Archive for the ‘Industry News’ Category

The End of Brands? How to Sell Equipment and Solutions in the Information Age Pt. 2

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

By: Irving Gaither – Madison Advisors

In my post last week, I reviewed a New Yorker magazine article entitled “The Twilight of the Brands”. Let’s consider how this article translates into the Printing Industry…

How can a company making printers break itself away from the pack and differentiate its solutions and services from the others?

Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Become comfortable with your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses – and be able to talk to your potential clients about them.  If a competitor’s equipment can generate 20-30% more copies per minute than yours, and costs the same, the client may argue that their equipment is more productive and you will lose the sale.  But if the client has post-printer finishing need that cannot be done in-line at the equipment’s rated speed the productivity premium may be eliminated.  In fact, using a “faster” print machine may create a total production time slower than your solution.
  • Understand your client’s entire workflow – See the example above.  Understanding what your client’s workflow is, from creation of a print product, through printing, finishing and even delivery, will allow you to build a solution that specifically meets your customer’s needs.  If your client is in no rush to create the booklets to send to its clients, there is no need to provide the fastest piece of print equipment.  If they need documents as quickly as possible, then identify where, in the current process (pre-print, print, finishing) there are the most problems and develop new solutions that meet the client time needs.
  • Have a solid implementation plan, and a fail-safe – Have a solid plan for equipment delivery, connection to print servers and networks, installation and testing.  If the solution is not working to the client’s expectations and requirements, have a fail-safe in place to ensure that the client’s bottom line is not negatively impacted due to your equipment or solutions issues.
  • Have training and mentoring solutions in place – We’ve all been in situations where we buy a piece of equipment or a product and then have to learn how to use it.  Using the Internet has made things a little easier, but, as an organization, do you want your customers to learn how to use your equipment by seeing what someone else does on the Internet?  Identify your client’s most important needs and requirements of the equipment and solutions you are providing and ensure they know how to use your equipment or solution to meet those needs.  Develop focus groups with other users so that they can share issues between themselves (with input from your organization) to develop new solutions they can all use.

The new world of sales is changing in this information-rich environment.  Be sure to use all of the tools your organization provides to provide your potential customers with all of the information they will need to buy your products, services and solutions.  Providing as much information as possible to your customers gives them the power they need to make decisions that meet or exceed their requirements at the most cost-effective price.

Reference:  The New Yorker, Financial Page, Twilight of the Brands, by James Surowiecki.

The End of Brands? How to Sell Equipment and Solutions in the Information Age Pt. 1

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

ByIrving Gaither – Madison Advisors

In February 2014, a New Yorker magazine article entitled “The Twilight of the Brands” identified the reasons that consumers are starting to abandon their prior reliance on brand loyalty in purchasing products.  The use of online information to shop and compare items, and to listen to other purchasers on the pluses and minuses of products is now the way most customers buy products.

For established brands, this makes selling products at a premium price an increasingly difficult thing.  If you are selling a product that is superior to other producer’s products, then you may charge a premium price.  But performance numbers are quickly matched by other producers, and often there is a number of products that are so similar that it is difficult to identify them sitting side-by-side outside of their brand names.  Past performance is no longer a selling point for many consumers; what the product is and how it performs NOW is what is critical to the purchaser.  There are two situations where this isn’t true – when the quality of the brand is integral to the use of the product or where the brand confers status (think Louis Vuitton).

For the consumer, the information age means they are making better buying choices (hopefully), and competition has improved quality and lowered prices. It also means that upstart companies find it easier to compete with established producers.  If you make a product that works well at a competitive price, you will quickly become the next Asus, Roku, Hyundai or Kia.  We have gone from stable consumer markets to tumultuous ones, but if you can make a great product, the world will beat a path to your door (or store website).

Let’s look at the sales situation that is a bit outside of this “new” sales paradigm – where the quality of the brand is integral to the use of the product.  In the past, Coca Cola was a brand synonymous with this type of product.  Wherever you went around the world, if you purchased a Coca Cola, it would taste exactly the same and it would not make the consumer sick (because the water was pasteurized in the bottling process).  World travelers really built the Coca Cola brand, and as world economies improved citizens of the world had enough ready cash to buy one bottle of Coke.  Coca Cola has such a foothold in the US and other countries that they have increased market share in consumable beverages using their bottling companies if not their Coca Cola syrup to provide regional and local beverage favorites in every country they have a bottling plant.

