Now that we have made it through the fall show season, it's already time to start thinking about next year's events. Graphics of the Americas is the first major industry event of the year, taking place in Miami, January 23-25th . People tend to come to this eventin the spirit of the New Yearwith a fresh outlook and a pent up desire to make positive decisions about the future both near- and short-term. Graphics of the Americas is a great place to see and hear about the newest technologies, and is a good barometer of the state and mind set of the industry as the New Year begins. Graphics of the Americas is one of the two largest global graphics communications events in the Americas, and is sponsored by the Printing Association of Florida. It's a trade show and seminars run by printers, for printers. And its international flavor adds much value to the overall experience of attendees.

This year, a special event has been scheduled to precede Graphics of the Americas, sponsored by the Printing Association of Florida and chaired by Professor and Futurist, Frank Romano. According to Romano,

The TrendVision Conference is not another attempt to cash in on industry confusion and a down economy. We're strongly committed to provide a yearly gathering of smart people, concerned business managers, flawless research, and academic insight. TrendVision is the first conference to bring together all the major thinkers' who research and analyze the printing and document industries. It is the first conference to emphasize trends as its content focus. The major question is: where is the printing industry headed? Printers and others want to get some idea so they can plan capital investments and marketing opportunities.

While the economy appears to be rebounding, the printing industry has seen significantand some say irreversiblechanges during this latest downturn. Historically, while the printing industry has trended downward with the rest of the economy in periods of recession, it has always returned to growth as the dollars begin to reflow into the marketplace. This time, though, as budgets tightened and marketing budgets came under increased scrutiny, there were a wide range of non-print alternatives, made possible by technology advances and the prevalence of the Internet, which business communications professionals could take advantage of to continue to communicate with customers, prospects, employees, investors and other stakeholders. Many industry experts agree that much of the business volume which evaporated from the marketplace during this latest downturn will never return in the same form, and that growth in our industry will not come from a return of the same types of work and relationships that have been the bread and butter of the industry in the past. Rather, printing professionals must closely examine both the products and services they are currently offering and the needs of the customer base as they reinvent their businesses to address the fundamental changes that are taking place in the market.

Interestingly, just as capital budgets are beginning to ease and it looks as though the industry is poised for another wave of spending, professionals in the printing and publishing industry find themselves in somewhat of a quandary relative to the shape and form that spending should take. Thus, the primary impetus behind the formation of the TrendVision Conference is to provide an open, honest and interactive forum where these trends and issues can be examined and discussed. Romano says, If we do our job correctly, TrendVision will be a nagging presence in one's brain, day after day, decision after decision, purchase after purchase.

The two-day event, scheduled for January 22-23, 2004, is designed specifically to aid in setting spending prioritiesto help attendees make key strategy and buying decisions for the next five yearsand features a series of discussions kicked off by Frank Romano's keynote on Convergence that will cover trends in creativity and communications. Romano remarks, It's all coming together in ways we never expected and it's getting harder to see where the creative process ends and the production process begins. Changes in communication, collaborative systems, workflows, and business itself are changing the way we work and the way we relate with each other. It will be a discussion on the brave new world of communication.

Romano has lined up a cadre of industry luminaries to moderate discussions on key topics, including:

Charlie Corr, Group Director at CAP Ventures, will lead a session on Buying Trends. The very nature of the buying process is changing and this change is affecting print, creative services and everything in between. CAP Ventures has been tracking this trend and will share its insight on this topic.

Consultant John Zarwan will focus on Packaging Trends. With businesses needing 305% more volume in two years to stay where they are today, where will that volume come from? Packaging! But it is important for printers to recognize that the process of expanding into packaging will not be easy. This session will provide a realistic view of the potential and challenges of this marketplace.

Vince Naselli and Richard Romano of TrendWatch will present a session on Creative Trends. TrendWatch has built its reputation tracking creatives and other communications professionals through a series of industry surveys. Vince and Richard will share the results of the latest survey, helping attendees peer into the minds of the creative pros and identify key applicable trends.

Jack Powers is Director of New York's IN3.ORG, the International Informatics Institute, a center for research and education in information technology, infrastructure and communication issues. Powers is slated to discuss sociological trends, including demographic changes and their effect on communications.

A session on Publishing Trends and the changes in information distribution will not only examine the new bi-textual world we're faced with, but also why and how publishers will deal with it. This session will be led by Keith Hevenor, Editor of Electronic Publishing magazine. Hevenor is the most recent recipient of the Tom McMillan Editorial Excellence Award.

Robert Rosen, President, R.H. Rosen Associates, consults in the Graphic Arts industry and is a respected advisor to printing CEOs throughout the United States. Rosen will cover Management Trends; and in particular merger & acquisition trends for successful companies.

In the Corporate Communication Trends session, Jack Klasnic, Editor and Consultant, will explore the topic of the paperless office. It didn't happen when they said it would, but many think its arrival is getting closer. When and if it does get here, will anyone care?

John Leininger, Professor, Graphic Communications, Clemson University , will lead the Advertising Trends session, offering a look at advertising, how it has changed and will continue to change, and what drives those changes. Ad dollars are being spent in new ways, wreaking havoc with traditional media and forcing us to re-think the way companies deal with promotional dollars.

John Windle, Founder and President of State Street Consultants, will moderate a panel discussion on The Information Factory: We used to call it a printing company. This will be a discussion of what the communication company of the future might look like: What services will it offer? How will it relate to the trends and technologies described over the previous sessions?

This conference, in combination with Graphics of the Americas , looks like a great way to kick off the New Year. Attendees will benefit from taking a few days to learn from the experts and each other, see the latest technology first-hand, and return home armed with plenty of food for thought relative to the pitfalls and opportunities for the future.