I can still remember the excitement of the first conference in the basement of the Javits. It was a chance to meet with other digital pioneers and a validation of a concept. Print On Demand was going to change the Graphic Arts market!  From inception until this year I attended, presented, and keynoted. I worked on the conference program for many years while I was at CAPV/InfoTrends. I spent many hours recruiting and preparing speakers, developing data and working on other conference related details.

Despite the event returning to the Javits, which is near my office in New York, I did not attend this year. The focus of the event has changed and a requiem seems in order.

In the early years, the fact that there was such an event that would draw thousands was exciting for a digital “real” printing pioneer. Graph Expo and other events were still dominated by traditional approaches. Digital printing was deemed “copying” and many industry pundits dismissed the event and the concept. One memorable quote was, “just because there is a conference, a magazine and an event doesn’t mean Print On Demand will change the industry.”  POD was seeking legitimacy and The On Demand event provided it. For many years Charlie Pesko’s “State of The Industry Report” not only defined the market annually but also provided advice on where the market was going and how to succeed in a new printing environment.

Here are a few highlights:

1996 -  I was still at Harvard University Printing & Publication Services.  I was flown to the event on a Xerox private jet from Boston. Those were heady days for Xerox and this new event.

1998 – The .com boom was rising. Royal Farros, CEO of iPrint delivered a keynote on Internet printing. The bubble didn’t last long, but the ride was a very exciting one. Remember ImageX, Collabria or Impresse?  At CAPV we started talking about the migration not just from analog to digital printing but to digital only documents.

2000 – Xerox CEO Rick Thoman delivered a keynote looking back at the first decade of POD. Rick talked of the “new business of printing” where digital was primary and offset a compliment. What became of Rick?  I chaired a keynote panel on digital color with Alfons Buts, President & COO of Xeikon; Anshoo Gupta, President of Production Printing at Xerox; Benny Landa, Chairman & CEO of Indigo; Wolfgang Pfizenmaier, President and CEO of Heidelberg Digital. An impressive panel just as production color was gaining significant market share.

2002 – The Bill & Benny Show. Bill McGlynn, VP and GM of Digital Publishing Solutions at HP, and Benny Landa, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Indigo, spoke on the merger of the two companies and “Transforming the Printing Industry.” In his State of the Industry report, Charlie Pesko spoke about “Reinventing the Printing & Publishing Industry.”

2003 – EFI celebrates its Millionth Fiery as Guy Gecht, EFI CEO presented the Fiery to Kinko’s at the opening of the conference.  


2004 – Anne Mulcahy, Chairman & CEO of Xerox opened the conference. The topic was again “The New Business of Print” and the role Xerox plays in the industry. Xerox hired a production company that we had to work with for other keynotes. The “producer” was rude to one of our InfoTrends staff members and the shop steward at the Javits asked us if we wanted him to “maybe lose some of his stuff.”

2005 –  A great year. The State of the Industry Keynote by Charlie Pesko was on Industry Transformation. Well in advance of the recession it outlined a classic transformation of the printing industry in which typically half the vendors and providers disappear. Once again InfoTrends correctly predicted the future of the industry years before this message was popular. The Keynote slides were printed on an inkjet device. Among the other keynotes was Gary Kusin, CEO of FedEx Kinko’s; Clayton Christensen, Harvard University; and Daniel Carp, CEO of Eastman Kodak.

The keynote the following day was on Leveraging Industry Transformation for Success and the panel included Quincy Allen, President, Production Systems Group at Xerox; Bill McGlynn, Vice President, Digital Publishing Initiative at HP; and Barb Pellow who was the Chief Marketing Officer of the Graphic Communications Group at Kodak at the time.  On a $100 bet from Andy Gordon I sang “The Best is Yet to Come” during the final keynote panel. I surprised the panelists (including Garet Hil, CEO of Rapid Solutions) and many in the audience. Andy paid in $1.00 bills.  A preshow Tutorial on Innovation debated technology limits and had great insights from panelists including Peter Crean, Senior Fellow at Xerox and Mike Piatt, Chief Scientist at Kodak Versamark.

2006 – I chaired a panel titled “The Evolving Digital Color On Demand Printing Opportunity...the Future is so Bright, You Have to Wear Shades” that outlined a digital color tornado that Charlie Pesko addressed in his Keynote leveraging G. Moore’s Inside the Tornado. We used the song in the intro and close. Jim Firestone of Xerox played along and wore some cool shades. Another great Tutorial addressing “Print 2010: Planning for Future Business Success” with panelists including the late John Windle, of State Street Consultants. We discussed the future impact of inkjet, the limits of the various technologies and the critical importance of “super-efficiency.”

2007 – Charlie Pesko addressed our fragmented industry structure, new opportunities in marketing communications and the decline in monochrome printing. My Keynote Panel was titled, “Is Inkjet the Technology Story for 2007?”  The show had moved to Boston and was never quite the same.  Adam Slutsky, the CEO of Mimeo, offered me my current job at the conference and this was my last On Demand show while working at InfoTrends.

2011 - The show was changing focus beyond POD and was held in D.C. The show floor was missing many major vendors.  I had the privilege of Keynoting and addressed both print and publishing opportunities. Mimeo was privileged to win the Business Transformation Award based on our providing solutions to our clients. 

In 1997 and 1998 there was an On Demand West conference. For many years there was an On Demand Japan. Other Keynote speakers included Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., Chairman & Publisher of the New York Times; Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes; Pat Buchanan, political analyst, former advisor to three U.S. Presidents, and two-time Republican Presidential candidate; and Bruce Chizen Adobe CEO.

On Demand provided me with insight, inspiration and the opportunity to work with a great group of people. It is impossible to list them all. It was all enabled by my colleagues at InfoTrends including Charlie Pesko, Jeff Hayes, Barb Pellow, Cary Sherburne, Jim Hamilton, Ron Gilboa, Holly Muscolino and the entire staff that worked on the event; as well as those at Questex including Kerry Gumas, CEO. It included industry luminaries including Jan Daley, Tony Federico, Don Goldman, Don & Rich Lowe, Jeff Hayzlett, Tod Pike, George Promis,  Frank Romano, Homi Shamir, Steve Sherman, Frank Steenburgh, Bob Tapella, Tom Wetjen as well as the many listed above and the many others who presented and attended.

I wish Questex the best moving forward as they focus on content and information, instead of the technologies, products and promise of POD, but I will miss what was and hope that excitement can be generated in other venues.