So how can a company making copiers and printers break itself away from the pack and differentiate its solutions and services from the others? Check back next week for a couple of solutions!

Reference:  The New Yorker, Financial Page, Twilight of the Brands, by James Surowiecki.

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.

How Pizza Changed the B2B Customer Mindset

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Post provided by IWCO Direct. 

We all know that technology continues to transform the ways companies serve consumers at a rapid pace. But have you thought about how these new conveniences are changing the mindset of B2B customers? One of the most noticeable changes is how access to real-time, detailed information in peoples’ personal lives is also becoming an expectation in their professional lives.

Shoes Shipped Fast; Pizza Personalized; Forget the Taxi

Maybe this change started with shoes. The Zappos mantra of exceptional service in the form of selection and delivery times moved the expectations bar higher. Then Friday night pizza delivery morphed from a phone call to a mouse click or screen swipe. Order pizza online at Domino’s and you can choose olives on the left or right and know who’s making it. Then the “Dominos Tracker” allows you to watch your pizza move through various stages of production with a notification when it’s left the store. It’s a similar situation when you want to avoid the hassle of hailing a cab. When you order car service through an app like Uber, you can see the fare and precisely how long until your car arrives. And like your pizza, all large shipping companies, including the Postal Service, provide the ability to track a package you shipped or a product you ordered along its delivery route to its final destination. These consumer experiences, and many more, are transforming how customers expect to be served in business settings.

Changing with the Changing Mindset

This nearly instant access to information has shifted the mindset of the B2B customer. They want – and need – a similar level of transparency on the status of complex projects and transactions, in as close to real-time as possible. At IWCO Direct we’ve noticed this changing mindset. We are streamlining our workflow processes with tools that add value and make it easy to do business with us. But we’re not stopping there. We’re transforming our customer experience model and production processes. By enhancing our digital workflow, we will give our customers more robust views into the status of their jobs, along with the tools they need to make their job easier.

All of this is being implemented with the understanding that every individual action collectively creates the customer experience. From accounting to the production floor, we all play a role. As you can imagine, this is quite the undertaking. We’re very excited about how it will transform the experience for our customers and more fully engage our employees. We plan to share updates on our progress and additional insights in the coming months, so please check back often.

You can read more posts like this on the IWCO Speaking Direct Blog. 

Blog Author: Pat Deck
Executive Vice President of Customer Experience and graduate of The Citadel and the Naval Postgraduate School. Bringing the “work hard, play hard” philosophy to IWCO Direct for nearly five years. Commissioned Officer of the U.S. Navy, music and travel lover and Chicago Bears fan. 

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.

PODi reviews PRISMAprepare

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

PODi recently independently reviewed the Canon Océ PRISMAprepare workflow suite and authored case studies and product briefings on these workflow solutions. The overview from PODi:

“Canon’s Oce PRISMAprepare simplifies and streamlines document make-ready processes to efficiently compile, correct, personalize and program print applications. This includes various layout and tab programming, spine printing, color splitting and releasing to production presses. While it can be integrated with other software packages, PRISMAprepare can also be used as a completely self-contained stand-alone make-ready solution.”

PODi completed their analysis by posting a series of podcasts reviewing PRISMAprepare capabilities including:
• Document Editing
• Page and Image Editing
• Personalization
• Make-ready Automation

For more information – visit PODi’s site 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.

10 Trends to Define Marketing for 2014 – 10 Experts Weigh in

Monday, November 4th, 2013

As we approach 2014, and all of the marketing challenges that come with it, SourceLink is rolling out our “Ten Trends to Define Marketing” series again, with a twist. This year, we sat down with ten industry experts and asked them what trends they anticipate in 2014 and the years to come. We will be rolling out these articles over the next six weeks – Here are the experts that we sat down with, and a brief synopsis of what they had to say:

1. Ginger Conlon, Editor-in-Chief, Direct Marketing News – “The Virtuous Cycle of Customer Centricity” – Oct 29

Into 2014, consumers will wield the power to dictate how they are marketing to, and marketers are tasked with creating content that is driven by consumer preference. Understanding customer behaviors and preferences will lead to sophisticated micro-marketing campaigns, and marketers will then be tasked with modeling content creation and communications strategies based on how content is being utilized.

