And speed of turnaround for work is something that GMG and other commentators stress will become increasingly important to wide-format printers. As mentioned earlier, the shift to a faster turnaround, web-based transaction with consumers as well as trade clients has begun, and some say the wide-format printer of the future will be expected to not just deliver products faster, but also to update customers as to where a product is in the production cycle – a joined-up approach will be essential for that to work smoothly.
Burnett adds that pressure will also increase from the print buyers and marketers at trade customers, especially the major brands.
“The buyers from the brands are now more clued-up – they know about the print process and how things are produced,” he says. Hence, when it comes to contract wins, demonstrating that the maximum efficiencies have been achieved with a joined-up automated workflow may be the crux of whether a job is placed with a printer or not.
At present, the above scenario is very much still in development – after all, if it was the new reality there would be plenty more manufacturers offering a ProductionSuite-style product to the sector in order to capitalise on the demand. As it is, many printers are currently finding they can continue to operate in the wide-format market using existing piecemeal workflow solutions. Whether they can say the same in a few years time – GMG argues for many the ‘future’ requirement for fully automated workflow is already here – remains to be seen, but the need to meet stricter time and cost pressures have touched many other print sectors and it seems likely wide-format will not be able to escape for too much longer.