Conferences. They mean well, they really do. Delegates can learn something and usually take away new information. But there is usually an awful lot of STBO (stating the bleeding obvious), RCS (recycling common sense) and occasionally a bit of an OPSO (opportunity to purchase snake oil).
Printers are busy people. Margins are wafer thin and every hour spent away from the business must return compensatory ideas, inspiration and insight. Which is where Forward Thinking Printing comes in. Its strapline is Ideas, Inspiration, Insight and that is what it delivers.
The premise of Forward Thinking Printing is different. There is no stage to look up at, just a row of bar stools in front of some banners reminding everyone who is sponsoring the event. There is no screen connected to Powerpoint. There are six sessions and each in each session the bar stools are filled with experts. Unlike Michael Gove, Print Business holds experts in the highest regard and cannot get enough of them.
The sessions are conversational. Ringmaster Gareth Ward, Print Business editor, will start the conversation, talking knowledgeably about the topic and bringing in the experts as appropriate. At any time, members of the audience can join in.
No one really knows what information will come out of the sessions: one expert, a printer, from an earlier session returned to the audience and in a subsequent session asked a question and discovered he was charging far too little for his digital print. Heidelberg UK sales director Jim Todd found himself asking a question of the panel from the audience before taking his place on a bar stool as an expert in a later session.
The two outings of Forward Thinking Printing were very well received, though the audience was down on the 2014 edition because of trains chaos on the day. One expert called it the “best networking event I have ever been to”. However, that year also saw Ipex plummet into decline, with visitor numbers suggesting that printers were in no mood to go and kick tyres, let alone invest. Print Business took the industry’s temperature – and the hint – and put the event on hold.
Several years have passed and there have been substantial changes in the industry. Print Business thinks that there may be an appetite now for chewing fat and seeing where we all are. Let us know what you think.