Ricoh has commissioned Smithers Pira to create a series of whitepapers. These look at opporunities for Print Service Providers to open new worlds in a number of key market segments.
Whitepapers available now:
Ricoh has commissioned Smithers Pira to create a series of whitepapers. These look at opporunities for Print Service Providers to open new worlds in a number of key market segments.
Whitepapers available now:
In my role as Head of Commercial Print Operations for Ricoh Europe, I am constantly looking to grow our presence in the Graphics Arts market. That’s why from 27-29 January Ricoh organised its first Innovation Summit in Tokyo for 15 of the largest commercial printers globally. This is part of Ricoh’s Large Commercial Print Program initiative, under which the 100 largest commercial printers are members of the program and globally get benefits of the program like Global Account Management, joint business development activities, national/international senior management sponsorship and close interaction with Global Ricoh R&D.
As part of this program Ricoh organised for the first time the Innovation Summit. The main goals were for the customers to get new insights into the market via external key note speakers and Ricoh’s strategy and future developments as shared by the senior management.
The Innovation Summit was kicked off by Zenji Miura, CEO Ricoh worldwide with a strong message about strengthening our customer centric approach and continue our investment and focus in the Commercial Print business. No surprise of course as this is seen as one the major growth areas of Ricoh and a very reassuring message for the commercial printers in the room.
After this intro by Zenji Miura, external key note speakers Abe Smith from Oracle, Marco Boer from IT Strategies and Ulbe Jelluma from Printpower followed. They talked about the speed of change in current society and the digital disruption.
Some interesting conclusions to consider:
Also worth mentioning is Ulbe Jelluma’s presentation in which he explained how agencies today consider print as an application in the total communication mix. He highlighted some new print applications all driven by the generation of emotions in using print like putting a mint flavour on the tickets of a parking garage drawing the attention to the ticket with an advertisement of Extra mint!
Another example of ‘existing content, different application’ with books that are printed in Brazil for the public transport authorities, serving as a ticket and a planner at the same time as being a reading book. Or what to think about a plasticised newspaper that can act as an umbrella, in a country such as Ecuador ‘where it rains a lot’?
All creative examples of how print is being used in many new and different ways.
As the voice of the customer, Lynn Terhune from publisher John Wiley & Sons and Makoto Enomoto from the advertising agency Dentsu explained to the audience what’s happening in their market, what they expect from commercial printers and how they have used digital print to enhance their business for their customers.
Of course senior management from Ricoh gave their views on on the Graphic Arts Market and Ricoh as a company. Key messages expressed were the following:
This approach was very pervasive during the visit to Ebina, Ricoh’s R&D facility with 5000 R&D persons that work day in day out on developing new innovative solutions, which fit the needs of our customers.
During the Open House we showed under non-disclosure some specific new developments for inkjet, industrial and reprographic applications, which will certainly help our customers develop their business.
We created a special mailer for the event, to showcase the latest Ricoh technologies.For more information see: Making an Impact at Ricoh’s Global Innovation Summit.
And finally Christian Haneke from Print and Service Group Haberbeck presented the reasons for their investment in the Ricoh Pro VC60000 being the first one in Germany. A perfect example of a company who has adapted to the changes in the market and developed into a full service media provider for print and non-print.
This day was ended with an interesting presentation from Robert Crooker from Heidelberg, who talked about digitalization as it also is for Heidelberg a key enabler for future growth.
So for me Ricoh’s first Innovation Summit was a great success and featured a series of diverse speakers with a broad spectrum of experiences, insights and predictions to share. It seemed that all customers got a better idea of scale and commitment that Ricoh has dedicated to helping commercial printers successfully grow their business.
Finally one statement stuck with me which I think we constantly have to remind ourselves as being part of the printing industry is:
Are we in the business of print or in the business of producing meaningful and impactful communication?
It is very clear to see how publishing is changing in the world today; first music publishers, then newspaper publishers and now magazine and book publishers are finding that their markets are changing beyond recognition. These changes are a double-edged sword. On the one hand it represents a significant opportunity but on the other we will see traditional volumes decline and the traditional manufacturing model become increasingly inappropriate.
Traditional manufacturing equipment is no longer adaptable enough for this changing market. I doubt that a 30,000 books per hour binding line like the Muller Martini Corona I installed into a major UK Book Manufacturer some 10 years ago will ever be needed again in most markets.
Why? Well, the needs of the modern book publisher are changing and as suppliers we need to adapt.
