Is Inkjet in Your Future?
Does anything live up to the description of “transformative technology” better than production inkjet? Nothing else in the history of digital printing has moved as rapidly from the experimental to the essential. Its technical advances show no signs of slowing down.
All that progress makes investing in production inkjet exciting to think about — and easy to miscalculate.
Success with the process absolutely depends on understanding that when a high-volume inkjet press comes into a printing operation, it doesn’t adapt to its environment: the environment adapts to it. Everything surrounding the new device — digital infrastructure, MIS, workflow, logistics and finishing — has to rise to the same level of efficiency as the press if the benefits of production inkjet are to be fully realized.
NAPCO Media’s Inkjet Summit (www.IJSummit.com), taking place April 8-10, 2019, at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., remains the only event focused exclusively on helping printers make the most of what production inkjet has to offer them. Now in its seventh year, the conference has evolved along with the technology it spotlights in terms of what its agenda covers and how it guides attendees toward making fully informed decisions about inkjet investment.
Just ask repeat participants. “Every year, the summit gets better,” praises Gretchen Renaud, VP of Operations at Print Mail Solutions. “The education, networking and vendor contacts are more focused and intentional than any other industry event I attend.”
“I found the summit an outstanding resource to learn about inkjet,” praises Steve Priesman, manager of Omaha Public Schools’ Printing & Publications Services department, which installed a Xerox Brenva HD after he attended the Inkjet Summit. “Knowledge obtained at the summit was critical to our successful implementation.”
That knowledge came not only from the educational sessions but from conversations with peers.
“The ability to network with others was probably the most valuable part of the summit,” Priesman affirms, alluding to one of the Inkjet Summit’s most appreciated features: the opportunity it gives attendees to learn from each other as well as from expert conference speakers and sponsoring vendors.
An Intensive Learning Experience
The Inkjet Summit is unique in being an invitational, all-expenses-paid event for a select group of print company executives and in-plant managers who have been pre-qualified to attend. Over two and a half days, these VIPs take part in an intensive learning experience aimed at exposing them to everything they need to know about production inkjet.
The conference’s interwoven educational structure — general-session presentations and panel discussions, peer networking, and briefings and 1:1 meetings with leading vendors of inkjet solutions — is designed to be both immersive and actionable.
As Rob Nawfel, president of Prisma, a marketing services provider, reports, “the Inkjet Summit has given me significant information from suppliers and current users to help our organization get closer to making a decision on which device we will go with. It is very beneficial to be able to sit with current users and listen to all of the pros and cons of the different devices. I value the time spent with each supplier and all of the current user opinions.”
Endorsements like this tell conference chair Marco Boer (VP of I.T. Strategies) that the Inkjet Summit is achieving what it has been trying to do since it convened for the first time in 2013. The event’s threefold purpose, he says, is to:
- Identify all the variables print providers need to consider when making an investment decision analysis;
- Let them ask the difficult questions from both the OEM sponsors in attendance, as well as peers;
- Allow them to build the confidence to take a step forward or — just as critically — postpone until it is the right time.
“There is no other venue where you can test your questions, ask the same one from … different providers, and walk away with enough data points to make a well-educated decision on how to proceed next,” Boer observes.
Nothing less than a well-educated decision will do, because investing in inkjet is a complex commitment that involves more than just installing another piece of machinery. A 360º view of the opportunity is precisely what Inkjet Summit attendees expect the event to provide, according to conference advisory board member Elizabeth Gooding, president of Insight Forums and co-founder of Inkjet Insight.
“Smaller companies in established inkjet markets can learn how to develop requirements for evaluating equipment, define workflow changes and resulting software requirements and speak with peers about how investments have been justified,” Gooding says. “All attendees have the opportunity to streamline their evaluation process by meeting one-on-one with experts from all of the major inkjet OEMs under one roof.”
This opportunity is greatly appreciated by attendees.
“All OEMs at the same table? What more could you ask for? Leverage the opportunity to ask questions,” says Lisa Stelter, manager of Print and Mail Services at Sanford Health.
Attendees typically are looking for insight on both the market opportunity as well as interaction with peers, notes advisory board member Barb Pellow, manager of Pellow and Partners, and the moderator of many panel discussions at the Inkjet Summit.
“They will get market data from leading industry analysts and have the ability to hear from peers in keynote sessions as well as during case study breakouts,” she says. “The peer-to-peer interaction is one of the key things that attendees value the most. The hope is that they can avoid mistakes made by others on the journey to inkjet success.”
Direct Access to Suppliers
In return for underwriting the event’s hosted buyer model, the OEMs get a schedule of group briefings and 1:1 meetings that bring them into contact with everyone who attends — a feat that would be impossible for them to achieve at standard trade shows. Attendees benefit as well, because the arrangement gives them direct access to the industry’s top vendors of production inkjet systems and related equipment and supplies.
That puts attendees “in front of the right people” when they need advice or assistance, says Renaud, who remembers buttonholing an OEM representative whose technology wasn’t performing up to par. The representative turned out to be the vendor’s CEO, and the issue soon was taken care of. Inkjet Summit encounters like these, says Renaud, can provide valuable contacts for the future.
An Industry Cross-Section
The Inkjet Summit audience represents a cross-section of inkjet experience: companies that haven’t yet committed to the technology alongside those that have made substantial investments in it. Attendees come from the general commercial, in-plant, transaction print, publication and direct mail segments. (Inkjet applications for packaging are part of a related NAPCO Media event, the Digital Packaging Summit.)
The learning experience unfolds as attendees move steadily through a series of keynote addresses, user panel discussions, breakout meetings and case study sessions. Social activities and a golf tournament keep the mood cordial, encouraging peer-to-peer interactions and equally productive conversations with the sponsoring vendors.
The format is especially valuable for newcomers to production inkjet, according to Pellow. “The Inkjet Summit gives first-time buyers the ability to understand all facets of what it requires to be successful: technology, processes and people,” she says. “They will hear from peers about critical success factors as well as the mistakes they made along the way.”
Like its signature technology, the Inkjet Summit strives to keep getting better at what it does.
“We conduct extensive surveys after the event to ensure the program remains as relevant as possible, and for the last six years satisfaction levels have exceeded 95%,” says Boer. “We’re there to learn, and no one, including myself, walks away without having learned new things.”
That’s what makes believers of attendees like Tom Markman, operations manager at the Wolters Kluwer in-plant, who declares, “If you don’t attend the Inkjet Summit as part of your inkjet discovery/research process, then you are not really that serious about inkjet technology.”
Senior printing executives, in-plant managers and data center directors interested in attending the next Inkjet Summit can visit www.IJSummit.com and complete the qualification form. For additional information, please contact David Pesko at email@example.com.
Related story: Clarifying Issues for Inkjet Investment