In the July issue of In-Plant Graphics Magazine (IPG), editor Bob Neubauer wrote an article entitled, "In-plant Research: IPG vs IPMA — Who Is Right?" The article compared results from a recent IPMA (In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association) survey, "State of the In-Plant Industry: Challenges, Opportunities, and Outlook" to results from the IPG biennial survey. What prompted the article were differences in the results. For example, in the IPMA survey 39% reported using an on-line portal compared to 54% of the respondents in the IPG survey.
After asking the same questions to in-plants, I thought I would attempt to answer Bob's question.
- Differing Lists- In some cases different surveys are sent to slightly different lists. One list might have more transactional in-plants, the other more graphic arts in-plants. The two surveys could be done at different times, but they both launched around the same time.
- Question wording- Another possible reason is the specific wording of the question. If one survey asked, "Are you using online ordering / job submission?" and the other asked "Are you using a Web to print portal?" you could get much different results. In my experience respondents with FTP sites say yes to the first question and no to the second.
- Number of allowed responses- Another possible reason is the number of responses allowed. Some surveys only allow one response while others allow three responses. For example, in a Graph Expo 2015 presentation, "Only the Best In-plants will Survive – The Secrets of Leading In-plants," I discussed the results of a benchmarking study performed during my tenure at InfoTrends.
The question was, "How are most jobs submitted? Choose the three most popular." Similar to the responses in the IPG survey, we found that 53% reported using web submission. In addition, in the IPG survey, 22% reported planning to purchase a web to print system, which is close to the 24% reported at Graph Expo. Dr. Joe Webb was contacted and asked about these differences and agreed with the reasons listed above. He also said that 80% of the respondents were IPMA members and he felt another possible reason for any differences might be because the IPMA membership in general contained larger in-plants, than non-IPMA members.
Research Secret: Gaining Insight Beyond the Numbers
The real secret of good research is gaining insight beyond the numbers. In that Graph Expo presentation we compared the investment plans and online submission rates of leading in-plants to laggard in-plants.
- 28% of the leaders were planning to invest compared to 22% of laggards.
- 64% of the leaders reported offering web submission compared to 49% of the laggards.
To answer the original question, I would say the results presented last year at Graph Expo were similar to the IPG results.
- 53%-54% of in-plants are using online portals
- 22%-24% are planning to invest
More in-plant leaders are using and planning to purchase web to print than laggards. Check out some of IPG's new in-plant data here and here. An audio recording of Dr. Joe Webb's Executive Summary presentation of "State of the In-Plant Industry: Challenges, Opportunities, and Outlook" at the IPMA conference is available for a limited time. Dr Webb will present the full report and analysis in Orlando, FL at Graph Expo 2016 at the IPMA annual lunch at Graph Expo.