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The future of work

Three predictions for the future of print service providers

Very happy New Year. Like many others, the Christmas break gave me a chance to reflect on what went on in 2016 and what 2017 holds in store for us. We all know how wrong predictions have been recently, but nonetheless that won’t stop me making a few!  So, and specifically on what’s in store for print service providers (PSPs) in 2017, here goes:

1) Service providers embrace data-driven intelligence
As we accelerate towards potentially 50 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020, print is an area set to change immensely and PSPs can benefit if they get their approach right.

Data-centric services can add huge amounts of value to customers, so I expect to see many PSPs adopting this approach in 2017.

With cost remaining a big driver for many, better use of data can generate significant savings. It can also act as that extra layer of value and prove most effective when analysing a campaign’s performance. Best in class analytics, data-mining and data-centric services will all help drive revenue growth.

2) Expect a shift beyond basic creative services
Traditionally, basic creative services have been provided piecemeal by PSPs. However, advances in technology mean they can now create new offerings that better support customers. Think not about artwork amends but visual merchandising and video production.

Mobile is also an area set for change. Many service providers rely on outsourcing mobile development to agencies, but I’m expecting to see more smart partnerships forming as they look to capitalise on these opportunities and capture grater margins. Those who aren’t currently considering mobile support are missing out on a fantastic growth opportunity and risk being left behind.

3) Digital opens new doors – but traditional growth is the mainstay
While PSPs will be looking at how digital can help open up new revenue streams, they must not reduce the focus on their core business.  It is what Jim Collins called “The genius of the and”; how you maximise the traditional business and build the new.

We are in an era of great change, but there will still be demand for those traditional print-related services. Technology may move fast but users can be slow to adopt new ways of working. While I believe that there will still be strong growth opportunities for print service providers, working with the right partners will be more crucial than ever before. These partners must be both modern and future-ready, with a solid understanding of providers’ heritage, strengths and range of ambitions.

Each of these predictions is, of course, shaped by the backdrop of rapid digital transformation, as well as the seismic economic shift happening globally. To take full advantage of these developments – and other opportunities that emerge over the next 12 months – providers must remain adaptable.

PSPs need to stay committed to their core proposition, fully embrace digital, and expand their offering in line with changing customer demands. These are, I believe, the essential criteria for looking back on a successful 2017 and welcoming in 2018.

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