What does the future hold for wide-format digital imaging? Greene offers predictions about where technology, consumables, service, and more are headed.
By Tim Greene
This is one of the most advanced technical-support ideas I have ever seen in the printing market, even when I consider some of the other initiatives—like the online technical-support video and technical-service knowledge database that companies like Durst have developed. Durst has won awards for its efforts, and to me it looks like there is a real opportunity for more advanced online and technical support from the vendor side that could improve service and, thereby, reduce the downtime that printers experience with their wide-format printers and finishing equipment.
People often joke that consultants love acronyms. I don’t love them as much as I love one of the developments that is clearly on the rise in the printing business: the transformation from PSP (print service provider) to MSP (marketing service provider). One of the tools used for this is called Integrated Campaign Management or ICM.
Commercial printers rely on ICM in many cases to ensure the use of the same colors and content on e-mail marketing campaigns, postcards, and Websites, but then ICM ceases at wide-format promotional graphics. Commercial printers could use color-management tools and simple templates to easily extend marketing campaigns to wide-format graphics to develop a one-source, consistent, powerful marketing message.
I really believe the market is getting close to wide adoption and adherence to the environmental standards in development through the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP Partnership). SGP is not alone in its efforts to reform wide-format and other printing processes to achieve a greater level of sustainability. I believe that in the next five years we will see a set of standards for sustainability that various printing markets will adopt (commercial printing, packaging, label printing, wide-format, and so on). The standards will become a must-have for printing establishments that want to do business with major corporations, government, and educational institutions.
Thinking about tomorrow
I was at a meeting today with a colleague who said, “Look how fast things are changing. I’d love to be alive in 2050. Can you imagine what the world will be like then?” Nobody has a crystal ball (that would make my job SO much easier!), and I wouldn’t dare suggest that I know for certain what will happen, but the next big things—the major product and market developments that impact the wide-format business in the next three to five years—in my view will be what they’ve been all along: vendor- and distributor-developed technologies, processes, and solutions that solve the problems that print-service providers face every day.
Tim Greene has worked at InfoTrends (formerly known as CAP Ventures) since 1997 and has been the director of InfoTrends' Wide Format Printing Consulting Service since 2001. He is responsible for developing worldwide forecasts of the wide-format-printing market and conducting primary and secondary research. Greene holds a bachelor's degree in management from Northeastern University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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