With digital technology sweeping the globe and the United States economy on somewhat of a rebound, many print companies are unsure as to where their businesses will end up over the next couple of years.

What is evident is that they're going to have to adjust their practices. Experts have provided guidance over the years, but an assembly of professionals with a monetary stake in the print industry will be able to carve out a future for themselves.

Spearheading discussions
It's important for those in the print industry to assemble on a consistent basis to figure out which strategies will lead to a prosperous future. Even regional or nationwide competitors should reconcile their differences and collaborate in an effort to determine where their positions lie.

The National Association for Printing Leadership recently announced that Frank Romano, a print manufacturing and distribution guru, will lead a special keynote seminar, "The Future of the American Printer," on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2014, during GRAPH EXPO 14, which will be held in Chicago, Illinois. In the first part of the presentation, Romano will lead talks concerning:

  • How the previous decade has changed how the print industry operates
  • The new business model of print
  • Which products manufacturers will need to produce for customers
  • The nature of contemporary competition and how it's changed over the past several years
  • Fresh opportunities to expand and evolve current practices.

A critical time
Romano himself didn't downplay the importance of the discussion. He acknowledged that the print industry needs to reposition itself, focusing on new avenues that have previously been untapped. According to him, it's not only about surviving in the digital era, but thriving in it as well.

"This special Keynote Seminar will provide an eye-opening update on the current status of the North American printing business and its probable future," said Romano, as quoted by the NAPL. "Consider that half of all print volume is gone and so are half the printers, paper tonnage, graphic arts media and even consultants. I will preview for participants the 'new world' of printing, including where the printing business is and evolving opportunities, and where it will be in the next decade"

Where current capabilities lie
Dr. Joe Webb, a contributor to WhatTheyThink, acknowledged a survey of 209 U.S. commercial printers the website conducted in May 2014, which asked participants "What services do printers offer, and which of those additional services do they produce themselves?"

The blog discovered that the most popular service is graphic design production, with 91.8 percent of respondents from large to small reporting that they offer such a provision. Just over 72.1 percent claimed they offer personalized digital printing and 60.6 percent provided wide-format graphics.

Overall, the trend toward digital seems to be consistent. Although many companies are posting media online, tangible advertisements, pamphlets and other forms appear to have made a place for themselves in the print industry.

Flexibility is key
Continuing to do what's been done in the past will ultimately work against print distributors. Searching for a new customer base with diverse printed graphic needs is essential, but other contingencies shouldn't be ruled out.