The market research presented here covers wide-format printing to see what shifts are taking place during times of economic recovery.
By Tim Greene
IT-enabled sales, marketing, and operations
I have written before about how the convergence of the traditional vertical segments within the wide-format digital-printing market (sign shops, screen printers, reprographics shops, quick printers, digital specialists, photo labs, and commercial printers) has been. Convergence will continue to be one of the most important trends in the wide- format market. As segments come together, tools and technologies that have been developed for one set of users are often applied to wide-format digital printing technologies. As much as any of these other segments, I think the addition of commercial printers to the wide-format market will have a very important impact on wide-format because of the high-volume, manufacturing-type mindset that exists in the commercial printing business. Many commercial printers are getting into wide-format printing to offset the declines in other areas of their business, but also because they recognize that their customers are often the same organizations that buy wide-format graphics to support in-store and large commercial campaigns.
Some of the tools that are frequently in use in commercial printing are perhaps much more IT-oriented than we routinely see in the wide-format-graphics market today. This is true not necessarily in terms of the actual printing, where all segments do digital color and production management at various levels of sophistication, but on the sales, marketing, and operations sides through a set of robust IT-enabled tools within wide-format controller software and RIPs for wide-format printers.
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