As the production inkjet printing market continues to grow, so too does the excitement surrounding the possibilities that the technology creates. Nowhere was that more visible than the soldout thINK 2017 conference, held Oct. 9-11 at the Boca Raton Resort in Boca Raton, Fla.
With almost 600 attendees, more than 50 speakers and over 30 educational sessions, that sense of positive energy was readily apparent, as numerous existing Océ production inkjet press users shared their experiences and best practices with fellow inkjet press users and those who have yet to adopt.
Although the third-annual conference was the largest ever and incorporated more advanced breakout sessions - segmented within four distinct tracks - to appeal to the ever-growing base of established inkjet adopters, thINK 2017 still maintained a sense of intimacy to foster peer-to-peer networking and personal relationship building intentioned to extend beyond the event itself.
Several new attractions and program highlights marked this year’s thINK conference. For example:
- Its nearby proximity to the Canon Experience Center (CEC) in Boca Raton enabled thINK 2017 to also serve as the North American product launch of the Océ ProStream 1000 continuous-feed inkjet press. It was announced that Hillside, Ill.-based Darwill will serve as the first Océ Pro-Stream press beta site in the U.S., with installation scheduled to begin this month.
- More than 80 thINK conference attendees who have yet to embrace production inkjet printing attended a first-ever, daylong “Inkjet 101” pre-conference program that featured panel discussions consisting of experienced Océ inkjet press users; an interactive session with Canon Solutions America’s executive leadership team; and a tour of the CEC, including demonstrations of the Océ ProStream 1000, Océ ColorStream 6000, Océ VarioPrint i300, Prisma workflow tools, media lab and more.
- A special video tribute and award presentation was bestowed upon Mal Baboyian, executive VP of Large Format Solutions/Production Print Solutions at Canon Solutions America, who is retiring in December after a remarkable 40-year industry career at Océ and Canon.
- A record 40 thINK 2017 sponsors were set up in the Partner Pavilion, enabling attendees to interact with a broad range of media, digital finishing equipment and software solutions providers. And, to encourage interaction throughout this year’s event, all conference attendees wore special Klik bracelets that enabled the exchange of contact information just by clicking bracelets together.
- A dynamic lineup of keynote speakers featured NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, commander of Space Shuttle Endeavour’s final mission and the husband of former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; James Cochrane, chief customer and marketing sales officer and executive VP of the U.S. Postal Service; and Greg McKeown, a bestselling book author.
thINK Executive Director Victor Bohnert kicked off the conference, noting the various opportunities it provides attendees to learn, share and be part of the community. “We continue to make sure that every component of our event is designed to drive results that you can readily apply to your business, whether you’re a customer or a prospect,” he said.
Similarly, Mark DeBoer, director of customer experience at Darwill and president of the thINK board of directors, was impressed with the larger number of printer panels at thINK 2017 in comparison to the previous year, including several first-time speakers. “[The user panels provide] a better way to engage the community aspect of the conference,” he said.
Lori Messina, executive VP of Access Direct Systems and a new board member, also commended the sense of open information sharing among attendees. “It was incredible to see such a large, diverse group so willing to come together and share best practices and real challenges experienced in order to help others in our industry be successful.”
Based on the growing success of those who have made the inkjet transition, the overall mood among attendees was even more optimistic than last year’s conference. “People seemed more upbeat about their business prospects and how to take advantage of the opportunities,” said Bob Radzis, customer care officer at SG360°, and the board member who also served as 2017 conference chair.
Fellow thINK board member Dave Johannes sees a similar, growing enthusiasm industry-wide about the value proposition of digital inkjet printing and 1:1 personalization.
“The future of our industry, and print in general, is very bright. We may actually be at the start of a printing Renaissance in which opportunities exist for those with vision,” Johannes said.
“More importantly, we need to recognize that print is no longer constrained by static content. Instead, a piece of paper essentially is now a blank digital canvas.”