The TrendVision Conference, timed to correspond with Graphics of the Americas in Miami January 23rd -25th , is generating significant interest in the graphic arts community. As 2003 draws to a close, the prospects for a brighter 2004 are looming on the horizon. Jobless claims are down, Leading Economic Indicators as published by the Conference Board are up, and suppliers to the industry are gearing up to make a number of new announcements at Drupa in May.

TrendVision organizers are billing the event as being not another attempt to cash in on industry confusion and a down economy. Rather, the conference will offer real-world advice and real-world success stories that will arm attendees with the business information they need to plan for 2004 and beyond. According to TrendWatch's Vince Naselli, I see TrendVision as providing a forum to discuss the likely impact of current and emerging technology and market trends, how they will affect various businesses in our industry and what those in the audience should consider, as business owners, operators and managers, in charting a successful course for their company.

So why should you invest in a visit to is TrendVision the first place to invest development dollars as the economy gets better? In a tight economic climate that has made discretionary spending almost an oxymoron, printers might wonder why TrendVision will be different than other forums, despite seemingly similar content , what the organizers will do to make it a different more rewarding experience for attendees, and what attendees will take away from the experience. WhatTheyThink visited with several of the conference presenters to answer those questions get their views .

Robert Rosen, President, R.H. Rosen Associates, had this to say: TrendVision isn't theoretical. It deals with real-world issues and offers examples of real-world successes. There's no theory in what I'm talking about. It's based on our firm's experience in working with almost 500 graphic arts companies  including more than 150 profit leaders. I know printers have enough things to do without being forced to listen to another set of tired theories. At TrendVision, they will learn about the proven tools that are being used by the country's most profitable companies.

Echoing those sentiments, Jack Powers, Director of New York's IN3.ORG, added, The roster of speakers is unique: top experts in their fields arguing their divergent points of view. Most conventional conferences tell a feel-good story about how to control costs, focus on the customer and learn the latest tech wizardry. TrendVision has some pioneering innovators discussing the revolutionary changes in the ways Americans do business: e-buying, globalization, consolidation, integrated media, roboticization, pervasive computing and digitization. It's an inspirational story, the triumph of empowering technologies over the way things used to be.

John Zarwan of J Zarwan Associates, who will be discussing the potential presented by the packaging market, said, Many industry observers consider packaging to be an attractive market for commercial printers. It's growing faster than commercial print and is less likely to be affected by electronic distribution: after all, you can't "PDF a box of cookies." My session on packaging will examine the dynamics of this very large market, its various market segments and technologies, and the challenges that commercial printers will face as they consider its potential.

In speaking about what attendees will take away from the conference, John Leininger, Professor, Graphic Communications at Clemson University added, I like to compare it to teaching the participants to fish (rather than giving them a fish) and the goal of the group of presenters that Frank Romano has organized will tell them about some great places they might consider dropping their line. In the end they have to return to their company, decide which pond they need to fish in and teach everyone else in the company to fish in the same pond.

Hailing from the Publishing camp, Keith Hevenor, Editor of Electronic Publishing magazine, had this advice to offer: We will be moving beyond the usual discussion of technology and focusing instead on how a printer or publisher can position his or her business to take advantage of the ways the market is changing by offering new and innovative services. From content management and repurposing to finishing and fulfillment, customers expect more from their service providers than just faceless service. The provider must become an active partner and must stay abreast of industry trends to not only serve the customers, but lead them into new areas of revenue and profit. The publishing market of today is dramatically different than the publishing market of just a few years ago, and this session will explore the best ways to capitalize on that shift and not be left behind.

All in all, TrendVision promises a fresh look at the issues, challenges and opportunities facing graphic arts service providers as 2004 kicks into gear. For more info rmation on TrendVision and Graphics of the Americas, visit .