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Xplor Global Conference: The Conference Buffet

Friday, February 03, 2006

Press release from the issuing company

By Noel Ward, Managing Editor, WTT Show Coverage Over its history, Xplor has been known for its conferences and less for its show floor. Still, there were instances -- some would say years-- when vendors, consultants and others used their speaking slots as an opportunity to pitch their good and services. It hurt the conference in terms of credibility and attendance. This may still go on, but most of the sessions I sat in on Wednesday and Thursday were free of overt pitches, and where products were involved, were more focused on how technology can be used, often with real world examples. And that's important. As Dick Gorelick noted in a session Thursday morning, consumers and businesses alike are acquiring technology without knowing very much about how to use it. It means information on how to use a product or technology is remarkably valuable. For VDP, noted Gorelick, there is a lot of untapped value because relatively few potential customers know how to take advantage of it. The benefit of a venue like Xplor is that vendors can talk about their technologies as they relate to the issues that are important to attendees. That context is important because it helps people learn about options and choices that may help move their business forward. Return to its Roots This year, without the distraction of running a trade show (never an Xplor strength) the Xplor Global Conference appears to be returning to its roots as an important educational venue. With well over 250 conference sessions, the total swelled by the confluence of separate mini-conferences on PDF, XML, Photoshop, CIP4, Adobe Creative Suite, and a Spanish language track from Artes Graficas, Xplor is taking its first steps in a new direction. The question, of course, is are those steps surefooted or shaky and hesitant? I've spent the past two days sitting in on sessions spanning market trends, PDF, the emerging standards of the AFP Color Consortium, JDF, and more. All were well attended by people who stayed the whole time and asked good questions at the end. Some were standing room only and in one session extra chairs were brought in. Poking my head into others, I saw mostly chairs filled with people who seemed to be paying attention and taking notes. The uber-geek quotient is pretty high at Xplor, and in the techie sessions some of the questions and answers about how exactly a technology worked and the way the electrons jumped through hoops were specific and more than a tad beyond my level of knowledge. Key Points This is a good thing. It shows that the people who cajoled, coerced or otherwise enticed their company to spring for a 5-day trip to Miami Beach in February are serious about learning and are hopefully getting useful, practical knowledge out of the sessions. Some key points attendees were hearing included: - It's not the technology: It's how you use it. - It is not the quality of the output: it's the quality of the outcome. - Variable print, email, broadcast, and PURLs are all great, but the value comes from integrating all of them. Over 60 percent of people who order online are looking at a print catalog when they order. - Successful cross-media campaigns come from defining goals, managing logistics, use of multiple media, and tracking everything so ROI can be clearly defined and measured. - The next looming postage rate increase --up to 15 percent for standard business mail-- has the potential to significantly change the mailing business. - Printing less--via well-targeted VDP--may prove to make print and mail more profitable and more effective, while decreasing the mail volume. - Print providers have to focus more on how they can help customers make money, not just fill a customer's need. - JDF is for geeks, not the average customer. It will remain "behind the curtain" and be transparent to document owners and creators while streamlining document submission and job ordering, reducing costs and automating workflows at print providers, especially when related to cross-media programs. - JDF, when properly implemented, will also reduce employee training, make ready, and prepress complexity, provide a single interface for job management, and provide an easier upgrade path to new presses and even finishing systems. It's not there yet, but it will happen over the next 5 years. - PDF will be an increasingly important part of JDF workflows regardless of the workflow architecture or the print engines used. There was lots more, of course, and Carole Alexander will have some articles coming up on ODJ about the sessions she spent time in. Graphics of America opens today and we'll have on-the-floor coverage beginning on Monday, so stay tuned. There's some interesting stuff out there and I'll fill you in.

 

 

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