Historically trade book print runs were 2000 – 3000 copies and these were bulk packed and supplied to the publishers warehouse. Publishers had millions of pounds held in inventory within in their warehouse. Volumes and margins were sufficient to have time to manufacture and store on a quarterly cycle. Today, with financial pressures on publishers and the ebook pushing down price, the market is much less predictable. Having lots of inventory and the risk of holding unsold stock is becoming unattractive to today’s publishers.
Even using traditional equipment regular orders of 500 copies is not uncommon but the trend for lower quantities and more frequent order cycles is obvious. So where is the trend going and what are publishers really looking for in the longer term ?
Trade Mono books have been the fastest to change, because they are relatively cheap, they are much less predictable in terms of sales and within the UK there is still a large proportion produced in the UK. Colour books however, are still mostly produced in the Far East or countries with a low cost base.
Let’s deal with mono trade books first, We have seen a significant investment in digital mono trade books in the UK with Clays, CPI and many others like Ashford and TJ International investing in inkjet production. This investment means that the mono trade book market is largely manufactured on a retail “on demand” basis.
I believe that once the mono trade book supply chain is established it will not be long before the colour trade book market will follow similar lines.
The reason for this belief is as follows:
Publishers need to react to the market place, sales are less predictable and it is becoming more and more difficult to be sure which titles will be successful and which ones will not. A publisher once said to me “ I have 5000 titles – I know 30% will be big sellers, I just don’t know which 30% that will be”
We also know it takes 3 days to get a book into a publisher’s warehouse and process it. It then takes 3 days to get it out again. 6 days is too long in today’s publishing world – Publishers need to be able to look at the retail and internet sales that occur in the prior week and order or replenish for the following week – it is that simple.
That means that ultimately we will need to produce orders of 200-500 on a 3-day turnaround as a minimum, even with traditional equipment. Looking forward, there will continue to be pressure to offer increased availability in order to service publishers at the level that they require which will mean that digital colour production will be a requirement. (In my experience Litho simply can not do that).
The switched on printers are taking that principle one stage further. If a printer is delivering an order in 3 days – why not bypass the publishers’ distribution system and warehouse altogether and deliver direct to store? Not as single jobs, but as a mixed batch of titles based on that stores sales the prior week?
If this is possible, with minimum impact on unit cost, this would be the publishers’ “Holy Grail” In some quarters I think that this is happening already. I believe that this is why Penguin/ Harper Collins moved all their trade titles from a two-supplier agreement (St Ives, Clays and CPI) to a single supplier agreement (Clays). The fewer suppliers means better manufacturing and distribution efficiency.
This means that printers will need to print orders of 5- 500 on a weekly or daily order cycle, but these orders will be in significant annual volumes; because the trade market consumes many millions of books per year.
This requires that digital book manufacturing needs to, and is, gearing up to this challenge.
Once inkjet can achieve acceptable colour for the publishers there is no reason why a trade book printer could not migrate to colour and fulfil the majority of titles to the trade market. This represents a significant opportunity for them as colour books have higher value and is a market that they previously did not serve.
Digital inkjet colour is here and many book printers are building their expertise in this area and offering publishers an opportunity to repatriate colour book production from China to the UK and Europe.
This raises some challenges however:
This seems like a lot of investment, a lot of effort and a significant risk for all involved? But the benefits are equally high – just look at how Clays has secured a 100% supply deal with Penguin/Random House. This means that the print service provider becomes a much more significant partner to the publisher. Once the supply chain is integrated and the savings have been made for the publisher, the printer becomes a logistics partner, a strategic partner , supplier that is involved with circulation, distribution and is ultimately responsible for making the publisher competitive in a very difficult market.
If I am right about colour inkjet it will meant that a significant amount of colour book production will be repatriated to the local market from the Far East and other regions meaning that a traditional trade book printer can grow significantly- After all there aren’t many traditional colour book printers left in the UK or Europe.
This supply chain model will enable publishers to publish more titles with less up front risk, it will open up local and self publishing opportunities for retail stores and make the book very competitive against other electronic publishing technologies.
Other opportunities will be to open up the deep back catalogue so that publishers can sweat their assets and printers can produce one off products and potentially deliver direct to consumer. As the supply chain and speed to market increases we could see new products like personalised books, especially for children, to become an every day way of adding value to what was once a commodity product as well as book stores offering more time sensitive products like magazines and newspapers.
