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24-04-14
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Trends and innovations – start with the why before venturing on the how

Experience in the graphics industry counts by how many drupa’s and ipex’s you have engaged in. You’ve seen the industry evolve, technologies adjust and people coming and going. Right now we’re seeing economic progress and investments picking up, so what trends should we be looking into to make sure we can catch the upwards wave? 

Eddy Hagen, director and trendwatcher at the VIGC, could not have picked a better timing for this ‘trends and innovations’ course. Eddy takes you on a trip through innovation, guiding you through the Gartner hype cycle, illustrating how disruptive technology is the instigator of innovation and how time - or better still, timing - is of the essence. 

Theory is alternated with practical examples. No dreary introduction of the first printing press here, within the first 15 mins you’re challenged on e-books, appification and why things happened when they happened. I was astonished at the graphs shown on e-books. Latest research shows that the youngsters are turning to printed books again. And the older your age group, the less likely you are to believe in digital advertising. Flipboard could turn out to be the disruptive technology to the publishing world. And moving into packaging might not be as easy as industry consultants would have you believe, dealing with all the regulations and legal implications can be challenging. So it’s not as simple as deciding you will be innovative, you need to make a well-informed decision. 

Innovation should be simple and it should solve a problem. The why is always imperative to the how of it. People need to have a need for it, or it will not catch on. Does that always mean you have to turn to new technology and/or new markets? Not necessarily. Digital has been on the rise for many years now. Year after year we read about short turnaround, less waste and declining margins. But what if existing technology could do the same? A recent drupa report clearly showed how offset has not rested on its laurels during the digital demarche. Inline control ensures less waste and less set-up time. Big printing companies have upscaled their offset equipment and are now reaping the benefits. A smaller investment with a similar outcome. That too is innovation, albeit not entirely new. 

Eddy also foresees a further growth path for designing skills, software development and all special tricks that make print more attractive. There is even a (granted high-end and pricy) desktop printer with white toner or UV spot varnish, which is an interesting tool for designers to show the effect of UV spot varnish to customers thus trying to sell more expensive and more effective print jobs. This is not surprising, print has slowly been infiltrating new vertical markets. (check out the upcoming InPrint blog to learn more) Car wrapping, personalized wallpaper and tiles – all potential growth markets for printers with a vision, mind, heart and output set on quality. So where will this exploration takes us in the future? Alas, Eddy did not have a magic ball to answer that one. But his pragmatic and analytical approach did put our perception to the test as to keep in mind why things are evolving the way they do. And we all know perception is reality. 

Maya Staels - See more at: http://duomedia.tumblr.com/#sthash.vtwRvDDM.dpuf