Jim Hamilton, Group Director for Intotrends, and Cary Sherburne discuss the some of the trends they'll be looking for at the rapidly approaching drupa conference.
Cary Sherburne: Hi. I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com and I'm here with Jim Hamilton who’s a Group Director at InfoTrends, a world renowned research firm. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about InfoTrends and what you focus on.
Jim Hamilton: I’d be glad to. We have a number of different areas. Of course, production is one key focus for the kinds of markets that WhatTheyThink folks are interested in. And so I have responsibility for the production group, and we look at everything from wide format printing to label and packaging, document outsourcing, on-demand printing, workflow software that’s associated with that, all of those areas. So it’s an exciting piece I think. And one of the things we’re doing particularly interesting is run Ultimate Guide.
Cary Sherburne: Oh, okay.
Jim Hamilton: So we’re looking at some of the hardware and software products with a web interface that people can learn more about what the offerings are in the marketplace.
Cary Sherburne: You also have some E-learning options too, don’t you?
Jim Hamilton: Oh yes. We’ve done E-learning as well through a business development program that we offer. We do that for many of the vendors in the marketplace. And so if you’re looking at business development programs that may be offered by, you know, various companies, we’re often the face behind that.
Cary Sherburne: Face behind that, that’s great. So Drupa is coming up faster than any of us are ready for I think, but, you know, early May in 2012 we’ll all be in Düsseldorf, and I don’t know Drupas this would be for you.
Jim Hamilton: I think 1995 was my first and then they went off year to 2000 and every four years since then. It’s always a great experience, you know, you have the idea whether it’s going to be this Drupa or that Drupa.
Cary Sherburne: And so what Drupa is it going to be, this or that?
Jim Hamilton: Barb Pellow suggested it’s going to be the mobile Drupa, which I think is an interesting concept. I think the last one was an inkjet Drupa and I think this is going to be another inkjet Drupa, but you can’t really call it another inkjet Drupa.
Cary Sherburne: Yeah. I’m calling it the Cloud Drupa which incorporates mobile.
Jim Hamilton: I think you may be on target with that. I think that’s a good…
Cary Sherburne: So tell Barb. So if people think about attending, I mean obviously it’s important for the vendors to be there because it’s a global marketplace. But for attendees, what are some of the trends that they can expect to see? What are some, you know, we talk about Cloud Computing, what should they be looking for when they go?
Jim Hamilton: Well, it really is the soup to nuts opportunity at an event like that where you can look at workflow software, production-oriented software, mobile applications to support production areas, new print technologies which really, you know, there’s a huge amount of activity around that. But every time there is wider, faster, new technology, workflow, front-end and back-end finishing, you have to catch up and work with it. And in fact, I think some of the most amazing developments really have been around finishing and making it so that you can take some of the automation gains that you may get from workflow software and the front ends and really get it to the end to a finished product.
Cary Sherburne: So really end to end, not quite lights out but…
Jim Hamilton: Well, that’s really one of the advantages of digital print. Maybe not fully lights out, but I’ve looked at what next generation digital products should look like, and you think of things like electronic collation which I think folks take for granted. The ability of a single operator to run multiple devices—well, there’s some automation and some savings there associated with that; and then things like being able to automatically do plex and draw from multiple drawers. I think there’s some opportunity to create some great new product technologies around what these wide array inkjet heads can do. That’s not to say though that we’ve got really some incredible things happening on the electro-photographic side, so that there’s great quality levels, a wide range of substrate, integration with web to print capabilities, job ticketing, and all that kind of stuff. So it’s neat.
Cary Sherburne: Yeah. And you and I have an opportunity sometimes to get a little peek into what’s actually going to be there. Of course, we can’t really talk about it yet. But, you know, even in inkjet I think maybe some higher-end stuff and some lower-end stuff, you know. Because right now the production inkjet, I mean it’s all, you know, relatively pricey, but maybe there’s some—there’ll be some opportunities to even come down market a little bit.
