by Noel Ward, [email protected] October 22, 2002 -- SOME YEARS BACK a long-time Xplor attendee described the annual Xplor conference to me as a big group of people who got together every fall to share ideas, extend their network of industry contacts, and expand on the knowledge they gained at work and in the many regional chapter meetings. That part hasn’t changed much. But Xplor and the topics it covers have come to encompass far more than its transaction-printing-centric roots. While plenty of Xplor members and attendees share memories of running jobs from data stored on stacked hard disk platters, all are now driven by the urgent demands of today: convergence, document management, digital workflows with multiple datastreams, integrating EBPP into formerly print-only environments, 1:1 marketing and CRM, book printing, and even learning the mysteries of color management. Still others come to learn ways of integrating new mailing technologies with printing. This year it all comes together in Anaheim, California, beginning this Sunday, October 27 and running through Wednesday, October 30 under the theme of "Know your Industry, Succeed in your Business." According to Therese Seidel-Friedman of Xplor, registered conference and exhibit attendance is running 35% of last year and is approaching levels seen in Miami in 2000. Paid conference registrations are also up by similar percentage. She says registrations have been consistently over 20% ahead of 2001 for the past six weeks and although pre-registration has just closed, total attendance is expected to be at least 50% ahead of last year. The international reach of Xplor continues to be evidenced with about 35 to 40% of attendees coming from outside of US. When all these people reach the show, they’ll find more than 100 companies exhibiting solutions in the Orange County Convention Center. While some attending companies made major announcements at Graph Expo earlier this month, look for some major announcements from leading vendors to break at Xplor. Most notable among these are the details Océ Printing Systems USA will be providing in Booth 632 on the new range of products, technologies and services associated with its new Adaptable Imaging Architecture. NDAs prevent giving out more information just now, but whether you journey to Anaheim in person or rely on a virtual visit here at WhatTheyThink, Océ’s news is going to be a must see. Like some previous Océ machines, expect technology that changes the landscape in monochrome, spot color and MICR printing for both cut-sheet and roll-fed printing. Also, look for Océ speakers in several conference sessions, including Océ Printing Systems president Tom Long at the Executive Forum of the Joint Technology Council. Elixir Technologies will be announcing DesignPro Tools, the next generation of enabling tools for AFP and Xerox printing. According to Elixir, its extensive experience with forms design has led to the creation of sophisticated tools for creating statements, letters, checks, policies, and endless variety of business documents. Elixir will also be previewing Vitesse, an advanced VIPP designer. No coding is required to produce effective one-to-one communications such as dynamic business charts, barcodes and full-color images for enterprise print solutions. IBM will be introducing new models that join the Infoprint 4100 family of continuous forms printers; and new software for converting XML to AFP. IBM has also teamed with Pitney Bowes and will demonstrate key applications. IBM will also discuss new and exciting customer applications, focusing on how the Infoprint 4100 and Infoprint 2085 and 2105 have helped customers get back to basics and make the most of their hard-earned dollars. Scitex Digital Printing President and CEO Homi Shamir will be speaking in the Joint Technology Council (JTC) general session on Sunday afternoon, focusing on convergence and the ways three Scitex customers are growing their businesses in this difficult economy. In their booth, SDP will show the VersaMark Vantage, designed to print over 750 fully dynamic transactional document images per minute at a cost below two cents per image. The Vantage will be running unique applications showing the use of dynamic color to do one-to-one marketing. On a more relaxed note, Scitex Digital is hosting the Monday night "Xplor Party" at the ESPN Zone. The opening social event is always a highlight to Xplor and in my experience ESPN Zone and Scitex should make for an amazing combination of venue and party style. Assuming my Nikon survives the night, look for pictures here at WTT. Xerox made most of their big announcements at GraphExpo but is still holding back on some important hardware and software news for both color and black and white until Xplor. Among the equipment The Document Company will have on display in Booth 900 includes a DocuColor 2060 w/NPS/IPS, the DocuColor 6060 w/DocuSP & Creo RIPs, a roll-fed DocuPrint 700 CF and a DocuPrint 180 PES MX, all running a variety of applications. In addition, DigiPath 3.0 will be in action as will a Remote Workflow and Web Document Submission tool. A dozen Xerox speakers will be participating in some 14 sessions, including Anshoo Gupta in the Joint Technology Council Executive Forum on Sunday. Joint Technology Council Sunday is the day to listen to leading executives of several leading technology companies talk about shifting technologies and how their companies are responding to changes in the industry. Each of the eight companies making up the JTC will be on stage beginning at 3 PM Monday. The lineup of JTC speakers includes: - Alfons Buts, President Nipson Digital Printing - David Dobson, General Manager, IBM Printing Systems Division - Anshoo Gupta, President of Xerox Production Systems Group - Tom Long, President and CEO, Océ Printing Systems, USA - Bill McGlynn Vice President and General Manager, Hewlett-Packard - Kumar Vora, Executive Vice President, Adobe Systems - Homi Shamir, President and CEO, Scitex Digital Printing - Mark Weber, Executive Vice President of NexPress Solutions Over this week and next, look for eXpert Row Columnist Jeremy Smith of Smith Consulting Group, and Chuck Surprise of Printondemand.com to deliver their own inimitable takes on the show. Molly Joss will be bringing you interviews from several industry leaders and I will be cruising the show floor to see what’s new and what is important in the changing world of electronic documents. Conference Sessions Xplor began as much more of a conference than trade show and has grown according to the needs of members around the world. The sessions that begin on Monday vary from single experts speakers to user panels, tutorials and brainstorming. Conference tracks this year reflect the changing industry and include: document processing lifecycle, document creation and management, printing and publishing, color, web solutions, output architecture, finishing, mail, and fulfillment. There’s more to come this week and next, so stay tuned. Because of being data-savvy is a required skill for the types of printers who come to Xplor, these print providers are at the forefront of digital printing and are often the leaders who are among the first adopters of new technologies and leading the way with new applications. Watch this space as Jeremy Smith, Molly Joss, Chuck Surprise and I do a little Xploring.