Successful renewal or innovation only succeeds by action. What makes the printing industry tick? A new press, a modern, cooperative corporate culture, sustainable production or a completely new print product? Being innovative is a matter of point of view and is based on the actual purpose of the company. Innovative can be the artistic letterpress printer as well as the fully automated online printer. In the printing industry, innovation can be seen from many sides.
To someone who has been using Bitcoin for years, blockchain is an outdated concept. For others, something like Bitcoin can be incredibly innovative – or alienating, depending on your perspective. So first, let’s take a look at the sober facts behind the buzzword “innovation.” Innovation, or renewal, is planned and controlled change. A deliberate change of an existing system through new ideas and technologies. Hence the definition – the hour of renewal strikes throughout life.
When it comes to technology, the printing industry is way ahead – at least when it comes to using new, innovative technologies such as inkjet and the like. When it comes to “new thinking,” i.e. planned and controlled change, many printing companies need a big push out of their comfort zone – and this is true regardless of the size of the company. Too often, a new process is only introduced when another company has already been successful with it. Then the same press is bought, the same workflow is acquired, modified to meet the respective requirements and off they go. And – BANG – you are innovative. Or so the superstition goes.
But there are also entrepreneurs who adorn themselves with the label “innovative” but ultimately stick to old concepts. This starts with “landlord-style” management (by the way, this also happens with online printers!) and continues with antiquated business systems all the way to a corporate culture from the glorious 1960s. People, innovation is not just technology – innovation needs innovators! Only when people enjoy working in our industry again, when young people euphorically start their training in the printing industry, when print becomes “hip” again – then we will know: Print is innovative. It’s been a long road for print to reinvent itself – but a road that many companies have understood and have therefore set in motion. Thank goodness!
The interface between the printing industry and digitization is a concrete example of how well print fits into the current situation. Of course, print is and will remain an analogue medium for the time being – but why and how does print contribute to digitization? Print is THE link between all the media channels we know. Print is an “enabler” for digital – and at the same time a relatively low-resource backup for digital.
1. Print opens up channels
How do you promote online offerings in analogue channels? You print flyers, use stickers, for example for QR codes to convey Internet addresses. Print is simply the channel toward digital and digital processes. All other channels “send” themselves in short-term memory (or have you ever tried to spontaneously remember an Internet, Facebook or Instagram address from the radio or TV?) but print manifests information – and does so permanently.
2. No product without print!
As long as no digital product, i.e. software, an app or a purely digital service is offered, every product requires packaging. Whether it’s a toothbrush, a pair of sneakers (which, by the way, are usually printed as well) or a new cell phone – none of these products can get by without packaging. Digital needs print to turn off-brand goods into a “real product.”
“Innovators are people who have taken a close look at their own actions and those of their surroundings. The print industry needs these people, too.” – Bernd Zipper
3. Print is always available
Even without electricity, print works, transcending user boundaries such as age, knowledge level, gender, etc. We are trained to use print from childhood. It may be that this will change in coming generations, but in reality, it will take another generation or two. This availability makes print an important partner of online or digital – as an always-available backup.
4. Print is real
Print has an essential quality that digital solutions do not have: Print can be touched, smelled, felt and physically used. Haptics is one of the qualities we humans need to depict “value.” The execution of a book, the graphic design of a package, or a print product create real value. Print is the manifestation of knowledge in the digital age – after all, what’s printed is done! It is not for nothing that books are written and sell magnificently, even if the same book is available as an audio book or as an e-book.
5. Print is everywhere
Print is not limited to paper, even if that is what you first associate it with. Just think of all the products in the mass customization sector. From pens to clothing to everyday objects, many products become personalized through text initialization. A customized website can hardly keep up with that. The printing industry is in a position to constructively accompany the social trend towards individualization.