By Olivia Cahoon
Part 2 of 2
Peer affinity groups offer members the opportunity to learn and socialize through a variety of resources such as online forums and annual member events. Both vendor and non-vendor specific groups are available that discuss general topics and challenges experienced by most print providers.
The Association for PRINT Technologies (APTech) was established in 1933 to promote and support the print industry. Membership is open to OEMs, printers, print service providers, and brand owners. The organization offers access to high-level research content, professional development and leadership advancement education, business connections and networking opportunities, industry standards, and affordable healthcare insurance. Membership is available with a $1200 fee.
In place of the PRINT event, Brand Print Americas is a new event co-located with the Labelexpo Americas 2020. Taking place September 15 to 17, 2020 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL, this collaboration is a response to the market’s need to diversify its offerings while bringing together PRINT and Labelexpo communities together. It will include new technologies and solutions for print and will offer networking, professional development, and education.
Established in 2005, Digital Solutions Cooperative (Dscoop) is an HP-sponsored affinity group with a vision to innovate print. Its goal is to help members print more, print smarter, and print profitably. Membership is available for those that own a qualifying digital press from HP Inc., including HP Indigo, HP Latex, HP Pagewide, and HP Scitex.
There are currently 10,000 members and membership is free. “Dscoop empowers members to learn, network, and grow their business in powerful ways,” shares Peter Van Teeseling, COO, Dscoop.
Dscoop also offers its yearly Edge event. Under one roof, attendees’ questions and day-to-day challenges are covered by business, industry, and HP experts. According to Teeseling, the 360-degree approach to training, education, and collaboration is made for every role in an organization—owners, managers, technical teams, sales representatives, marketing, and human resources.
The Dscoop Edge event averages 2,000 attendees per year with print service providers and industry partners as targeted attendees. “It’s the best place to gain professional and leadership development strategies, learn about business opportunities from HP, and other partners, and gain technical skills and best practices,” shares Teeseling. The event is currently rescheduled due to COVID-19. The new event date and location will be announced soon.
The Kodak Graphic Users Association (GUA) is a worldwide, non-profit organization dedicated to empowering users of Kodak solutions with the tools and information to be successful. Founded in 1999, the group shares information, education, and resources for members.
GUA is open to all Kodak print customers. Membership and access to GUA forums is free of charge to all Kodak PRINERGY customers, says Todd Bigger, VP, software, Kodak Print Division. The group provides free access to online forums and discounted registration to GUA’s annual in-person event.
The next in-person Kodak GUA event is expected to take place in October in Europe and the U.S. “We continue to monitor the status of COVID-19 as it impacts various countries around the world,” says Teeseling.
Established in 2016, Prokom is a virtual global community for Konica Minolta production solutions users. Membership requires individuals to own, lease, or use a Konica Minolta production solution.
The group offers business support for a variety of customer job roles—primarily management, assessment tools, sales marketing, and operator. It’s web portal offers newsletters, webinars, white board videos, tutorial videos, and e-learning in five languages.
According to Dawn Olson, director, client business development, U.S. production & industrial print, U.K. Prokom Liaison, Konica Minolta, there is no membership fee required to join.
Prokom offers an annual conference as well as frequent online events. While the first American Prokom community was rescheduled due to COVID-19, the organization still offers online resources such as a Crisis Management Toolkit for members. The group intends to continue its event once it is safe to do so. Olson advises, “watch for Prokom event programming at the re-scheduled drupa 2021.”
Ricoh started offering user groups in 2010, which were combined and branded as Interact in 2017. Designed for Ricoh customers and partners, Interact’s primary goal is to share knowledge to help users drive business growth. Membership is available for Ricoh customers and partners.
The INTERACT User Community Event occurs yearly with an average attendance of 350 people. The event is organized to strengthen alliances with and among customers and share best practices for adapting to evolving markets. Mike Herold, Director Global Marketing, Production Inkjet Technologies, Ricoh, says it also provides education from industry experts and Ricoh subject matter experts sharing perspective on helping customers grow their businesses.
The INTERACT event is targeted to print owners, managers, and operators. Historically, it was a unique, successful users’ group. Since then, Herold says Ricoh created an expanded approach in 2018 to elevate the conversation further to explore and advocate for the many ways print and communications technologies present a larger business opportunity for customers and the overall industry. “What sets INTERACT apart is its twin focus, not just on sharing knowledge but also on forging lasting alliances.”
thINK is an independent community of Canon Solutions America Production Print customers, solution vendors, and print industry experts, and Canon Solutions America is a proud executive sponsor. Led by some of the most successful inkjet service providers in the country, it provides a forum for members to network, gain knowledge, discuss common challenges, and share best practices.
Come Out On Top
While COVID-19 affected many of the trade events hosted by peer affinity groups, these organizations remain strong with a variety of online resources to help members through this challenging time. dps
Aug2020, DPS Magazine