As publishing the supply chain changes we will see more products produced locally in order to fulfil the time sensitive needs of the publisher.
Print Research International Ltd
This article was commissioned by Ricoh to bring you independent opinions from industry experts. We hope you find our guest speaker’s views interesting and stimulating. We would appreciate your feedback.
From smart TVs to connected thermostats, automation is increasingly prevalent in the home. People want more and more aspects of their lives to ‘just happen.’ However, the real impact of automation on the workplace is yet to be fully explored. Increased productivity and reduced costs are touted as the key benefits for businesses, including print service providers. But naturally, such a sizeable move demands a shift in the skills needed for an organisation to function.
In recent years, the skills shortage has been seen predominantly in IT and cyber security. A recent study by ISACA[i] shows that 86 per cent of businesses and IT professionals believe there is a substantial shortage of cyber security experts. The implication of this shortage has been that businesses now face an increased risk of attacks, and are far less prepared to mitigate or prevent one – a costly and dangerous position to be in. Only 38% of respondents to this study – comprised of more than 3,400 ISACA members in 129 countries – say they are prepared to experience a cyber attack. For printing companies, many of whom are caretakers for sensitive customer data, the skills shortage is likely even higher, since many have small or non-existent IT staff.
The good news is that as the diverse, tech-savvy ‘Generation Z’, born in the mid-1990s onwards, begins to enter the workplace in the next few years, the IT skills and knowledge that are second nature to them will help to combat this. But print service providers, like other businesses, cannot wait for that transition; they must begin to address the IT skills gap now.
And with the entry of Gen Z-ers into the workplace, an even more complex skills gap will emerge which employers will need to battle. This will include the need for softer managerial skills, including creative problem-solving and constructive interaction with others, while being ‘tech-literate’ will be a standard part of the working world – table stakes, as it were. There are plenty of resources for learning tech skills, but the evolving nature of managerial skills will be more difficult to address. Creating strong and effective managers has always been a challenge, with many arguing that managing effectively is something that can’t be taught. And again, for printing companies, many of whom are smaller family-owned businesses, managerial skills have been learned on the fly and may not be as effective in the Brave New World of Generation Z as they would like.
Creativity and social intelligence will become crucial differentiators for many businesses as we move into the future. It’s inevitable that automation, technology and machines will assume more of what have traditionally been manual roles – leaving highly creative jobs to thrive. In the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Future of Work study, sponsored by Ricoh, Ian Stewart, Chief Economist at professional services firm Deloitte, said: “Jobs that seem most likely to survive and thrive are those that require flexibility, creativity and social intelligence.”
Many believe that automation will allow employees and operations to strengthen their creative capabilities by freeing up time consumed by manual, often repetitive, tasks in order to undertake more complex and challenging tasks. In the research, seven out of 10 respondents agreed with this statement: “Businesses have a responsibility to automate labour as much as possible to allow staff to focus on more valuable tasks.” For print service providers the provision of greater automation reduces human touchpoints. This in turn addresses the need to find a profitable way of producing shorter run jobs. In fact, barely one in 10 respondents thought that companies should resist automation. Yet many printing companies have, indeed, not yet automated to the fullest extent made possible by budgets and technology. The opportunities are here: JDF, web to print and MIS all offer tremendous scope for efficiencies through automation. Similarly, preflighting, archiving and invoicing are processes that can be streamlined, automated and accelerated. In fact, with the right workflow, manual intervention may be required only in the event of an error or defect..
Almost 90 per cent of respondents to the EIU Future of Work study believed that the strength of an employee’s human capabilities, such as creativity and communication, were important to the success of a business – and 39 per cent of these believed it was the single most important factor. It’s evident that all print service providers need to harness and adapt their workforce with creativity in mind. And that means eliminating repetitive, redundant manual processes (or touches) to the fullest extent possible, stripping out any activities that do not add value. While offline and nearline finishing, for example, can sometimes be replaced by more productive inline finishing systems, the ability to programme these devices (as an integral part of the workflow) to finish each job according to its unique needs can reduce manual intervention considerably. Furthermore, entirely independent digital and offset production lines are not as efficient or flexible as when they are integrated into one, shared workflow. Tracking and shipping are also mainly manual processes yet barcoding technology and automated notifications can enhance productivity and, also job integrity, greatly.
