The Ricoh Ecosystem: Interact 2018
Do you go to vendor open houses and networking events? If you are a customer of any of the big hardware vendors or many of the independent software vendors you are likely to receive a cheery invitation to one or more events each year that give you an opportunity to hear from the company executives and listen to technical presentations on current and future products. They usually bring in a few industry speakers and try to create an environment where everyone has an opportunity to network. These are valuable experiences for the vendors who host them, the customers who attend them, and the journalists and analysts to attend, as well.
Ricoh recently hosted its Interact 2018 meeting in Westminster, Colo., just a short ride from its plant in Boulder, Colo. The event was full of interesting insights from Ricoh staff, customers and industry speakers, but that wasn’t the most interesting thing about Interact. For a company like Ricoh there are a lot of moving parts. Even inside of Commercial and Industrial Printing, led in the U.S. by John Fulena, there are production cutsheet, production web, wide-format and a variety of industrial print devices worthy of your attention. Staging a conference where attendees can get a sense of Ricoh - One Ricoh - is difficult. How many sessions do you run concurrently? how do you give everyone podium time to talk about their innovations?
At Interact 2018 the Ricoh team did a great job of providing insights, but spotlighting some of the Ricoh solutions that print service providers, commercial or enterprise, might miss. Ryan Kiley did several sessions spotlighting Clickable - the Augmented Reality solution from Ricoh that is worth a look by any company that produces communication that could use a boost. Think of insurance Explanations of Benefits or claims documents that are sometimes difficult to understand or monthly brokerage statements with inserts explaining changes in fee structures or new regulations. Enable them with augmented reality and they can create a customer experience that tells the recipient what they need to know. It might be an instructional guide to the document or even a video that pops up on the phone. Augmented reality is not new, and neither is Clickable Paper - but the Professional Services Team at Ricoh is finding new ways to help Ricoh customers take advantage of the technology!
During the event, Ricoh also provided an opportunity for their partners to shine. A number of the paper vendors and finishing vendors who support Ricoh were on hand to show how they partner with Ricoh and to offer ideas for new ways to develop communication products. Add texture! Think about new paper options! It was all there for consideration.
Some of the hardest programming a team does is finding the mix between technical sessions and those that focus on sales and marketing. How many panels? How many single-presenter sessions? How many main stage sessions. Interact 2018 found a good balance, and provided food for thought. Whether you were listening to Deborah Corn talk about Project Peacock or Alysha Burch talk about creating dynamic customer communication, there was a lot of education. However, one of my favorite sessions was a very technical RPD session hosted by two engineers with the most wicked sense of humor. They made a session that could have been a bit dull come to life!
Any time you have a chance to attend a vendor open house or customer conference, take it! Network with printers! Talk with vendor partners! There are always things to learn!
Pat McGrew, M-EDP, CMP is the Director and Evangelist for the Production Workflow Service at InfoTrends. As an analyst and industry educator, McGrew works with InfoTrends customers and its clients to promote workflow effectiveness. She also has a background in data-driven customer communication, and production printing with offset, inkjet, and toner. Co-author of eight industry books, editor of "A Guide to the Electronic Document Body of Knowledge," and regular writer in the industry trade press, McGrew won the 2014 #GirlsWhoPrint Girlie Award for her dedication to education and communication in the industry, and the 2016 Brian Platte Lifetime Achievement Award from Xplor International. Find Pat on Twitter as @PatMcGrew and LinkedIn.