2. Judith Hemmel, Vice President of Customer Intelligence, SourceLink -  “Moving From Creepy to Credible” – Oct 31

An overarching theme through several of the interviews is was the extreme importance of mobile marketing. Consumers now have the ultimate choice of whether to engage with a brand, cultivating an environment of permission. This phenomenon will further strengthen the move from push to pull marketing, and messaging must move from “Creepy to Credible.”

3. Skip Henk, President and CEO, Xplor International – “Sitting on the Sidelines or Taking the Leap of Faith” – Nov 5

Human behavior is the true game changer in 2014, and there is tremendous value in how customers allocate their time to take in new information.  Augmented Reality, a still-emerging technology, very well could lead to a print revival. Marketers will fall into two categories in embracing these new technologies, those taking the leap and those sitting on the sidelines waiting for more proof; which Skip sees as the “winners and the losers” in the fight for customer attention.

4. Bryan Yeager, Financial Services and Mobile Payments Analyst for eMarketer–“Social Media and Mobile Craft a Path to Purchase” – Nov 7

Mobile penetration reached a tipping point in 2013, and looking into 2014, past trends converge because of the smartphone and its ability to enhance the customer experience. Marketers using social media up until now have merely been laying the groundwork for the real opportunities for engagement and conversion. Wearable technologies bring flashy new avenues to truly connect with customers.

5. Roehl Sanchez, VP and Chief Creative Officer, BIMM Direct & Digital - “Data Drives The Creative Process, and the Modular Builder Emerges” - Nov 12

Data begins to drive creative decisions, and creative decisions facilitate the use of data. We are entering age of real time marketing, and the definition of marketing and advertising “Creative” is shifting, especially when it comes to mobile design. Marketers must familiarize themselves withmicrocampaigns and start thinking mobile first. The creative professional must start to be a “modular builder,” and embrace a shift toward strong creative rooted as much in functionality as in design.

6. Rich Brown, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, SourceLink –SOLOMO and the Evolution of Location Based Engagement” – Nov 14

Social plus location plus mobile (SOLOMO) will a gamechanger in 2014, as marketers truly perfect geofencing technologies and make actionable use out of location data using offer-based engines. Data use concerns and privacy legislation gain lots of attention in 2014, and marketing organizations rally to support the responsible use of data. Marketers start to effectively link return on investment between offline transactions and social engagement.

7. John Foley, CEO Grow Socially and CMO InterlinkOne– “The Amazing Powers of Personalization” – Nov 19

2014 will see BIG advancements in mobile technology, which will allow for in-store personalization and other amazing interactions. A surprising amount of companies are still behind the content and social engagement curve in 2013, and will evolve into more social businesses in 2014, with more content being distributed than ever. Personalization sees a surge in the depth and relevancy, paralleling advancements in marketing automation.

8. Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs – “Organizing your Company Around Content and the Emergence of Short-form Media” - Nov 21

Marketers have been making content creation a priority, but next year will see a need to allocate resources to dedicated personnel. Next year’s trend will be a wider adoption and need to understand short-form content. Social media engagement leads to emotional connection and a better brand experience. Print remains a crucial part of marketing spend, and continues to claim significant portion of marketing budget.

9. Cindy Randazzo, Vice President Strategy and Insight, SourceLink – “A World Where IT and Marketing make each other Stronger” and  “Multisource Attribution in an Omnichannel world” – Nov 26 and Dec 3

Cindy had so much to say that we will be covering her thoughts over two articles.  First, 2014 brings the realization that IT and Marketing cannot be siloed, as their strengths will make each other stronger and will account for the weaknesses in the other, as the “right and left brain” come together. Big Data becomes relevant for all industries, as it is mined for interests, and used for multiple forms of variable advertising. Consumers start to ask the question “How is it possible that you don’t know who I am?”

10. David Burstein, Fast Company contributor and author, “Fast Future: How Millennials are Shaping our World.” – “The Marketer’s Role to the Millennial” – Dec 5

Companies must make consistent strides towards social responsibility and innovation as core tenets to developing as an organization. “Millennials” (those born in the second baby boom years of 1980 to the early 2000s) have become the most messaged-to generation ever, and marketers embrace emerging technologies and develop new means to stand out. Deep customization stands as central to the communications experience between marketers and Millennials.

