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Industry Roundtable: The Wide-Format Forecast

(October 2010) posted on Thu Oct 14, 2010

Taking stock of 2010, and preparing your business for 2011 and beyond.

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In 1925, there was no tornado forecasting. In fact, the very use of the word “tornado” was strongly discouraged and often prohibited in any weather reporting because of a fear that predicting tornadoes would cause panic.

There was no warning then in the spring of that year when what is now dubbed “the Tri-State Tornado” touched down near Ellington, Missouri. But the tornado did not
stop there. In three-and-a-half hours, it tracked more than 200 miles, sweeping across Missouri, southern Illinois, and southwestern Indiana. In the end, nearly 700 people were killed and more than 2000 were injured; four communities were wiped from the face of the Earth. It remains the deadliest storm in US history.

Today, we thankfully have become much more profi cient when it comes to forecasting for tornadoes and other violent storms: The US Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center and National Severe Storms Laboratory have set up tornado-warning systems in every state, and the average lead time for a tornado warning is up to 11 minutes (they are striving to increase that number to 20).

Each year, we do our own “economic storm” forecasting by gathering together some of the top consultants in the market to comment on current industry trends and forecast where the market might be in the next 12 months. We certainly like to hope that there is no tornado in our market’s path or severe storm on the horizon for any print provider. But it’s always better to be prepared than to be blindsided.

Our “forecasters” this year include: Marco Boer, vice president, I.T. Strategies; Frazer Chesterman, managing director, FESPA; Tim Greene, director, visual communication technologies consulting service, InfoTrends; Dan Marx, vice president, markets & technologies, SGIA; and Peter Mayhew, director, Lyra Research Europe.

Question: The continued sluggish economy has been challenging for most print providers. Yet we’ve seen some print shops – especially the very large ones as well as the smallest ones – find interesting ways to survive and even prosper. But when do everyone’s fortunes turn around?