Let me fill you in on a little secret: the office technology industry has reached maturity. I know you’re shocked and are immediately filled with concerns about what might happen next, but don’t worry.

Reaching maturity and getting old is not so bad. So you can’t see your printouts anymore. Big deal. So, you have to take naps to make it through the day. So what? With your old age you’ve become wise. Your years of experience and intellect will now carry you to the finish line. You can now spot new opportunities that the youngsters don’t even know exist. And that’s just what you’ve done.

With the maturation of the general office and the shift from a vibrant, profit-producing business to one now characterized by declining page volumes, reduced average selling prices, robust competition, and wrinkles, office technology providers have looked elsewhere for fertile pastures. And what have they found? The land of production print.

To be fair, the land of production print is not some newly discovered greenfield. It’s actually been there quite a while. It has historically been a land cultivated by OEMs and their direct operations as well as enterprising dealers. Today, however, it is one of the few areas remaining where all players in the industry have a chance to capture growth.

With a diverse base of customers ranging from small independent print shops to franchisees, to in-house print shops and large commercial print enterprises, today’s production print market offers ample opportunities for all.

Like most opportunities, this one is no longer a secret. And with growth hard to come by in most of the industry, the opportunity represented by production print is attracting a lot of attention. So much so that the same dynamics we see in the general office are now presenting themselves in this arena as well. What are these dynamics, you ask?

First, the customers who acquire production printing technology and services, while not undergoing the same types of digital transformations as general businesses, are exploring ways to become more efficient. As “manufacturing” organizations, these customers need not only the hardware capable of producing beautiful output, but also require consulting services to assist them in running such equipment as efficiently as possible. Their ideal scenario includes the elimination of manual labor in the print process, effectively being capable of going from white paper in to finished product out. This type of efficiency, delivered through a combination of hardware, software and consulting services, aids printers in capturing meaningful bottom-line profit and is a key requirement for those OEMs and dealers wishing to serve their needs.

Second, production print customers, just like office technology providers, are in a mature industry. Survival often depends on not only who has the most efficient “factory” but also upon which printer is capable of capturing new business opportunities. And one of the fastest-growing opportunities for production printers is offering marketing services to their clients. Given this trend, production print houses that historically have focused only on producing paper are now offering a range of marketing-oriented services as a means of aiding their customers in capturing more business. OEMs and dealers capable of tapping into this trend or that can assist printers in making such a transition are primed to reap the benefits.

Third, production printers are capital-intensive businesses with major investments in legacy equipment. Transitioning from legacy print devices, such as offset presses, and moving volume to newer digital technology is a desire of most of these customers. The economics of print often make this transition a cloudy affair at best. OEMs and dealers that can assist printers in clearly understanding the economics of running their existing work on newer technology will have an advantage in migrating volume from legacy devices to new equipment and in the process provide customers with greater flexibility in output design and production.

A final dynamic impacting production print is the level of interest in this market. Like moths to a flame, virtually all players in the office technology industry are flocking to production. It’s much harder to find a traditional OEM not targeting this business than one that is.

It shouldn’t be a surprise then that the race to production, while understandable, is likely to result in the same scenario as we see today in the general office: that of commoditization. Will it be a surprise to anyone if we ultimately find in production print a market that is oversaturated with suppliers, a market that is characterized by little hardware differentiation, or a market where average selling prices steadily decline?

While these characteristics will certainly take root in the production print market, there is still time, even for slow-footed old codgers, to take advantage of what is today a new bastion of opportunity.

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Dennis Amorosano is the president and founder of Dendog Strategy Insights LLC, a management consulting firm focused on strategic planning, new business development and go to market execution. Providing services in the areas of strategic business planning/execution, new business development, content creation/marketing automation and technology sourcing support, Dendog Strategy Insights brings 30 years of technology marketing, sales, product planning, software engineering, and professional service experience to help clients implement strategies that yield success.