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Attendance at Print Workflow Summit Reflects Importance of Workflow Education

Press release from the issuing company

November 8, 2004 -- The first Print Workflow Summit, a joint venture between Electronic Publishing and WhatTheyThink held in Wakefield MA, was well attended by nearly 100 designers, print buyers, printers, vendors and members of the media and consulting communities. It was a full day, loaded with industry perspective, sage advice from print service providers, lots of networking opportunities and sometimes controversial discussions, all aimed at bringing a new level of education to the graphic arts community relative to the current state and future state of digital workflow for printers. The second summit will be held in Teaneck NJ on Wednesday, November 10th. If you are in the greater New York City area, don’t miss the opportunity to participate in this exciting educational opportunity. For more information, visit www.PrintSummit.com. Frank Romano kicked the session off by providing an overview of the industry, the role of workflow and the trends facing each of the individual segments of the industry. Romano identified commercial print, packaging and targeted direct mail as offering the greatest opportunity for growth for print service providers. Chris Wells, President & CEO of Lavigne, Inc., a 106-year-old western Massachusetts printing company, and Peter Reed, President of Minuteman Press of Cambridge MA, shared their perspective on how to extend workflow into the customer’s organization for improved productivity for both the print service provider and the customer, as well as what Wells referred to as the development of “Sticky Business” by building a long-term value-added relationship with customers that extends well beyond the commodity zone. Both companies have a large number of corporate customers being served by Web-to-print solutions that they believe are a key to their success. Reed commented, “There are so many benefits to these tools, it is almost ridiculous not to use them.” Barb Pellow, Chief Marketing Officer of Kodak’s Graphic Communications Group, was interviewed by Electronic Publishing’s Editor Keith Hevenor in an Executive Perspective session. She provided a brief overview of the current structure of Kodak and the role the Graphic Communications Group is playing in the company’s digital conversion, which has been widely covered here on WhatTheyThink. She pointed out that while a lot of industry pundits talk about Kodak being “back” in the graphic arts industry, the company has never really left the market, having significant intellectual property and expertise in print output, color and media. In terms of the key challenge facing print service providers today, Pellow indicated that to stay out of the commodity zone, print service providers must reach out to the customer organization, establishing communication at the point decisions are being made about a campaign or project. They must understand the needs of the marketing executive. Pellow also strongly recommended that print service providers join local chapters of organizations like the Direct Marketing Association, the American Marketing Association, and local ad councils. She said, “All of these organizations have a lunch once a quarter at least; spend the $25, go to lunch and listen to their issues. Then reflect on how your business can help them address those issues.” She gave good examples of service providers who have done just that, and as a result have developed robust Web-to-print solutions in response to learning about the needs of marketing executives, improving productivity and profitability, and growing revenues by double digits. Pellow is a frequent contributor at WhatTheyThink’s sister site, www.OnDemandJournal.com, and has written there about many of these success stories. She also emphasized how important it is for print service providers to educate marketers on the options that are now available to them with the implementation of new digital technologies such as those addressed during the session. In a session entitled “The Page Layout Giants: Are They Listening?”, Shellie Hall from Quark and Lonn Lorenz from Adobe presented a brief update on their respective companies and their strategies and fielded questions from attendees. Hall admitted that it has taken Quark a little longer than she would have liked to start listening, but she assured the audience that they are listening now, with more focus on meeting customer needs and development of strategic partnerships. Lorenz also asserted that Adobe is listening to its users as it brings new InDesign features to market, and emphasized Adobe’s history of active listening, with a continued strong focus on print but inclusive of the entire infrastructure, from creative to production. He also talked about Adobe’s participation in industry associations, events and tradeshows, as well as outreach activities designed to educate printers, both in person and through online forums and knowledge bases, and activities such as the Adobe Solution Network programs. Both speakers demonstrated the latest features of their products and talked about what to expect in the future. After lunch and a visit to the sponsors exhibits, the conference resumed with a discussion of evolving PDF standards presented by Dov Isaacs, Principal Scientist from Adobe, and David Zwang from Zwang & Company, both experts on the subject. The session provided an excellent overview of the current state of PDF, its role in the industry, and what we might expect to see in the future. Zwang discussed the role of the Ghent PDF Workgroup in the advancement of the PDF standard on behalf of both users and vendors. While Adobe has published general PDF specifications, according to Zwang, the role of the Ghent PDF Workgroup is to narrow the standard to meet the specific needs of such widely divergent outputs as magazine ads, newspapers and packaging through a consultative process with publishers, corporate users, associations and vendors. In Automating Job Ticketing Exchanges: JDF and Beyond, CIP4’s Executive Director, Jim Harvey and Lavigne’s Chris Wells shared the podium to discuss the standard itself and its practical implementation by a print service provider. Let’s face it, a printing industry summit without a discussion of JDF would be unusual these days. What was helpful in this session was the user perspective—how it is really being used. Harvey asserted that there are already over 200 JDF-compliant products on the market today, and he offered attendees specific advice about how to get started with JDF. Wells indicated that Lavigne realized a couple years ago that the growth in the company’s Web-to-print business was going to require significant process automation as opposed to hiring more people to input data. This, he says, was the driver for Lavigne to begin to investigate JDF. Lavigne started the process by collaborating with Printable, its Web order entry and customer service solution, and HP (the company has HP Indigo digital presses). This simple approach allowed the company to get its feet wet with JDF, begin to benefit from the automation, yet provide human-readable job tickets to instruct production employees for portions of the process that are not yet JDF enabled. He says, “We were able to eliminate any human intervention up until the point the job is printed.” Lavigne intends to continue to expand its use of JDF compliant solutions. Wells plans to use what he describes as “an overriding MIS” system to act as a workflow intermediary as he continues to add compliant components to his production operation. The day was wrapped up with a talk by WhatTheyThink’s own online economist, Dr. Joe Webb, who shared his thoughts on the current state of the printing industry and what he believes printers must do to survive in today’s competitive environment. He said, “We need a revolution now in the printing industry for there to be a printing industry in 2015. There is no better time to be in print—I believe that determined entrepreneurs will seek and rise to the challenges.” Feedback from attendees was very positive, with most indicating that the session was extremely helpful, thought provoking, and that they appreciated the opportunity to hear from the experts first-hand in an interactive environment. For those WhatTheyThink readers who were not able to attend the Print Workflow Summit, WhatTheyThink will make available for downloading the audio from Pellow’s Executive Perspective and the slides and audio from Webb’s presentation. Watch this space for more details, and if you are in the New York City area, join us in Teaneck on Wednesday. It will be well worth your while.