As business changes and new opportunities arise, explore new ways to capture profitable deals.
We saw a lot of “bad” things happen in 2020, but there were also some good things that happened for the business-savvy among us, namely in production printing.
For the longest time, printing was divided into two teams, office imaging and production/transactional printing. In the early days of production printing, you had to really know how to handle those big boxes, know your Meta code, your IPDS, and APA, and get a mighty BUS/TAG cable, as you couldn’t just hook them up to your network. Today, it’s a case of same, same but different, like “a box is a box is a box”—plug it in, turn it on, off you go—for a large number of them at least. Not every dealership was or can sell production printing equipment (and forget about industrial printing for now, that would be a whole different world.). Many dealers still don’t have the team to understand the production print environment, neither from the software, hardware, or the workflow side of things. Or they simply aren’t interested in getting into this other world.
Business is Changing
Office imaging, as we know it, is rapidly declining and paper shipments have fallen drastically across the globe in 2020. With increased remote working, we see new printing trends, too. What was once managed by some intelligent print management software, routed to the team or department printer and, depending on the page volume, to an in-house high-volume device is now increasingly happening from the home office.
Three types of document processing have been identified in the home office:
- Documents to review content
- Documents for signing and sending
- Large-volume documents
In many cases, these documents are printed on the newly purchased home-office printer (the new MPS headache). In other instances, PDF documents are emailed to a centralized print room for printing, enveloping, and mailing. Unfortunately, not all companies have, until now, solutions in place that would allow their workers to send a print job to a centralized printer directly. To make the gap even wider, many lack software solutions for output optimization, postal optimization, and job tracking.
Looking back at 2020, many in-house or in-plant printing operations, and PSPs (print service providers) saw an uptick in fulfillment, personalized document output, and printing and delivering high-volume documents Education, for example was a bright spot, but there is plenty of room for improvement.).
Where’s Your Opportunity in This?
The answer is quite simple, upgrade your offerings. I’m not only talking about stacking up additional hardware in your portfolio. I urge you to upgrade your software and services offerings around document creation, print management, workflow management, workflow security, and as always, remote assessments.
Moreover, you need to upgrade your industry knowledge and know-how. Security challenges are not going away regardless of the printing environment—and most definitely not for remote work. But that’s not the point now. Different printing environments require different understandings of workflow requirements, workflow tools, and output tools, including the above-mentioned optimization and tracking tools. You should also educate yourself and your team on overall new document and communication trends. Today, these go as far as enabling augmented reality (AR) messages in paper-based communication. We can’t just respond to a customer request only; we need to take the lead and be a step or two ahead of the customer and our competitors.
Closing the Other Gap
I need to use a dirty word here: M&As. Maybe you don’t have to go as far as this but at least work on your partnerships. If you are too small to offer production print solutions, team up with someone who can. If you are big enough, but don’t feel confident yet to sell them, partner. Starting in 2021, it’s about time we shake off feeling awkward about holding hands. It helps to close those gaps that are in our way to forge new, profitable deals.
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