Laying the Convergence Foundation
As one of the driving concepts behind the launch of PRINTING United, it was fitting for the show to open on Tuesday, Oct. 22, with an intensive educational session devoted to discussing the impact convergence is having on the printing industry.
Led by subject matter experts — Marco Boer, VP of I.T. Strategies and David Zwang, principal consultant of Zwang and Co. — the session provided definitions and analysis of convergence, and strategies for printers looking to explore new opportunities.
To open the “Convergence Power Rankings: Where (and How) to Grow,” Boer and Zwang explained that in the past, printers tended to focus within a single application segment. But as the internet and digital technologies have impacted the industry, the lines between the various segments have blurred, paving the way for convergence — or printers entering industry segments outside of their traditional core competency — to emerge.
But with so many print applications and subsegments to choose from within the worlds of commercial, publishing, packaging, and functional printing, knowing where there are opportunities and low barriers to entry is essential for printers to understand as they decide which segments to explore.
“The first step is to find the technical synergies between what you do today and what you might want to get into,” Boer said. Segments that share substrates, inks or toner, software, finishing systems, or go-to-market strategies can present some of the best opportunities for convergence.
Workflow software was another key, yet often overlooked area to explore for synergies. Zwang noted that software is the underlying force driving production in a printing plant.
“When looking at software, think of it as infrastructure and look at it for the long term,” he said. “You need to say, ‘This is where I am today and this is where I want to be 10 years from now.’”
Go-to-market strategies is another key area to explore for synergies. For example, if a printer is in a segment that primarily serves businesses, it may not be the best approach to enter a consumer-focused segment, such as garment printing.