The Digital Transformation of the Swedish Graphic Industry

University dissertation from Institutionen för ekonomisk och industriell utveckling

Abstract: This thesis examines how IT and the digitization of information have transformed the Swedish graphic industry. The debate concerning the productivity paradox, i.e. if investments in IT contribute to productivity growth, is one important starting point for the thesis. Previous research on this phenomenon has mainly used different types of statistical databases as empirical sources. In this thesis though, the graphic industry is instead studied from a mainly qualitative and historical process perspective. The empirical study is focused on describing the development of internal critical production processes in the graphic industry and its external markets. The aim is to show how innovations based upon IT have influenced the transformation of the Swedish graphic industry and if this has led to changes in productivity. Furthermore, to identify other significant effects and changes in the graphic industry’s markets that also has occurred as a result of the introduction of IT innovations.The process study shows that digitization of information flows in the graphic industry began in the 1970s, but the start of the development and use of digitized information happened in the early 1980s. Today almost all types of materials in the industry, for example text and pictures, have developed into a digital form and the information flows are hereby more or less totally digitized. The consequences from use of IT in production processes are identified here as different outcomes and effects. One conclusion drawn from the analysis is that investments and use of IT have positively influenced changes in productivity. The conclusion is based on the appearance of different automational effects, which in turn have had a positive influence on factors that may be a part of a productivity index. In addition to productivity, other mainly informational effects are also identified. These effects include increased capacity to handle and produce information, increased integration of customers in the production processes, increased physical quality in produced products, and options for management improvements in the production processes. The appearance of such effects indicates that it is not always the most obvious ones, such as productivity, that is of greatest significance when IT is implemented in the processes of an industry.Also the part of the study using an external perspective shows that IT innovations have had great influence on the graphic industry’s markets. The transformation of markets is analyzed through the use of the Innovation influence model, which is grounded in the Technological systems and Development blocks concepts. It shows that suppliers to graphic companies have played an important role in the IT innovation development process and they have thereby contributed to the ongoing transformation of the industry. Furthermore, IT innovations have been an important tool for graphic companies to handle different structural tensions they have experienced. The innovations introduced have thereby contributed to the development of new products, distribution channels, and markets. At the same time different products have disappeared and old markets contracted. These progresses have also been a result f the digitization of society. Altogether, this development has resulted in a transformation pressure that has come to greatly influence the industry. Because of this there today exist fewer but larger graphic and suppliers companies.Altogether the study shows that if a productivity paradox existed in the graphic industry, it is today to be considered as resolved. The pace in which the transformation of the industry, caused by IT innovations, has occurred has been extraordinary compared to previous developments. IT has become an unconditional part of the industry and society. Therefore it is of great importance to include several perspectives, e.g., internal process perspectives as well as external market perspectives, when discussing the value that might be derived from IT investments.

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