Jim Hamilton: Well, there’s a big gap right now. There are more office-oriented light production inkjet products, and then you have these high-speed continuous feed devices and a couple of B2-format cut-sheet devices. There’s a big gap in between and that’s probably where I think the opportunity can lie, because I don’t think everybody’s going to be looking at products that cost a million-plus dollars. There need to be some in that, you know, that range in between. And certainly, with the speeds that we’re seeing out of these inkjet heads, I think—well, maybe not fully formed by Drupa, but maybe shown there and then in the years following that we’ll see a lot more.
Cary Sherburne: And the other thing that I’ve seen increasingly at the shows we’ve been going to and the vendor briefings we’ve been going to is more support for a multi-vendor production platform because that’s the world today. I mean people don’t typically have just one vendor any more, so I don’t know if you’re seeing the same thing.
Jim Hamilton: Oh clearly, and certainly also related to the traditional offset vendors. One of the big news pieces more recently has been of the alliances between companies like RICO and Heidelberg, Ose, and MAN Roland; KBA actually working with RR Donnelley. But there’s a lot of that integration happening and some of it is around being a one-stop shop. That’s the term that Heidelberg uses when they talk about their ability to work with Unisource, EFI Wide-Format VUTEk capabilities, RICO C901, and then, of course, Speedmaster and, you know, the…
Cary Sherburne: The core products.
Jim Hamilton: The core products that they offer.
Cary Sherburne: And then they’re doing some interesting things too.
Jim Hamilton: And they’re superior consumables too.
Cary Sherburne: Yeah. And they’re also doing some interesting things on the finishing side.
Jim Hamilton: Oh definitely, definitely.
Cary Sherburne: Yeah. And I know that you like to go there because you speak German, you have a German heritage and all of that. But for the average attendee maybe who hasn’t been to Drupa before, do you have any advice for them to prepare? You can’t just sort of walk in there and be effective, right, because it’s so big.
Jim Hamilton: Yeah, it’s huge, it’s a large number of halls. You’ve got to come in really with a game plan and preparation. But the halls are grouped in certain kinds of ways so that if you’re interested in certain types of finishing, it’s grouped that way—digital front ends, digital printing, the more offset-oriented capabilities. But even there you’re looking at immense halls. I think probably the best piece of advice we can give people is get your hotel reservations as soon as possible.
Cary Sherburne: Yeah, exactly, yeah. And there’s also opportunities to stay in private homes which can be, you know, we’re used to staying in hotels when we travel. But the first year I went I stayed in a private home and that was a great experience too to get to, you know, experience some of the culture.
Jim Hamilton: I’d love to do that, I think that would be a lot of fun.
Cary Sherburne: Yeah. And then I guess the final question that I would have for you is, you know, in terms of the tools that Drupa does provide on their site, I mean there’s a lot of good stuff for helping you plan your visits. I mean, do you recommend that they try to make appointments with vendors ahead of time?
Jim Hamilton: You know, I haven’t done as much of, you know, the scheduling kind of things. But again, that’s more the perspective that you have when you’re not going there with a…
Cary Sherburne: With a checkbook.
Jim Hamilton: …buying plan in mind. But certainly, talking with your local rep, because many of them will actually travel and maybe not your specific one but maybe one from your region; and you may find that there are events for Americans or Canadians or Mexicans or Latin Americans, or whatever, in the forum there. And there are international events there too, and I think that’s something that I would recommend that if you look to go over there, look to see who your compadres are who are over there. Because again, they may have some of the same questions and planning initiatives that you might have.
Cary Sherburne: And then also, I’m sure that they’re going to continue to develop the Drupa Innovation Park, and I don’t know about you, but I found that to be fascinating, because you have some of the names that we recognize in there, but you have smaller companies that you’ve never heard of and it’s an opportunity for you as an attendee to maybe see something really unique.
Jim Hamilton: You could spend a full day in there, you really could. It’s innovative, a chance to talk with people one on one. I did enjoy that as well, but I didn’t have enough to spend as much time in there as I’d like to.
Cary Sherburne: Plan a lot of time for that one, yeah.
Jim Hamilton: Well, it’s a trade show where you could easily spend a week there.
Cary Sherburne: Yeah—or two.
Jim Hamilton: Yeah. Well, you could spend it for the whole time.
Cary Sherburne: Thanks, Jim. That was great advice. Thank you.
Jim Hamilton: My pleasure.