind?

Karen Weil, our director of procurement, provided an excellent summary on choosing the right paper stocks when printing either conventional or digital. She describes the key factors that play into the decision process. A key consideration is whether the job will run on a toner-based or inkjet digital press. Toner-based print tends to be a bit more forgiving, while inkjet printers work best using paper stocks that are configured specifically for them. This was a main consideration when our team traveled to Piong, Germany, where we tested the new Premium Pigment ink solution from Océ. We didn’t agree to use the new inks until we were satisfied they would support a wider color gamut and more vibrant color reproduction on multiple paper stocks.

What formats work best? Are there limitations?

Format limitations are driven more by finishing operations than by color digital production. By using our color digital equipment for printing/personalization and managing finishing operations as an off-line workflow, we are able to provide more flexibility in formats.

- See more at: http://www.iwco.com/blog/2013/08/02/digital-or-offset-print-q-a/#sthash.kmAqcIot.dpuf

Mike blogs regularly for Speaking Direct. You can find more of his posts here

A trip to Poing for the Canon Solutions America PPS Leadership Forum

Friday, April 12th, 2013

I recently attended the Canon Solutions America PPS Leadership Forum at its Poing factory on March 18th & 19th and took the opportunity to catch up with the Océ team.

Canon Solutions America, formerly Océ, frequently hosts customers, and prospects at its newly redesigned Customer Engagement Center (CEC), an entire hall in its manufacturing complex. The user friendly CEC environment included a coffee bar, tables for small group discussions, a lounge area, meeting rooms, information & hospitality desk, as well as a floor map to aid visitors in finding solutions of interest. The CEC was thoughtfully arranged and included the newest product announcements from Canon Solutions America, the Océ JetStream 5500 and Océ ColorStream 3900s with fast MICR and invisible ink.  .

The agenda included a flexible schedule with industry tracks led by industry analysts & experts. Océ clients and prospects were allowed to select the most appropriate sessions and have deep interactions with both Océ staff and presenters.

Here are a few important take-aways from my visit:

  • Canon integration appears complete. Canon’s integration of Océ production printing, especially for North America appears to be successful and complete. I dined with Toyotsugu “Toyo” Kuwamura, president of Canon Solutions America, and he outlined his vision for the future Océ. His plans of continued investment and pursuit of new markets with the combined Canon/Océ solutions will extend the reach of both organizations into new markets.
  • Migration to Color Inkjet successful. From virtually zero market share in 2008 in the inkjet market, to the identified market share leader (>35%) in both placements and images, Océ has successfully reinvented its product line to stay ahead of the market demand.
  • Continued technology advancements. Canon Solutions America is not content to rest on past successes, and is extending its Océ ColorStream & Océ JetStream product lines to support additional applications. The introduction of new security inks, including MICR, Fugitive and Invisible, extends the toolset for secure document creation already available from Canon Solutions America.

While not new, but still visually impressive, are the clean lines and paper path of the Océ ColorStream 3000 series. During our demonstration, the front doors were left open, and the speed, image quality, and simplicity of the device was readily apparent. An Océ ColorStream prospect present noted “it’s no wonder these are the leading placement devices in its class”. Here is a photo of the inside:

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Note the new, refined and slimmer drying unit. By using less water, there is less liquid to evaporate, and therefore no need for industrial strength drying units, and their power consumption and heat byproduct. In fact, Canon Solutions America reports that the Océ ColorStream 3000 series uses up to 1/3 the power consumption of alternative inkjet solutions.

Ink Different – A New Model for Costing Color

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Every single person sees color differently, as does most every single press. That reality presents an ongoing challenge for manufacturers, particularly when asked by customers to quote prices for ink and coverage.

“It’s one of the most important conversations we have with customers,” according to Guy Broadhurst, VP Technology and Client Solution for Canon Solutions America. Guy led a CSA Press Go webinar on February (date), entitled “Ink Coverage and Ink Cost – An Approach to Standardization.”

The very terms – “ink coverage” and “ink cost” – often get mistakenly interchanged, according to Guy. He cited common requests, such as, “Give me a price for 5% coverage or with this media,” or “What’s my cost per copy?”

Good, Better or Best?

There are no stock answers. The influence of paper on ink coverage is the biggest factor in inkjet printing, Guy notes. “We must ask, ‘Do you want good, better or best paper?’”

Interestingly, the cost per impression rises as quality of paper decreases.  Multiply that difference over a 5-year period, and your ink cost rises considerably as quality of paper decreases. 

The Only Option

Guy now injects “an objective component” into what has traditionally been a subjective decision. His new standardized approach uses these criteria:

  1. Provide the best fidelity — the paper that offers the greatest color gamut.
  2. Print a defined color patch using all colors as a defined percentage of the sheet, and provide the exact cost. This becomes the control for comparing vendor to vendor.
  3. Ask for a targeted color and variance allowed, measured by a deltaE. The difference of 1 DeltaE can mean hundreds of thousands in extra costs.

Subjective measurements have skewed the conversation for too long, Guy asserts – much to the customers’ detriment. It’s time introduce objectivity into the equation for measuring print quality.

Breaking Down the Barriers to Inkjet Adoption

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Last week, Canon hosted a cross-section of prominent companies from the graphic arts, book, direct mail and transaction printing segments in Munich Germany. I was pleased to be invited, along with other expert presenters from Canon Poing CECGartner, InfoTrends, InterQuest, IT Strategies, Madison Advisors and NAPL. The  Leadership  Forum was held at Canon’s impressive 14,000 square foot Customer Experience Center where several cutsheet toner presses and a huge array of high-volume, continuous feed inkjet presses were configured as custom application demonstrations. I had ample opportunity to network with attendees and learn what was driving them to update their technology. While not specifically an inkjet event, the majority of attendees at the Leadership Forum were evaluating the transition to inkjet or expanding on an existing inkjet implementation. The top three reasons cited:

  • Speed/Time to market requirements;
  • Full-color, white paper efficiencies;
  • Plans to enter new markets.

