While Steve Wynn may be getting remarried this Saturday at his namesake Wynn Las Vegas hotel and casino, complete with a Garth Brooks concert for his wedding party participants the night before, the “marriage” between EFI and its customer base appears as rock-solid as ever. That was readily apparent with the record-setting attendance of more than 1,000 printers participating in the 12th annual EFI Connect users’ conference being held at the hotel through Friday.
During one of the opening general sessions, Marc Olin, EFI senior vice president and general manager of APPS, succinctly summed up EFI’s mission: “Connect isn’t about selling you products; it’s about providing you value for products that you’ve purchased.”
The conference enabled attendees to choose from more than 150 educational sessions, check out the latest EFI and partnering event sponsor products, share feature “wish lists” at user group meetings and, most importantly, network and discuss industry best practices with their peers.
For the first time, EFI also hosted a three-day Fiery Tech @ Connect digital print server and solutions track for 140 reseller sales analysts and specialists. Also new this year were some 60 former Radius MIS customers who attended Connect for the first time as a result of EFI’s acquisition of Radius, and several former PrintStream users who were able to learn fist-hand how PrintStream’s fulfillment capabilities are being integrated into EFI’s Monarch and Pace MIS offerings.
The conference kicked off with a lively “fireside chat” between Adobe President and CEO Shantanu Narayen and EFI CEO Guy Gecht. Topics ranged from Adobe’s growing revenue streams in areas such as data-driven marketing to Apple’s decision not to support Adobe Flash within its iPhone smartphone and iPad tablet devices.
As part of the event’s Digital Workflow Experience, a workflow demonstration showed a job moving from EFI’s Digital StoreFront Web-to-print solution to both Pace and Monarch MIS systems, then on to EFI PrintFlow dynamic scheduling and the Fiery Central production workflow tool, before being output to a Fiery-driven Ricoh Pro C901 toner-based printer or EFI's new LED-curing based VUTEk GS3250LX wide-format inkjet printer. In addition, there was a live demo of Fiery integrated to Kodak’s Prinergy Digital Direct workflow.
The upcoming version of EFI Pace was shown, highlighting VUTEk, Fiery print servers and Fiery XF integration, scheduling enhancements, a new mobile Web application and a new Outlook plug-in. A preview of the forthcoming edition of EFI Monarch also was available to attendees, including the new Mailing Module, new Purchasing System and other updates. The next version of EFI Digital StoreFront was being previewed as well, including the new DSF Forums, an online user community; Google Analytics, for tracking user behavior online; a new tax preparation service; and enhanced Fiery integration, including handling of mixed media.
The Fiery solutions area of the lab showed off the latest server solutions integrated with Web-to-print and MIS. The newest version of the Command WorkStation print job management software was previewed, with features that improve image quality, color output, usability and imposition workflows. Attendees also learned about EFI’s enterprise printing products, SendMe, Fiery VUE and its latest PrintMe products for mobile and cloud printing.
Other solutions on display in the Connect lab included the Jetrion 4830 and the Rastek H652 inkjet printers, along with proofing products, including the newest versions of Colorproof XF and Fiery XF.
Event co-sponsors in the exhibit area included Kodak, Ricoh, xpedx, Canon, Heidelberg USA, Unisource, Adobe Systems, Agile Pacific, Color Management, FLEXcon, Hybrid Integration, LithoTechnics/Metrix, Matrix Scale, Metamation Inc., MGI USA, Spartanics, ZUND and Honle UV America.
In a period where travel budgets have been slashed and attendance at most industry events is down, it was refreshing to see so many printers investing their own money and time at Connect in the quest to optimize their workflows and maximize their MIS software and digital hardware investments.