A key role for future management will be nurturing talent. Over a third of survey respondents said that managers will need to become more effective at nurturing talent in order to assure their companies’ success. And with this comes the need to develop a shared sense of culture and purpose in the workplace.
Business management leaders, from whatever sector, will need to not only think of company strategy, but also consider the importance of developing a creative atmosphere in order to get the most out of staff. In a start-up environment, it is far easier to encourage a fresh, innovative culture, but more established businesses, which includes most printing businesses, will generally be slower to adapt to this change in management style. As a result, these companies may struggle to retain strong talent, and become less competitive compared to rival businesses. And ask any printing executive: It can already be difficult to attract and retain the best talent in competition with “sexier” digitally-oriented jobs.
Developments in technology have changed working patterns and employees’ expectations of a work/life balance. This has been seen with the emerging trend of everywhere ergonomics – the interaction between people and design technology – with a more dynamic and mobile workforce appearing. But how will these changes impact the priorities of printing businesses?
In the research, the main priorities executives identified were to increase employee productivity and cost control. However, when asked what those priorities should be in three years’ time, employee well-being and advancing employee skills and capabilities topped the list.
The key question is this: do we have a generation of leaders in the printing industry who are capable of nurturing future talent? Can our current leaders inspire and train the wave of Generation “Z-ers” entering the workforce, as well as the older existing employees? It is this delicate balance which could be the crux of future business success for our industry and others. The time to prepare is now.
[i] The 2015 Global Cybersecurity Status Report by ISACA
Short run promotional sample giveaways for airports, special edition book club runs or promotionally customised offerings.
These creative possibilities are among those that could shape the future of short run digital book production.
Some are already having an impact on today’s route to market for books as we saw at the London Book Fair this month. For example independent co-edition packager Elwin Street produced small quantities of offset-like quality books to cost effectively market their new trade list.
Titles chosen for this innovative treatment were The Vegetarian Year by Jane Hughes, endorsed by the UK Vegetarian Society; The Alkaline Cookbook by Dr Stephan Domenig and the Alkaline Cleanse, the follow-up to the best-selling Alkaline Cure; Love, Aimee x featuring 50 original, creative desserts from Aimee Twigger’s kitchen, as featured on her popular blog.
The new approach was supported by highly flexible, cost effective, easy to operate digital printing production technology from Ricoh and saw 50 editions of each produced.
Elwin Street’s Director Silvia Langford commented that the ability of Ricoh’s digital presses to produce books with high production values in very small quantities enables the publisher to show clients what new titles will look like.
The result was more conversations with more prospects.
However digitally printing books opens up additional opportunities. With digital print it is possible to produce personalised, customised versions of books.
Lost My Name is one company that has already reaped the rewards of personalisation in publishing. David Cadji-Newby who founded the company with three others developed The Little Girl/Boy Who Lost Her/His Name – an illustrated hardback which creates a personalised story around the letters of a child’s name. It has sold 500,000 copies to date, according to its publishers.
A slow start prompted the founders to appear on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den television show, where they secured £100,000 in return for 4% of the company – the highest valuation in the programme’s history. The 30-strong team now ships books, printed on demand, to 136 countries.
It is this kind of innovative approach that will shape the future for book production which is whyat Ricoh we see publishing as a significant opportunity for our digital print technologies. The flexibility that digital print can offer – especially for very short runs – presents so much choice.
It helps publishers like Elwin Street take a more considered approach to their print production processes – they can agree run lengths that suits today’s demand and know there is the ability to produce variable quantities in the future.
So is it time you looked at what considerations should you be evaluating and how can we help?
It is fair to say inkjet’s ability to conquer the complex playing field of comercial print faced initial doubts from some quarters of the graphic arts market. But just months after announcing the Ricoh ProTM VC60000 continuous feed production inkjet platform, we are now getting a clear idea of how rapidly the market is opening up.
The possibilities are very exciting!
Every fresh conversation we have presents new opportunities. We can see that inkjet presses are frequently replacing web-fed presses for applications like direct mail, books and newspapers, and that there is a growing volume of true commercial print applications going on these presses as well. This is due to the increased quality, flexibility and productivity offered.
Our clients agree.
Zalsman, a leading Dutch media and graphics company, believes inkjet will help it continue to grow and thrive.
Hansaprint, part of the Nordic TS-Group, is discovering new markets.
Parajett, in Sweden, says inkjet is the future when it comes to assuring high quality production.
All have invested in the Ricoh Pro VC60000.
