Users Groups — Peert-to-Peer Networking
User groups are far more likely to be a source for news than the subject of it. That wasn’t the case in 2005, and continuing into this year, largely due to the ripple effect of recent consolidation within the industry vendor community. Advances in technology are also contributing to the transformation of user groups.
Much of this activity has been on the digital printing side of the industry, so user groups for products in that segment will be addressed here. An expanded version of this story—including updates on a broader spectrum of industry groups—will be published on www.piworld.com.
When Hewlett-Packard announced last year that it was no longer going to help fund the Indigo Customer Exchange (ICE), the organization’s board took it as an opportunity to consider expanding the group’s scope. The 2005 ICE conference last fall saw the first steps in that direction, notably by Kodak and Xerox stepping in as premium sponsors of the event.
During an administrative meeting held concurrent with the conference, the board voted in favor of changing the organization’s name to Digital Imaging Customer Exchange (DICE) and amending the bylaws to open membership to non-HP Indigo press users. The group is still working through exactly how the changes will play out, reports Michael Vinocur, executive director.
What is known for sure is that the now-DICE will remain an independent user group, but will have working relationships with certain vendors. Its operation and activities will continue to be internally driven, chiefly through the board. Vinocur says the group is on a sound financial footing, thanks to member dues and meeting registration fees, combined with minimal overhead. The board didn’t see any need to raise member dues as a result of HP’s pullback and that should remain the case for the foreseeable future, he adds.