Collaborative innovation fuels growth

Christian Unterberger, Chief Marketing Officer & Executive Vice President, Production Printing Products, a Canon company

group working together

All over the world, digital technology innovation is playing a critical role in advancing business performance for our customers, improving productivity, streamlining workflow, boosting production flexibility, delivering cost efficiencies and enabling diversification into new application areas.

Most print service providers (PSPs) or in-house print departments are focused on a combination of four critical performance parameters when they invest in new technology: productivity, quality, applications versatility and total cost of ownership.

That’s why these ‘pillars’ are the most significant drivers for our R&D efforts in developing new digital print solutions, whether we’re talking about continuous and sheetfed inkjet presses such as the ProStream 1000 or VarioPrint i-series, or flatbed and roll-to-roll wide format printers like the new Arizona 1300 Series and the Canon UVgel Colorado printers.

Christian Unterberger, CMO & EVP - a Canon company

Accelerating ROI

For any customer making an investment in latest generation digital technology, the first key to accelerating the return on their investment is to maximise the production volumes that can be transitioned from inefficient legacy devices and to consolidate production for maximum operational efficiency. To do so, it’s clear that the new print engine must be as versatile and as productive as possible, and able to deliver quality that meets or exceeds expectations for the product mix in question.

But to truly reap the benefits of their digital investments, we must help customers to think laterally. Rather than focusing on technical specifications, PSPs increasingly need to channel their thinking towards how new technologies can underpin creative business models that provide real solutions to their end customers’ business challenges, and so deliver measurable improvements to the client’s bottom line.

This requires a deep understanding of the end customer’s business and a genuinely collaborative approach that goes much further than a transactional ‘buyer/seller’ relationship. Real business innovation comes from open discussion between the PSP and their customer – the brand owner or the publisher for example – of how contemporary technologies and alternative approaches to production, inventory management and individualisation can help them adapt to changing business conditions, consumer behaviours and preferences.

As a technology solutions provider, we can support our customers better if we’re involved in these discussions too, to explore how our technology can enable meaningful change for both the printer and their print buyer. The triangle of expertise that emerges between these three parties can be instrumental in achieving business solutions – and commercial outcomes – that could not be imagined if the dialogue were limited to us and the PSP alone.

Employee working on VarioPrint i300

Customer-focused innovation

We encourage PSPs to carefully consider what they want to achieve for their business, and how that aligns with the challenges that their end customers are experiencing. Whilst doing so, PSPs must understand that technology innovation, in isolation, is not the only solution for reaching their goals. Technology is only one part of the equation – what’s important is that we are able to paint an inspiring picture of what their business could become, enabled by the possibilities of contemporary digital printing technology.

The most progressive PSPs understand the need to put their energy into driving new business that will attract additional print volumes to achieve the full commercial benefit of their digital investments. While we understand and actively support the need for PSPs to root out inefficiency and look for all potential cost savings, there comes a point in any business where the potential for measurable gains from this approach runs out.

PSPs seeking long-term growth need to capitalise on their enhanced digital capabilities to bring forward new products and services that really improve their end customers’ businesses. That may be by eradicating waste, reducing time to market for printed materials, unlocking the profit potential of customisation, or enhancing consumer response to boost sales.

The true purpose of innovation in any print business should be to create enhanced value for customers. When we do so, we build meaningful, balanced partnerships that deliver quantifiable benefits for everybody in the print value chain.

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