The printing industry is continually transforming, influenced by technological advancements, changing customer expectations, and evolving business models. This means that the ability to adapt and remain resilient is not just beneficial but essential for print businesses aiming to stay ahead.

Duncan Ellis, General Manager at Avanti Systems, a Ricoh Company – whose expertise spans from understanding traditional print workflows to navigating the complexities of modern print management – shares his valuable insights on how to build a resilient printing business. 

The primary goal of this article is to explore strategies for resilience and adaptation in the rapidly evolving printing industry. By dissecting key trends, challenges, and success stories, we aim to provide print businesses with actionable insights to survive and thrive in market changes.

Shaping Industry Trends & Evolution of Business Models

In recent years, the printing industry has witnessed notable trends, from the integration of automation solutions to the rise of digital printing technologies, and understanding these trends is crucial for print businesses to stay ahead.

The traditional business models of printing companies have evolved significantly. Duncan reflects on the changes accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly factors like labor constraints, changes in print volume dynamics, and the need for operational efficiency.

These are some of the biggest reasons why reevaluation of workflows and strategies is necessary – the business needs to align with the demands of a rapidly changing market. 

Avanti Systems’ Adaptation

Avanti Systems has been at the forefront of adapting to industry shifts. Continuous improvement and leveraging technology for operational resilience are not mere buzzwords but critical components of Avanti’s success story.

Avanti Systems has strategically navigated these changes, emphasizing the importance of continuous improvement and leveraging technology for operational resilience. 

Navigating Market Difficulties

The printing industry has challenges. One of the primary obstacles discussed is the labor shortage, exacerbated by an aging demographic within print operations. As experienced individuals retire, there is a noticeable decline in the appeal for younger generations to join the print industry. The increasing infusion of technology and software necessitates a higher level of technical literacy among the workforce, adding a layer of complexity to skill requirements.

“The bottom line is, they have the same amount of work to a certain extent coming in, and they don’t have the same amount of people in the business in the operation to help produce it.”

Moreover, there is a higher volume of jobs but with shorter print runs. This change, attributed to evolving customer expectations, reflects a desire for variability and personalized experiences. 

This shift of heightened demand for variability and personalized experiences necessitates reevaluating business strategies, urging companies to adopt agile and customer-centric approaches. The desire to differentiate in the market and provide diverse experiences to customers has driven the trend towards shorter print runs and increased job variability.

The demand for shorter print runs is now economically feasible due to the decreased digital printing costs. This transformation challenges businesses to efficiently manage more jobs with fewer resources, particularly impacting smaller print shops already stretched for capacity.

In response to these challenges, Ellis advocates a holistic approach for enhanced resilience – emphasizing the pivotal role of a Print Management Information System (MIS) in automating processes and providing better control over operations. 

Automation, when integrated effectively, streamlines workflows, reduces reliance on manual labor, and contributes to operational efficiency.

“From a holistic perspective, ‘How do we become more resilient?’ – well, one of the ways we can become more resilient is having a print MIS that’s going to help automate things that’s going to help us have much more control over what’s happening in the operation. And we don’t need as many people that do it. If the automation is properly set up and integrated, it not only streamlines processes but also enhances efficiency and reduces reliance on manual labor. Digital printing, on the other hand, caters to the increasing demand for faster turnaround times and personalized printing, reflecting the industry’s shift towards agility and customization.”

Strategies and Solutions for Overcoming the Challenge

To fortify resilience in the rapidly evolving print industry, businesses must adopt a multifaceted approach that includes strategic diversification and embracing digital transformation. 

Duncan advocates for a holistic approach, emphasizing that resilience is not a one-size-fits-all solution but requires a combination of strategies tailored to each business’s unique needs and challenges.

From a resiliency perspective, there are a few key strategies for print businesses to navigate challenges successfully. Firstly, print businesses should diversify their service beyond traditional print offerings – focusing on supporting marketing services, hosting web storefronts, and exploring large and grand format printing. This not only expands revenue streams but positions businesses as comprehensive solution providers. 

The other big opportunity to make your business more resilient is looking at ways that you can automate your shop. Greater integrated automation allows information to flow independently, reducing or eliminating the reliance on people to move jobs through the system.

Digital transformation emerges as a crucial factor in adapting to industry changes. Integrating technology and software into print operations requires a higher level of technical literacy, which is essential for staying competitive. Ellis delves into how embracing digital transformation can elevate a print business’s capabilities and ensure its relevance in the ever-evolving market.

“We’re always going to need labor. We’re always going to need people in a print shop or an operation. However, if we can leverage technology and have the data that we need reside in one database flow throughout the system and have fewer manual touches, we’re going to be a more resilient operation simply because we can contain the amount of labor we need, to process work to a certain extent.”

Lastly, leveraging technology becomes integral not just for adopting new tools but for streamlining processes and meeting the dynamic demands of the modern printing landscape. The symbiosis of diversification, digital transformation, and technological efficiency forms a robust strategy for print businesses to bolster resilience, stay competitive, and deliver enhanced customer experiences.

The Impact: Indicators of Success

Recognizing key indicators of success and resilience in the printing industry involves observing how businesses strategically integrate acquisitions. A positive sign is when companies acquiring other operations demonstrate thoughtfulness in seamlessly merging workflows, technologies, and support requirements. 

This optimization process contributes to building a more robust and efficient operation. Another noteworthy indicator is the proactive approach of businesses diversifying into new areas, acquiring innovative software, and contemplating integrations to enhance their offerings. Success stories often feature companies that not only acquire but meticulously plan and analyze their technology footprint for optimal results.

For print businesses aspiring to fortify their resilience, the advice extends beyond mere acquisitions. Actively adopting a continuous improvement mindset is crucial. Companies that consistently evaluate and optimize their operations showcase a commitment to long-term success. 

Embracing this approach ensures ongoing resilience and positions businesses to navigate future industry shifts effectively. The journey toward success involves not only acquiring new capabilities but also refining existing processes to stay adaptable and responsive to evolving market demands.

“The companies that continue to look at their operations with a continuous improvement lens or approach that are working their way through different areas of their operation to make sure they’re continually optimizing that’s going to continue to deliver resilience for the operation, and that’s another really good indicator that a customer is serious about being here for the long term and driving optimizations through their business.”


To navigate market challenges and secure long-term success, print businesses must draw insights from industry trends, comprehend evolving business models, and implement digital transformations. 

Duncan emphasizes this need for adaptability, dissecting key trends like automation and digital printing. 

Avanti Systems’ success is a testament to the significance of continuous improvement and technological leverage. Addressing challenges like a labor shortage and shorter print runs requires a comprehensive approach. Ellis contends that as the industry progresses, the commitment to ongoing improvement and strategic adaptation becomes imperative for thriving in the dynamic landscape. According to him, this commitment is crucial for long-term success in the ever-changing printing industry.

For more information on how Avanti Systems can help alleviate some of your print production challenges, contact us for a no-obligation demo or workflow evaluation.

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Duncan Ellis

Meet the Author

Duncan Ellis

As General Manager of Avanti, Duncan Ellis is responsible for driving the company’s daily operations and also leads the teams responsible for all software implementations. Their emphasis on Project Management, Training Effectiveness and Continuous Improvement drive greater success for our clients. Prior to joining Avanti in 2017, Mr. Ellis spent a dozen years working with Fortune 500 clients at Xerox Canada in various Sales and Management roles. His focus on employee engagement, business development, operational excellence and client satisfaction led to Mr. Ellis winning three President’s Club awards at Xerox. Mr. Ellis holds three degrees from the University of Toronto: Master of Education, Bachelor of Education, and Bachelor of Physical Education.

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