Commentary & Analysis
Free Graph Expo Report: From the 1999 Rage to 2002 Reality: E-business ready to
By John McKeon September 23,
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: September 23, 2002
By John McKeon September 23, 2002 -- E-business in printing, which made the biggest headlines at GRAPH EXPO® and CONVERTING EXPO® 1999 and then plunged into a period of turmoil, is primed to bounce back in a big way at the upcoming 2002 show in Chicago, October 6-9. Driving this resurgence of print e-business, experts say, is a combination of savvier printers, sounder vendors, and a smarter approach to the entire process. "It’s coming back with a vengeance," said National Sales Manager Tony Caudill of Pace Systems Group. "The dust has settled and people are ready to do something that makes sense." Caudill added that e-business "will be one of the most important topics at GRAPH EXPO and CONVERTING EXPO." The "dot.com wave" broke over the 1999 show as start-up companies and other providers of e-services mounted some of the most visible and publicized exhibits at McCormick Place. Then many of them all but vanished as printers in general did not rush to embrace their products and the national economy turned downward. The main problem was misunderstanding of the market, said Dan Abbas, program director for e-services at Heidelberg USA. "Printers thought the products interfered with their relationships with their customers," he explained. "Not only printers but print buyers liked the working relationships they had built up and saw no reason to throw that away." One entire category of dot.coms, the so-called "bid & buy" sites, has essentially vanished, noted Glen Forbes, Vice President of Sales/Western Region at CRC Information Systems. Theirs "was a flawed approach that printers didn’t want," he said. Now, printers are taking a new attitude, judging e-business tools by how well they interact with systems already in place and by what they contribute to profitable customer relationships. "There are two classes of printers out there," commented Forbes. "One class is adopting e-commerce because their customers are demanding it, while the other is being more proactive and see it as a value-added service." "E-business in print differs from the standard definition of e-commerce," Forbes added, "in that it rarely if ever relies on printers accepting customer credit cards." "That’s just not the typical way print buyers pay for their printing," he added. As a result, print e-business emphasizes streamlining workflow and giving buyers more access to basic processes and information about their jobs.