Transforming your CRD into a Communications Hub

| 13 August 2019

Jon Hiscock, National Channel Manager at Konica Minolta, explains how traditional reprographics departments can improve client engagement and increase surpluses by offering modern, unified digital communications services.

The days when your central reprographics department (CRD) offered everyday print and mail services are disappearing fast. Today, your CRD has the potential to be the catalyst for your digital transformation: an innovative, agile hub for your communications strategy.

It involves moving your CRD from simple print output towards a joined-up communications strategy that speak with one voice: unified digital CRD services spanning everything from wide format printing, scanning and hybrid mail, to web-to-print solutions, design and direct mail.

For CRDs embedded within local authorities and universities, these consolidated, cutting-edge digital communications services open the door to exciting new opportunities, including process automation, reduced cost and increased financial surpluses. It also creates a more rewarding client experience.

An increasing number of local government and university CRDs making the move from their traditional reprographics remit to modern, agile and adaptive communications services delivery.

The evidence emanates from a recent PrintWeek round table discussion (Read Report), which brought together expert CRD luminaries from UK local authorities and universities to debate the future of the CRD. The consensus was that the CRD can be the champion of your communications strategy, adding real, lasting value to your digital transformation.

In the PrintWeek feature, Steve Thomas Design, Print & Photography Unit Manager at Lancaster University explained, “The future is about being very agile and constantly reinventing ourselves, so now we’re very much seen as the people that you come to for solutions.”

Those digital communications solutions are coming thick and fast at Lancaster University’s CRD too. For example, they are moving into drone photography having already begun to offer design, photography and print – even a bindery service to answer demand from PhD students.

It’s a similar story at Wokingham Borough Council. Simon Beasley, their Digital Solutions Manager said, “The future is about the flexibility of our offerings. “We’re trying to offer as much as we can based on what our customers want. So, it’s the entire production line, from design, wide-format, cut-sheet digital. We manage external print, MFDs, a scanning hub, we’re adding digital post to that.”

There’s a compelling argument for in-sourcing these services too. Most CRDs now operate as commercial entities, tasked with finding business externally. And the adoption of a communications hub means they now have the services portfolio, skills and price-competitiveness to target opportunities on an equal footing to commercial sector providers.

The University of Birmingham, for example, has adopted an agency model to build business and increase its annual surplus. Taking at the round table, Print Manager Will Cooper explained, “We now have six or seven account managers and… it’s their job to keep the relationships going, take the briefs, and build the businesses around our clients. It’s put an awful lot of additional turnover onto us, which is profitable, and last year we had a record year.”

The use of innovative digital services will also help CRDs to drive a more engaging client experience – one that directly impacts loyalty. Augmented reality (AR) solutions, for example, can help CRDs use printed materials to become digital pioneers. These AR tools overlay digital content such as video, animations, or 3D models onto printed materials to create rich, exciting, new media experiences. Consumers can interact with this content using an app on their device. With nominal specialist expertise, CRDs can enhance printed materials with captivating digital content.

Talking about this AR opportunity for CRDs, Anthony Evans, President of APCOM and Design Print Manager at Swansea Council, commented, “It’s got to be moving into digital platforms more, developing an even greater understanding of cross-media, AR, and the extra value they can bring our organisations.”

The evolution of your CRD from traditional print and mail management can play a vital role in every local authority and university digital transformation strategy. Now is the time to grasp the opportunity and transform your print room into a strategic corporate asset.

For more information, please download the complete PrintWeek article now (Read Report)

Jon Hiscock

National Channel Manager  

Professional Print CRD Private & Public Sector

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