SA Print Industry Veteran Discusses Innovation And Disruption In The Industry

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Vrajlal Harry, Harry’s Printers.
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GSW – Mimaki

Printing SA hosted its first CEO’s breakfast meeting at Canon South Africa’s head office in Centurion on 28 November. Management from various Printing SA member companies were present for the seminar from Vrajlal Harry of Harry’s Printers in East London, which is the largest printer in the Eastern Cape. He discussed his vision about how to apply innovation to benefit and adapt.

Harry is the first and only South African member of the International Printers Network, and has been a longstanding member of Printing SA for over 20 years. According to Harry’s presentation, the disruptive in ‘disruptive technologies’ is not an attribute in technology, but rather it describes the effect that some technologies have on markets affected by technology-based innovation and the failure of firms to adopt the technology.

He also discussed dualism – the challenge of functioning efficiently today to sustain present success, while also incorporating the disruptive innovations that will ensure future success.

Harry used Naspers as example of innovation, illustrating that when its printing business experienced decline, it diversified and branched its services out into those of internet and pay-TV services.

Key lessons:

• Launch new growth businesses regularly, when the core is still healthy.
• Keep dividing business units, so that new and innovative businesses are small enough to benefit from investing in small opportunities.
• Minimise the use of profit from established businesses to subsidise losses in new businesses.

Trends in innovation:

– Questioning: break out of the status quo and consider new possibilities.

– Observing: detect small behavioural details about customers, suppliers and other companies that suggest new ways of doing things.

– Experimenting: relentlessly try out new experiences and explore.

– Networking: connecting with individuals from diverse backgrounds and explore, as well as associating.

Strategies for success in print:

• Disagreggation – break a market segment into a smaller niche segment, e.g. the label market – long runs to short runs, customised and personalised, just-in-time (JIT) labels, niche market labels etc.
• Move from print services provider (PSP) to marketing services provider.
• Move from PSP to IT services provider.
• Focus on niche products – school yearbooks, photobooks and products.
• Focus on vertical markets – healthcare, automotive, pharmaceutical etc.

Harry concluded that the most difficult thing to do is to change, as people are set in their ways, but there is a small percentage of the population who are leaders because they want to change.

The event concluded with a tour around Canon SA’s showroom, where attendees could see the company’s products and samples on display.

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