Sun, Apr

I’m en route to the Printing Charity’s annual luncheon today, so thought it timely to flag up the sterling work it has been doing since its foundation in 1827 and to remind you to make it known to your staff - they may find need of it at some point!

OK, so where do you stand on the Brexit situation? Do you want me to just shut up and not ask because you’re sick to the teeth of the topic and just want a resolution, whatever way it goes, or are your hard-wired into wanting a specific way forward? I would love to hear your views. You know where to reach me…

Yes, I’m planning Widthwise 2019! The annual poll of large-format PSPs will open in January. We’ll be asking the usual questions so we can bring you grassroots data and analysis of the sector, but is there anything specific you’d like to see thrown into the mix? You can have a nosy at previous reports at: http://bit.ly/2DoLDAv

Are women in your business falling into a gender pay gap? Apparently it was Equal Pay Day on Saturday - see the news: http://bit.ly/2PmDEvh - and the Fawcett Society and Warwick Business School have been flagging up the fact that little progress seems to be being made in ensuring women get paid the same as men for doing the same work. Dare I say it, but in print there has been, for many years, something of a divide between what have been perceived as men’s jobs and women’s. Sadly, to some extent, that divide still exists, so how do you determine fair pay across the workforce?

I’ll be on my way to the BSGA Sign Awards as this drops into your inbox. I do love to see how PSPs are helping clients to fulfil their creative brief – but can we step up the conversation and have more input with creatives about print possibilities? Just asking….

As a digital printer perhaps you are contemplating a trip to the Digital Innovators’ Summit in Berlin next March. If so you’ll probably be keeping your eye on the speaker line-up as more heavyweights add their names to the list, but just in case you’re not up to speed these big-wigs will be giving their insight: Stephanie Caspar, president of technology and data, Axel Springer; Scott Havens, global head of digital and media distribution, Bloomberg Media; Robin Fields, managing editor, ProPublica; Jason Kint, CEO, Digital Content Next; Marcus Brauchli, managing partner, North Base Media; Heather Bryant, founder, Project Facet; Nancy Spears, CEO, genConnect; Ling Fan, founder and CEO, Tezign; and Andy Brown, chairman and CEO, Kantar Media. Not your bag? Fair enough, but I’d be interested in finding out where you go to keep abreast of digital development beyond large-format print technologies ….

Well, it came as no surprise when print chiefs participating in this year’s Widthwise Round Table on the state of business in the large-format print sector got hot under the collar regarding Brexit. The upshot was that any decision would be better than ongoing uncertainty. You can read the whole report on the meeting in the upcoming issue of Image Reports, but ahead of that I’d love to hear your take on the state of business.

I see InfoTrends has a new study out - ‘Winning in an Evolving Print Services Market’. I have to admit I’ve not read it, I’ve just noted the key trends highlighted in its press release on the publication, and it’s really just what we’ve been saying for years. What ‘insight’ would help you improve your business? I’m working on the Widthwise 2019 survey questionnaire as you read this, so let me have your thoughts please.

I get inundated with case studies from machine manufactures and suppliers, highlighting how fab their kit is, and I pass them on to you unedited in these newsletters and on our website, making it clear that they are marketing collateral. But that’s not to say they don’t have value – heck, we’ve even carried articles in Image Reports pointing out that PSPs should be jumping on the same marketing bandwagon and get case-studies on unusual jobs out in front of prospective clients. The assumption is that case studies bring in more business - do they?

Do you use business development/consultation services? If so, I’d love to talk with you about your experiences - good or bad - so please get in touch. Thank you.

Picon - which represents suppliers of printing and allied equipment - celebrated its 100th birthday yesterday, with a lunch at Stationers’ Hall in London, at which CEO Bettine Pellant said: “I am really proud to be part of an organisation which has reached such an important landmark and one that has emerged stronger and with a broader membership and remit. We remain relevant and proactive, creating opportunities to speak out on behalf of our sector and to create commercial opportunities - be that attending UK and international exhibitions or holding business forums. We can only ever be as good as our membership and this is a strong and proactive team who compete hard by day but enjoy each other’s company and respect each other’s views within the Picon organisation.” Got to ask - should more suppliers to the large-format print sector be members?

My son flies off today to work in Japan, which got me thinking about international trade. Do you do much of it, and is it increasing or decreasing? They’re questions I’ll be putting to the participants at the annual Widthwise Round Table discussion later this month, but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts too.

Were you at the Fespa UK Association’s ‘The Future of Print i4.0’ at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry yesterday? If so, how did it impact your strategic thinking? If not, why not - as Peter Kiddell stresses in the new issue of Image Reports (http://bit.ly/2REIMbp), “the more we talk to the real exponents of i4.0 the clearer it becomes that it is something that can’t be ignored”. Yet many large-format PSPs are - our 2018 Widthwise survey flagged that up. So what’s going on?

It’s interesting that ESMA has decided to offer a course - in English - for companies wanting to learn about theoretical and practical aspects of digital printing technology for industrial applications. The course, which costs 2,150 Euro, will run 5-8 November at the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Engineering and Automation (IPA) in Stuttgart, and is targeted at those who: want to obtain an overview of digital printing technologies - especially piezo inkjet - to make educated decisions to what extent inkjet could be integrated in their production process; want to obtain basic inkjet know-how in order to plan the introduction of inkjet into their organisation and facilitate their investment decisions; and those that have already installed inkjet equipment but are still at the very beginning of the learning process. These are the people all the kit manufacturers want to reach, so if ESMA gets a good turn-out it will have one heck of a valuable contact list!

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