In addition, Esko once again hosted a Brand Track, where brand owners delivered their experiences with Esko software such as WebCenter and Automation Engine. The Brand Track was designed to promote interaction and networking. Brand representatives presented their experiences and then an open form took place, with an exchange of information between attendees and Esko personnel.
Reaching the Peak
The Executive Summit featured a wide range of topics, including an addendum to the keynote address with Dr. Alan Beaulieu and how digital print can be used to enhance a business. Jan de Roeck, Esko director of solutions management, moderated the Summit. Following presentations, brand owners had the opportunity to engage in an open forum about topics that affect their businesses.
As part of “The Importance of Digital Print for Business Growth,” Liz Logue, senior director of corporate business development at EFI, and Brian Cleary, category manager of labels and packaging at HP, highlighted how digital print has grown in the printing industry–and will continue to grow in the coming years.
According to Logue, EFI re-invests 15-20% of its revenue back into innovation. “Digital printing is all about innovation, and that’s what been driving EFI’s growth,” said Logue. “We shouldn't think of inkjet as expensive because the costs have rapidly come down.”
In addition to HP Indigo’s most effective digital label presses, the WS6800 and the 8000, Cleary discussed the benefits of digital printing. “Digital is more than just a print process,” said Cleary. “It’s about ideation to creation to the store shelf in the quickest amount of time possible.”
The session included multiple brand owners who have already made the switch to digital printing. According to the expert panel, digital printing promotes speed to market, elimination of inventory, complete revision control, SKU proliferation, quality and product decoration.
Cleary pointed out that only a small portion of labels are printed digitally, but they’re the highest profit labels. Customization and personalization add to their value. In many cases, he added, generic labels are printed conventionally.
“The huge majority of printing will be digital in two decades, but I don’t ever think it will all be digital,” said Cleary. “Analog is still going to be here.”
Digital printing has seen several drivers. According to Logue, the market wants products faster. In addition, there is a cultural shift toward products that benefit from digital printing. For example, the trends in microbreweries feature colorful and unique label designs. “Everyone wants something customized and personal,” said Logue.
In shifting from analog to digital, the goal is to reduce the number of touches from conception to production. By turning data into information, businesses can run more effectively and become profitable.
“We’re all moving in a digital world,” said Logue. “When I graduated from college, one of my roommates had a cellphone and we couldn't believe it. Look at where we are today. Now it’s a mini computer.”
The panel explained that the majority of customers want digital presses to run two million labels of 15 different styles, as opposed to one style. Digital can be used as a complementary technology to add value.
According to Cleary, Automation Engine automates the printing process from design to delivery. The Esko software also manages color control.
Bernard Zwaenepoel, Esko Senior Vice President, Software Business, added that conventional printing is not dead, though. “Esko wants to drive the packaging supply chain in the most efficient way, whether it is digital or analog,” he said. “We are driving these with full consistency, and our strategy is to continue doing that so our customers can exploit all the benefits of digital printing.
“Conventional companies are fighting back, because they’re being challenged by digital,” Zwaenepoel said. “We should not ignore that conventional players are seeing crossover points changing.”
Building a brand
Joshua Foster, general manager of MediaBeacon, explored how digital asset management (DAM) can drive positive brand experiences. MediaBeacon conducted a study with Forrester, where 150 brand executives were interviewed about using a DAM.
According to Foster, 90% of brand owners believe that omnichannel experiences are necessary to delight customers, while 85% will increase investment of time, personnel and money to creating omnichannel experiences this year.
In addition, 38% of brands can deliver an omnichannel experience across physical and digital channels, and 41% can deliver somewhat consistent messaging for physical touchpoint like packaging.
“There’s no longer a delineation between how our guests live life and how they shop,” explained Foster. “Social media is a huge driver when you figure out how many assets you have today and you project how many you will have in the future. … “Video is more important today than it even was five years ago, and it will continue to grow significantly.”
Social media and e-commerce have become big factors of the consumer experience, as has the use of smartphones. Foster said that 82% of smartphone users are interacting with their phones for purchasing decisions, meanwhile 43% of customers have left stores frustrated because they couldn’t find the information they needed.
Esko is striving to connect the physical and digital experience for the consumer. In general, the customer experience is inconsistent, and driving a proper DAM and workflow solution can better integrate the digital and physical. Esko Platform for brands is designed to drive consistent customer experiences regardless of the platform.