Conferences are about getting the right information

We all go to large trade shows, and there are plenty that include inkjet developments - FESPA, LabelExpo, InPrint, ITMA and next year Drupa. If you use technology as part of your business then focused trade shows are for you. You walk around for a day or so, see new product demonstrations, enter into discussions with people you know and a few new people you meet on your way around. It’s definitely a good way to see hardware, examine print quality and see technology in action.

But if you develop technology - printheads, inks, chemicals and materials, print engines, complete printers and systems - trade shows are not so easy. You can meet customers for sure. But when you get back to your office and produce a report what can you say about the state of the industry? What new technology is coming along? How big is the current market and how is it growing? Are there disruptive technologies on the horizon?

In addition, there can be too much uncertainty about what you saw at the tradeshow. The machines you have seen demonstrated might never get to market. In fact you are seeing present capabilities, not the future. It’s therefore difficult to get the big picture on where the industry is going.

This is where conferences come in, and the best of these are where industry experts invite a range of speakers that they know are at the forefront of developments to form a curated programme. CEOs and senior strategic executives give their views on where the industry and its many applications are heading. Suppliers to the industry discuss new technology that isn’t available yet, but may become available over the next few months or years. Industry analysts give market overviews and up to date forecasts. And you can network with the speakers and senior executives from the inkjet industry.

So it’s not a given that the largest events will give you more or better information. In fact go to the wrong event and you may learn little to satisfy your needs. If your business will be affected in any way by new developments then the state of the art presentations at a high quality conference are for you.

Mike Willis, IMI Europe