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DIGITAL digest

June 2005
Attendees Soak Up the Views

ORLANDO, FL—In a bid to inject new energy into the event and build attendance, the Vue/Point Conference was relocated to sunny Florida for its recent 2005 run. The results were mixed with regard to those goals, but attendees seemed pleased with the event overall.

Judging by a show of hands in the opening session, there clearly was a spike in the percentage of first-time attendees. Also, representation by printers—as opposed to vendors—was said to be up. However, the total attendee number held more or less steady from the 2004 event in Washington, DC.

There were several topics of discussion that became de facto themes for the conference. They kept popping up, even in sessions not directly related to those subjects.

Digital printing was one example, with an emphasis on variable data printing. University enrollment apparently has become the latest hot application, in part due to a case study released by Xerox.

A related market dynamic is increased focus on providing one-stop shopping for all of a client's needs. The term "corporate" printer has come into vogue as a designation for a shop that can meet all of the demands of a corporate client. This approach may seem at odds with the notion of developing niches, but proponents say they are doing that by targeting specific customer bases.

Which plays into the notion that printers need to understand their clients' businesses and offer marketing expertise. In the variable data arena, this is seen as key to developing programs rather than one-off projects. It also raises the perennial concern about whether conventional print salespeople are up to the challenge of selling new services.

Offering fulfillment services continues to be seen as a prime opportunity to expand beyond print, and is considered a virtual requirement for competing in the digital printing marketplace.

On the whole, the topics of computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) and JDF (Job Definition Format) were met with surprisingly muted responses. Silence largely replaced the skepticism and sometimes outright hostility expressed by many printers who attended the 2004 conference.

Mike Vinocur, the event's long-time manager, observes, "There clearly was a lot of discussion on management, sales and market positioning of print businesses, as printers seek to evolve and grow by taking advantage of some of the new opportunities available to them. Attendees seemed to be more focused on how they could use the tools and technology to advance their position in the market, increase market share, offer the sales staff greater opportunity and align internal processes, rather than concentrating on the technology itself."
 

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