To read the entire series, keep checking back to the SourceLink blog here.

PRINT 13 Recap: Five Days of Digital

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Every four years the print industry convenes for one of its biggest events. This year’s rendition, PRINT 13, was held Sept. 8-12 at McCormick Place in Chicago. I had the privilege of attending and representing IWCO Direct with several colleagues including Frank Boncore, Director of Mailing Operations in Hamburg, Doug Brustad, Manufacturing Operations Manager, and Steve Malec, Manager of Color Technical Services. Since we know not all of you could attend, here are the high points from what was a fantastic show.

Attendance

Overall attendance was very strong and traffic was brisk throughout the floor. However, while making the rounds, it was obvious that most people gravitated toward the digital print engine suppliers, or almost anything digital. Canon, Xerox, HP, Ricoh and Fuji all had digital web presses that commanded large audiences throughout the day.

Digital Dominance

Color digital print is here. It’s young and evolving and moving rapidly. So much so that PRINT 13 could have been called Digital PRINT 13. Perhaps the most noteworthy trend was the lack of “iron” on display. With only one or two offset units at the show, and a diminished presence from giants like Heidelberg, the absence of conventional presses was a strong indication that digital is the technology of the future. Simply put, gains in print technology are now focused around harnessing data and leveraging digital print to create focused communication with the end customer. And vendors are more motivated to partner and negotiate deals to help get new equipment installed – all in search of real user feedback to improve their products and drive these innovative gains.

As color and quality are rapidly improving, coatings and paper options are also expanding. As a result, integration is everywhere from full-size presses to 4” modules. Having a sound color management process will make a considerable difference with quality and consistency on newer equipment across platforms. IWCO Direct has reflected these shifting paradigms with our new Océ ColorStream 3900®and G7® Master Qualification from IDEAlliance®.

Talked-About Tech

With several live product demonstrations throughout the week that presented real and relevant applications geared toward the integration of print and online channels, it was exciting to see all the new digital technology under one roof and compare quality, speeds, etc. in such close proximity. We were especially impressed with Océ’s new Niagara cut sheet color box that will be out in 2014. It will be capable of producing 10 million letter sized sheets (full-color digital) per month. Other exciting technologies included radio frequency identification (RFID) and printed circuit boards with real-world examples such as:

  • A printed sticker that could be put on the outside of a coffee cup to tell the temperature of the coffee inside the cup;
  • Printed circuit boards using ink made of silver or copper (to create a paper circuit board). As electronics get smaller these paper circuit boards will be used in disposable electronic gadgets or even high-end devices like Apple’s iWatch.

Final Thoughts

It was an exciting show and a great week to be in the Windy City. Vendors provided great opportunities to network and meet with new people, and we got to experience the exciting future of digital print, one that will shape our industry for years to come.

This post was provided by Steve Myrvold of IWCO Direct. Vice President of Operations. Bemidji State University. Favorite award or recognition: Being on Good Morning America to be thanked by a friend from college. Bringing the “work hard to help other people be successful” philosophy to IWCO Direct for more than 25 years. Favorite hobby: Fishing, fishing and fishing. Minnesota Vikings fan. 

Our Partnership with Canon Drives Innovation for Customers

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Post by Dave Johannes. 

Earlier this month, Canon U.S.A. celebrated the grand opening of its new 700,000 square-foot Canon Americas Headquarters in Melville, New York. I was invited to speak on behalf of IWCO Direct as the voice of a Canon customer. The event gained the interest of customers, state and local officials, industry analysts and members of the press, all of whom were welcomed by Canon and given a tour of the facility along with a sneak peak at products and services that Canon will be launching in the coming months.

Dave Johannes

Canon executives, Fujio Mitarai, chairman and CEO of Canon Inc., and Joe Adachi, president and CEO of Canon U.S.A., spoke about Canon’s enterprise, large format and production printing businesses. The event’s purpose was to allow the press and analysts to gain a further understanding of the company’s breadth of consumer, business-to-business and industrial digital imaging solutions. You can read a full report on the new era at Canon U.S.A at Whattheythink.com.

Canon is known as a leader in digital imaging solutions and has produced some of the greatest printers used today, like the Océ ColorStream® 3900, a printer we recently installed at our Chanhassen campus. This printing system not only enhances our continuous digital capacity, it expands our color gamut and gives us the ability to match a wider range of PMS colors through the new Océ premium pigment ink set.

