Focus on the world beyond production printing to deal with the real challenges ahead

At Ricoh we naturally talk about technology, products, speeds, feeds, dpi, and pages per minute, market leadership in transactional printing…… However while the reliability, productivity and quality of the technology is critical to print service providers like you to run your business, it’s only one part of what is needed for a profitable printing business.

So in this article I’d like to focus on the other areas that also need to be addressed more by the print service provider – namely the challenges of your own clients. They are the companies, both large and small, also faced with increasing their revenues, retaining their customers and keeping up with the accelerating rate of change that is driven by the impacts of technology.

As Ricoh’s production printing division assumes a leadership role, we feel the responsibility that goes with that role. It’s the responsibility to work with print buying organisations and with professional print service providers. To explore and anticipate the changes ahead that will reshape our industry. To help us develop the solutions that will meet the needs of the market.

 For future success, it is essential that professional print service providers play an even bigger role and take more responsibility in understanding these challenges and the future for senior business executives and the Chief Marketing Officer (or CMO) in particular.

 Looking beyond production printing to the challenges of end clients

 I believe that vendors like Ricoh – need to continue to spend more time looking at the world beyond the production printing industry;

  • analyse the trends changing the way corporate organisations, print buyers and CMOs and their agencies will work in the future,
  • and how consumers expect to interact with the printed document, social media and other communications channels. 

 Then support print service providers like you to face the challenges of the future head on.  

 We have the responsibility to help you succeed. And while many have gone down the road of added value and broader, marketing-oriented services, still more haven’t yet begun the journey. So where do we start?  First, what is really happening at the client side?  What are the challenges of the corporate organisations who will be investing in the print services of the future? 

 Insight from Economist Intelligence Unit

 We’ve got a good insight as many of these businesses are already Ricoh customers.  Let me give you some interesting results from a recent study by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Ricoh.  It provides an insight into the challenges and megatrends faced by businesses today – or in other words, your clients.

A key finding from the study of 567 business leaders around the world is that: Businesses will have nowhere to hide from technology change.



In fact:

  • More than one third (37 per cent) of leaders surveyed believe their organisation will be unable to keep up with technology and they will lose their competitive edge.
  • Six out of ten believe the markets where they operate will be significantly altered between now and 2020, bearing little similarity to today
  • One third of business leaders working in the technology sector believe their businesses will disappear altogether.

Quite a similar tune to what we hear from print service providers – you are certainly not alone in the need to change for the future, as your own customers are seeking new ways to do business and attract new customers.

We’re seeing the impacts from technologies that exist today, like the increase of low cost computing power, storage and bandwidth available via the cloud, which are enabling more cost-effective, flexible, and mobile business models for all industries.  If we look at the production printing industry, recent technologies including digital printing and inkjet technology have driven significant changes in just a few years.

 It is not only the technology driving the change but how it is used

 And what is certain is that there will continue to be radical changes to our industry as current technologies will be applied in different ways by businesses, their customers and their employees.

 And this doesn’t even consider any new innovations we don’t know about yet.  But note – it’s not only the technology itself that is driving the changes, but how it is used and the impacts of the way it is used.

Growing volumes of data – “big data”

The study by the Economist also shows that the rise of information will continue to be a challenge as organisations will continue to gather higher volumes of data, at accelerating speeds, the trend known as “big data”.

It’s a particular challenge for the marketing departments in these companies – to analyse, and to capitalise on the unprecedented volume and richness of data that is now available.

In the book “Precision Marketing – maximising revenue through relevance” co-authored by Ricoh’s Sandra Zoratti, we see that 60% of Chief Marketing Officers said they are focused on reaching their buyers in more relevant and contextual ways through better profiling, targeting and segmenting. 

But just 15% believe their companies are doing an extremely good job. And this view is confirmed by IT buyers surveyed by the International Data Group where a staggering 58% said that marketing material they receive is not relevant to them.

Add to this the startling statistic from the CMO Council that 50% of consumers’ state their number one reason for brand defection is irrelevance of information provided to them.  It’s clear to see that much of today’s marketing materials are considered ‘waste’. 

I’m sure this doesn’t surprise you. We can all think of our own personal examples.

So, should the Print Service Provider continue to provide a ‘one size fits all’ service to marketing teams without question just because the CMO has asked for it?  We don’t think that model works any more. It must change.


When does change need to happen?

We believe now.  Too many consumers are turning away from print as an outdated medium.

The print service provider can play an important role in creating more added value, by challenging your clients and helping them to produce more personal and relevant marketing materials, delivered in more innovative ways through more communication channels, that consumers will find helpful and useful.

Product packaging is one channel where professional print service providers can highlight the potential that digital technology brings – there is a new world of opportunity here – with short run consumer acceptance testing, personalisation, and even integration with individual online content in the near future.  (For more information see our Blog article, Digital Packaging – the rising star).

 The big data phenomenon poses a huge challenge for businesses to understand and manage the wealth of data now available to them about their customers, but print service providers can play a key role in helping to manage the opportunities it brings to build better, closer customer relationships in a more structured way.

We’ve been looking at these trends and challenges for some time and have been building our production printing portfolio and services-oriented approach to meet these needs.  We call this ‘Print and Beyond’.

That’s why we believe it is essential that print service providers play a bigger role and take more responsibility in understanding these challenges.  Collectively, we need to continue to spend more time focusing on the world beyond the production printing industry, and analyse the trends changing the way corporate organisations interact with their consumers.

For the latest Insights and updates see Ricoh’s Print and Beyond Insights  

Graham Moore -business development director for Ricoh Europe

Graham Moore -business development director for Ricoh Europe

One thought on “Focus on the world beyond production printing to deal with the real challenges ahead

  1. Thanks Graham, I agree with your suggestion for printing service provider and accept challenge today otherwise people leave printing media as a outdated medium of marketing.
    I really shocked after reading statistics by Economist.

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