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PRINT 05 & CONVERTING 05 Highlight: Variable data creates opportunities beyond the print job

Press release from the issuing company

Even if customers aren’t ready for true variable data digital printing, the promise of VDP can help create major new opportunities for printers to serve clients better and become more involved in their business. Thousands of printers will be shopping for VDP options in the aisles of PRINT 05 & CONVERTINGSM 05 this September, using the world’s biggest show this year not only to buy new tools but to take stock of just where this highly publicized technology really stands. “Variable data has been a great talking point,” says John Green, president of Automated Graphic Systems in White Plains, MD, “but most customers don’t have the data yet.” Green notes it’s still economically compelling to print runs of less than 3,000 on the digital systems, and he fully expects the digital business to grow strongly. From less than two percent of AGS’s total revenue three years ago, digital accounts for about 10 percent today and could be 25 percent of the business in five years, Green says. Solving data problems for customers is a key to VDP growth, and indeed a key to offering clients the kind of innovative and responsive service they require. “A lot of people see it,” says Rick Joly, vice president/sales and Marketing at Goodway Graphics, Burlington, MA, referring to VDP. “The ‘Wow!’ factor is up there, but a lot of people are afraid of the shape their data is in. Many have numerous databases that don’t talk to each other.” At Corporate Press in Landover, MD, CEO Michael Marcian also sees both challenge and opportunity improving customer data. Corporate has two database programmers on staff, and offers clients a chance to personalize print products using as many as 30 merge fields. “The first thing many people say to us is ‘my data won’t work,’” Marcian says. “They have the data but it’s in terrible shape. This is a tremendous opportunity for people like us, to clean it up and give them back good stuff.” Because this kind of service involves Corporate Press more intimately in a client’s private information, it’s increasingly common for the company to sign confidentiality and non-competition agreements with clients. Marcian thinks this is a sign that his company is becoming more of a true partner than a vendor for its clients. Although printers may be able to create new revenue streams by helping clients manage their data better, Green stresses that profitability was the feature that prompted his company’s move into digital printing. Investing in new technology is always a risk, he notes, and “I won’t take a risk just to break even. “We first got into digital printing because our customers needed things to get into the mail so fast,” Green says. The new service also meets a clear customer need, he adds: “They want things to be simple for them.” Variable Data digital printing has been highly visible at virtually every major industry trade show since the early 1990s, but September’s PRINT 05 & CONVERTING 05 may well offer the largest and most complete exhibition of VDP tools ever seen in the Americas. In addition, the show’s seminar schedule includes a number of sessions focusing on both how to do VDP and how to make it pay off. PRINT 05 & CONVERTING 05 runs September 9-15 at the McCormick Place Complex in Chicago. It’s the world’s biggest show this year for printing, publishing and converting technologies. Online registration is now available, along with extensive additional information about the show, at www.print05.com.