Xerox, the organizing sponsor, is taking a different stance in providing these educational events. They are not selling equipment or anything else at these seminars. They believe if they impart unbiased knowledge this will enhance the ability of graphic professionals to make intelligent, essential business decisions. The commercial printer or the in-plants success will be the sponsors success.

From what I heard at the breaks and lunch, the first two programs hit the bulls’ eye. The attendees were overwhelmed with the content insight, scope of material and depth of the information. One woman from Fidelity Investments told me she only planned to attend the morning session, but after experiencing the level of quality in the presentations, she cleared her afternoon calendar to stay the rest of the day.

The seminar highlighted topics from the theory of content management by myself to a snapshot of value added services other than printing by Vince Naselli. John Hamm, a Xerox VP and a former very successful printer, adeptly addressed the business development issues facing printers moving into the digital print arena.

While all the conceptual ideas were thought provoking, Bob Takac, from Nielson Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, stole the show by driving the real message of the day home. Bob was there to prove that this digital stuff and enhanced value added services was not smoke and mirrors. He brought samples and shared real life experiences. He stressed there is money to be made in this market. One Boston printer related to me, "He (Bob) told it the way I can understand it.” Another local Boston printer said, "The more we understand the processes the better we can meet our customers needs.”

A woman from one of the Boston area universities who is new to the industry felt this program offered great insight into the direction the university needs to head. She believes "The education model for learning is changing rapidly and we need to be equipped to meet the challenges."

Ann Lavell in Washington and Fran DeYoung in Boston (both of Xerox) addressed the technical issues of personalization in a straight forward manner and with wonderful video clips. One common thread that transcended nearly all the speakers’ presentations was the need for graphics companies to hire database professionals. The question from many of the small printers who felt strongly that database management had to be part of their future, is “Where do I find such a person?” Ann Lavell volunteered to develop a list of organizations that could assist printers with their database needs.

Harry Miller from Adobe wound up the event in both venues with a recap of why PDF workflow is critical to the future of the publishing and printing business. He also related how PDF Transit, a remote PDF distiller tool, brings the PDF creation software to a new dimension for customers.

One suburban Boston printer concluded, "I’ve got a lot of work to do."

Next stop Toronto, Canada. See you next week.