You don't need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows sang Bob Dylan in 1966. But if you are curious about how software is or is not being used by commercial printers and in-plants, the answer my friend can be found in the "2019 North American Production Software Outlook" from the market research firm Keypoint Intelligence | InfoTrends. The latest study yields compelling data about the current state and future states of the workflow and Web to print software markets.
You've probably been touting the benefits of software such as Rochester Software Associate's (RSA's) QDirect and WebCRD to customers, but let's be honest, some customers need more time before they embrace total automation through software. If there's any validity to some of the projections in the InfoTrends report, they'll eventually get there. And when they do, they'll need you.
Consider that today the average percentage of print volume produced in a 100% automated workflow is only 9%. InfoTrends expects that average percentage to rise to 20% by 2021. Similarly, 33% of print volume is currently being processed via Web to print with that figure predicted to grow to 46% in 2021.
What does that mean to resellers? Not to get too rhetorical, but opportunity. With significant percentages of commercial printers and in-plants still not fully automating these processes, and equally significant percentages only partially automating, there is a need for software—whether it's a first-time buyer or a buyer interested in upgrading their current software—that takes these organizations to the next level of automation.
Top Problems and How You Can Solve Them
Most commercial printers and in-plants realize they have issues and have no problem pinpointing the problem when asked. For example, commercial printers and in-plants love big print jobs, but it's the many small ones that are causing them headaches, according to InfoTrends research. When 57% of commercial printers and 50% of corporate in-plants cite dealing with a high number of small print jobs as an issue, that's a clear indicator they are open to a more efficient way of handling smaller jobs. Who better than a dealer who sells software to step in and educate these organizations on how the latest software can help them more efficiently process smaller jobs?
Customizing the workflow to meet their needs was the number two issue for 30% of commercial printers and the number three issue for 30% of in-plants. A solution to that problem is readily available. For example, RSA's QDirect and WebCRD offer customizable workflows that offer flexibility to automate part or all of the job production process, integrate with other software, and more, or even simple customization like print ticketing and shipping documents.
Working with legacy or old software systems is an issue for 26% of commercial printers while increasing throughput and shortening production times is a problem for 33% of in-plants. It's not uncommon for family owned commercial printers and smaller commercial printers to be slow to upgrade legacy systems and software. That doesn't mean you can't offer them a solution that is compatible with legacy systems. As for increasing throughput and shortening production times, the solution boils down to automating the workflow through workflow software and automating job submission through Web to print software.
We've touted the virtues of Web to print before, however, the benefits of online job submission are worth repeating. Emphasize advantages such as convenience for the customer when submitting jobs, fewer errors, reduced manual intervention, and improved turnaround time, just to name a few.
Growth in VDP and More Color and CMYK
When selling software, it's helpful to know what types of jobs commercial printers and in-plants print. InfoTrends research reveals Variable Data Printing (VDP) is primed for growth in these two market segments. The market research firm predicts VDP jobs will grow by 31% through 2021 with the average number of VDP jobs increasing from 24% today to 35% by 2021.
In a world where color has become more prominent on printed pieces, InfoTrends found an average of 21% of total automated print volume is now printed with more than the traditional CMYK colors. Here, InfoTrends predicts 22% growth through 2021 as that current 21% climbs to 27%.
The Price of Inaction
The cost of not being automated outweighs the cost of automation. While only 7% of commercial printers don't know what they are spending on software, that number is much larger for in-plants (20%). With 17% of in-plants and 23% of commercial printers spending less than $5,000 a year on software, it's little wonder they have issues. That's why educating these customers is critical and offers an opportunity to make a case for automating processes via software. It's a good sign that online order to job creation is being embraced by 47% of commercial printers and 57% of in-plants. Despite those healthy percentages, the reality is they could be even better. When only 2% of commercial printers and 3% of in-plants have fully automated their workflows, there is clearly a disconnect between what these organizations need to do and what they are doing.
Help Is On the Way
Doing nothing or not much are not options if a commercial printer or in-plant wants to improve processes and reduce costs. That's where a vendor such as RSA who offers software that can eliminate or drastically reduce these issues can make a difference as can a dealer who can position themselves as a trusted advisor and make a case for software that resolves many of the issues confronting a commercial printer or in-plant.