Digital Technologies an Investigation Into the Effects Essay

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Digital Technologies

An investigation into the effects of DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES on U.S. PRINTING INDUSTRY

US Printing Industry

Business Segmentation of Print Market

Industry Trends

Traditional Printing

Digital Technology for Printing

Effects of Digital Technology on Printing Industry

Graphic Designing

Work Flow Redefined


Strategic Integration

Digital Media to Plate



Challenges of Digital printing Industry

Comparison of views on Issues

Similar conclusions of Research

Critical Aspects of Methodology

Gaps in Research

Previous Studies and Current Research

Relatedness with Literature in General

Method of Data Collection

Ethical Considerations

Results and Findings

Positive Impacts of Digital Technology on U.S. Printing Industry

Industry Wide Impact

Major Sectors

Change in Printing Business Processes

Technical Impacts

Negative Impacts of Digital Technology on U.S. Printing Industry

Industry Wide Impact

Business Processes and Eliminated Roles

5. Analysis and Discussion



Value Chain

Work Flow Process

6. Conclusion and Future Research


Further Research


1. Introduction:

Technology is the instigator to change, a major contributor and enabler of automated processes, sharing of data and information, and most of all a binding force for collaboration in the information age. It is digital technology that is the underlying factor in changes occurring throughout various industries and businesses. The usage of technology for leverage business, increase performance, reduces cost, and increases the quality of products and services. It is one of the major contributions of late twentieth and early twenty first century which has transformed the industries across the globe. Developing countries all are facing changes through implementing technology. The degree to which technology is implemented, effects observed are directly proportionate.

Similarly the printing industry after enjoying a long haul growth started facing a decline in sales, low margins, unsatisfied customers, and increased competition in late 2000 until 2009. The reasons were economic, technological, and resistance to change. Digital technology was being used up to minimal standards in 2000 within the industry however a number of progressive organizations were utilizing technology to create a competitive edge within the industry. Hence it created the opportunity for progressive business units and a major hurdle for the ones resisting the change. The digital technology is an enabler of business processes automation in printing industry.

The printing industry has faced a number of challenges along with the implementation of digital technology. The industry is composed of number of small to medium sized business units. Large corporations are also present and all organizations have developed their expertise and business model to cater their target markets. These target markets as well as products and services of the business define its boundaries and major contributions in terms of its operations. The industry has undergone several changes since the year 2000. Mergers, acquisitions, and closures were observed throughout the decade. The reason was not meeting up to the business requirements in terms of finances and changes occurred in operation through digital technology. It has also created a number of new units fully functional on the basis of digital technology offerings. The transformation of previous organizations to fulfill requirements of business also aligned themselves with the changed realties. However in order to measure the impacts of digital technology on printing industry a thorough investigation is required

The current study is focused to investigate the effects of digital technology on printing industry in United States. It is essential to gauge the impacts for better understanding of the current state and realize the future effects on business. The research is a contribution for academic and professional communities to provide significant insight on industry trends, growth potential, and major requirements to fulfill in order to be aligned with the latest trends. Literature review of scholarly articles, industry reports, and books is performed in the following chapter covering major historic, current, and future trends of printing industry in United States. It also provides a brief understanding of the impacts digital technology has caused on the industry. The research methodology is aimed to inform readers about the research design, sample size, ethical considerations, and limitation of the current research. The findings and results are drawn on the basis of literature review and presented in the relevant section. The Next chapter is dedicated for presenting key analysis and discussions based on the learning throughout the research. Finally conclusion is dawn and requirements for further enhancement of research are presented in the last chapter.

2. Literature Review:

US Printing Industry:

The United States printing industry remarked as printing and publishing industry also referred to graphics communications industry. The industry constitutes of printing, publishing, packaging, and other related segments. The major contributor to the processes of marketing and communications offers a number of solutions and through design, layout, and typography. The industry produces, reproduces, finishes, and distributes printed and electronic formats of the materials. The organizations in printing industry are of various sizes including small to medium sized enterprises and a limited number of large corporations. The printing industry's generic process includes art, design, color, computer graphics, engineering, and photography. The related process of business and technical areas are also present in the usual industry entities.

The print industry has contributed to the United States economy in a positive manner through providing jobs for technical, non-technical, and business related personnel. It has also catered to a number of niche businesses over the past years. The business expertise of various companies varies according to their expertise, type of products, and focus of services offered through their business processes. According to Cummings (2008) the market prospects of the industry are promising. The projection made in the research provides significant insight of the business growth in terms of marketing and packaging segments. The hyper growth of the industry is projected even considering slow economic activity and slow growth in other market segments.

Business Segmentation of Print Market:

The companies in the industry focus on a variety of services and products. The market segmentation of the industry is observed on the basis of geographic location, industry, and products. The major business segments catered by businesses of print industry are dependent on their business model, expertise, and viability of their processes. The major categories catered can be identified as following. The direct mail, publications, signage, newspapers, packaging, and specialty printing are major segment creating business for various organizations in the industry. All these major industry segments can also be subdivide into sub-segments. The printing industry is one of the major industries dealing with the direct communications and as a result the major requirement for business is creativity and content. Text, graphics, barcodes, logos, reports, research, and analysis are denoted as the major content for printing (Cummings 2008).

Industry Trends:

The major trends in the industry as identified by the National Association of Printing Leadership are described in terms of maintaining finical and market position, digital printing, marketing materials and packaging printing segment, and finally the improvement in management practices (Ryynanen, Sirvio, Tanninen, & Lindell2012). These opportunities well define the next generation of growth patterns in the industry. The industry entities can plan and advance on these grounds. One the major opportunity is to enter in the market of digital printing because the growth rate is 50% higher as compared with other segments using traditional printings (Cummings 2008).

Traditional Printing:

The traditional printing technologies are defined by Board (2002) as Offset, Gravure, Flexo, and Screen printing. These technologies required printing materials and applications of a long process. The Offset printing requires a trivial process of converting positives of designs into negatives for each color. The negatives are then transferred to the plates of offset printing machines. Each color plates are prepared separately, which requires a single color to be printed once. The plates are changed and other colors are used starting the process from the beginning. This process is repeated for all four colors in case of a half tone effect is required. The traditional method of offset printing is time consuming and trivial in nature.

Gravure uses cylinders to print on the rolls of paper and its ink also includes a resin which is not suitable for printing on the paperboard. It is also not a suitable approach for printing high quality marketing materials. Newspapers were traditionally printed on Gravure machines. Flexo printing is usually used for printing plastic bag reels. A block of printed design is used to print the design. It can use four to six colors. The large reels are feed in the machine and it creates print impacts through ink on the reel. Screen printing is a traditional yet extremely slow process of printing. The designs are exposed on the screens and either manually or with the help of semi-automatic process it is transfer on the materials requiring printing. It is used usually for printings on fabric, plastic, and promotional materials for marketing. Small quantities are printed with the help of screen printings.

Figure: Representative share of production

Source: Boer (2010)

Digital Technology for Printing:

Romano (2000) denotes that the digital technology can be segregated in three major categories for paper printing namely printer, copier, and…[continue]

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