Taking stock of 2010, and preparing your business for 2011 and beyond.
Here's a sneak peek at our upcoming Industry Roundtable, which will appear in our October issue. Each year, we gather 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. Our roundtable experts this year include: Marco Boer, consulting partner, 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.
Q: 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?
Dan Marx, SGIA: There has been a great deal of consolidation in the industry, and many of the mid-sized businesses have taken it on the chin. Large providers seem to weather the storm quite well, and small shops often use their diversity to keep the fires burning, even in difficult times. While there’s no easy answer to when the economic uncertainty will be over, one thing is certain: Companies should do what they can to make it through and prepare to hit the ground running when the economic flood gates open.
Tim Greene, InfoTrends: Like most, I think there’s a cautious optimism that exists in many corners of “the market” right now. I’m somewhat of a believer in the “new normal” – which, to me, means that in this market there is a reset of what can and should be expected in terms of the return of profitability. Even higher levels of business don’t equal the return to equal levels of profitability because capacity in the market exceeds overall demand. In one of our recent surveys, we asked people in the market -- printers, dealers, manufacturers -- about this and more than half of the respondents reported that they think the recession is over, but generally they do not expect a recovery of business levels until the end of 2010 or into 2011.
Peter Mayhew, Lyra: There are many economists, analysts, and commentators making a wide variety of predictions about the recovery of major economies from the recession. What is clear is that companies that are proactive in creating and developing business opportunities will see results faster than those who simply expect business and, consequently, a recovery, to arrive without any significant effort on their part.
Frazer Chesterman, FESPA: In our third Economy Survey, we found that two thirds of the respondents have innovated processes or products to address the downturn. Their innovation has taken the form of changing processes such as sales and marketing strategies -- which a third have done -- and entering new business niches -- which more than half have done. We also discovered that 57 percent of respondents think that the recession is now over, 10 percent believe the market has recovered, and 28 percent believe that recovery will come later this year. Only 5 percent of those we spoke to thought that the recession would continue beyond 2011. And in our recent World Wide Survey in partnership with InfoTrends, we established that two thirds of the respondents were looking for new market opportunities to try to return their businesses to growth. We are broadly optimistic that the fortunes of the printing industry have reached a turning point.
Marco Boer, I.T. Strategies: Ninety percent of challenges stem from the economic recession. The other 10 percent of challenges stem from requirements -- both competitive and regulatory -- to be more environmentally friendly. There is a habit change required in the practices the industry uses, from reducing substrate waste and proper recycling. If the industry doesn’t take a lead in becoming more efficient in the entire life-cycle chain of wide-format print, it may some day wake up to find itself marginalized and supplanted by other advertising/communication means.
In 12 months, the wide-format world will be at a level of status quo where we’ll have all adjusted to the “new normal” state of the market. The industry will be full of renewed optimism and innovation will reign.