Tue, Feb

A big thank you to all those who have already responded to my request that you take part in the 2012 Widthwise Survey of the UK and Ireland’s wide-format print sector. But we still need more of you to do so if we’re to match the 200 respondents to last year’s poll – and of course the aim is to collect more data than we did then so we can provide you with an even more substantial Widthwise Report of the findings and the trends they disclose. To take part go to: http://survey.infotrends.com/widthwise.htm

Are developments in software packages currently grabbing your attention more than those in the hardware space? The launch of GMG’s new ProductionSuite for the wide-format market prompts the question, especially coming so soon after the announcement of Pixel Blaster from SAI. These reflect more than a natural evolution of product, but a changing approach to how wide-format businesses operate. If you’re interested in finding out more, see the feature in the upcoming March issue of Image Reports.

Image Reports is again taking the temperature of the UK and Ireland large-format print sector via its annual Widthwise Survey. The more data collected, the better and more accurate will be the subsequent Widthwise Report, which will be free to all Image Reports readers in May. Therefore, please take part in this year’s Widthise poll. Go to http://survey.infotrends.com/widthwise.htm

News of Spandex strengthening its Board to drive growth has me wondering how many large-format print companies have done something similar. When things started getting tough and print firms actively started to diversify and reposition their businesses there were rumblings of ‘business tsars’ being brought in to help existing management teams with their new strategies. Did you go this route – and was it successful?

I’ve received information from a few manufacturers and suppliers in the wide-format space that they will either not exhibit at Sign and Digital UK or at Fespa Digital this year because they are focussing on Drupa instead. As wide-format print specialists I’d be interested in whether you will attend that giant of a show as well as one of the other more specialised events or instead?

Come on, your country needs you! The UK is trailing behind Germany in the number of nominations for Fespa’s inaugural Hall of Fame. We have plenty of ‘leading lights’ to put forward so put your choice forward.

With Onlineprinters having seen revenues jump 30% in 2011, I must surely ask, are you leveraging the power of Web-to-print yet, and if so, for which type of products and market sectors is it proving most successful? Is it working for you beyond the usual template-based print offerings, such as posters and basic POP/POS? I’d love to talk to you about your experiences and future plans to harness the system more creatively to build revenue and margin.

Well done to Agfa Graphics for winning the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Manufacturing Excellence (MX) Award for Sustainable Manufacturing – and by doing so raising the profile of sustainable manufacturing not just within the graphic arts sector but beyond. In the soon-to-be-published Jan/Feb issue of Image Reports Magazine there’s an ‘Investment Q+A’ that asks print companies about what impacts upon buying their buying decisions – have a look to see what they say about sustainability…

What do you consider to have been the most ‘innovative’ piece of kit introduced into the wide-format space over the last year? With the EDP Awards just around the corner, and having only announced the Image Reports Angel Awards at the end of 2011, I’d be interested in seeing what you would choose to honour.

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Pay-as-you-go machine service and support to rival top end warranties – great idea, but the question has to be: will Tech8 manage to pull it off? Hopefully so given the amount of unrest in the market over the cost of some warranties and what they cover, let alone the never-ending stream of complaints regarding response times etc. What are your feelings on the subject of using pay-as-you-go servicing instead of taking out a warranty?

The latest bundle of press releases indicates that education and training are back on the agenda after taking a something of a blow in a rocky economy. All the more reason to do more with what you have of course, so any way of enhancing your teams knowledge and skill should be welcome. But what about becoming an educator yourself and spending time (if not actual money) working with schools, colleges etc. to promote careers in print? If you already do, please drop me a line.

A cloud doesn’t always signify rain! Indeed, a little ray of sunshine is more likely to be associated with the new Optimus Cloud system for integrated online trading. Now I’m not in any way advocating that you stop talking to your customers, but if you’re looking for a hands-off, hassle-free way of dealing with some of them, this could be the kind of development you’ve been waiting for. I daresay we’ll see more of products of this ilk as the year progresses.

Yes, we’re going to see pre-show information coming through thick and fast (one hopes!) now that we’re into the New Year, what with Fespa Digital just a few weeks away and Sign and Digital UK and Drupa close on its heels. But with three trade shows in close succession, which will you be attending? And how much weight do you give to the various show seminar/education programmes now of offer? What entices you to one event over another?

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