Author Archives: Nicole Schappert

Six Steps to Optimize Your Transition to a New Digital Print Technology


Provided By: Mike Zink, Senior Marketing Specialist, Workflow Solutions, Canon Solutions America

Looking for a method to help you succeed in the deployment of a new digital printing solution within your business?

When you add a new print technology into your business, it’s an opportune time to identify areas of your current workflow that can be optimized or approached in a more cost-effective manner. However, a change to your workflow process, addition of new skills sets, integration of workflows from what may have previously been independent departments, transition from a sheet-fed to a roll-fed environment, move from monochrome to color—these can have major impacts on an organization. Whether you are expanding or developing your digital print production capabilities, transitioning your workflows, or integrating new systems, it’s critical to have an implementation plan that achieves your deployment time lines and objectives.

A thorough implementation plan includes six steps.

  • Assessment and needs analysis — Building the case to grow your business and expand services begins with a thorough investigation of current capabilities and an understanding of the key requirements and potential gaps to achieve future goals. An assessment and needs analysis will help identify existing pain points and potential gaps as well as new opportunities, then detail the requirements for a solution that will meet your business objectives.
  • Integration services — Sometimes new software tools will be needed, especially if you are planning to add new application capabilities to your business. Often existing software tools can be integrated within the new system. Your digital press manufacturer can help you determine what may be required to integrate your new digital press technology and software into your existing infrastructure. The integration process should work to integrate new print platforms with existing prepress systems, back office platforms, host data streams, and legacy data and print streams. Having these discussions early in the planning process will provide a good understanding of what you should budget for software in addition to hardware.
  • Support solutions — A new digital printing system brings with it an opportunity to review current workflow processes and supporting programs. Especially if you are looking to add new product offerings to your portfolio, ask your digital press manufacturer to recommend partner solutions that would be a good fit for your business goals. Both the press manufacturer and the solutions partner should work together to ensure that such solutions are integrated properly into your business operation.
  • Implementation and training — Whenever new workflows are implemented or new software is required, it is critical to have an installation and implementation plan in place. You need to access the right personnel to get your solution up and running quickly. Key steps to system architecture design and solution deployment can include proper training of key team members, integration into current systems, establishing processes for optimizing color quality, and understanding new workflow processes and new product offerings. Any training needed should be specific to your environment and your applications.
  • Project management — Integrating new software, workflow improvements, and product offerings into your business can be a complex endeavor. Before any new product offering is made available, you need to be confident that the new system functions as designed and your team is competent in delivering its services to customers. It helps to designate a project manager to plan and manage the implementation of your digital print solution. Expect this person to set schedules, coordinate resources, identify and troubleshoot potential roadblocks, and maintain your installation schedule.
  • Post-installation support — Support services should not end when the installation is complete. Keeping up with the latest developments in printing technology can be difficult. When evaluating a new digital press solution, ask about support services that are available post-installation from your digital press manufacturer. Look for regular reviews of your system and equipment performance, on-site activities with specialists to work with your organization to build skills, and ways to increase print volumes.

Expanding your digital print system capabilities can be a significant investment for your business. Take the time to consider all aspects of the investment and its deployment by using these six steps to maximize your return on that investment.

For more comprehensive advice on how to transition your business to inkjet technology, you may be interested in reading a new book, The Inkjet Edge – How to Transition Your Business to Inkjet. Published by thINK, an independent community of Canon Solutions America production print customers, in collaboration with Canon Solutions America, the book captures the knowledge and insights of some of the most successful inkjet service providers in the country, who were interviewed for the book. It can be purchased for $25 by visiting:

The Inkjet Evaluation: A Comprehensive Overview from InfoTrends


To no surprise, most players within the print production industry are turning heads towards the acquisition or utilization of digital inkjet technology. Until recently, print enterprises relied mainly on offset technology; however, the print pattern continues to shift towards high speed inkjet systems that produce high volumes in transaction, direct mail, and books. Why the shift? It’s not because inkjet is cheaper than offset, but because this technology can do something that offset just cannot do.

Last month’s webinar, “Evaluating Inkjet for the Enterprise: Improving Efficiency, Turnaround, and Investment”, gives a comprehensive overview of what inkjet technology brings to the table and how to begin the implementation process. Barb Pellow, Matt Swain, and Jim Hamilton of InfoTrends explain its application in the enterprise and offer critical considerations in making the move towards inkjet. As Barb highlights, there has been substantial growth in the inkjet market for both in-house print and offsite vendors. In 2012, production inkjet made up 31% of the marketplace. This percentage is predicted to grow to 58% by 2017, which correlates to about 12 billion more digitally produced printed pieces.

Current cultural, economic, technological and even governmental trends have fostered this growth, or even, “perfect storm in print and mail”. The conditions call for a mix of print and digital content in order to keep audiences engaged. Inkjet offers the optimal platform for both print industries and their customers to strengthen their operational and production processes. Grounded in market research, these 6 reasons sum up the advantages to leveraging color inkjet solutions:

  1. Effectiveness of direct mail in overall communications mix
  2. The impact and value of color
  3. The need for complex personalized messaging
  4. The ability to drive cross-media engagement
  5. Postal savings
  6. Bottom-line ROI

For a deeper explanation and the statistics that accompany each reason, be sure to check out the complete webinar here.

You may be wondering where cost fits into this list of “advantages.” A thorough explanation of cost considerations is provided in the later half of the webinar. Hamilton stresses: “If you are just looking to compare on cost, that is not the whole story…it’s more about the business transformation.” Thinking bigger picture is the ultimate goal, but also be sure to break down acquisition price, consumables (inks, maintenance), and running costs (paper included) specific to your job. A helpful cost prediction chart and timeline is provided to assist you in this process.

Without fail, Infotrends offers yet another informational and clear-cut approach to strengthening your business with inkjet solutions. Be sure to take advantage of all the research, data, and predictions they offer!

In need of Direct Mail Direction?


Our very own blogger – Trish Witkowski of – just announced she will launch her first online course Direct Mail Strategy. Her goal? To give direct marketers, designers, print professionals and small businesses the tools and strategies needed to get powerful results from mail.

The Direct Mail Strategy course covers mailing lists, marketing strategies, writing offers, engagement techniques, format options, testing, tracking and measuring results. Useful downloadable exercise materials are provided. The course format is flexible, whereas viewers can choose to watch the course all at once, or pick a topic and watch only what they need at that point in time.

So for commercial printers and companies looking to pair creative direct mail concepts with results-driving strategy, visit and search for Direct Mail Strategy to view sample movies from Trish’s course!

PODi reviews PRISMAprepare


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!


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.

PRINT 13 is on its way!


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 Digital Nirvana Welcomes New Bloggers


Hello Readers!

I am pleased to announce that we will be adding three new bloggers to our mix. Our new bloggers all hail from IWCO Direct and include: Debora Haskel, Vice President – Marketing; Mike Ertel, Vice President – Sales and Marketing; and Mike Dietz, Director of Creative Services. Our newest friends will broaden our blog topics and provide expertise on topics including: digital print, direct mail, and improving our direct mail performance. They are seasoned bloggers and write regularly for the Speaking Direct Blog.

We are excited to add these three industry pros to our Digital Nirvana team. Check back often for their insights!

The Role of Social Media for Printers


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.

Crystal Ball, Anyone??


“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)