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134 OPINION THE TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY Is the promotional products industry drifting further apart or is it consolidating? The fact that investors are becoming more deeply involved both in the distributor sector and in the supplier sector proves their keen interest in the promotional product and their optimistic anticipation of a profitable future. However, investors are anything but naive. They have clear growth and profitability targets. They only invest if a minimum level of security and growth is predicted. This indicates that the promotional products industry is gaining significance. The commitment of investors, however, also indicates increasing competition in the struggle for customers and an associated consolidation of the market. It is thus possible to paint a gloomy or a rosy picture of the future. In addition to a clear positioning and differentiation from the competition, technology is playing an ever more dominant role. It now dominates all stages of the value added chain. Creativity is now supported by hardware and software. Ideas and designs are being transformed into prototypes made of plastic or metal within hours by using 3D printers. Custom designs can now be implemented faster than ever before. Even finishing is experiencing a rapid development thanks to digital printing. Nano printing enables an unprecedented sharpness. Everything is now printable; there »Technology is playing an ever more dominant role at all stages of the value added chain. « PSI Journal 8-9/2016 www.psi-network.de are no longer any limits. High speed and high quality are possible. Can small businesses, in particular distributors, still compete? In addition to investments, it is essential to have a profound knowledge of promotional products, including finishing techniques. It is necessary to master numerous disciplines that intermesh. Education and training are the fundamentals to achieve this, which is repeatedly confirmed at the distributor meetings. The major service providers such as PF, which offers everything from one source with incredible speed, have found a simple solution. Technologies also play an increasingly important role in customer acquisition and customer care. There is hardly a company that can do without a CRM system today. This also applies to the sales channel online. Nevertheless, you can still frequently hear from the industry that technology and Internet are overrated. Stagnation means regression. A number of other industries have already made this painful experience. Best regards, Michael Freter Publisher of PSI Journal Managing Director PSI michael.freter@psi-network.de

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