PROKOM was established to help build an environment for business transformation and profitable growth through education, networking and shared experience. PROKOM offers a variety of online tools and educational information through their web portal and focuses on four primary functions within the production print environment: Management, Sales, Marketing and Operations. Membership is available at two levels – free and paid – with tiered offerings based on membership level. Membership information and access to the impressive offerings can be found at WWW.PROKOM.ORG
With generous support from key sponsor Konica Minolta Business Solutions, the PROKOM team built an event with the theme of CONNECT, LEARN and GROW that blended educational and social sessions and allowed the community to hear from industry innovators and share thoughts, ideas and success stories with each other. Though the attendees were from all around the world, the language of print and innovation ran through each session, each animated conversation and each shared story. The welcome reception found the members gathering in the peaceful Garden area of the Imperial Riding School Hotel on a cool, crisp evening. Industry professionals from around the world networked with each other, and the PROKOM board members, along with the excellent staff and leadership from Konica Minolta, made certain that everyone felt welcome. Print professionals from Norway to North Carolina shared experiences with fellow attendees from Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom. North America was well-represented, with 30 participants making the trip.
PROKOM Chairman Andy Barber was thrilled with the turnout, and shared that the high degree of interest from North America has led to the announcement that a US-based conference will be held in the next year. Board member J. Chris Bowen of Cohber Press will be leading the efforts on the U.S. event.
The main conference agenda kicked off Thursday morning with a “welcome to Vienna” address from Johannes Bischoff, Konica Minolta Cluster Managing Director, who shared some little- known facts about the city. We learned that both the croissant and the snow globe were created in Vienna (or Wien, as it is known in Austria.) He then introduced PROKOM Chairman Andy Barber, who again welcomed the attendees and laid out a very full and diverse session agenda that supported the theme of Connect, Learn and Grow. He challenged the audience to find four things that they could take away from the event and apply to their business opportunities.
From that point on, the pace was set, and MC and author Andrew Davis (Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships) shot out of the gate with a riveting presentation “The Future of Digital IS Print.” He forcefully pushed back on the notion that “Print Is Dead” – and in rapid succession shared examples of how content created for “digital” consumption has extended back into the world of print. He turns the notion of digital content that decreases print into digital content that extends print and opens opportunities to deeply leverage the content that already exists within a printer’s portfolio.
Andrew was followed by Steve Lister, who leads Innovation and Sustainability for Charterhouse. He took a trip through the world of marketing and human interaction. He gave examples of store displays that “come alive” when a customer approaches, to visually three-dimensional printed floor graphics, to a branded beer can printed on plastic, shaped and affixed to the shelf He finished with some interesting examples of how we, as users of smartphones and other digital devices have a different field of vision, which is driving different thinking around placement of critical information.
PostcardMania founder and CEO (and AccurioJet KM-1 user) Joy Gendusa gave a high-energy and very engaging presentation on how she built her business from a scrappy startup to a multi-division marketing force that uses data and print to develop highly effective campaigns for small and medium businesses. In a follow-on discussion, she told the audience that if they were sitting around waiting for opportunity to call, they were sitting around waiting for their business to die. Attendees received a signed copy of Joy’s book “ Postcard Marketing In An Online World.”
(We’ll be sharing more insights from Joy over the coming weeks.)
The afternoon sessions included a chainsaw-carrying Pete Muir, who’s story of felling trees as he built his house drew parallels to the perils of building and running a business, and how mistakes can kill you if learning and developing new skills aren’t part of your business culture.
Konica Minolta’s Dawn Nye and Neal Falconer shared their thoughts on where the print industry is headed and what printers can do to drive predictable results.
Ashley McConnell danced his way through innovation and immersive technology, urging everyone to be both innovators and “first followers.”
Finally, Andrew Davis returned for a fun wrap up, tying the key points from each session into thought-provoking calls to action that highlighted the value of the day’s sessions.
Andy Barber closed the day with his personal takeaways and made a strong case for the value of PROKOM to the print community. He thanked the leadership and staff of Konica Minolta and underscored the importance of the customer’s voice - the user community PROKOM represents – to the continued evolution of the technologies and services that Konica Minolta brings to the print world.
The conference attendees gathered to break bread one last time, and share their thoughts and impressions of the event. The general consensus was – lots of value from the NETWORKING, lots of LEARNING from each other, and lots of new ideas on how to GROW the print business. A success for PROKOM, and a success for Konica Minolta.