The Next Big Thing in 2014

More than half of all in-plants intend to invest in hardware and software next year. A new survey reveals where they are planning to put their money.

As 2013 comes to a close and business plans for 2014 are put into action, in-plants are preparing to upgrade hardware and software to improve efficiency, while evaluating new opportunities to offer customers “the next big thing.”

As in-plants consider adding new media channels, printing capabilities and services in 2014, their challenge is finding the right combination of “new” to win buy-in from customers. In addition, many new investments require time for implementation and staff education before any return on investment can be realized.

To identify key 2014 investments, InfoTrends recently surveyed readers of In-plant Graphics as part of an ongoing partnership with the North American Publishing Company (IPG‘s parent) to monitor emerging market trends. The survey, conducted in September, focused on finding out which equipment, services and software would be key investments for the coming year. The results point to where in-plants are planning to put their money in 2014, and can serve as a guide for operations undecided on investments for the coming year.

Solid Investment Plans

The 87 in-plant decision makers who responded to the survey reported solid plans for investment in 2014. More than half reported plans to invest in hardware (59 percent) and software (54 percent). Alternatively, 29 percent reported they would not be making investments in the coming year, either because there was no need to, or because they had made significant investments in 2013.

The Software Side

In-plants will actively invest in software to enhance their operations in 2014. The top two software investments planned are print production workflow management (37 percent) and variable data (33 percent). Reasons for investing in these solutions, as well as many others, center on in-plant operations upgrading technology to maintain productive operations (see chart on previous page). In-plants that are investing in workflow solutions are doing so mostly as a way to upgrade their current tools, but 25 percent have chosen to add workflow management to improve efficiency.

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