2024 Print Leaders Forum: Yasu Takahashi, Managing Director, Ricoh

Post COVID-19, the digital transformation of the print industry continues unabated. Higher volumes of shorter run jobs have become the norm, and digital print volumes continued to climb. Leading print providers continued to invest in digital print technology to meet these higher demands.

For Ricoh, the highlight of 2023 was seeing more of Australia’s leading printers investing in Ricoh for the first time – as well as others reinvesting in Ricoh technology. Having built digital businesses with other suppliers, new customers saw the value and support Ricoh technology and partnership could bring to their business. Another highlight for Ricoh in 2023 was the launch of the Pro C7500 and Pro C9500 colour cut-sheet presses. Built on the success of their market-leading predecessors – and with key customer feedback – the new models offer even better image quality, broader media capability, enhanced productivity, and provided improved operator efficiency.

Ricoh has a well-established and highly regarded colour cut sheet portfolio, having just brought the new Pro C7500 and Pro C9500 to market. The focus for us in 2024 is to bring to Australia our market-leading inkjet solutions, including the world’s only B2-size aqueous auto-perfecting cutsheet press – the Pro Z75 – and the next generation of Ricoh’s high-speed colour continuous feed presses, the Pro VC80000. To help print providers operate more efficiently, Ricoh will be launching a range of new services and solutions that will boost productivity and optimise operations.

2024 is all about Drupa. Drupa will bring a level of excitement that has been missing from the print industry for the last eight years. With the uncertainty of COVID-19 behind us, hundreds of Australian printers will be heading to Drupa to see the very latest in print, finishing and workflow technology. Unlike local trade shows, print providers will be able to see the entire portfolio of Ricoh solutions in action.

We will be running pre-Drupa events, hosting customers on the Ricoh stand during the show, supporting other events in Düsseldorf during Drupa, providing a livefeed event to customers back in Australia unable to attend Drupa in person, and be involved in post-Drupa events. The importance of Drupa to Ricoh is that it provides customers with the opportunity to see the entire portfolio of print and workflow solutions in action at the one time in the one place – a portfolio that includes technology operating in Australia at present or that will be available for installation within the next 12 months. Everything on display on the Ricoh stand is technology that is available to customers right now.

Drupa will also be the only opportunity to see a B2 inkjet sheetfed press (Pro Z75) and high-speed continuous feed engine (Pro VC80000) in operation until Drupa rolls around again in 2028. Other key planned events in 2024 are in partnership with the Visual Media Association (VMA) to support the print industry, including the Power of Print webinar series and Industry Metrics roadshow.

In 2024, print providers need to have a greater understanding of the challenges faced by their customers. This will help enable the print providers to better identify new opportunities and new applications that will help the customer. Print providers also need to be able to articulate how their print offerings complement today’s digital world. Personalised communications, geo-marketing, interactive print, and printed pieces that appeal to the senses of the intended audience (striking visuals and colours, smell, and touch). They also need to invest in systems that streamline the print business. Jobs today must be turned around as quickly and accurately as possible with minimal human intervention.

With the enormous growth in self-service interactions, print providers need to improve customer service to meet buyers demands for convenience. An area of growth is provided by the changing nature of applications. The days of mass-printed collateral, DM and publications are fast disappearing.

Instead, developing versioned, personalised communications that are truly relevant to their recipients – combined with an emotional appeal to the senses – can have a significant impact on the bottom line. Print applications need to complement today’s digital world. ‘One to one’ communication becomes more effective by combining use of print and digital media, delivering high-impact campaigns with greater ROI than either print or digital communications alone.

Sustainability is also now essential to integrate into business strategies. Many businesses have started to focus on sustainability to reduce pollution, conserve resources, and minimise waste. For print providers, minimising waste can mean using digital print technology to print only what’s needed when it’s needed. This approach not only reduces energy consumption but also conserves resources. While these measures are crucial, sustainability encompasses much more than just environmental considerations. Sustainability is a comprehensive concept that also includes social and economic factors. Sustainability has been at the core of Ricoh since its foundation.

This first appeared in Australian Printer magazine. Read the original article here.

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