Wed, Jun

Well, I have to say, if you needed to put a bit of a spring in your step, Fespa 2018 must have done it. And perhaps the findings from Fespa’s 2018 Print Census will do so too! That provides a not too shabby global picture of where wide-format is at and where it’s going. Not long to wait now until you also get the full findings of our own UK/Ireland specific poll of the wide-format sector. It will be interesting to see how PSPs here fare in comparison to those elsewhere. The Widthwise Report will be out with the June issue of Image Reports - meanwhile, you can start the comparison by having a read of the already published key findings at: http://bit.ly/2JwZWDJ and/or register for the free downloadable version of the full analysis at: http://bit.ly/2m0mLoK

You know my thoughts on the need for large-format to better ‘sell’ its potential to the wider creative community – heck, we even introduced a Think Bigger campaign some years ago now to get possibilities in front of designers etc. who might never have even thought about digital print as having anything to do with them. So it’s great to hear that the first Pure Digital event – developed to bring both ‘sides’ together – was a success and that the model will be developed on for 2019. Lets think bigger and get behind events that put creative possibilities directly in front of those we want to buy into it.

Heading to Fespa 2018 next week? A word of warning regarding travel planning following this advisory from Eurowings about Tegel airport: “Dear Guests, due to the delayed opening of the capital’s new airport BER, Berlin-Tegel Airport (TXL) has been operating far above capacity for some time now. The airport infrastructure dates back to the 1970s and was therefore not designed for the passenger volumes we are seeing at the airport today. The impact is becoming increasingly noticeable. A growing number of airlines are having to share the limited infrastructure available. You should expect considerable waiting times, particularly at the security checks. These bottlenecks are affecting passengers flying with all airlines.” Worth bearing in mind for the return journey. Hopefully, I’ll see you at the Messe not stuck in the airport lounge!

So, Cestrian has been bought out and Phill Reynolds is off to pastures new, but nice to see he’s keeping the wide-format sector close to his heart with the launch of OPOC and software that could revolutionise many a PSP’s operations. Do you use anything similar to this project management system?

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!

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