By Guy Broadhurst

GraphExpo has come and gone and was busier than it has been in recent years. That's good for everyone. Before the show, the industry was all abuzz about what the different vendors were going to show. Rumors were followed with conjecture, shadowed by assumption and the inevitable wild guesses. And very little came to reality.

Trans-promo has been one of the big buzzwords of the year and the hype was certainly built up around it going into the show. And while the whole range of trans-promo applications offer a great deal of potential, it was a bit surprising, very honestly, that there weren't more offerings. That is not to say the potential isn't there, though. It's just that the big idea of trans-promotional documents is probably running a little ahead of how print providers --who are the ultimate implementers of the concept-- are thinking.

As I've said before in this space, we at Océ see trans-promo as a prime example of convergence--that term that's been around for years and shows no sign of going away. The technology we offer --and continue to develop-- for trans-promo is tightly integrated with our Job Appropriate Color strategy: using the right amount of color for every page of a document to control costs and make it as effective as possible. That approach fit well with what customers were asking about in Chicago.

They were excited about the potential of trans-promo and asked a lot of questions about the best ways to fit it into their operations. The queries came from both print providers and the companies they serve. Banks, insurance companies, financial services firms, and more all recognize the power of high-value customer touch points like bills and statements and are looking for the solutions that will best serve their needs. Naturally, one of their top-of-mind concerns is color. They know it is an important part of effective trans-promo documents but remain a little uncertain about the best way to bring color into what has always been a monochrome world. While putting color toner on a page is no longer an obstacle, it is a significant shift in how companies must think about their transactional documents and they are not taking it lightly. They have justifiable concerns about complexity --and costs. And as a result they are moving cautiously.

Customers visiting our booth were especially interested in seeing trans-promo applications across a wide array of products. At On Demand in April, customers had seen how the VarioStream 9240 --which is designed with trans-promo in mind-- delivers color pages at 172 ppm and monochrome pages at 852 ppm, providing the flexibility necessary for high-volume print environments and trans-promo printing. At Graph Expo, we upped the ante with the introduction of the ColorStream 10000, which offers the same print speeds as the VarioStream 9240 but uses dot modulation technology to deliver graphic arts quality printing that enriches color applications with crisp graphics and smooth gradations for illustrations and photos. This not only makes the ColorSteam 10000 one of the fastest toner-based production color printers available today but provides unprecedented flexibility by providing spot color or black and white printing at up to 852 ppm.

Still, we know that color is not the only thing on people's minds. For many applications high speed monochrome printing is still required, but with the flexibility to run as many applications as possible on a single print engine --and maybe add a little color. For those customers we introduced the latest members of the VarioStream family, the VarioStream 9710, 9610 and 9510 models which produce 1,515; 1,364; and 1,136 U.S. letter-size images per minute, respectively. These new high-speed models are especially suited for customers with high-volume requirements such as transactional invoices and account statements, as well as graphic arts applications like books. But they are not limited to black-only printing. Each of these new models can be field-upgraded to incorporate up to two additional CustomTone colors, so customers still benefit from our Job Appropriate Color strategy and balance color cost and speed for each job.

No matter our customers' needs, we will help them reach their goal. Even as I write this, our teams are working with customers to explain the many nuances of the jump to color and trans-promo printing. We're helping them understand how to work with color, and how to manage and mine data to help ensure the trans-promo programs they create are effective and productive.

Trans-promo is neither hype nor hearsay. It is a great opportunity for companies and service providers to reach out to consumers with targeted, relevant messages using trusted documents. And with the technology readily available, it's time for equipment and software vendors to partner with their customers to make the trans-promo vision a reality.