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The Path to Evolution

(December/January 2018) posted on Tue Feb 05, 2019

The secret to being more successful five years from now than you are today? Accepting that your company will not, and cannot, be the same.


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By Steve Duccilli

If the first rule of business is to stay in business, as the adage goes, then the second must surely be to embrace change. Because there is simply no alternative. Markets shift, technologies emerge and mature, and client needs evolve faster than any single vendor’s capabilities possibly can. Some companies adapt while others perish. This is true in any field, but especially in the specialty printing markets served by the readers of this publication. Many companies have existed for generations, undergoing numerous transformations along the way and often bearing little resemblance to the original enterprise. The lesson being, longevity and willingness to adapt are not coincidental characteristics of a successful business.

Yet there is a growing sense in our industry that change is now more imperative than ever. Digital technology has weakened the barriers that once separated different market segments, allowing printers to explore applications that were once someone else’s turf. Hence, sheet-fed offset printers purchased wide-format flatbeds in abundance, sign franchises acquired embroidery and DTG capabilities, and wide-format specialists used textiles to springboard into all sorts of new industries.



This phenomenon of technologies, markets, and print providers colliding has been described as convergence. Some view the trend favorably and envision a coming time when the industry will be populated with one-stop shops that possess roughly the same technologies and offer comparable menus of services.

But convergence isn’t necessarily positive. When automobiles converge, the result is a traffic jam or, worse, an accident. When vultures converge on carrion, each one that lands cuts into the prosperity of those that arrived earlier. And the image of vultures descending in ever-tighter concentric circles offers a grim, though apt, analogy of what convergence historically means in the printing industry: The stronger the competition becomes, the more prices fall and profits plummet in a literal death spiral.

So is the answer to compete for the work others are doing? Is there an alternative? Consider how three established print companies are responding to the question that is now front of mind for virtually every print provider.


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