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Anybody afraid of change will find no future in the printing industry.

Apenberg & Partner have returned from the Online Print Symposium 2019, and must once again compliment Bernd Zipper, Jens Meyer and their team: many interesting guests and ground-breaking lectures in a great setting.

Whilst one key topic of this year’s symposium was the power of change of platform business models within and outside the printing industry, we once again found: the key difference between online printers and their traditional counterparts is not the products or the technology – it is and stays the attitude!
Presentations and talks over the course of the event clearly showed us that online printers leave no stone unturned to explore and try alternative approaches. Traditional printers on the other hand aren’t seeking new opportunities, in fact they actively avoid them. For example, we didn’t see a single traditional printing company at the Online Print Symposium. This despite the event being well known as a stage for trendsetting perspectives from the industry.

Don’t get us wrong: not everything presented or discussed would fit all companies (a point where online printers by the way all agree) and even we are critical of some of the approaches. However, the event is an opportunity to discover alternative perspectives and find inspiration for their companies.

If you’d like to take one thing away from this year’s Online Print Symposium, heed the advice of Rene de Heij (Managing Director at probo): “think big, start small, act fast”.

And yet traditional print companies don’t question that online printers have implemented their business models very well and are taking a leading role in our industry. They’re rather mistaken in believing the methods and approaches of online printers are either irrelevant or cannot be implemented in their market segment.
This conviction of traditional printers is not only wrong, but even fatal, as proven by the fact that Paul Adriaans (Executive Vice President at RPI) reiterated, mind you to the assumed leading group of online printers, that constant change and adaptation continues to be key (“you need to change, or you will be the change”).

All things considered, the Online Print Symposium 2019 again reinforced our belief that traditional printers must absolutely and urgently think again if they don’t want to be beaten by the methods and approaches of online printers a second time: in the course of progressing market consolidation only those who consistently re(think) their processes through all the way and gear their companies for maximum efficiency will survive. A challenge for any company, regardless of the industry and size – but it’s the unavoidable first step in the above rule of three: “think big, start small, act fast”.

So those who want to steer their company towards a successful future must therefore first fundamentally question all of their processes, restructure them and then rapidly move towards the overarching goal in many little steps. Those who are stopped by each and every step being a potential risk in the long term will be left behind by those who believe the far greater risk is not doing anything.

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