As we reach the end of a year, we typically take time to reflect on the past year and make plans for the New Year approaching. In reading several interesting year-end reflection articles, I observed common themes regardless of the industry or location. These themes bear consideration for us in the Printing Industry as we enter into 2012.
Any year has its share of passings, but 2011 seemed to hit Americans defined by their creativeness, competitiveness, and strong individuality particularly hard. Betty Ford and Maggie Daley, two women whose bravery and openness in fighting cancer while driving their causes saved countless lives. In the technology world 2011 saw the loss of Ken Olsen from Data General, Michael Hart, the father of the e-book and founder of the Gutenberg Project in 1971, and of course Steve Jobs, whose impact is undeniable.
American Politics had its usual share of “won’t they ever learn moments”, including the ‘Super Committee” failure to find savings to sufficiently reduce the debt, and the terrible mess with the US Postal Service which it seems is more politics than business. Financially, the economy continues to struggle in efforts to recover, and we find the term “jobless recovery” popping up all over. Perhaps no industry is more troubled by the economic woes than the Print Industry which continues to contract and struggle with customers shifting to digital and multi-channel communication.
We continue to see the expansion of the volumes and uses for data, and the real question is, how will we use all this data and convert it into useful information in running our businesses? Will we be able to find the right data, and will it help us to just get a bit better or can we generate meaningful change and new opportunities?
Macro trends with direct impact on our industry include:
- Mobile communication is here to stay with 5.1 billion people owning a cell phone according to Mobile Marketing Association. Consumer time being spent on mobile devices is rising faster than all other media. Integrating mobile into our customer communication campaigns to inform, engage and entertain customers must be a priority for all business and consumer communication companies.
- Companies seeking to secure current customers and attract new ones are putting the customer relationship first. They are looking to connect more deeply and more often, putting customers at the center of their efforts to remain relevant to them despite fast changing preferences and demands.
- Marrying communication design and technology is mandatory. We have to get smarter about how we plan and develop the customer communication experience. As budgets shrink and options increase we must adopt a design once and deploy frequently approach. How to integrate the multi-channel options for the most impact across the geo-demographic base is a major challenge.
All of these themes are intertwined and related. Taking steps to understand how they have impacted us and how we will react is important in how we go forward into 2012. As for me, I believe that eliminating silos and taking an end-to-end view of business improvement is critical to continue to increase productivity and competitive success. What is your most pressing need in 2012 and how can others help?