Someday we will reflect on how the world changed in 2020 with perspective. Right now, as businesses continue to adapt to new ways of engaging employees and customers, the single focus is how to get the work done.
At the start of 2020, in-plant print mail operations planned to make investments in technology. They intended to attend in-person conferences and trade shows to review requirements and compare solutions from a variety of suppliers. Those gatherings also allow for interactions with and recommendations from peers. Beginning in March these events were canceled with the hope that they would happen in the fall
Fall is around the corner and the question is how to make the right decisions for new equipment and technology without live events. Should organizations continue to postpone capital investment decisions? As we move into the last quarter of 2020 it is time to make many decisions.
Here is a list of ideas to help you through this year:
Do the Research
The industry has moved to sharing information in virtual events of every flavor. The number of webinars and online sources has increased dramatically since the beginning of March. Equipment manufacturers, software companies and media companies are attempting to educate and engage customers about their solutions. People seeking information about new technology bear a larger burden to identify trusted sources and make the investment of time to learn about equipment and technology. And often without seeing solutions running live, managers need to determine what is the best fit for their production environment.
Listening to webinars, online panels and virtual demos is not easy. It requires concentrated attention to understand the important nuggets of information and to ask questions specific to your needs. Luckily, there are a many reliable sources to learn about inkjet and related technologies to make informed investment decisions.
News and analysis on every segment of the printing and mail industry can be found on several well-respected websites. Some of the content is sponsored by OEMs and software providers. Much of the content is written by independent journalists, analysts, and consultants. New product announcements and comparisons can easily be searched via your browser.
Major publishing and media sources include:
Peer groups have hosted some of the highest rated live conferences. As they morph to online events, attendees can often find sessions with a level of detail and peer led panels to gain real insight about solutions. Some live events have been postponed until 2021. I recommend seeking out peer groups for access to both their formal online content and informally through members to get information about success with solutions and configurations for hardware and software.
Major peer group events have planned online events, and many have active LinkedIn Groups including:
Canon inkjet users thINK Ahead
HP user group, Dscoop
Industry associations provide many resources for educational content and sharing of information to members. Beyond their online content reach out to the association leaders with your questions for support or information. The In-plant Managers Association, and now the combined SGIA and PIA into the Printing United Alliance along with the Association for Print Technologies, and Idealliance have many resources on their respective websites to assist companies with strategies, tools and certifications.
On the mailing side there are Postal Customer Councils (PCCs) that are hosting many types of online events across the nation. Their purpose is to create postal communities for companies involved in sending and receiving mail. PCC members share information and strategies to be effective during the current business environment.
Seek online content
Many of us miss the in-person industry gatherings to share information, see technology up close as well as visit with friends and colleagues. Without any live events until 2021 we will all need to try to attend more online events to learn, engage and make decisions about inkjet investments. The OEMs, suppliers, and software companies are making every effort to provide relevant online content and events to support the industry.
Reach out to your sales or service contact at any supplier and they will provide industry resources, case studies, white papers, and other content to assist you in your quest for information and solutions. Online content requires some work on your part to research and attend webinars. And then review, digest, and analyze the content to get the pertinent information to make the right decisions about new technology and solutions.
Learning is a journey, enjoy the ride.