Print Industry: What does the future hold?

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Print Industry: What does the future hold?

On May 23, 2013, Posted by , In News, By ,, , With Comments Off on Print Industry: What does the future hold?

Print Industry: What does the future hold?

We are often asked how the industry is evolving, what to the landscape likely to be like and where will MD’s of the future come from?

When looking at the future of the print industry and what the MD of the future is going to look like there are 2 factors to consider:

First what will the industry look like?  In fact will there still be a Print Industry?  Well yes there will but large sections of it will be quite different and part of integrated communications and cross media.  But realistically there will probably still be the need for bread and butter printing as well.

The second area to consider it what does it take to become an MD – this will be a key driver in determining the background of MDs.  If we look at the career paths of current MDs this will give a flavour.  Many have followed a Print sales or print production or operations route.  Often these people then have strengths in customer insight or operations excellence.

However there are a good number of MDs who are genuinely generalist businessmen who don’t necessarily have specific specialist print knowledge.  They are good at business pure and simple and employ others highly skilled specialists to implement their plans.  They focus on strategy, securing finance and managing their professionals to meet their goals.

Looking forward we can see that the advances in technology are changing the print landscape.  Much of the print industry is already focused on delivering solutions and managing print and perhaps more significantly cross media communications for clients.  The advances in print production technology means that many of the older printing skills are being replaced by computer / design skills which evolve and develop very quickly.  The advance of technology could tend to level operations reducing its significance.  Certainly printing equipment is likely to be mostly digital, although finishing, bindery etc. will probably retain a good deal of its mechanical nature.

Commercial people from sales or business management will always be important in the print industry.  The ability to structure a deal, to plan for efficiency, to deliver value to the client whilst making a margin is key to any business.

In the end it all boils down to a combination of ability and opportunity.  An MD needs both and needs the ability to capitalise on the opportunity and in that sense the print MD of tomorrow will be no different to today.

Yes it is possible and even likely that in 20 years time many MDs running organisations that print may not have had their hands dirty or been any where near a printing press.  Indeed many may not have been near print.  It could be that many print operations are just output sites, one channel of many, for organisations that handle communications – be they entertainment, news or marketing.  Many could very well be from the commercial side or perhaps from production in the publishing sense, people who source print.  At the bread and butter end of the market however there will still be small print outfits, who simply print, but again these are likely to do so digitally and their leaders will also probably be commercial rather than operational.  You cant forget however that for very small business’s this kind of demarcation is a non-sense; everyone does everything and so the MD will have been in production though probably with toner rather than ink under their nails.

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