Internet-enabled tools such as web-to-print, variable data printing, interactive print like Augmented Reality and quick response (QR) codes, as well as smart technologies including printed electronics will impact on most areas of the printing industry, according to the drupa Global Insights report.
It states print service providers and the supplier industry, as well as their customers are being compelled to deal with new challenges and opportunities.
In spring 2014, about 1,100 international executives from the printing industry took part in the on-line survey and many participants provided very informative examples from their business environment.
Ecommerce is growing in most global regions at rapid rates and printers are having to play catch-up, for whilst 51% of the survey panel had Web-to-Print services, only 14% reported it transacted more than 25% of their orders.
Nevertheless in the catalogue market, publishers understand that print catalogues drive on-line sales and a majority of 60% of catalogue printers reported growth in on-demand digital production.
Interactivity is the watchword as print customers are realizing the power of communicating via the internet and mobile technologies directly with their target audiences on a one-to-one basis.
Cross-media campaigns, with data acquisition/analysis and the use of several channels (such as persistent uniform resource Locators, email and short message service), are increasingly demanded by customers.
The range of applied technologies includes QR codes, other smart-print options, augmented reality and near-field communication.
One third of the drupa panel of experts already offers interactive print of one form or another, i.e. interactive response elements in publications, business communications, advertisements, packaging and outdoor advertisements.
There are expected major regional differences: in the US 44% of printing companies that took part in the survey offer interactive printing, but only 3% of providers in the Middle East.
A substantial proportion of drupa panel members from the packaging sector also use Internet-based tools.
About 50% use QR codes, 43% use variable content, and 41% of all packaging printers that took part in the survey offer personalized print.
This first report is based on a very detailed survey covering a wide range of topics assessing the impact of the Internet on print.
The survey dealt with many other issues such as customer relationship management, digital asset management and big data, as well as the automation of workflows, and the need for companies to have better information technology skills.
It investigated how the increasing digitization of communications is affecting the demand for conventional print and the demand for different print substrates (paper, board, film, metal or glass).
The report concludes that printers need to accept the reality of an Internet-driven multi-channel digital future, change their approach and invest accordingly.