Print must be innovative and impactful to compete with digital media

So, how will changing trends affect the print industry? Simon Isaacs, our National Sales Director for Graphic Communications, met with Digital Printer magazine to discuss how to innovate and adapt to the changing tides of printing. 

Question: What was the most important lesson you have learned? 

Answer: Print will always be popular. It will change, but I think we can all agree that it will remain an essential part of the communication mix for years to come. 

However, we need to modernise our approach. We need to be smarter in how we implement print for our customers, employees and our own business, making sure we respond to new demands, adapt to new working practices and be more efficient.

Ricoh has been at the forefront of innovative trends, working with our customers to build environments that use digital and print technology to improve capabilities, employee experience, productivity and operational efficiency.

Question: What do you think are the implications of hybrid working for print businesses? 

Answer: Print customers shifting to an outsourced on-demand service geared up for hybrid working will have new expectations. 

Therefore, the print industry needs to attract a younger and more diverse workforce while retaining and upskilling its existing one. We need to build diverse perspectives to meet new expectations and ambitions. 

This will drive innovation and new ways of doing business. Investing in people who engage with your customers and encourage new and exciting ideas is essential. We believe this will underpin the discovery and retention of new business relationships and drive the print industry forward.

Question: What is the biggest challenge facing digital print and how will changing trends affect the print industry?

Answer: Digital print needs to become more impactful, innovative and meaningful to compete effectively with online and digital-only campaigns.

In 2022, we expect more digital migration, impacted by the continued improvements of inkjet platforms. We also hope to see concerns around housing customer data and managing cybersecurity addressed through robust MIS software solutions.

Question: What innovation, new technology, or development are you most excited to see in the coming years?

Answer: We are very excited about our Z75 engine, which we previewed this year. 

Looking to the future, the print industry needs to optimise the value of print as a critical component of the marketing mix; it needs to attract younger and more diverse workers, focus on sustainability, and reduce carbon emissions. I look forward to seeing how we progress with these causes as an industry. 

Question: What is your organisation’s main goal for 2022?

Answer: To continue supporting, working and collaborating with our customers and partners within the print sector. We will help our customers to scale up and skill up in new directions and enhance their competence in delivering purpose-driven solutions.

Additionally, as a global digital services organisation we aim to drive alignment with the wider Ricoh portfolio. We see an increased number of customers taking advantage of our digital offering, i.e. cyber security, IT solutions, workplace solutions, sustainability solutions and manufacturing services.

Question: Is there a wider industry trend that you think will significantly make an impact over the next 12 months?

Answer: Hybrid working patterns may change print and fulfilment requirements. It will likely make production more localised to see a reduction in shipping, containers, and waste, as well as an increase in personalisation. 

Print businesses need to capitalise on the existing infrastructure in the upcoming year while challenging their current workflow process, identifying where manual processes could cause errors or slow production and transitioning these into digital. 

The quick wins and short-term benefits need to be identified first, and then an analysis needs to be undertaken as to where productivity gains could be made. 

This needs to be done carefully and considerately. Business leaders must take the time to further develop workers by upskilling them and nurturing their existing skills to optimise investments and collaborate efficiently with suppliers. 

Print businesses must ask for innovations, workflow reviews, and – most of all – remain curious about what is possible.

Question: Ricoh has announced a couple of DTG partnerships recently (Aeoon/Josero), so this is a market that’s important to the company. Can we expect any more news or developments on this front? 

Answer: Ricoh has an extensive range of commercial printing, corporate printing, and signage solutions. It is experiencing growth in these sectors, and it will continue to commit significant R&D resources and spending to improve its solutions in the DTG market. 

This Q&A was originally published in digital printer magazine in 2022.

Simon Isaacs

Simon Isaacs - National Sales Director - Ricoh UK