How’s the strategy holding up? Or rather is the strategy that your business had at the end of last year still the strategy 15 weeks into the New Age of Covid? For the vast majority in print any long term strategy has been jettisoned in favour of a strategy of survival. In any way possible. For some this has meant furlough for everyone; for everyone it has meant some are working from home where possible; for others it has meant surging into production of PPE, in the main visors or facemasks.
This is, of course, not incompatible with a strategy of delivering what customers want and need, and perhaps that can be purchased via a website. For some that pivot is a reaction either to external circumstances – there are healthcare workers who need something that we can manufacture – or to internal circumstances, ‘because we have equipment that is doing nothing otherwise and we need some inflow of cash’. For the majority, this will prove to be a short term response to an immediate need and they will return gratefully to printing sheets of paper as before, hoping that business will return to some kind of normality.
But that kind of normality is going to be different. The future is rushing towards us. Delivery companies claim to have moved forward 15 years in as many weeks; others say that the last few months have compressed developments that might, in normal times, have taken five or ten years: working from home, the rise of commerce and attendant loss of high street shops, migration from large cities to the countryside and use of digital technology, devastation of private equity funded restaurant and clothes chains. A long term strategy needs the resilience to take these changes into account. Does this mean that a printer needs to cast aside litho printing in favour of investment in the inkjet press that will be dominant in the next decade? Not at all: strategy is the map to help a business navigate these stormiest of seas. It is about identifying a product, a customer base and meeting those needs. And then deciding on the technology to transport the business forwards..