Being in Melville and seeing the upgrades and innovations that Canon is making reminded me how vital our strong partnership is to the advancement of our businesses. Over the years, Canon has been able to provide us with cutting-edge technology and workflow tools to support our own growth and innovation as we have significantly expanded our digital capacity and capabilities..

I was asked by InfoTrends about the future of digital technology. I noted that the market for color digital presses is hot. At the velocity of adoption which color digital printing has reached, it is no longer good enough to have a great press. The new requirement is a user-friendly press that is supported by a seamlessly integrated workflow. As our clients discover new ways to leverage full variability using color, images and text, the ability to rapidly and efficiently assemble the assets and proof the output prior to production is critical.

The partnership IWCO Direct has with Canon provides mutual benefits. Their Océ devices and workflows help us create products that meet the evolving needs of our customers. In turn, we push Canon to bring us new ideas, so we are ready to meet the future needs of our customers. As we continue to expand our digital platform, we look forward to seeing what new technologies Canon will be able to offer us to better serve our customers.

 Dave Johannes is Vice President of Digital Print and Mailing Operations at IWCO Direct. 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. 

PRINT 13 is on its way!

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

By now if you are even remotely involved in the printing industry you’ve likely heard of PRINT 13 – the most comprehensive global graphic communications exhibition and conference held in the largest print market in the world. This show arrives once every four year – with a “smaller” version known as Graph Expo in the off years. This year’s show promises to excite.

The scale of this show is undoubtedly massive. PRINT 13 will exhibit digital, offset, flexo, and hyrbid technologies showcasing a wide variety of applications for industries including: Commercial, Transactional, Converting and Package Printing, Publishing, Mailing, In-Plant, Photo Imaging, and Marketing Services. Exhibitors have likely been preparing for weeks, even months, to be sure that their booths stand out amongst the 550+ exhibitors.

The PRINT 13 show is themed, “Innovate, Integrate, Communicate.” The theme recognizes that the rapidly innovating printing industry is changing the way we think of print. The theme highlights print’s ability to drive multi-channel communications across a variety of industries whose communication needs are merging together. We’ve all heard the ongoing debate as to whether or not “print is dead.” While I won’t try to argue that here, the fact remains that print changes. The exhibitors at this conference are at the forefront of that change and are redefining our industry. Attending PRINT 13 is one way to keep up with everything!

So what is in it for you?

  • If you are a buyer, you have the opportunity to view the latest technologies of various vendors and seek out partnerships that can help you grow your business.
  • If you are a seller, you can interact with prospective buyers, learn about their unique needs as a customer, and facilitate mutually beneficial solutions.
  • If you are in the Converting & Packaging business, you get a 2-for-1 since the CPP Expo will take place simultaneously at the same convention center.
  • If you are an industry participant, you can network with fellow industry peers over a jam-packed 5 day week.
  • At any end of the industry, chose from a variety of expert panel sessions to learn about topics of your interest.
  • Experience the entire scope of printing products and services in live running applications reflecting the latest and greatest print technologies.

Long story short – there is a lot to see, experience, and learn at PRINT 13. I, for one, will not be missing out!

To learn more about PRINT 13, visit the show’s website here!

The Role of Social Media for Printers

Monday, July 15th, 2013

I recently read a blog published by Willis Turner entitled “So… Is Social Media BS or Not?” You can read his blog here on Funding Success (I found the article via the Target Marketing email distribution… proof that people do click through on emails!). In his article, he reports on a conference he was at where the keynote speaker claimed that social media, is in fact, BS. This is obviously a controversial topic, especially with how strongly social media has taken off in recent years and how actively companies – both B2C and B2B – are investing in and building their social platforms. But Turner provided more analysis of the comment which got me thinking…

The power of social media is not in the tool itself. The power of social media is in how it connects with the other components of a brand’s marketing and communications campaigns. As my colleague and MarCom guru, Cindy Cumings, would say – Social Media is just one more tool in the toolkit for successful marketers. Direct mail, email, events, SEO, personal selling… if you use each tool the way it is designed, they all come together to form a powerful and cohesive statement about your company, which ultimately generates results.

