What are some of the hottest printing, graphic arts and enterprise communications developments and technologies for 2014? While the Chinese zodiac says 2014 is the Year of the Horse, the 2013 Women of Distinction actually declare 2014 as the Year of Big Data and Cross Media.


The Women of Distinction is an annual awards program from the OutputLinks Communications Group that honors and celebrates the numerous achievements of exceptional women in print communications and graphic arts around the world. The women are all distinguished and well-known industry achievers, selected for their experience, leadership and contributions to the industry.


Here’s what’s trending for 2014, according to the 2013 Women of Distinction:

A big, big data multi-channel world

Barbara Stainbrook, senior vice president of production print sales and partnership alliances for Konica Minolta Business Solutions USA, Inc., believes big data combined with consumer analytics are helping marketers develop highly targeted and customized multi-channel campaigns for reaching consumers. “This will allow companies to drive customer loyalty and marketing ROI by pinpointing the response psychology of potential prospects,” says Stainbrook.


Indeed, big data is already a factor to be reckoned with. A June 19, 2013 New York Times article reports that online marketing companies are already focusing on the next generation of targeted advertising—one that collects and analyzes vast streams of data from social media, credit card histories and web habits. “That information helps to create ads that are increasingly personalized and nuanced,” notes the Times article. “Often these ads are shown to consumers in real time based on what they do moment to moment.”


Debbie Vieder, of the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC), says new opportunities are on the horizon for every company in 2014, based on its market, equipment, expertise and future goals. “In today’s multi-channel, mixed media environment, scores of new cross-media applications are huge and growing, providing high margin opportunities to grow volume and increase the bottom line,” says Vieder, who’s the director of communications for GASC, producer of the annual GRAPH EXPO and quadrennial global PRINT exhibitions. “With ROI the ultimate benchmark of success, Direct Mail applications that can masterfully manage data to provide previously unimaginable response rates are HOT now.”

Reach customer 1:1 style

“Personalized” and “nuanced” are some of the key words for 2014, according to Katherine O’Brien, senior editor of the American Printer magazine. “We’re seeing more campaigns that use high-volume transaction output techniques in various media, with the goal of producing a completely individualized experience for every single recipient,” she explains. “For example, a reader can point a smart phone at a page or a particular ad and be taken straight to an individualized landing page to talk to the brand or to get more information or place an order.”


O’Brien says 2014 is THE year for content marketing. “I like the Content Marketing Institute’s definition,” she says. “Rather than pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty. The challenge for our readers is helping their customers evaluate their print and electronic options and combine them for maximum effectiveness. Social media is a big part of the mix.”


Jodie Sangster, CEO of the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA), states, “Overall, technology is playing a critical role in bringing print to life and developing a bridge between the online and offline worlds.” She points to the introduction of augmented reality technology, video shaping and print coding. “Print will see a revitalization and will continue to be integrated and brought to life with mobile, video, online and social,” she says.


Konica Minolta’s Stainbrook concurs. “Over the next few years, we will see the emergence of a new class of automated multi-channel media marketing solutions that will help marketers manage and deploy integrated campaigns–from direct mail to social media—in one fully-integrated platform,” she says. “The most successful printers–commercial or in-plant based–will evolve to become marketing consultants to their clients.”


Laurel Brunner, the managing director of Digital Dots Limited, says the time is right for cross media to take off. “We are seeing tighter links between different media channels with digital data the foundation of a new interconnectedness in media, aka "transmedia," where media are linked and fully integrated. Greater integration across media can provide printing companies with new business opportunities.”


ADMA’s Sangster reminds the industry to consider creativity, which sometimes gets overshadowed with all the talk about data and multi-media. In fact, ADMA recently conducted a survey into creativity, showing that creative campaigns were more effective on the business front (after a six-month time frame). “Print is the perfect vehicle for this and provides the ability to create highly creative, personalized communications,” explains Sangster. “As a result, companies are investing in creative and seeing print again as part of the marketing mix…2014 is the year that print will start to re-emerge as a key element in customer engagement.”

Hiring the right team in 2014

As print and communication providers expand their menu of multi-media and data services, their hiring needs will change, too. “The key element that will be critical to the success of any emerging and future trends relate to a skilled workforce,” says Twyla Cummings, PhD, senior associate dean in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences and professor in the School of Media Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology.


