Ralph Nappi: Sound financial practices are crucial

NPES is a US trade association representing more than 400 manufacturers and distributors of equipment, software and supplies used across printing, publishing and converting process

20 Feb 2013 | By PrintWeek India

In anticipation of the upcoming NPES Print Business Outlook Conference to be held in conjunction with PrintPack India 2013, February 23-28, NPES president Ralph Nappi was interviewed about the conference, its objectives, and the state of the global and the Indian printing industry.

Describe the NPES Print Business Outlook Conference 2013?
It is a comprehensive two-day conference intended to act as a forum for participants to learn first-hand about the opportunities and challenges in the global print market and to provide an opportunity to forge partnerships and alliances. We expect some 300 print industry leaders representing commercial printers, newspaper publishers, and package printing companies to attend.
It is being held in association with PrintPack India 2013 and is co-sponsored by NPES and the Indian Printing Packaging & Allied Machinery Manufacturing Associations (IPAMA). It is also supported by the US Commercial Service (USCS), the Indian Newspaper Society (INS), and the All Indian Master Printers Association (AIFMP). It will be held on 24–25 February, 2013 at the India Exposition Centre, Greater Noida, India.
What should attendees expect from the conference and what are some of the possible benefits they might gain?
The conference is titled “Mission Possible: How to Profit from New Technology” and I think that sums up what attendees can expect in a nutshell. New technologies are driving significant change in the printing industry worldwide and rather than fear them or fight them, we need to use them to our advantage. The educational sessions will feature experts from the printing, packaging, and newspaper industry segments who will address how attendees can integrate these new technologies into their operations. We anticipate that attendees will return to their businesses with a better understanding of the dynamics of these changes and how they can be used to improve operational efficiencies, broaden the scope of services, and improve profitability.
Considering the focus on opportunities and challenges in the global print market, what are some ways printers can manage their businesses with an eye on profitability?
That’s a pretty far-reaching question. Of course, operational efficiencies are important, not just in the area of workflow automation but also in the management end. Integration of offset and digital requires not only the right equipment and software but also well trained, skilled, and motivated people. Sound financial practices are also vital – what is the ROI on a piece of equipment or software system, what are your sales per employee, what are your ratios?
One of the topics at the conference is “Hot Technology Trends that You Should be Watching.” Why is this important and how does a printer decide on what to invest in?
The best way to follow the new technologies and to educate oneself is to attend programs such as the NPES  Print Business Outlook Conference and shows such as PrintPack India 2013 or the North American Print 13 and co-show CPP Expo 2013. The educational sessions at these events bring together the top industry talents who can identify and explain the emerging trends. Not only that, the trade show floor is an ideal location to see new technology in person, speak with vendors, and make comparisons. Networking is another great way to learn, whether at shows or association events. Follow the trade press. Join an association or affiliate. You have to put in the effort to educate yourself about what technologies will be the best investment for your business.
For instance, attendees at the NPES Print Business Outlook Conference 2013 will learn about integrating offset and digital, trends in integrated marketing, revenue opportunities and costs savings through automation, organizational initiatives, the future of newspaper publishing, color press developments, UV, colour flexible package printing, digital color in packaging and more. That’s along with the key sessions on the hottest technology trends and the discussion of the commercial printer’s pressroom of the future. 
What is your view of the Indian print market and where do you see growth opportunities over the next few years?
There is no doubt that the Indian print market is vibrant and growing. It is already the third largest Asian market for printing equipment and consumables with some 200,000 printing presses installed nationwide. It employs 700,000 people directly and an estimated 450,000 people indirectly. Growth has consistently outpaced the growth of the Indian GDP and has grown at a 12.2% annual rate between 2006 and 2012.
That said, the Indian printing market faces the same global concerns as the rest of the world. Undoubtedly, the most robust area of growth will be in the digital arena but offset will remain a vital component and hybrid digital/offset workflows will be increasingly common. Automation will be of increasing importance in both printing and packaging. There will also be increasing competition with e-commerce options, which will make web-to-print and multi-media offerings more important.Print will continue to be an important part of the communications matrix for the foreseeable future – both in India and worldwide.
Any parting words of wisdom or advice for the Indian graphic communications' professional?
A US author once said, “Half the battle is showing up”.   Business is changing so rapidly in all industry segments that printers need to be proactive in determiningwhat is changing and what those changes mean to their businesses. That means attending conferences, networking, and constantly learning. Many people don’t like change but we have to recognise change, embrace change, and take advantage of change because it is inevitable. Those who fail to adapt will be left behind.
NPES Print Business Outlook Conference 2013
Date: 24–25 February, 2013
Venue: India Exposition Centre and Mart, Greater Noida