I told you I'd be back. On Demand 2008 opens at 10 AM tomorrow at the BCC (Boston Convention Center), the venue being one of those political boondoggles that happen in every city but which seem to be the natural order of business in Boston. You take a city with a compact main business district, a wonderful residential, shopping and business area in Back Bay, a Byzantine network of streets and roads, a semi-functional public transit system, and the leaking remnants of the largest public works project in American history. Then you take a parcel of land that's tied to assorted figures of shadow and substance, but which is cut off from the rest of the city by a major highway. You plunk down a convention center that no one --except for the real estate mavens and pols involved with the deal-- really wanted, and you get the BCC. Give me the convention center in Philly or Miami Beach, the Moscone in San Francisco, McCormick in Chicago, or even the Staples Center in LA. Anything but the BCC. Well, maybe it's better than the Javits down in the Big Apple.
But I digress.
I told you last time what some of the key vendors are doing and I'll add to that here and throw out some more thoughts, even as the big crates are being unpacked, trusses are hoisted, and a myriad of computers and print engines are fired up, connected and readied for a few thousand attendees to find their way across the city to the BCC.
I'll begin with Kodak. The company from downtown and the west side of Rochester, New York is planning on highlighting solutions in the areas of digital printing and document management in booth #1531. And they supposedly won't have much equipment.
"Our focus is less on the equipment --the speeds and feeds-- and more on the challenges and opportunities our customers face as they evolve and adopt digital technologies," explains Dave Wigfield, Managing Director, United States and Canada, for Kodak's Graphic Communications Group. He notes that in addition to product demonstrations in equipment and software using interactive 3-D digital renderings, Kodak will feature samples of integrated communications campaigns created with Kodak software and digital printing solutions.
There'll be an applications focus here that I'm looking forward to getting a look at. Some of the highlighted applications include a multi faceted print campaign in which franchisees of a travel agency place orders via a web to print storefront, and a credit card company that utilizes trans-promo communications to build customer loyalty. Kodak tells me the materials from the different campaigns will be printed using various electrophotographic and inkjet digital printing solutions, including the NexPress, the VersaMark VL2000, and the VersMark VT3000. Much of this will be driven by various elements of the company's Unified Workflow Solutions.
It sounds as if there'll be a focus on the use of personalized communications to enhance customer response and open up new revenue streams for printers, something that should get attendees thinking about how they can use some of this technology. According to Wigfield, "Print service providers will learn how the combination of digital printing and unified workflow can help grow their revenues and increase efficiencies."
Some of the tools Kodak has on tap include new and established desktop, networked and production scanners, and software to help businesses capture, archive, extract and manage critical business information.
And while the really good stuff will roll out at drupa, Kodak with have two new Targeted Sales Modules for vertical markets as part of its Market Mover business development services. And check the session schedules, too as several Kodak presenters will be talking on a wide variety of topics in more than a dozen sessions.
This being a show with more than a nodding acquaintance with mail, Pitney Bowes will show off some of its latest mailstream technology solutions and the opportunities they may present for business growth.
Pitney will have its mail gurus on hand to share best practices and advice about the USPS Intelligent Mail barcode, trans-promo, and postal rate and postage management. Pitney Bowes will showcase its document processing and records and information management solutions.
Pitney also what it terms end-to-end Customer Communication Management (CCM) hardware and software solutions, which it says are designed to accelerate intelligent communications throughout the enterprise. "Intelligent mail" has been a growing segment of the print-to-mail business for some time and Pitney will be showing their latest efforts in this area at the BCC. For example, its Enterprise content management (OpenEDMS) and e-Messaging solutions enable businesses to engage in one-to-one interactions with customers while centrally managing all customer information in a closed-loop communication process.
On Demand attendees can get a look at solutions that link print and mail workflow. For instance, color and trans-promo fans can check out demonstrations on personalization with one-to-one marketing messages, variable envelope messaging, and monochrome and color printing.
Pitney will be demonstrating a range of equipment and software for mailers of all sizes, spanning creating, formatting, printing, inserting and metering. From what they've shared pre-show, there'll be some great technology in their stand that may be able to give you the tools to make some extra dough, so be sure to check it out.
And, they have speakers. Peter D’Amato, Director of Emtex ADF Product Management for Pitney Bowes will discuss Security-enabled Printing on Tuesday, at 1:40 pm, and on Wednesday at 2:30 pm, Pitney Bowes teams up with a major international insurance company for "Records Management and the Mailstream: a Partnership for Success." The session will highlight the drivers impacting records management strategies and efficient and effective records management processes.
Having just been at the XMPie User Group conference in Glitter Gulch, I saw first hand some of what the company will be showing off in Boston. If you haven't seen the latest of what XMPie is doing, you have to check it out.
The first thing you'll notice in Boston is a different look, with a spotlight on personalization and the connections made through one-to-one marketing. There are few things as personal or as one-of-a-kind as a person’s face, so people's faces are being used throughout XMPie’s visual pieces as a metaphor for personalization. This imagery is meant to convey that the company's solutions deliver one-to-one marketing communications that can be as unique as an individual recipient.
Beyond the new look, demonstrations will be focused on the three pillars of XMPie’s product line: highly creative, variable print, cross-media interactive communications; integration of one-to-one publishing and one-to-one marketing into one highly efficient, effective marketing solution; and personalized Web-to-print solutions enabling these capabilities to be used on Web-based marketing and e-commerce portals.
Based on what I saw in Las Vegas, the stuff you have to see at XMPie includes:
- XMPie Marketplace, an online resource designed to support users in the creation of personalized marketing materials. It features a uStore-based e-commerce Web site offering a library of creatively designed uImage templates available for purchase and download by uImage users.
- Many enhancements and features to uStore, including user-interface language customization.
- An enhanced version of the uProduce Marketing Console, designed to enable users to offer tracking and analysis of campaign results to their marketing customers in real-time.
- New groupings of the XMPie PersonalEffect server-based line that are better tailored for both small-to-medium sized businesses and large enterprises.
Go see this and ask about anything you'd really like to be able to do. You might just find you can do it.
Since we have it running over in the video center I won't cover it in any detail here, but if direct mail and cross-media are in your plans for 2008, you also need to go look at what MindFIreInc has cooking at this show. I talked with Carolyn Valiquette, Vice President of Product Development last week and she told me about their new ROI calculator, Campaign Dashboard and some other features that are all but guaranteed to make marketing directors' lives a whole lot easier. Be sure to make time to check this out. Wish it had been around back in the day when I was a marketing director.
When I first went to the On Demand show at the Javits about a dozen years ago it was very much a hardware show, with all manner of print engines and pre- and post-processing equipment. Back then, everyone was, to one degree or another, selling a dream, a vision, of what digital printing could be, on demand or otherwise. Some of the print engines sort of worked and some software had more bugs than features. but things were starting to heat up. Now, things really do work pretty well and while little with technology (or life in general) will ever be a perfectly smooth ride, the equipment and software works a lot more as advertised. And you can definitely make money with it without being living on the bleeding edge.
Yet as the technology has become more mature, the On Demand show has changed. It's much more about the software and they applications they enable than it used to be, because the software is what makes all the whiz-bang high speed print engines work and adds much of the value to the applications being run. For instance, Kodak brought hardly any equipment to this show last year and claims to be taking the same approach this year, yet are still showing what the software does. Other companies are following suit. Does this mean we'll see less print engines in Boston this year and perhaps in other On Demand venues in years to come? I'm guessing yes, based on what some equipment vendor executives are telling me. It's going to be interesting to see the balance this year --and hear later from vendors how it plays out as leads turn into sales.
Hope to see you out there on the floor.