Thu, Apr

Heard that It Has To Be Brilliant is now selling cakes online? Talk about diversification - that’s some stretch from print delivery. What are your thoughts on business development strategy? Are you doing anything quite so alien?

Well done again to Sign and Digital UK for nabbing Mary Portas, ‘Queen of Shops’, to speak on the opening day of the show this week. “There’s no doubt about it – retail space has got to have AI,” she directed, pointing out also that: “harmonising technology and creativity is the way forward”. She added: “There can be no separate silos anymore. Good retailers are creating spaces where people want to hang, and that means delivering an experience.” And her tips for PSPs trying to get integrated print possibilities in front of those retailers and their minions as they look to rebrand their high street stores to meet this vision? “Get great jobs and associated stats in front of people - go where creatives expect to discover stuff so they think they’ve made a great discovery!” We’re making a start - look at the increased number of PSPs at the VM and Display Show last week. But we still need to get more up close and personal with would-be ‘creatives’ as a sector to maximise our potential don’t you think? We need snazzy ‘ambassadors’ who will grab the imagination of creatives by delivering scintillating talks in their own networking spaces. Or am I the only one thinking that?

Stats from the the 2018 Widthwise Survey of the UK and Ireland’s wide-format PSPs show that when it comes to greening-up operations it’s a very mixed bag, yet if there’s one thing the whole waste plastics controversy has made clear, it’s that consumers are beginning to eschew obviously non-green ‘consumables’. We know where that leads - to brands doing likewise. And how many PSPs do work on their behalf? Perhaps we can learn something from the winners of this year’s SGIA Sustainable Business Recognition Awards…

Should we be doing more to show print integrated offerings to would-be clients? It’s a question I keep asking, but news of a showroom opening in Italy is prompting me to do so again. What do you think?

Is that a question you’re asking yourself as Andesign shares with us the knowledge that it’s bought a Massivit 1800 3D manufacturing system? Is the outlay on 3D print technology something you think you can not just claw back but build more profitable business on as you look to diversify your PSP? Just asking. Would like to know your thoughts.

If you’ve got your hard copy of the April/May issue of Image Reports you will be in receipt of some particularly valuable information – the first key findings from our annual Widthwise survey of the UK/Ireland’s wide-format PSPs. If you can’t get your hands on a copy you can wise-up online at: http://bit.ly/2JwZWDJ The full report will be out with the next issue.

Wondering if you see a development like one from Anglo American print specialist Curveball Printed Media impacting your clients’ demands over time. It has launched WiFi enabled video brochures with Android operating system and touchscreen. As its CEO Adam Hazelwood points out, it means “our customers can now update brochures already in the hands of their customer by uploading content over the internet using a desktop app.” Making the ‘brochure’ WiFi enabled and giving it a touchscreen evolves the product from an essentially dumb terminal to a bespoke communications device, and as Hazelwood points out: “Initially we see early adoption from areas where relevant content is fast moving such as the real estate sector, however it won’t be long before restaurants and large charity events will be using them as printed menus with on-board ordering and payment capabilities along with a means of entering a charity auction.” Can you see integration potential for such tech within what might be essentially large-format based print projects?

How cool is it that the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) is putting careers in print and related industries in front of thousands of impressionable youngsters at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo over this coming weekend. And why aren’t our associations over here getting out there and doing something with similar impact? I’ve often spouted off about the need for a pavilion of large-format print possibilities at events where creatives gather (and I don’t mean print trade shows!) - so why not a really exciting careers pavilion in the right locations too? I know, I know, it’s all about time and money but perhaps our associations could work on what must surely be worthwhile investments. We work in a creative industry - let’s be more creative in how we get all its possibilities in front of the widest audience.

Yes, I’ve seen it with my own eyes - printing onto chocolate! What are the most unusual substrates you’ve printed onto? And, more to the point, did the job make you a nice stash of cash? Plenty of PSPs deeply involved in novel print applications R+D tell me it requires a long-term view, the pay-off not coming sometimes for months, even years. If you are one of those with that long-term business-building strategy please give me a shout - I’d like to talk to you!

If you do much with augmented and/or virtual reality as part of your integrated service offering, you might want to take a look at a new report from the BSI. ‘The Requirement for Standards in the VR and AR Sectors’ cites the pivotal role that standardisation will play in moving virtual/augmented reality technology from the niche to the mainstream. It also emphasises the importance of standards for the teaching of virtual reality in order to ensure that the seeds are planted for a strong local talent pool for the UK tech sector. Establishing UK universities as centres for excellence for the teaching of virtual reality related courses is also cited as a desirable goal. Research for the report included interviewing key players from across the design, content capture, production houses, broadcasters and content distributors. No PSPs I bet!

Given that Sign and Digital UK has just announced its debate sessions for next month’s show it seemed timely to ask a question that might in itself stimulate a bit of discussion - do we talk enough? If you know me you’ll know I do! But what about players in the wide-format sector in general? Could we learn more if we stood up and spoke our minds a bit more - and listened to those responding? Just asking and wondering if you fancy doing just that at our next ‘Roundtable’ on the state of the sector – drop me a line if so.

Looking at the snow on the ground it’s difficult to think of much growing at the moment, but plenty of wide-format orientated PSPs seem to be expecting to do just that according the initial analysis of our Widthwise data. So do you think we are set to see more mergers and acquisitions as 2018 progresses? Or do you think we’re more likely to continue to see looser ‘partnerships’ between print companies and operations offering ‘buy-in’ services to extend a PSPs offering as the clamour to be a one-stop shop continues?

I’m just back from a north-eastern print odyssey. Is it just me – and know I have northern roots – or do people think and behave differently around the country? Do you think where you’re based has an impact on how you do business?

I’ve been invited to “experience the next generation of outdoor advertising technology” tomorrow but I can’t make it. Maybe you can - it sounds like it will be worth a look-see if you want to know what printed advertising is up against. Taking place at 7pm - at Central Saint Martins, Granary Square, Kings Cross, London - this is an augmented reality event being put on by students, who have been briefed by media technology company Lightvert to demonstrate the creative potential of Echo - a patented technology that produces huge digital images in the sky. The showcase will feature the winning entries. If you fancy going along you can register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lightvertcentral-saint-martins-echo-showcase-event-tickets-43971445778

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