Print to Wynn: EFI Connect
What do you think?
POST A COMMENT
By Sophie Matthews-Paul
20 April 2012
Guy Gecht (left) and Jeffrey Housenbold start their fireside chat at Connect, while EFI's Frank Tueckmantel provides the effects
Las Vegas might be the home of gambling machines, but it's also marked firmly on the industry calendar as the location for EFI's annual Connect conference. This event, held at The Wynn complex, was jam-packed with sessions covering every product in the company's portfolio, and I was one of the select group of analysts and journalists invited to attend.
Connect 2012 was targeted primarily at EFI users, with industry partners having the opportunity to display their wares, including Ricoh, Canon USA, Konica Minolta and Kodak amongst the sponsors. This software-rich extravaganza featured more than 150 classroom sessions covering every EFI product imaginable, including MIS/ERP, the company's Fiery technology, the latest features in Digital StoreFront, and ink-jet and label solutions.
Adding icing to the technology cake were more details about the new high-end HS100 Pro, which, not surprisingly for me, was a highlight of the event. But it was also good to spend time with the new 3.2m 'baby', the remarkably low-cost EFI R3225 UV-curable roll-to-roll platform, and see it put through its paces at close quarters in a one-to-one demonstration. With this addition to the portfolio nicely balancing the machines at the top, it's clear that the company has done its homework pretty thoroughly and covered all wide-format bases with its current crop of engines. And I know there's more to come on this front in the VUTEk family.
But Connect was mainly about joining the dots with Fiery, MIS/ERP offerings and the stronger move towards greater integration and usability. A shrewd move into the Latin American market has added the business software from Metrics to EFI's portfolio, with cloud-based Dashboard also being launched on the first day of the event. We also had it confirmed that, for its wide-format platforms, EFI is introducing a new operating system called Orion in tandem with its new HS100 Pro, which will also bring new feature-rich options to users of the company's other engines.
Although there was a very busy timetable at Connect, I spent some time looking at the latest features on offer with Digital StoreFront which has moved on tremendously since I last used it in 2011. The Digital Workflow Experience featured live examples of start-to-finish production being output to a wide-format UV-curable printer, and I also had the opportunity of discussing the Jetrion 4900's capabilities, and touched on the use of HumanEyes software being used with the Rastek T1000.
Connect wasn't just about technology from its practical standpoint, although it was key to the proceedings. It was also about the people. As we've now come to expect from Guy Gecht, EFI's chief executive, his keynote wasn't the common dried-up type of presentation which is common at this type of gathering. Instead, he focused on the topic of whether print is dying, and the importance of keeping ahead of the 'window of opportunity' principle. When the window moves, companies need to move too, or they'll up suffering the same fate as CompuServe, Nokia, AltaVista and others who are no longer front-runners in their sector because they missed their chances.
There were also two fascinating fireside chats between Guy and, on the first evening, Shutterfly's chief executive Jeffrey Housenbold and the next day with Staples vice-president, Robert Schlacter. And, of course, we were usefully given full chapter and verse on current and future positioning with products and investments by Marc Olin, senior vice-president.
There was a good mix of attendees with a diverse range of involvement in the graphic arts industry, ranging from web developers through designers to print specialists in the various sectors. The levels of interest in business software were extremely high as, increasingly, the importance of MIS/ERP and more streamlined management and workflow options continues to rate highly. This was apparent across companies of all sizes that are now placing emphasis on efficiency and cost-effectiveness as being key to running a successful operation.
The time and effort which must have gone into making Connect such a far-reaching and comprehensive event was extraordinary. EFI left no stone unturned, with practical demonstrations and technical break-out sessions covering every eventuality.
If you want a good excuse for visiting Las Vegas and spending a few days in the luxury of a splendidly lavish hotel complex, you won't find a better reason than deciding to attend next April's Connect. Apart from being able to soak up valuable, and practical, information on the latest technology, you'll also learn how to make a large meeting of minds a success, the EFI way.
Comments in chronological order (Total 0 comments)
There are no comments yet for this article.