PODi Serves Up a Full Plate
Of Digital Printing Knowledge
LAS VEGAS—Back in 1996 or so, at the On Demand Show in New York City, there was this pleasant reception at an artsy gallery with great munchies, a bunch of gorgeous fashion models and a plethora of digital print visionaries, illuminati, vendor execs and assorted hangers-on. It was the launch of PODi—the Print On Demand Initiative.
At the time it was nothing more than a loose trade association to support the nascent POD market, but has since taken on a life of its own to become a key conference in a dynamic and still growing segment of the printing industry.
Now staged here annually, PODi 2011 was once again the home for thought leaders in the world of digital print. Dubbed the AppForum, PODi was all about the many applications associated with digital printing, but with a particular focus on how social media can be used to drive print.
Sticking to the AppForum theme, sessions ranged from strategies and tactics for using social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn; to leveraging the power of cross-media tools such as those from MindFireInc and XMPie; and how leading print engine vendors such as Canon, HP and Xerox can support social and cross-media initiatives. Other sessions provided updated takes on common challenges for print providers, such as ensuring that a Website actually engages customers, fitting Web-to-print to one's business and how to best implement consultative selling techniques.
The great thing about PODi AppForum was that the people presenting these sessions were industry thought leaders who shared the proof points of their success.
Because effective handling and management of data is crucial to successful marketing campaigns, some sessions took fairly deep dives into data analytics and customizing market segments with cluster and factor analysis.
In one with Kodak's Serge Grinchmanoff and Dave Fenske, of Fenske Media in Rapid City, SD, the presenters showed how data analytics can be managed and used to add measurable value to print and cross-media campaigns.
Two of the more interesting sessions were presented by Mimeo's Charlie Corr and Waleed Ashoo of Lithexcel in Albuquerque, NM.
Corr related how Mimeo.com has developed super-efficient operations that enable the company to handle complex documents, shorter run lengths and provide faster turnaround times. He encouraged attendees to include cloud printing in their business strategies, seek out new ways to reduce costs, expand their product and service offerings, and look strategically at technology investments.
Waleed Ashoo talked about the enduring topic of connecting and partnering with advertising and marketing agencies. It begins with the "Selling to VITO" approach of super sales guru Anthony Parinello. Once you reach that "Very Important Top Officer," the strategy is to partner with the agency—being an educational resource for them on ways to reach and interact with target audiences, and to have some "skin in the game" so the relationship is truly a partnership.
There was plenty more, of course, but PODi is like a giant smorgasbord with more choices than you can really take in at one sitting. Which is why many companies send two or more people to cover all that's available for the taking.
The 400-plus attendees were invariably positive and upbeat, and most were PODi veterans back for an annual helping of knowledge.—Noel Ward
Xerox Gets Solidly Behind Inkjet Printing
ROCHESTER, NY—Leveraging its proprietary solid-ink technology, Xerox Corp. has unveiled a high-volume, continuous-feed inkjet printing system that has already been put into service at a test customer and is slated for additional placements in the second half of this year. Xerox is stressing the "waterless" aspect of the phase-change technology as a key differentiator, enabling "vibrant, consistent color to be printed on low-cost offset paper."
Using what the company describes as a granulated, resin-based ink formulation, the Xerox Production Inkjet System (as it is currently called) prints a maximum 20.5˝- wide web at up to 500 fpm. The ink is said to be in the same family as the material used by the Xerox ColorCube printer line—not the cured gel ink technology demonstrated at Drupa 2008—and produces materials that are easier to de-ink compared to water-based systems because the ink doesn't soak into the paper.
Xerox is initially targeting applications that use lightweight, uncoated stock with an eye toward reducing users' paper costs and postal charges. It reportedly continues to investigate the potential to print other grades, including some coated media. Both simplex and duplex (twin-engine) configurations will be offered.
Kodak and Konica Minolta Expand Their Distribution Agreement
ROCHESTER, NY—Eastman Kodak and Konica Minolta Business Technologies have extended their distribution agreement to allow each company to offer digital production printing systems from the other's portfolio. The products of both companies will retain their branding.
Kodak will sell the Konica Minolta bizhub PRESS C6000, C7000 and C8000 color family and the bizhub PRO 1200/1200P monochrome line in the United States. It will also offer the full line of equipment, controllers and accessories associated with the Konica Minolta portfolio.
Konica Minolta will continue to sell the Kodak Digimaster monochrome production systems, and will now also be able to offer the Kodak NexPress production color presses to buyers in the United States. PI