“Today's printing-industry personnel demographic is cross generational and is transitioning towards a make-up of Generation X, Generation Y and Millennials,” shares Cummings. “These groups have high-level technical skills along with unique and creative approaches to problem solving, but how they utilize those skills will have a major impact on the industry’s future. It is essential that they understand the value of cross media publishing and distribution.”

Talking tech & 2014

Other trends to note: American Printer’s O’Brien predicts that inkjet production devices will continue to challenge offset and electrophotographic market shares in 2014. “HP/Pitney Bowes, Kodak, Ricoh/Infoprint and Canon/Océ are already doing some amazing things,” she says. “And now that Xerox has acquired Impika, things will really get interesting.”


At PRINT 13, Canon previewed “Niagara,” a high-volume sheetfed color inkjet digital press. “You don’t see many inkjet machines in this cut-sheet format,” O’Brien notes. “You can see the Canon/Océ cooperation here; the press can utilize all of the inline finishing developed for Océ’s VarioPrint machines—a huge help in expediting Niagara’s time to market.”


GASC’s Vieder also points to “a dazzling array of wide format inkjet applications that expand far beyond sign and display can offer, with minimal investment, an entree into a wide gamut of new markets and broad range of new profit opportunities.”


In the offset world, O’Brien is keeping a close eye on the Komori/Konica Minolta KM-1/Impremia IS29 collaboration. “This press combines the look of offset printing combined with the efficiencies and flexibility of an inkjet machine,” she explains. “It’s a 29-inch sheetfed machine rated at 3,300 sph with a print resolution of 12000 x 12000 dpi. It was unveiled at drupa 2012 and is currently in beta testing. And Heidelberg has just announced a partnership with Fujifilm—that’s another offset/inkjet pairing to watch.”


This will also be a pivotal year for digital print in the packaging world, according to Vieder. “As the packaging market continues its upward traction, a host of unique new package printing applications offer another bright spot of profit opportunity,” she explains.


O’Brien agrees. “I never thought we’d see folding cartons produced on a digital press, but it’s already happening,” she says. “In October 2013, Canon installed its first liquid-toner based Océ InfiniStream Technology at packaging printer Joh. Leupold GmbH, based in Schwabach, Germany. Benny Landa’s company intends to have its folding carton press, the Landa S10FC, in beta testing in Q4 2014; its S10C will enter beta mode during the first half of 2015. And don’t overlook Xeikon’s Trillium technology!”


Attendees at GRAPH EXPO 2014, Sept. 28 - Oct. 1, 2014, McCormick Place, Chicago, will have the opportunity to experience first-hand “the future in action” as the show spotlights the very latest trends and innovations in everything from direct mail and transactional printing/TransPromo to manufacturing/industrial printing, 3D, RFID, printed electronics, decorative printing and much more.


In fact, one hot trend the industry can expect to see more of in 2014 and at GRAPH EXPO is 3D printing, according to Sandra Zoratti, award-winning author of Precision Marketing: Maximizing Revenue Through Relevance. “3D printing is the most transformational technology emerging from within the printing industry,” says Zoratti. “3D's impact is far-reaching, creating capabilities for highly customized, on-demand physical items from bicycles to prosthetic eyes to tools in space. The possibilities are boundless and the impact is and will be transformational across a breadth of industries, applications and lives.”


In addition to future technologies and the latest trends at GRAPH EXPO 2014, the 2014 Women of Distinction will be named and recognized at the event.

Congratulations

The complete list of this year’s Women of Distinction inductees (some featured in this article) include: Angèle Boyd, IDC; Laurel Brunner, Digital Dots Limited, UK; Twyla Cummings, Rochester Institute of Technology; Cheryl Kananowicz, DST Output; Nathalie Miossec, PREDICA Insurance, France; Katherine O’Brien, American Printer; Kathy Presto, Tag Worldwide; Jodie Sangster, ADMA, the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising, Australia; Barbara Stainbrook, Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc.; Debbie Vieder, Graphic Arts Show Company; and Sandra Zoratti, industry author, speaker and marketer.



JULIE PLATA
is the co-CEO of the OutputLinks Communications Group. Women of Distinction nominations are accepted throughout the year. Email 2014 nominations or 2013 congratulations to WOD@OutputLinksCG.com.