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Exploring the Digital World

August 1998
San Francisco—The theme of this year's DocuWorld was "Explore, Discover, Connect," and attendees were able to do just that at the seminars and hands-on demos held throughout the conference.

Even CyberStudio, an area on the show flow that provided links to DocuWorld events occurring simultaneously in Toronto and Sao Paulo, Brazil, gave a glimpse of the power of today's technology.

The San Francisco show, itself, was divided into three zones, providing a variety of ways for participants to learn more about the newest technologies and opportunities.

The Digital Learning Zone featured information-packed sessions hosted by Xerox and other leading companies, as well as industry consultants. Many of the seminars were tied into the Solution Zone, which featured Xerox equipment and exhibits from other sponsoring companies.

The Application Zone showcased companies that have profited from digital printing applications, including just-in-time programs, distributed printing, knowledge management, one-to-one marketing and online publishing.

Don Tapscott, author of "Growing Up Digital" and "Paradigm Shift," addressed the issues of digital applications in his keynote speech.

"We are in the midst of the first turbulent years of a new media for communication, which is intersecting with the first generation that grew up digital," he noted.

While Tapscott noted that paper is not going away, he urged printers not to ignore the potential of digital printing and other technological advances.

Jim Cavuoto, editor and publisher of Micro Publishing News, Digital Imaging and Digital Printer, said that many printers already have the technology, but haven't really entered the digital market, noting that many of the arguments printers make are not always valid.

He advised printers to:

  • Focus on providing the services and attracting the customers and staff for digital printing.

  • Recognize that a vital sales force can increase the sometimes relatively low price-per-sale of digital printing.

  • Realize that customers will pay a higher price for digital printing if they believe firmly in its benefits.

Other speakers urged attendees to think in new ways. In "Making a Big Impression: Large Format, Short Run Digital Printing," Barry R. Lathan, president of Xerox ColorgrafX, said this niche promises high growth, with the market expected to reach $19 billion by the year 2000.

Lathan added that since digital printing provides low-cost short runs, it is well-suited for applications such as billboards, which can now be updated on a weekly basis, giving advertisers more value for their money.

One of the products Lathan touted as most promising was electrostatic labels up to 54˝, used for applications such as one-way graphics on windows and buses, kiosk advertising and trade show graphics.

During "Where On-demand and Variable Printing Fit in a Commercial Business," Brian P. Lawler, a graphic arts industry consultant, discussed ways to bring variable printing into an existing print business.

He noted that most printers don't want "to be seen as being in the copy business, but Kinko's is getting into the printing business." Lawler added that many corporations that didn't buy commercial printing because of the cost are now using digital on-demand printing.

In his session, "Internet Enabled Printing," Dr. Ted Prince, chairman and CEO of INSCI, noted that the Internet and printing are converging, resulting in a number of hybrid products with value-added services.

Prince quoted an Xplor survey that showed online commerce was the top future investment of 58 percent of responding companies. The same survey showed that approximately half of respondents were integrating printing and document management, and 25 percent are using e-mail as an alternative to high-volume printing. He stressed that successful companies of the future will need to redefine their markets, products and competitors.

Consultants and leading executives weren't the only people sharing their vision of the future during DocuWorld. At the start of the conference, Xerox launched its DocuWorld Authors program, a writing competition for high school students throughout the United States.

The judges, who include San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and author Armistead Maupin, will select 10 entrants who write the most compelling vision of what life will be like in the 21st century. The winning essays will be published on Xerox digital printers.

The next large DocuWorld event is scheduled to run concurrently with IPEX '98 in Birmingham, England, Sept. 22 to 30. In addition, many smaller regional and local conferences are scheduled, including events in emerging markets such as Moscow and Hong Kong.

By Carol A. Katarsky

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