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The Quest for the ‘Next Big Thing’

(May 2011) posted on Tue May 10, 2011

Exploring the wants and needs for the Next Big Thing.

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By Craig Miller

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for the next big thing. All you have to do is show me what appears to be the next big thing (or as I’ll refer to it here, “NBT”) and I’m all over it. It really doesn’t matter what it is: a car; a camera; a computer; a TV; a phone. I am a tech wonk and I will want one.

This is not necessarily a good business trait in this industry. During the good times, I almost always got what I wanted. As my wife and business partner reminds me, the one upside to the recession is that it has reined in my NBT-mania. Now, I have to justify everything with a solid need and its probable ROI. Plus, a little begging never hurts. And even when I can justify the purchase, that doesn’t mean I have the resources to pull off the acquisition.

In every company, someone is making capital equipment decisions. These decisions can make or break a company. Pick the right piece of equipment and you can make your company super completive. Make a really bad choice, however, and the weight of that boat anchor can sink your company. And that equipment decision does not just comprise printers anymore. Our company has almost as much money invested in our finishing equipment as we do printing. Today, a single piece of capital equipment can cost seven figures – and it’s getting hard to find really good equipment for less than six figures.

Like many of you, for the first time since the start of the recession in 2008, our shop is on the verge of planning for new equipment. At events like the ISA Expo, SGIA Expo, and Graph Expo, we’ll be on the lookout for the NBT. What will it or they be? Will there be more than one? Will it be the Swiss Army Knife of printing that UV promised to be – or will it be the sashimi knife of printing that only does one thing, but does it really, really well? What technology or technologies will make up the NBT contenders?