Monday, October 4, 2010

Will Graph Expo Hold The Future?

How relevant will this year’s Graph Expo be to most quick and small commercial printers? As printers prepare to descend on Chicago, they are pondering the questions about the evolution of printing and where it will be over the next decade. Will the trade show offer a “killer app” to drive customers to printing? Will there be a new development exhibited that will eliminate production problems and guarantee profits? Will printers see the future when they walk the floor of the expo?

Graph Expo will only be as relevant as the attending printer makes it to be. Everyone knows the industry is changing. The printing pie is shrinking and the shift of work from offset to digital is well documented. Printers shouldn’t expect to see solutions jump out and grab them as they walk by a booth, but if the printer has a plan, then he or she should begin to get an idea of where the industry is going.

You should see a lot of interest in booths featuring products that expand a printer’s role in the communication process. Web-based products that allow printers to integrate a customer’s printed message with the Internet should get a great deal of interest. Any booth that has anything to do with automating the order entry and prepress process should get a lot of traffic. Products that make it easier for a customer to order should also gain wide attention.

In reality, a lot of the industry-shattering booths will be overlooked. Printers will gravitate toward “big iron” and traditional print processes. The real action will be in the booths along the edges of the trade show floor where “the next big thing” will be trying to gain some attention.

I suggest you go to Graph Expo with a plan. Look for products and services you aren’t using now. Look for things that you don’t usually see on the trade show floor. The big innovations will be in the small booths. There is where you are going to find the future of printing.

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