Expertise | Press release

Date : 07/05/2018

What is the future of printing? Does paper still have a role to play?

Digital has not killed off paper. It is reinforcing it. Victor Buck Services has focused on this symbiosis from the outset, to the benefit of its clients. Arnaud Wulgaert, our COO, and Jean-Marie Maekelberghe, our Head of Business Development, explains you how in this Interview with Solutions Magazine.

What is the future of printing? Does paper still have a role to play?

Arnaud Wulgaert: "Paper does still have a role to play - now more than ever. We've been talking about going paperless for forty years, but paper is still here. And ten years ago, the advent of the e-book was supposed to be the death knell for books. Today, it has to be said that we have never printed as many books. Even digital natives do not exclude paper from their lives. Look at the YouTubers who write books that are printed and sold in bookstores or Amazon who is a leader in Print-on-Demand. No, really, we should not be worried about paper. It is a living material which has always adapted to the situation. We shouldn't talk about disappearance but rather about transformation and new opportunities for printing.

Jean-Marie Maekelberghe: "Paper remains a medium which offers value, and which is acquiring even more value with the digital industry. When you're inundated with e-mails from various sources, even newsletters, you turn your attention more easily to physical media. Obviously - and various studies point to this - printed materials encourage concentration during reading. They are more informative than screens and they create longer, more sustained attention than digital media. The human brain is more responsive to physical media."

 

As printing professionals, what has been the impact of digital on your business? Does the rise in digital options pose a threat to the printing business?

A. W.: "First of all, we should note that Victor Buck Services is not a printing company in the traditional sense. That said, digital printing/enveloping still represents a large proportion of our business: 120 million printed items and 30 million envelopes leave our production centres every year. Our production capacities have increased steadily, and this is the result of our digital transformation. Paper and digital are not enemies - far from it!  Since Gutenberg, printing and paper have undergone constant growth. Today, digital is part of this growth. One is not replacing the other, but is instead complementing it. It is the production, distribution and operating methods which are changing."

J.-M. M.: "Instead, we should be talking about synergies, since digital is opening up new vistas for the use of paper. We see this in particular through interactive printing, which incorporates augmented reality. A letter, a catalogue or printed advertising material can bring a new, fun, interactive and sensory experience to life for a reader. Today, the digital communication media we offer our clients in addition to paper means we can offer them an optimised experience, whatever the communication channel chosen. Plus a guarantee over the security and confidentiality of their data. In short, paper is far from dead. It remains an effective communication medium which is continuing to develop."

 

More than 50 trillion pages are printed today worldwide using production printing technology - of which only 2% relates to digital printing. The opportunities for digital printing and the advantages it represents are considerable, particularly with personalisation. Is this the future of the sector?

A. W.: "Digital printing is probably one of the most relevant responses to the new requirements brought about by increasing digitisation. At Victor Buck Services, we have seen changes in customer requirements. We are witnessing a move from large print volumes for mass distribution to a variety of small quantities to be produced per order, on a more random basis, with sharper deadlines and increasing demand for customisation. To a degree, digital has imposed its own pace. Printing deliverables are becoming increasingly similar to electronic deliverables. To be able to follow these developments and remain competitive, we need to introduce new technologies and roll out new ways of working. This is where the marriage with digital comes into play, to produce more quickly and less expensively. Inkjet technology for instance, responds well to these new requirements. We can combine full colour personalisation, by globalising volumes, with much greater flexibility. This is good news for direct marketing and transpromotional printing which is experiencing a renaissance on the market!"

J.-M. M.: "In terms of process developments, digital tools allow almost instantaneous interaction, which means greater responsiveness. As far as Victor Buck Services more specifically is concerned, we provide our clients with interactive digital platforms that enable them to track their production flows and even approve, launch or suspend their orders remotely. So the client can manage its own production, while having the option of being supported and advised by our teams".

 

Since technology is becoming more democratic, today, we are able to bring back in-house tasks which had, up until now, been outsourced to printing companies and other service-providers. What are the main strengths of these actors now?

A.W.: "People think, incorrectly, that printing is an easy business, which requires just a few specific skills, that we simply print something out and slip it into an envelope. The reality is much more complex. A huge amount of intelligence goes into the whole process so that data is collected, processed and distributed properly within the increasingly tight deadlines demanded by clients. At Victor Buck Services today, we are aiming even higher in order to increase our flexibility and our productivity. We are currently in the process of developing our production centre into a Smart Factory, more commonly known as Factory 4.0, with the White Paper Factory concept.

J.-M. M.: "Our model is very unusual. What makes us stand out today is our flexibility and our ability to adapt. You might even say that adaptation is the very essence of Victor Buck Services. Today, we have diversified our clientèle and our range of services. We are able to offer clients a complete value chain, from data collection, transformation, omni-channel distribution, through to archiving with probative value, passing through digitisation".

A. W.: Faced with increasingly rapid changes in technologies, flexibility is key. At the same time, we are very attentive to changes in regulation and we are investing significant material and human resources in data protection. For us, this is also an opportunity to stand out, by offering clients additional guarantees thanks to acquiring certifications such as ISO 27001 and PSDC-DC. Along with investments in latest generation technologies. This all serves to guarantee operational excellence, making it possible to build a long-term relationship of trust with our clients"

 

About Victor Buck Services:

From paper to digital, without excluding any communication medium. Victor Buck Services was created in 2000, originally to support activities in the financial sector. Today, it is an international service-provider offering Business Process Outsourcing solutions for all business sectors. The services offered by Victor Buck Services are divided into three main categories:

The services of Victor Buck Services are used by over 900 companies worldwide thanks to a platform which is accessible 24/7 and its foreign partners (UK, Hong Kong, Australia), making it possible to complement the offering of its production centres in Luxembourg and Singapore.

 

Read the original interview in French

Read the translation in Dutch

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