Zalsman chose the press to help it continue to combine craftsmanship with state-of-the-art technologies to harness the potential of Big Data cost-effectively. Hugo Verlind, Director and co-owner, says the business can now offer clients a brighter, better and broader offering.
Jukka Saariluoma, Business Unit Director for Hansaprint, says that from day one clients will benefit from higher print quality and a wider variety of substrates. In the long run, he states, the greatest benefit for end users and for Hansaprint is the ability to produce new and innovative products. Initial focus will be on loyalty programmes, direct mail, transpromo, transactional and books. Jukka predicts that there will be a significant shift of volumes to inkjet both from offset and toner printing.
Parajett can often be found at the forefront of market evolution, and Anders Persson, CEO, is confident that the new press will deliver the quality and performance expected. It will also enable Parajett to print with ink, rather than toner, on a wider range of stock, particularly heavier substrates.
Inkjet is not going to stay in its corner. It’s coming out fighting!
As the true potential of these presses, including their capability, productivity and profitability, are better understood and harnessed in the day-to-day production environment, we will learn even more. In turn, as our knowledge grows, we can help clients create a highly effective mix of services that support the demands of an ever-changing end-user landscape.
While the technology is creating a new print production vista, our view of the horizon ensures that we are able to help clients make the most of every new dawn. That is why we believe the Ricoh Pro VC60000 will become a pivotal investment for companies looking to develop and enhance their services.
(This article originally appeared in Whattheythink European Printing Industry Coverage from WhatTheyThink.com)
This week the British Direct Marketing Association (the DMA) held an event – Mail Matters – in London, to share the results of some research sponsored by Ricoh. It revealed some fascinating insights into how the brand owners and their agencies who commission, design and coordinate direct mail campaigns feel toward this marketing channel.
Many research studies into direct mail as a part of the marketing mix have demonstrated very clearly that direct mail holds a special place in the hearts and minds of consumers. Its uniquely tangible properties help to generate an emotional response that other media struggle to match.
Most research has focused on consumer attitudes and behaviour. This new research though looks for a different perspective. Direct mail just doesn’t happen unless both brand owner and their agency together make it happen. So, while the consumer picture is relatively well documented, the research told us what these other vital stakeholders, the marketers and agency decision makers, think about it.
The Mail Matters research we sponsored told us that while the well known, young ‘digital natives’ in their agency roles are naturally completely at home in the digital marketing arena, it seems that many are not yet fully switched on to what is possible with direct mail, or advertising mail as it is sometimes called, today. For example a strong majority of respondents described both better personalisation and image personalisation as innovations that would enhance the effectiveness of mail. As we know, however, this functionality is a long established feature of direct mail, but it becomes more exciting as a result of the possibilities generated by the smart use of data insights.
Encouraging mail recipients to go online is a key goal the research shows, and there are many technologies to facilitate a smooth transition from the paper page to the online world. Ricoh’s interactive print solution, Clickable Paper is one of the newest. What the research suggests is that some marketers and agencies are either persisting with the limited functionality of QR codes or not deploying any bridging technology at all. It is also worth noting that 72% expect more innovation to integrate print with digital media; and I am sure that this will be a big part of the future of direct mail.
Very positively, there is a powerful core of respondents who trust direct mail in their campaigns because of its proven effectiveness and strong ROI. And while postage costs may be a barrier to some, the returns available are clearly the decisive factor for many others. And at Ricoh we believe this group will grow as the communications and commercial factors in favour of direct mail in the mix become even more compelling. For while data analytical techniques, such as those available through Ricoh’s Precision Marketing service (for example the MarkSim market segmentation tool which was used to analyse this research), are enabling better segmentation and more accurate targeting, direct mail production is becoming more cost efficient. The latest high speed inkjet systems, like the ground-breaking Ricoh ProTM VC60000, are bringing a new level of print quality to complement their well understood variable data capabilities. And at the same time Ricoh’s new cut sheet devices, the ProTM C 9100 and ProTM C7100 series, bring new levels of capability in terms of media range and special effects, ideal for direct mail jobs that demand impact and stand-out.
So, at Ricoh, we are seeing a new dawn for direct mail. With marketers and agencies alike moving toward greater understanding and harnessing of its power, coupled with the technology available to enhance response and optimise cost efficiency. It’s an exciting time to be in the direct mail field. For alert print services providers in particular, who can seize the moment, helping their clients fully capitalise on the opportunity and the technologies available now.