How to survive and thrive in a digital world


The internet and online technology are influencing the way we receive, process, print, finish and deliver printed products. Let us briefly contrast what happens in the industry now to the challenges and opportunities ahead.


1. Printing technology has shifted from conventional offset printing to toner-based and inkjet digital printing.

2. With the advent of MIS, web-to-print, and cloud web-based software, the delivery of files has changed from the courier with a CD to online web-based shopfronts where clients can self-quote, upload their data and track delivery. The cloud is the next step to being a click away from your client.

3. The next big offensive of the digital revolution is in finishing, with smart QR tracking systems using automated registration sensors. More will be learned about this at Drupa 2012.

4. Are you aware that digital print technology’s speed, resolution and quality will continue to increase by 50% every 18 months because the technology is still in an evolutionary phase?

5. Consider that RIP technology as the brain and the printing equipment as the arms and legs of your production. Therefore, investing smart money on the brain (RIP) will get the best out of your equipment and maximise efficiency. Work smarter, not harder.

6. Use standards to improve your digital work by using ISOcoated-v2 as your exchange colour space; get PDF compliance to PDF-X1a or PDF-X4, and implement quality control for predictable and reliable daily colour reproduction. These three key points will give your business maximum efficiency.

7. Automation with tools such as SwitchBox will reduce repetitive tasks in pre-press by intelligent file management, normalising PDF with specific workflow and distributing output to the right printing devices. Workflow automation can grow with your business by processing an unlimited number of files without increasing your staff overhead. 

8. Web-to-print will create business opportunities that do not exist today. Choose wisely, do not limit yourself to what the technology can do today; rather build a vision of what it can do for you in the future. Do not get lured into doing an in-house development project at high cost when technology is available overseas for a fraction of the price.

9. Your clients belong to the Facebook and Twitter generation. They are a click away from print suppliers. They expect user-friendly technology that makes printing happen easily.

10. Because digital technology development is going so fast, finding skilled staff is becoming a problem for many printers. Your best business investment is to keep the knowledge and training of your staff up-to-date so you are prepared for the future.

Finally, consider how the industry will change after Drupa 2012. The main focus of this important show will be about software and automation driven by the need to bring about greater efficiency. The labour cost comparison between Asian and Western countries is now 1:6. The answer for our printing industry is to use automation to keep the work at home and still be able to compete. Efficiency is the new business model because it is much easier to save $100,000 cost than find additional work earning $100,000 of new profit.

Yves Roussange is managing director of colour management supplier ColourProcess

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