You know the mantra: print is dead, technology is king. It has been a tough few years for the printing industry. Between highly-publicized claims about inevitable decline of print products and the meteoric rise of digital alternatives, print companies have had to find their footing despite constant expectations of failure.
However, the rumors have proved fruitless. While technology has certainly made its mark on many areas that were formerly dominated by print, print products have proved resilient. Sageworks analyst Jenna Weaver pointed to the steady increase in print sales over the past few years as proof of print's pliancy, according to Forbes contributor Mary Ellen Biery.
"Sales growth has been fairly constant over the past five years at somewhere between 3 and 5 percent," she explained. "In the year ended January 20, sales increased about 4 percent. That shows us this industry is still growing its revenue, even though the popular opinion is that this industry is dying or really struggling. Our data shows that is not the case."
Embracing the digital
One could posit that this steady growth for print products has to do with one of two responses to the digital boom. Print companies have largely learned to adapt to technology by either finding niche markets or joining forces with digital documents.
Print companies that have chosen to go the niche market route have sought out business from fields where print documents are repeatable and always in high demand. From HR departments to shipping companies, print salespeople have managed to locate key areas where print products are readily purchased.
Others have embraced the technological boom: Many companies function both on print and in digital formats. There are many advantages to creating a hybrid environment to allow your clients to pick and choose between the two options. Transferring print documents to online copies can save time for staffers and reduce costs for the company as a whole.
A study by YouGov, reported on by the Forum of Private Business, found that small to mid-sized business can loss up to $63 million each day in revenue due to time wasted searching for documents. Beyond revenue, productivity within the office at large can be stunted due to wasted time attempting to locate files.
This does not mean print products should be eliminated altogether. There is great utility, and necessity, for print documents still. New hires must be presented with a handful of HR documents upon arrival, key contracts are required to be signed, back office forms need to exist in paper format, the list goes on. However, creating a digital database that mirrors your print presence can help increase employee productivity and save staffers from countless hours spent locating forms.
The advantages are clear, and print companies could attract a wider range of clients by offering a combination of print and digital options. While print products should remain your main focus, offering digital forms can open up a whole new source of revenue. Leon C. Megginson once said: "It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change." Be smart enough to play to your strengths but also recognize the utility of making small changes to accommodate the digital age.
According to International Data Corporation, executives think they can improve overall document processes within their company by implementing a seamless print and digital connection method. Furthermore, they believe that this system could reduce costs by 30 percent. Of the survey respondents, 45 percent claimed productivity would increase if their company implemented a connected document environment.