Printing is really about multiple ways of communicating visually or marketing, says Abdool Majid Mahomed, CEO of Printing SA.
A great success – that was the verdict on the conference hosted by Printing SA alongside FESPA Africa 2019 last month, both in the speakers invited and the topics discussed.
Three research papers were presented, each one opening up new insights of the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) from differing perspectives. One was from the viewpoint of an employer company, another from an employee or worker perspective, and how the SA Typographical Union has to start addressing the challenges facing the union and its membership. The third looked at how Generation Z measures up as workers, the kind of work they want to do and how they want to do it.
Cause for optimism
While printing will continue to use inks of all sorts, it is becoming a more high-tech industry, requiring highly skilled and creative designers, marketers and IT specialists. It is a dynamic and exciting space and we need to encourage learners and workers to enter the industry with appropriate skills and learning tools enabling them to future-proof themselves.
Convergence and consolidation is the new name of the game, adapting the current infrastructure, systems and technologies to service multiple markets
The delegates who attended were captains of industry who must step up to be its proponents and ambassadors, raising its profile, upskilling and reskilling their staff to embrace change and adapt to it, and creating new jobs that were never there. We all need to ensure we protect the environment and take responsible decisions to ensure our continued sustainability. It is not only about chasing profits, but also caring for people and the planet.
New consumer expectations
Through thorough exo-spection (the opposite of introspection), we need to explore how we can generate new relationships and interconnectedness with other suppliers, vendors and manufacturers to create new products and services. The way people consume information is different, and therefore we need to service this new requirement. Consumers want package deals and prefer a one-stop shop, with extra services embedded in the offering. This demands business diversification, and promises not to be business as usual.
Shorter runs and more customisation result in shifts in our business models. Convergence and consolidation is the new name of the game, adapting the current infrastructure, systems and technologies to service multiple markets.
It is either you sitting at the table to eat, or being on the menu and being eaten
One speaker put it as follows: printing is actually a marketing service, and it is either you sitting at the table to eat, or being on the menu and being eaten. The main purpose of business is to create a customer, creating a need and satisfying it.
We need to propose the future, even though there may be multiple futures, then design it, getting over our fears. Spend time on the business, not necessarily in it.
Long live a new business model
Effective communication is key, as is collaboration with government and labour. Partnerships will not only create jobs, they will ensure stability and growth. The emphasis should be on building trust, holding government accountable, engaging proactively with policy and regulation development, and advise on trade, duties and tariffs. The new African Free Trade Area (AcFTA) agreement that is being mooted has to be used to our advantage.
The traditional “Toys R Us” business model is dying. While relentlessly pursuing their motto of “Toys are toys… and kids are kids”, they missed the opportunity to have created a better experience through augmented reality. Because they failed to exploit the potential, they lost the plot to capitalise on enhanced customer experience – or UX as it is called today.
In successfully innovating companies, CEOs should spend time innovating and exploring new ventures, and use predictive analytics and big data for nuanced planning.
by Abdool Majid Mahomed