Digital transition key to future profitability in the security print industry

Digital transition key to future profitability in the security print industry

Based on an exclusive confidential survey of opinion formers from across security printing, its new report Ten-Year Forecast of Disruptive Technologies in Security Printing and Brand Protection to 2028 identifies the top ten technologies that are set to transform the industry. Significantly of the ten, seven are partially or wholly based in the digital/electronic sphere.

The new digital landscape, driven by end users and consumers alike, is forcing the traditional security printing industry to adapt. Existing end-use markets – printed documents and packaging – are declining in importance; and actors in the security printing industry need to innovate to move into the digital space, especially post-issuance where the data is, and develop strategies around how this data can be monetarised.

Such strategies may fall anywhere on the conventional-digital continuum:

  • Security print organisations can focus on strengthening their conventional (non-digital) portfolio and capabilities
  • Add digital capabilities to foresee both the digital and conventional requirements of their customers
  • Transform into an all data/digital organisation
  • Own the edge – the critical but undefined area between the physical and digital world.

Strengthen non-digital capabilities

Despite opportunities afforded by data and the threats these same data pose to economies, companies and citizens, printed documents and packaging will continue to be used and produced for the near future. They will remain a target for counterfeiters and forgers even when and sometimes especially because data contained in these documents are available in digital format.  Issuers of documents must therefore remain vigilant in protecting these documents with security features that deter counterfeiters from falsifying documents, produce authorities the means to establish authenticity or detect fakes, and must deliver trust to the consumer.

As capabilities of counterfeiters continue to increase, there is a need for security print suppliers to constantly upgrade their product portfolio. Specialist suppliers capable of offering a wide and deep range of physical security print solutions will form a reliable element in the physical-digital ecosystem.

Add digital capabilities

Security printing suppliers can also focus on retaining/maintaining their existing portfolio and add digital capabilities to meet the range of threats, risks and opportunities their clients face. A gateway into this approach would be, for example, a QR code incorporated in a standard optical security feature such as a hologram. Data gathered from scanning this code can then be transferred into a product authentication platform, integrated with an end user’s CRM system, and subjected to proprietary AI software.

Digital capabilities can be developed internally by hiring data scientists and other digitally oriented employees, partnering with software developers, or acquiring a company with the digital capabilities a vendor intends to supply to its customers.

Transform into all digital

Transforming into an all-digital organisation is a bold forward-looking strategy that assumes opportunities afforded by digital security technologies and solutions will far outpace those of physical security products. It assumes that end users will rapidly incorporate new online technologies – such as biometrics, blockchain, identity as a service (IDaaS) business models and AI-driven cybersecurity – and de-emphasise physical security features and physical documents altogether.

There are three key elements that are incorporated into this:

  • Biometrics: Customers have become more comfortable authenticating payments on smartphones via fingerprints. Banks will extend that to facial recognition and voice prints. Biometric authentication methods will become mainstream technologies and help simplify security processes and provide more secure methods of authentication.
  • Blockchain: This is critical in protecting connected devices from cyberattack. Blockchain has the potential to save trillions by eliminating leakages and increasing transparency. By automating and tracking high-risk transactions, blockchain may soon eliminate fraud in cash transfers, public contracts and aid funds.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): Alongside machine learning, AI can solve problems across a vast array of government, citizen and social scenarios. Some examples include automation, citizen engagement, workforce, effectiveness, resource optimisation and predictive maintenance. The migration of analytics from a post-activity event to a real-time and predictive enterprise will demand a step-function increase in the use of analytics for evidence-based decision-making. This means not just digital transformation of an organisation’s processes but also the culture and organisational structure of the organisation. AI will become a competitive advantage.

Own the edge

The security printing industry will need to adapt to the new digital landscape characterised by massive amounts of data generated, stored and analysed, immediacy and urgency of responses required, and shifting governance. In addition to adding digital capabilities and outright transforming into a digital company, there is an opportunity of developing and owning the edge of security printing – the yet to be defined transition point of the physical and digital world.

Edge computing is a huge element to this. It refers to solutions that facilitate processing at or near the source of data generation in the physical world. The sources of data generation are usually things with sensors or embedded devices, but can also be smart packaging, electronic IDs or payment cards.

Edge computing serves as the decentralised extension of data centre networks or the Cloud, and could include payment terminals, barcode scanners and automated border control gates. It is expected to gain significance over the coming years in order to meet real-time data requirements, and specifically for the security printing industry to conduct real-time authentication.

Ten-Year Forecast of Disruptive Technologies in Security Printing and Brand Protection to 2028 profile the top ten disruptive technologies in security printing and brand protection to 2028.