Dscoop Edge Rockies: High Energy at High Altitude
Dscoop, the digital printing technology-focused users group consisting of more than 10,000 members in over 80 countries, was back in person for this year’s US event, and welcomed more than 300 registrants for Dscoop Edge Rockies, held near Denver, Colorado. The event featured the knowledge and insight of a wide range of printing industry business owners, production experts, and thought leaders.
About the event, Betsy Davis, of Sandy Alexander, who is also Edge Rockies conference chair and Dscoop AMS board member, said, “The energy is definitely there. Friendships reunited, and it has been amazing. To be able to fully engage again has been great to watch. We’re alive, we’re excited, and let’s move forward.“ In addition to two full days of educational programming – and highlights of key sponsor HP's digital printing technologies – the event featured nearly 50 exhibit booths in its Solutions Showcase.
Keynotes: High Level Thinking
Dscoop’s first keynote session featured Jesse Cole, owner of the Savannah Bananas, a baseball team built on a foundation of creating memorable customer experiences. Cole focused on his steps for success. First, Cole urged attendees to “entertain always,” and to map the moments that make a customer experience memorable. Also, he said to “experiment constantly,” by exploring how the customer experience can be different. Urging attendees to “engage deeply,” Cole posed the thought-provoking question, “How do you do for one what you wish you could do for many?”
In a general session focusing on talent and culture, David Burkus, an author and former professor, described how high-performing teams hold three things in common. First, they hold a common understanding of the tasks at hand and the context of the work, thus gaining clarity and empathy. Further, successful teams possess psychological safety, meaning team members feel safe to express themselves, take risks, and make mistakes. Finally, he said, they hold a prosocial purpose, which means team members feel they’re making a contribution toward work that benefits others.
Discussing how some companies gain amazing levels of success, while so many others do not, Verne Harnish, founder and CEO of Scaling Up, used a mix of data and anecdotes to share what drives business growth today. His presentation touched on the power of effective marketing, pricing, and compensation strategies. Further, Harnish said that, as a business leader, “you don’t have to have the answers – you need the right questions.”
Building off of his previous career as a Navy Seal commander, Roark Denver, of Ever Onward, discussed how his experience within warrior culture addresses key workplace functions such as training, leadership, and teamwork. Including lessons drawn directly from the battlefields of Afghanistan, and from the Navy Seals’ famously grueling “hell week,” Denver shared illuminating lessons on identifying and taking advantage of talent, and how to focus amid chaotic, high-stress situations.
Breakouts: Technology and Strategy
Dscoop Edge Rockies included 36 breakout sessions to help digital printing users maximize technology and push their businesses toward stronger profitability. Below are summaries of a handful of those sessions.
“Designing Your Digital Printing Business for Sustainable Hypergrowth,” featured Jesse Frietas, senior director of growth and product at StickerGiant, and Dustin Steerman, founder of digital packaging community and agency, cmyk. Frietas and Steerman presented an experience-rich strategy including the defining of go-to-market strategies, cultivating company culture, and building the business for future success. Regarding the value digital printing can bring, even when the customer relationship is based on traditional print, Steerman said, “If you can bring an analog buyer into a digital printing plant, [digital] will sell itself.”
In a session titled, “Attention: The World is Now Digital,” Jeff Dowd, Marketing Americas for HP’s Industrial Print Group, set the stage for the discussion, saying digital transformation, “means always being ready for whatever customers want next.” Further, he said, digital printing technology is flourishing as marketers get better at segmentation. To illustrate, Dowd included Matt Doran of Anstadt Company, and Charlie Alexander of Alexander’s Print Advantage. Alexander shared that going digital – and thinking digital – have been key to the company’s success. “We used to chase down jobs,” he said, “and rethought that. Now we’re embracing technology and web-to-print, and we’re fully automated through APIs.” Doran said Anstadt Company focuses on helping customers understand how they can get their messages out.
The educational sessions not only touched on technology and its implications. They also addressed the critical needs facing today’s printing companies. The panel discussion, “Help! I Lost My Staff” shared the challenges four printing companies are facing in finding and retaining staff. Craig Curran of Nosco Packaging outlined that company’s efforts for recruitment, saying it created a guide for job candidates; and in retention strategies, where it has introduced compensation planning and one-to-one coaching. Other topics discussed by the panel included hiring second-chance and gig economy workers, supporting a culture of being different in the workplace, and, as Dustin Steerman of cmyk said, “To bring people together for the purpose of building stuff together.”
In “One Stop Shop: How to Diversify Your Business and Grow into New Markets,” which focused on the packaging segment, Heidi Chambers, Business Development Manager at HP, started the discussion on a cornerstone of convergence, presenting data from a recent, convergence-focused survey report published by PRINTING United Alliance. In the session, she discussed how digital solutions can enable packaging-focused companies to expand out from their core, exploring new opportunities, for instance, in shrink-sleeves, pouches, and labels. Further, Chambers described strategies for expanding the value of packaging within broader marketing efforts. The session also described the journey of K. Sidrane Inc., a pharmaceutical-focused flexible packaging printer that has expanded into innovative label printing for numerous vertical markets.
International Women’s Day
To celebrate International Women’s Day, Dscoop Edge Rockies presented a breakfast and panel discussion moderated by Deborah Corn, of Print Media Centr. The panel featured women who are printing business owners, equipment and materials reps, and the Director of drupa, the world’s largest printing-focused trade show. In a thoughtful discussion, the panelists shared their professional journeys, the challenges of managing businesses – especially during the uncertainty of a global pandemic – and spoke fondly of the mentors who identified their talents, helped them believe in themselves, and helped them excel. Looking back on her professional path, Brenda Baird, CEO of Truly Engaging by Magnet Street, said, “I’m thankful it was hard, because it makes us better.” The event was an important testament to the talent and energy women bring to all levels, and all areas, of the printing industry.
The HP Viewpoint
Among the hubbub of the Dscoop Edge Rockies exhibition area, HP presented 18 panel discussions and virtual equipment demos, focusing on the needs of the general commercial printing, photo, flexible packaging, label, folding carton, and direct mail segments. In addition to highlighting the technical advancements and business possibilities of HP’s equipment portfolio, the also spoke of trends transforming the world of print.
One session, moderated by Vahaaj Kahn, Americas sales lead for HP PageWide, featured four HP PageWide users, and provided a unique view into how high-speed production inkjet is changing the playing field in commercial segments. More specifically, it provided direct examples of how printing and fulfillment models in direct mail, book printing, transactional printing and more can deliver change, based on the inherent advantages of digital printing. In addition to highlighting the benefits – and the surprising speeds – of today’s high-production inkjet systems, it spoke to the value of automation in realizing the true value of that speed.
Finally, the Dscoop Edge Rockies event featured booths from partner companies – producers of software, substrates, finishing and embellishment technologies and others – who support the HP equipment portfolio and provide printing companies with the tools to fully realize the value of their digital printing capital investments. Through these carefully curated partnerships, printers can take some of the guesswork out of growth and forge a more direct path toward success within a changing printing industry.
About the broader Dscoop Edge Rockies event, attendee Steve Verzak of SmartPractice, an in-plant producer serving the medical industry, said, “I appreciate some of the partnerships here. The opportunity to advance those partnerships is a great thing.” Another attendee, Megan Presant of Edge Imaging, a school photo business, said, “This was my first Dscoop. Very inspirational to see what’s going on in the market and how we can leverage it.”