On Demand Conference

The show was built around a trio of themes: personalization, the Internet and outsourcing. This last theme, however, may have proved a bit overbearing.

As Barbara Pellow put it in the opening minutes of the 1998 On Demand Digital Printing & Publishing Strategy Conference and Exposition, “The digital opportunity isn’t coming; it’s here, it’s today and it’s now.”

Certainly that was not headline news to printers, who have been hearing about—and practicing—printing on demand for years. Nevertheless, more than 18,700 people jammed the Javits Convention Center in New York recently to learn about the latest print-on-demand developments.

Pello’s consulting firm, CAP Ventures, the show organizers, picked three themes around which to mold this year’s conference: personalization, the Internet and outsourcing. This last theme, unfortunately, may have soiled the show for in-plant managers, who have spent years fighting the takeover attempts of outsourcing firms. Such firms had many opportunities at On Demand—including the opening keynote session—to rave about their services, while in-plant managers silently stewed in the audience.

The conference drew attendees from some of the country’s largest in-plants, like Allstate, Brigham Young University and the New York State Department of Transportation. In fact about 40 percent of the show’s attendees hailed from corporate in-plant or data center backgrounds, according to Charlie Corr, a CAP Ventures senior consultant. Surely these successful in-plant representatives did not come to New York to hear outsourcing representatives give their sales pitches.

Still, such talk could be tuned out, and the conference did provide a number of helpful sessions. One of the most beneficial was entitled “Building a Print Services Center for the 21st Century.” The first speaker, West Barton, director of Print Services at Brigham Young University, detailed a number of steps his operation is taking to prepare for the future.

His operation is testing software to monitor campus copiers and printers, provide volume and billing information and handle electronic billing. The in-plant is preparing to go direct-to-plate and has acquired a color proofer. CDs are being examined as storage solutions and mediums for course packs. Networking capabilities have been improved, and BYU has set up a department to work on Web sites and cut down on printing. An emphasis has also been placed on training customer service reps to help customers keep up with technology.

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