Turner reminds us to look at the marketing activities which generate revenue – something that social media does not do. So this means direct mail (still bringing in a large chunk of cash flow for some organizations), email, personal selling through a sales force, etc. These components are what brings in customers, influences sales, and at the end of the day, provides a company’s revenue.

So what does this mean for printers? Printers should take a good look at what channels of communication translates into sales, and continue focusing on those. Social media can serve as a way to bolster their efforts and brand image with customers. Continue to be active on channels to promote your printing work, your brand, and your people. If someone has heard of you before, has a favorable impression of your brand, and has even seen a sample of your work online – they are far more likely to become a customer. And remember, a successful marketing program is not built on the success of one campaign, but rather it is built on the seamless coordination of multiple campaigns, channels, and activities all designed to represent your brand.

Millennials, Business and Social Media

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Part 2 of Millennials, “The Greatest Generation” and Direct Marketing. Time magazine recently profiled as the “Me Me Me” generation and described on the cover as “lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.” Here are ways that these assumptions might be off base, and how marketers can reach this new generation.

Millennials are responding in adaptionary/evolutionary way to technology. A recent experiment,“One Laptop per Child,” delivered tablet computers to Ethiopian villages – with no instructions or teachers, and with preloaded programs. The results were staggering, but reflect what we already know about the technology the Millennial generation has grown accustomed to. Read an excerpt from the study:

  • Earlier this year, OLPC workers dropped off closed boxes containing the tablets, taped shut, with no instruction. “I thought the kids would play with the boxes. Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch … powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village, and within five months, they had hacked Android,” Negroponte said. “Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera, and they figured out the camera, and had hacked Android.”

I cite this example not to parallel children in an Ethiopian village to the Millennials discussed in Time’s article, but moreso to point out that technology has gotten so user-friendly, that younger generations can be portrayed as lazy, where they may, in fact, be quicker problem solvers and efficient.

The use of social networks is a shining example of this phenomenon, where collaboration between teams and organizations will be an expectation of doing business for the Millennials. That being said, a collaborative approach to social media is imperative within businesses, as well as when trying to use social media as a marketing vehicle for your business. Additionally, since social media is becoming more and more of a mobile activity, marketers are charged with reaching Millennials on their smartphones and tablets. This compounded with “second-screening” and interactions through console gaming devices make the marketer’s job challenging.

A key fact to remember in all marketing campaigns is that the Millennial is born into a “social” technology world – one that is inherently multichannel, and seamlessly so. Most of all, marketers must adapt to the new generation of customers the same way they have adapted to the rapid technological changes that have occurred in their short lifetimes so far.

Crystal Ball, Anyone??

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

“It is not the strongest or most intelligent species that survive, but the ones who are most willing to adapt.”  ~Charles Darwin

I like this quote because it removes the idea that survival and success are based on natural selection, but are based on intelligence and strategy and looking at how to adapt for future circumstances – an idea that seems especially relevant for the print industry today. At one time in history, we could have said that “print changed the world” and most would agree. But recent technological innovations, shifts towards digital communications and away from paper communications, have many printers working to keep up with the rapidly transforming industry. I suspect this is where Darwin’s idea of adaptation comes into play. Printers need to anticipate the future and prepare themselves accordingly. The same way of doing business will not stand, but you don’t need me to tell you this.

Lucky for printers, they don’t have to anticipate the future on their own. A group of young, bright, and well-educated students from RIT have already done the heavy lifting. Together they researched, wrote, and published a book entitled “Print changed the world – now the world is changing print.” They imagine the print industry landscape all the way to 2022 and address a number of sectors including books, packaging, signage, technical documents, direct mail, and more.

Here are the cliff notes…

Good News for:

  • Mobile devices which enable digital distribution
  • Packaging
  • Industrial printing
  • Signage

Bad News for:

  • The Postal Service
  • Circulars and inserts
  • Periodicals

Aside from the above, there are a number of categories in which the future is mixed – certain aspects will decline while some will rise. For example, authors suspect that self-publishing and yearbook printing will be the primary mode of book printing while traditional novels and textbooks will decline. The Security sector is another mixed bag.

If you read my last blog post, you’ll see that some predictions and research contradict what is in this report. I suppose no one owns a crystal ball so predicting the future is never easy. But nonetheless, it’s best to be informed and anticipate how expected trends will impact your business. So check out the full booklet here! (Made available by Printing Impressions)