The printing industry is in the midst of a transformation that can best be understood with reference to the metaphor of the “perfect storm.” Four forces—digitization, standardization, the rise of the Internet, and globalization leading to increased competition—have combined to create the storm. The storm is destroying many companies in its path. Other companies are learning how to ride through it and harness its awesome power to their best advantage. Technology can play a critical role in reducing the costs of business and manufacturing processes. But the acquisition of new technology in the absence of a disciplined approach to process analysis and sound strategic planning can sometimes lead in the wrong direction—to increased costs and eventual failure. Technology also enables competition where none existed before. When work can be handed off as quickly to a colleague in Hong Kong, Barbados, or Bangalore as it can to a co-worker sitting in an adjacent cubicle in Chicago or New York, the fundamental rules of the game change irreversibly. This paper is a mid-course status-report on the progress of the industry and on the proactive measures that some companies are taking to battle the storm. These companies have several characteristics in common. They all take a sober view of the situation they are in and develop a clear understanding of the limits of their control. They then concentrate their energy on changing their business and manufacturing processes to continuously reduce or eliminate costs that do not contribute to the value of the products and services they sell. They also continually look for opportunities to develop new products and services that leverage the capabilities of new technology. In July 2003, the Printing Industry Center (CIAS) at RIT sent a survey on manufacturing operations to its panel of printing companies. The objectives of this research were threefold: 1. To refine the understanding of the manufacturing-related problems currently facing the industry. 2. To assess current industry approaches to improving operating efficiencies in light of benchmarks established by leading companies. 3. To determine how managers view new technology and new management techniques designed to improve productivity.

Publication Date


Document Type

Full-Length Book


A Research Monograph of the Printing Industry Center (CIAS) at RIT

Department, Program, or Center

Printing Industry Center (CIAS)


RIT – Main Campus