Printing United 2019: Key Takeaways

In October 2019, Connor Ennis, Business Development Associate for Lumine Group, attended the Printing United show in Dallas, Texas. In this article, Connor discusses his experience at Printing United and reflects on what he learned about industry trends and the future of print while at the show.

In 2018, Lumine Group entered the print industry with the acquisition of cloud-based, web-to-print software company, Aleyant Systems. In 2019, Lumine Group took the next step in our print journey to Dallas, Texas at the inaugural Printing United show.

Below are a few of my top takeaways.

The Expansion of Print

At first glance, the show floor was a sea of hardware – packed with traditional large-scale printers and machines that we commonly associate with print. However, a deeper dive suggests that the print industry is more focused on automating their production process and turning to a growing number of niche software vendors within the space to realize this level of output and efficiency. Increased automation coupled with evolving customer demands means printing, packaging and labelling technologies will need to be flexible to cater to a more diverse range of use cases.

The conference also showed that there are many opportunities for software companies to expand into new market niches and adjacent markets. How to effectively and efficiently enter a new market is a topic that frequently comes up in my discussions with software executives. Lumine Group offers its businesses access to numerous best practices on how to expand into new niches and adjacencies.

The New Players

As the print market continues to mature, we’re seeing new players enter and attempt to disrupt the space. While the traditional mainstays like Canon and HP had a strong presence at the show, if you walked the exhibition floor you would have also seen a large number of small to medium sized vendors. With the different size and needs of printers worldwide, smaller, more niche vendors have been able to gain a toe-hold in many markets and started to punch above their weight.

Could we be seeing the beginning of a new class of smaller competitors that can compete with the traditional players? It looks like there could be a “changing of the guard” given the conversations around some of the larger corporations recently; such as a merger between HP & Xerox, and an acquisition of EFI by a private equity firm. Are these larger players able to be as nimble and reactive as a smaller company? Can they keep up with the rate of change needed in this diverse market?

As this trend of smaller more focused technology companies continues to play out, we predict continued consolidation in the space. In a recent report from the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association, the organization surveyed printers and found that “additional expansion into other market segments will occur via mergers and acquisitions, with 38% [of printers] planning a merger and/or acquisition in the next five years.” While this report might be more reflective of print hardware, this M&A activity will also impact software vendors as they continue to look for revenue generation opportunities within a consolidated market.

During a period of great transition within the industry, Printing United provided a great experience to learn from leaders within the space. As customer needs are shifting and expanding, the industry is pressed to evolve. We look forward to seeing what this next generation of Print will look like, and how Lumine Group can help accelerate the growth of companies during this period of change.