AppForum Covers Digital Print Spread
LAS VEGAS—“We now have members on every continent except Antarctica,” boasted Rab Govil, president of PODi, the Digital Printing Initiative, during his keynote address at the association’s seventh annual AppForum. “Perhaps we should recruit penguins,” he mused. While the desert chill might have been suitable for the birds, the nearly 450 human attendees were kept busy indoors with the event’s ample agenda of sessions and networking opportunities.
Topics of the presentations spanned the technology, business strategies and applications crucial to running a digital printing business, under the banner “A Celebration of Digital Print.” Attendees also were given an opportunity for personalized learning via the vendor fair that featured 30 hardware and software solutions sponsors.
Before launching into his keynote look at how best practices for efficient production can also be adapted by a solutions provider, Govil announced the release of a second PPML Interoperability Report. The Personalized Print Markup Language (PPML) data format facilitates device-independent production of personalized/variable data printing campaigns. This latest report details the results of interoperability testing across digital printing systems from 10 leading vendors. The report is available at http://ppml.podi.org, under the “PPML/Specifications” submenu.
Govil also announced a PPML certification program for variable data software providers and recognized Pageflex as the first vendor offering Certified PPML.
In the session that followed, winners of the fifth annual PODi Best Practices Awards were presented with their plaques by Kathy Wilson, PODi’s Marketing Working Group chair and EFI’s director of server product marketing and strategy. Winning projects must demonstrate both predefined and measured business objectives and a clear value proposition. (See page 54 for highlights of the “Best Practices” winners in the three categories.)
PODi Case Studies
Each winning company discussed its program during individual breakout sessions that followed the awards ceremony. Submissions also become part of the PODi case study collection, which now numbers 360 projects covering 12 vertical markets. Details are available at www.podi.org.
New at this year’s forum was use of an interactive audience response system. Attendees were given electronic keypads to select their answers to multiple choice questions projected on-screen. Most of the time, graphs of the results were then displayed.
In his keynote, for example, Govil asked the audience to select the revenue growth range that best matched the results at each person’s company. Among the 185 printers represented in the response, 36 percent reported growth of greater than 25 percent, and 29 percent grew their sales by 11 percent to 25 percent.
There was no big surprise in the results of another instant poll, which found that audience members ranked access to the case studies as the PODi membership benefit with the greatest value. Recognizing this, the organization arranged tours of three local printing businesses as a preview to the conference. The owners of each were on hand to discuss their digital printing experiences, successes and challenges.
Giving a jolt to the final day, Rick Smith, CEO of TASER International, discussed how his company has been conducting extremely successful personalized marketing campaigns for its “electronic control devices,” as he called them.
The campaign has included postcards, e-mail messaging and print ads to drive prospects to a Website. Smith was joined on stage by Rod Key, president of R and R Images in Phoenix, who helped explain the technology challenges involved from the service provider perspective.
A free download of the Taser/ R and R Images case study was made available at www.podiforum.org .
Best of the Best Practices
Winners of the PODi Best Practices Awards for 2008 were recently announced at the group’s AppForum digital printing conference in Las Vegas. The awards recognize outstanding examples of digital printing and variable data strategies in three categories:
• Collateral Management: Align Technology—working with the e-Integrity agency, a division of print provider Integrity Graphics, the medical device company created a Web-to-print system to improve and standardize the creation and printing of marketing materials for its Invisalign orthodontic product. The collateral system reduced costs by $380,000 and cut production time from 45 to 15 days.
• Direct Marketing: Broadridge Financial Solutions—adding targeted personalization to its retirement plan enrollment campaign has helped boost overall plan participation by 6.5 percent, with 16.6 percent of eligible non-participants enrolling. The multi-touch program has increased assets under management by more than $2 million annually.
• Self-Promotion: AlphaGraphics in Billings, MT—this franchise was recognized for DirectHit, a variable data campaign it sent to prospects that had a response rate of more than 37 percent and brought in eight new programs within just two months of its launch. The Heins Creative agency assisted with the campaign.
HOUSTON—Personix, a business unit of Fiserv Inc., is the first site in the United States to install an InfoPrint 5000 color ink-jet printing system from InfoPrint Solutions. The company, which is a provider of business-critical communications, purchased the device to produce full-color statements.
WASHINGTON, DC—All current operations of the Networked Graphic Production (NGP) Partners process integration and automation initiative are to be absorbed by CIP4 (The International Cooperation for the Integration of the Processes in Prepress, Press and Postpress) under an agreement reached by the two organizations.
NEW YORK—XMPie has donated its uDirect Standard variable data software to the Graphic Communications Management program at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.