Should Print Service Providers Go Digital?

Will selling digital kill your print business?

Posted by Didier Rouillard October 23, 2015

The one thing that I frequently hear when I meet Print Service Provider owners is how the consumer market, moving to digital channels will either impact or not impact their print business. Then the discussion inevitably goes towards the topic of what really is their business? Is it about printing commodity documents for enterprise organizations or more holistically helping them to engage smarter with their customers on devices and channels of their choice? This is the heart of the discussion — where could a Print Service Provider add value to this holistic process?

In fact, I believe that the Print Service Providers tend to underestimate the value they can bring to their corporate clients, yes, they are facing a massive digital-disruption generated by the “bent-neck” syndrome of consumers stuck to their mobile phones. Think about this: I’ve read in a well-known IT analyst study that we are seeing now the emergence of new widely adopted digital channels/sites/apps (millions of users) every six months. Then, how agile can a large corporation be in digital transformation with internal resources?

In front of this challenge, GMC Software is seeing more and more line of businesses leaders (you know, the guys that are dealing with the real business of their organisation) asking us to help them in organising their communication for their client base: Do we need to keep paper? Is email appropriate for reducing my client-base attrition? Based upon which criteria should we organize the Omni-channel continuum?

There is massive play for Print Service Providers to help their customers in this digital transition for at least 5 main reasons. And GMC Software could help with each point:

  1. Print Service Providers (PSP) are generally benefiting of a high-level of trust from their enterprise / corporate clients. Indeed, one would never allow a third party to deal with their customers’ data if the vendor is not trustworthy.
  2. PSP’s are delivering, and on time. Thanks to very strong — if not punishing — SLAs which are applied to the PSP and in turn the PSP are used to deliver on time. Quite rare nowadays to be able to count on such partners. PSPs should leverage this level of commitment.
  3. PSP’s are able to deal efficiently with both physical and digital communication in a synergistic and integrated way. All too often, I see enterprises dealing with channels separately, creating disruption and confusion in the customer’s mind. There is a high risk for the company to leave customer communication managed by different teams, using different channels in a fragmented way. PSP’s should engage with their corporate customers more directly using this valid argument that one partner managing all touch points inclusively for an enterprise will ensure consistency of communication content — hence a unified message and a unified consistent customer experience.
  4. A significant number of PSP’s I’ve met are smart. They are creative. They know what customer communication is all about — that it is part of the customer experience (CX). Many of them are using digital channels already in global omni-channel projects. PSP’s shouldn’t be shy and insist on their customer communication management (CCM) expertise as a valid and essential part of the customer experience, GMC Software could help in term of solutions and application uses-cases they can propose.
  5. PSP’s already have a large number of enterprise / corporate customers. It’s not like new entrants, digital agencies and others, which are trying to get to the right contacts in a large corporation. They have internal references, internal champions and equally important established stakeholders that realize the real benefit of a trusted relationship. Effectively they are authorised partners already.

So yes, Print Service Providers have a bright digital future ahead of them.

With one comment though. One of my dear customers (said customer would recognize the following quote) — told me:

“If GMC [Software], as the clear market leader, continues to call us “PRINT” Service Providers, it doesn’t help us to get to the digital world. We would like to be recognized for what we are: Service Providers in a more global sense”

So that’s why from now on, let’s forget “Print” Service Providers.

Long live Service Providers!

Originally published at

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