Redefining In-Plant Print Providers

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Jul 9, 2013

Adobe has expanded its business far beyond print. The Print & Publishing segment accounted for only 5% of total Adobe revenue in 2012. Adobe is providing solutions across the eco-system of where we view information. It is a technology agnostic view. Print remains an important component and they continue to invest and innovate with enhancements to PDF and the PDF print engine. The printing and publishing industry continues to rely heavily on Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

In-plant print providers can take guidance from Adobe in defining their future. It comes down to how you define your business, the strategic vision of where you add value and where you are headed. Most railroads in this country went out of business with the advent of interstate highways. Had they thought of their business as being transportation, not rail travel, they would have likely had continued success. A more appropriate definition of where you add value might be in the broader communications market. You would move beyond print to help your company communicate more effectively wherever and however images and documents are communicated. Such a definition would guarantee strategic relevance into the foreseeable future.  Moving beyond ink and toner on paper is critical to continued success. Adobe is an interesting case study in why a print centric view is vulnerable. By moving its Creative Suite to the cloud Adobe has eliminated the need for packaging as well as product manuals.

Such a redefinition of your role is a first step in developing capabilities, products, and services. Gaining expertise in other Adobe solutions is a start. Dreamweaver addresses websites and app design; After Effects cinematic visual effects and motion graphics; Premiere Pro is for video production and editing. The related services offered would be web design, apps, video, audio as well as print. Just as Adobe provides software to measure the effectiveness of web initiatives, In-Plant Print Providers should also consider providing analytic services. The goal is to extend your relevancy to many more of the ways your organization presents information to its clients, prospects and employees. Many of these new services, like video, benefit by having an on-site presence that favors an in-plant.

As the following graph illustrates, most In-Plants do not offer even rudimentary services such as Web2Print/eCommerce and Web Hosting. Instead of being technological innovators many In-Plants are technology laggards placing them at significant risk.

Source: Production Print Services in North America:  An Evolution in Progress, InfoTrends, 2011

Several years ago I urged In-Plant management to aspire to the role of “Print Czar.” Moving forward “Communications Czar” is more appropriate.  Achieving that title takes significant effort. You need the right staff. You need to develop business plans and to prioritize your efforts. You will need senior management support and the ability to invest. This journey is not easy but it adds more value than print alone and is more engaging.

InfoTrends assists In-plants by providing strategic advice, benchmarking, product management and promotional expertise through our Assessments and Benchmarking Consulting Service. Our engagements with clients typically result in savings in the 22% to 35% range along with double digit improvements in revenue generation, client and employee satisfaction that have even greater organizational importance. For more information about how InfoTrends can help you, please contact Scott Phinney, Sales Director, at (781) 616-2123 or via e-mail at

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