My charter was to prepare a wrap-up session on “Preparing Your Business for Inkjet ” along with two customers; Bob Radzis of SG360 (a direct mailer) and Mike McCombs of RevSpring (a transaction printer.) These two gentlemen shared their successes with transitioning to inkjet along with candid feedback on the challenges they faced as early adopters. Dialogue with attendees focused on perceived challenges with inkjet adoption but, there were very few actual barriers cited. Some key take-aways were:

  • Inkjet has clearly reached a tipping point among high-volume printers of variable applications;
  • Quality is no longer perceived as a barrier to adoption;
  • Customers were encouraged by the increasing variety and availability of inkjet papers and seemed confident that the trend would continue;
  • Customer seemed to recognize that the right workflow solution was as critical as selecting the right press but were less aware of the critical tradeoffs between paper selection and ink usage;
  • The major remaining obstacle to inkjet adoption is production volume. Mid-volume companies often can’t generate the business case for inkjet.

While this was a working trip for me, it was also an opportunity to attend great sessions covering the social, economic and technical factors that are changing the print industry in general, as well as, drill-down sessions on key drivers of change in book printing, direct mail and transaction printing specifically. Whether you are a print provider or a consultant there is constantly more to learn in our industry and the Canon Leadership Forum did a great job of blending business, technical and market related content with product demonstrations and networking opportunities. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Canon’s CEC, or attend a future Leadership Forum I highly recommend the trip.

Elizabeth GoodingElizabeth Gooding is the President of Gooding Communications Group and editor of the Insight Forums blog. She writes and speaks and provides training on trends and opportunities for business communications professionals within regulated vertical industries.

Making Room for High-Speed Inkjet

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Yesterday, I updated “Digital Printing: Transforming Marketing and Print Management,” my primer on how digital production (toner, inkjet) changes how businesses view and manage their marketing. Every time I do a major update, it’s always interesting to me what portions of the report get updated because it’s like a running history of our industry.

This time, it was all about tweaking for inkjet. Even a year ago, references to high-speed, high-resolution inkjet were made in passing. It was an up-and-coming technology that needed to be acknowledged for the report to be comprehensive, but it wasn’t really having a major impact yet.

This time, inkjet became just another item in discussions and bulleted lists alongside business-class, dry toner, and liquid toner machines.

I also overhauled the section on recyclability concerns. Dye-based inkjet poses challenges for the recycling stream since the particles are so fine that the papers are hard to de-ink. Thus inkjet had posed notable recycling concerns for environmentally conscious marketers. But this new class of high-speed, high-resolution inkjet uses pigment-based inks that can be handled like toner-based print, removing these concerns from the equation.

Dye-based inkjet is still the majority of the overall production inkjet market, but in terms of commercial applications, which are under discussion on these pages, pigment-based inkjet will soon be the default.

Then there is the nod to high-speed, high-resolution sheetfed inkjet. This is no longer a rollfed-only market.

This class of inkjet presses offers expensive machines, so widespread adoption isn’t going to be overnight. But with this report update, what I’m saying is that we’ve passed the early adoption phase, and now — like toner-based digital production replacing smaller format offset presses in the past — it’s just a matter of time and attrition.

Kindle is not for everyone…

Monday, February 25th, 2013

We all know that e-readers are everywhere these days and, in only a few years, have become a commonplace way to consumer your favorite literature. But as the title of this blog suggests, an e-reader is not for everyone. Not everyone has the tech-savvy desire or budget for an e-reader and some people just flat out do not want to read books electronically. For some, there is still the allure of being able to physically turn the page of the book he or she is reading. I am one of those people. Even though I’m addicted to my iPhone, iPad, iShuffle and laptop, I still prefer to read my books in print. Perhaps it’s because I am employed by the printing industry, but I like to think it’s the experience of an actual book versus another one of the many tech products we all seem to own now. Maybe I’m just a hipster and like books because they are not the “in” item.

Regardless, books have been around for a long time and they will likely not disappear for good. Therefore, print will continue to play an important role in the book publishing industry, albeit in a somewhat different manner. Most publishers are looking for the ability to print shorter runs and print-on-demand. To do this, offset is not answer; digital printing is. Offset certainly still has its place. But for those of us who did not come up with The Hunger Games or 50 Shade of Grey, it can be hard to justify the high quantities of offset printing. Digital printing offers a flexible solution for printers to be able to print what they want, where they want, when they want, and in whatever quantity they want.

Ultimately, digital printing technology offers numerous benefits for printers. For one, it reduces the risk of having to forecast demand. Printers can now print only what is ordered, thereby eliminating warehousing needs and waste. Digital print also offers blazing fast turnaround times with some book printers being able to fulfill an order within 24 hours of receiving it. Finally, digital print allows for anyone to be a publisher. With no minimums to meet, books can be published in small quantities. Digital also allows for increased creativity through customization and personalization. All while creating a real life book that someone can hold!

The bottom line is that books are not a thing of the past, and by implementing digital printing technology, printers are able to stay in the game and are better equipped to deal with whatever trends may come their way. They can have greater turnover, new revenue opportunities, and improved profitability. And these business benefits are not just limited to book printers! Photo book sellers, self-publishers, non-profits, and corporations can all benefit from the publishing revolution through digital printing technology. The question is… how can you benefit from it?