Given the popularity of mobile phones, website searches, social media, emails and other digital media, it would only be natural to wonder about the future of print and graphic communications.

The truth is, the industry is growing at a steady pace for most … and promises to expand at a stronger rate for those with the right focus.

In their article, How the Commercial Printing Industry is Being Redefined in 2018, Printing Impressions magazine reported on a study by Idealliance – the graphic communications industry organization. They expect the commercial printing industry sales (all sources) to grow 1.5% to 3.0% in 2018, after increasing approximately 1.0% in 2017.

An article published by Printing Industries of America (PIA) concurs. Trends in 2018 for the Print Market notes: For 2018, we expect overall print sales to increase slightly, which would align with print’s tendency to perform best in a mature recovery phase of the business cycle. If the economy continues to grow in the 2-3% range, print should do well, growing by 1-2% in total shipments. Of course, if the economy picks up speed, print will accelerate.

This is all well and good to be sure, but what can a provider of print and graphic communications do to make more money?

In their study, Capital Investment Report, Fall 2017, Idealliance notes where many in the industry see opportunity and are investing for the future:

* Digital infrastructure (workstations, servers, etc.): 73.8%

* Digital presses/toner-based: 63.1%

* Workflow software: 57.3%

* Bindery/finishing systems: 46.6%

* Pre-media/pre-press systems: 42.7%

* Web-to-print (including web storefronts): 40.8%

* Mailing capabilities: 35.9%

While some of the investments noted above are likely beyond those print and graphic communications providers serving local markets, many are not.

A network-affiliated franchise operation, for example, might expect their franchisor organization to have programs in place to assist with workflow software, Web-to-print systems, and mailing capabilities, among other print and graphic communications initiatives.