New year predictions: Keith McMurtrie, Tharstern

Printweek team
Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Tharstern CEO Keith McMurtrie hopes that businesses will become more data-led in 2022 and make use of the information that’s stored in the software they use.

McMurtrie: Seeing many commercial printers diversifying into labels and packaging
McMurtrie: Seeing many commercial printers diversifying into labels and packaging

What do you feel were the main trends and key industry developments in 2021 and were they down to the pandemic?
One of the biggest developments in software that we saw in 2020 was a sudden need for software applications to be accessible remotely, and this continued in 2021. We’ve been developing our MIS as a hybrid solution for quite a few years now, so we were already working towards this when the pandemic hit, and we had already made our MIS remotely accessible on the production floor and in the warehouse. But when Covid hit, even departments like sales and estimating needed to be able to access their Tharstern MIS remotely, and so we made these functions available on a web browser too.

We’ve also been witnessing the decentralisation of IT, which has been brought on by an increased adoption of APIs. More and more companies are using APIs to automate and integrate their production workflow, but they’re also hooking up this connected workflow to non-industry specific software such as Trello, Slack and Hubspot. For some companies this decentralisation of IT will cause a potential problem, and we may start seeing businesses implement much stricter controls of their technology stack going forward.

What do you expect to be the main trends and key industry developments in 2022?
This past year we’ve talked to more than a few commercial printers who’ve diversified, or are looking to diversify, into labels and packaging products. They’ve seen how well these two sectors have performed throughout the pandemic and want to take advantage of this opportunity and put their eggs in more than one basket. We’re expecting to see this trend accelerate in 2022 and that we’ll be having more conversations with companies that are looking for sector-agnostic software solutions, like the Tharstern MIS.

What does the industry need to do differently in 2022?
We all need to become data-led businesses that really make use of the information that’s stored in the software we use. We’re starting to see this happening already with an increasing interest among our own customers in using the Microsoft Power BI application – which is a very powerful business intelligence platform that can be used to analyse large amounts of data from various different sources at once.

These customers are using Power BI to analyse not only their MIS data, but also the data inside all their other software applications at the same time, and uncovering previously unknown connections between it all. So they’re using it to unify the data in their MIS, their accounts package, their CRM and their marketing software, for example, and then analysing it as one database to uncover all this rich, actionable insight. They’re using it to capture their customers’ interaction with their business, for example, and seeing where the perceived value is in their products and then using that insight to form sales and pricing policies. From a technological point of view, this is certainly where the future lies.

Note: This prediction is taken from a special Briefing article in the new issue of Printweek featuring insights from industry suppliers, hence it does not follow the same question template as the other predictions.

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