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Navigating the Wide-Format Sea

(October 2009) posted on Wed Oct 28, 2009

Five industry experts scope out the year ahead.

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Juan Sebastián Elcano of Spain was the first seaman to navigate the Earth back in the early 1500s (the more famous Ferdinand Magellan initially led the expedition, but never completed the trip, being killed en route). The expedition’s original objective had a distinct business hook: Finding a more direct route to the Spice Islands. But the tumultuous three-year journey ended up plotting an oceanic course that would be followed by navigators for years to come. Along the way, the crew observed scores of animals never seen by Europeans, spotted new astronomical bodies in the Southern hemisphere, and even helped establish, upon return, a need for the International Dateline.

They did all this with the navigation technology of the time—little more than a compass and astrolabe. If you could step back in time and provide Elcano and Magellan with, say, a high-end telescope with modern optics or perhaps even a GPS unit, you’d have to assume they could shave quite a few days from their voyage’s timetable—and probably avoid more than a few troubles along their trip.

Utilizing technology to achieve business goals (and even larger adventures) is a familiar concept in the wide-format market as well, and proper use of these technologies can certainly help your company stay on course. To aid you in circumnavigating today’s perilous, wide-format waters, we’ve gathered together five experts in the wide-format marketplace and asked them to address some of the critical issues facing the industry.

Our roundtable experts include: Bill Dundas, director of technical and regulatory affairs at the International Sign Association (ISA); Adam Florek, research analyst, Lyra Research’s Wide Format Printing Advisory Service; Tim Greene, director, Visual Communications Technologies Consulting Service, InfoTrends; Dan Marx, vice president, markets and technology, the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA); and Patti Williams, consulting partner, I.T. Strategies.

Last year in this space, we predicted challenging times ahead. And, for better or worse, we were generally correct. What does the industry need to do in order to dig itself out of the hole we find ourselves in? Can 2010 be a turnaround time?