Features Business
The future of print

Be ready for ongoing change

March 22, 2024  By Bob Dale

We all could benefit from knowing the future, however the best we can do is plan and be prepared. At a recent meeting hosted by the Atlantic Printing and Imaging Association meeting in Halifax, there was a lively discussion with students enrolled at the Graphic and Print Production program at Nova Scotia Community College.

The session started with a lighthearted review of printing from the past and included an overview of the printing and publishing activities of Benjamin Franklin. He established the Pennsylvania Gazette, wrote several books, and published several columns. He is credited with printing innovations that improved clarity. Franklin also contributed to the development of the postal system. It’s interesting that the first post office in what is now Canada was opened in 1755 in Halifax, with Ben Franklin as the deputy postmaster for the Colonies. The key message shared was that Franklin diversified from print to include technology improvements, content creation and distribution services to meet customer needs.

Fast forward to the present


The speed of technology changes has shifted from decades to months. Today’s printers need to be aware of the changes and gage the impact on their business. They must also understand market needs as they evaluate print technology and capabilities, such as offset, dry toner, UV inkjet, water-based inkjet, HP Indigo LEP, and the recently introduced nanography printing.

Successful commercial printers have embrace diversification, just as Ben Franklin did. According to a recent study by Printing United, “Fifty-six per cent of commercial printers are moving into adjacent print markets” including signs and graphics, packaging, direct mail services and promotional print and apparel.

In part to overcome labour challenges and to improve efficiency, robots and robotic capabilities have been added to print and finishing equipment, which has decreased production time and the amount of labour required.

The future is now

For many, the use and application of artificial intelligence (AI) is in the future, but it has become a part of our daily lives. AI features are embedded in many of the business and communication applications we use daily and in the advanced workflow tools and processes.

AI can automate prepress, file analysis, colour correction, image enhancement, order management, job routing, scheduling, and quality control to reduce turnaround time, minimize errors, and to ensure a smoother production process. Integrating AI into print management software tasks such as estimating, quoting, and job tracking can automate these jobs, thus reducing manual labour and saving time.

In my experience, successful companies from past, present and future need to be ready for ongoing change. This requires strategy, action, execution and monitoring to ensure you’re on track. Successful leaders will have a combination of business and technical skills required to succeed. Companies that understand markets, customer needs, employee needs, and deliver value will continue to grow.

Bob Dale is vice-president of Connecting for Results, the premier management consulting company focused on the graphics communications industry. He can be reached at

This column originally appeared in the January/February 2024 issue of PrintAction.

Print this page


Stories continue below