Printwell UK’s Commercial Manager, John Smith, explains why buying the right digital device could determine the technology’s future in print.
Being an advocate of digital print, I’m encouraged to see that the industry has reached what I’d consider to be a turning point in its acceptance of the technology. From speaking to my peers, it seems that digital print is no longer frowned upon, but it’s increasingly seen as a worthwhile complement to litho print - especially for short run prints – while meeting the increasing demand for direct mail work, as well as for bespoke packaging requirements, which seem to be the current trend.
While I’m excited about the prospects for print’s digital future, I would however advise a word of caution. If the investment is rushed in order to capitalise on the technology’s capabilities and to meet growing customer demand for digital print, there is a danger digital could disappoint.
That’s because not all digital devices are created equal, and I feel there is a risk that some printers may buy a digital device without conducting enough research into which device to buy. It’s critical to understand that digital is not a technology fad – it’s here to stay - and printers must look at it as a long term investment. My concern is that a poor investment in digital could result in bad experiences that actually stall greater uptake of the technology, while also increasing the chance that customers are either left underwhelmed or unimpressed by it.
It was with the bigger picture in mind that we spoke to Xeretec and subsequently invested in a new Xerox iGen 5 late last year with all three of the optional fifth colours. The view we took wasn’t just centred on ‘we need a digital device’, but ‘what can a digital device do for us?’, and our decision making process was hinged around whether a device could scale in line with our plans for the future. In the case of the iGen 5 therefore, it is fundamental to our growth strategy for the next few years.
Thinking ahead, we could see the value offered by the availability of a fifth colour and how they will enable us to drive new revenue streams either though increasing the work we do for existing clients, or approaching new ones in markets we wouldn’t have approached before, like high end estate agents or specialist marketing agencies. That’s another reason why we chose to work with Xeretec. It is committed to providing the long-term support needed to realise the business benefits of taking on the iGen 5, as well as providing the skills and experience to help up capitalise on it both now and in the future.
Of course, I’d still urge all printers to consider a digital device, but to view it in the context of a long term solution and not a quick fix. A half-baked and poorly considered investment won’t unlock the technology’s considerable potential, and that would be a shame given that it’s finally starting to make a real impression among a growing number of printers across the country.