by Marc Hirtz for Post & Parcel
The golden opportunity for digital transformation in the print industry.
Investment in digital transformation initiatives will reach $2.2 trillion by 2019, according to IDC. By 2020, digital transformation programmes are expected to absorb 60% of the IT budget1.Digital transformation is a major disruptive force across all industries, and it’s likely to be a theme at Hunkeler Innovationdays in Lucerne. But what does it actually mean? Analyst and digital influencer Brian Solis defines digital transformation as ‘the realignment of, or new investment in, technology, business models, and processes to drive new value for customers and employees and more effectively compete in an ever-changing digital economy’.
Your experience as a customer stays in your memory
Even the definition is evolving: where once it was about achieving efficiency, going paperless and self-service, now digital transformation also refers to generating insight, engagement and relevance to deliver a better experience. Think about where you prefer to spend your hard-earned money as a consumer: would you rather go into a busy store where competent staff are hard to find, or do you feel happier in a place where staff chat to you, have your buyer history to hand and can answer any queries you have, ideally anticipating your every need? It depends what you’re buying, of course, but it’s the experience that stays in your memory and keeps you going back. In this sense, business transactions are no different.
The digital transformation journey and its key drivers will be different for every company across every industry, with each at different stages of the digital maturity cycle. Many businesses know the areas they need to work on to achieve their vision of digital transformation, but there is still confusion: a sense of ‘I know my business needs to do that, but I’m not sure who should lead this, or where to start.’
The opportunity generated by digital transformation and the print industry
The print and finishing industry is moving swiftly along the digital transformation journey and maturity cycle, arguably with faster acceleration than many other industries. Enforced by the explosion of the Internet and digital communications in the 1990s, and by the rapid and prolific adoption of smartphones, the print industry has had to take the blows, dust itself down and emerge with its head held high. As consumers began to choose digital over print, it could have sounded the death knell for the industry, and seemed to be a Darwinistic case of ‘survival of the fittest’. But the industry rose to the challenge, as businesses integrated physical technologies and design-led engineering with digital innovation.
It’s a golden opportunity for the print industry, as businesses integrate physical and digital communications to deliver a personalised, memorable customer experience. Research3 shows that adding print to an advertising media campaign increases the Return On Investment of the campaign, as print is appreciated for its credibility, authenticity, personalisation and impact. Print magazines are seeing a resurgence in popularity too. In fact, the wide-reaching influence of print magazines has been documented in a study which found that 81% of people have purchased a product or visiting a place after reading about it in a magazine4, which could explain why independent magazine launches are at a 10-year high5 .
The three building blocks for digital transformation in print: innovation, communication and data
For me, innovation, communication and data lie at the very heart of the industry’s digital transformation. They are the building blocks, the binding infrastructure which draws all the other elements together. Without these, digital transformation is just a concept rather than a roadmap. And improving the customer experience is just a pipedream.
From rolling out innovative processes and technology, to adopting a dynamic culture across an entire business, innovation and digital transformation go hand in hand. The print industry has innovation in spades, and this is driving the industry’s transformation. Here at Pitney Bowes, we encourage ‘design thinking’. ‘Design thinking’ helps companies quickly identify, build and test their way to success. It extends beyond the design team to become an entire way of thinking and operating. We’re applying it throughout our organisation, from product management and strategy to customer service and user experience.
Communication, too, has a huge part to play. The print industry will have to adapt to offer clients relevant, personalised high-impact physical communications. And yet research shows that businesses are simply not communicating with their customers in the ways the customers want. A study we conducted across the UK, France and Germany found 53% of consumers in the UK, France and Germany bin or delete what they deem to be irrelevant marketing material within just five seconds of opening it. 63% of consumers in the UK, France and Germany said they would be more likely to respond to ‘better targeted communications’ that meet their needs. They want to receive relevant, clever, personal communications – so this is exactly what businesses should be giving them.
And this is where data comes in. Data is the engine room to a successful digital transformation programme. From precise, accurate, linked customer data to the deep analytics generated by the Industrial Internet, data and the insight we can extract from it are major business assets. For example, leveraging the physical and digital technologies of the Industrial Internet, now we can collate, integrate and organise data collected from sensors on production mail machines. Businesses can use this data to generate real-time insight, predictive analytics and prescriptive maintenance, readjusting operational performance and transforming outcomes.
This is a pivotal time for the print industry: a time of unprecedented opportunity, energy and dynamism; a time which sees the physical and digital landscapes converging to drive change. At its very heart, across every industry, is the shared and welcomed drive to deliver a great customer experience. And this is where digital transformation is the gamechanger.