This customer conference offers attendees a pitch-free environment to better understand how to successfully leverage production print technology and solutions in their businesses.
On the final morning of the recent Interact conference, held in Boulder and Denver, Colorado June 4-7, I talked with Brad, a Ricoh customer from the Midwest who was more than a little excited about the event. It was his first time at a vendor-sponsored conference and he was amazed at the amount of content presented, and especially by the fact that the entire shindig was sales-pitch-free. He had come to Denver alone but plans to return in 2020 with two or three of his key employees because the breadth and depth of information provided were so valuable.
He was not alone in his assessment. Several other Ricoh customers I spoke with, business owners with Ricoh devices large and small, told me the same thing. Interact allowed them to attend a business-oriented event, network with peers, and learn ways to make their businesses work smarter, faster, and more efficiently, all without a salesperson coaxing them to buy something.
This, they told me, was like gold, and worth the time and effort to fly to Denver and spend a few days out of the shop. Some who had been to previous Ricoh Interact events already knew to bring some extra people along, so they spread their teams across the four conference tracks to ensure they would receive the best value out of their time in Colorado. Whether you are a print provider such as in-plant or commercial shop, or an office technology dealer, your customers probably look to you for ideas and insights that can help them do more. Attending and learning at a conference like Ricoh Interact sets you apart and can make you the one they call when seeking to broaden their printing horizons.
No size fits all
What I found interesting at this event last year and again this year is the scope of solutions discussed. Ricoh is a big outfit and many customers think of the company as having a focus on its big continuous-feed inkjet presses and its ProcessDirector software, both designed to support high-volume transactional and direct mail markets. Yet, important as they may be, those big boxes are but one part of the story. Ricoh has a substantial footprint in the office and quick print and small commercial print spaces with its monochrome copiers and printers, especially with its Pro C9200 and Pro C7200 and C7210 series full-color cut-sheet digital printers. These machines answer most of the color printing needs of any office and can produce jobs for most small printers that look as good as anything their competitors can produce more costly machines. The top-of-the-line C9200 can do many impressive things, including printing a single sheet up 49.6-inches long and produce perfect bound books. The print quality is good enough that no one will ever question it.
More interesting to me was the C7200, which can add a fifth color. At first, I yawned about this, but then I went to a breakout session run by Alysha Burch and Chris “Sharky” Siarkiewicz from Square Root Creative in New York City, who showed just what a fifth color can mean. This is not merely adding a punchy color like pink (although it can be) but is a process using software from ColorLogic and some selected substrates that can (among other things) deliver a host of compelling metallic effects to separate the work of one shop from another. To be sure, getting the most out of this requires both practice and a familiarity with the use of layers available in programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, and others, but any designer worth their paycheck should be able to master the tricks needed in a few hours. I know enough about Photoshop to be dangerous, and even I could see how this worked and that learning it would not be difficult.
Some sessions covered wide-format printers and I got a closer look at this equipment during a tour of the Customer Experience Center. The devices come from a deal Ricoh has with EFI with the difference being the software Ricoh bundles with the printers, enabling the big machines and an automated cutter to produce finished, salable products. This accelerates ROI and can help make wide format printing an attractive revenue stream.
Not being an under-the-hood software guy, I skipped the sessions on ProcessDirector but filled my two days in the tracks on business development, print solutions, and operational excellence. These spanned topics in wide format, inkjet, and more. It was a bit of sensory overload, but I left with plenty of ideas about ways to make money with digital print.
Most importantly, it was incidental that Ricoh was the lead vendor. There were no pitches from the podiums, and the 30-odd partners on hand were open and free with advice and helping attendees address their business challenges. I am fortunate in being able to attend vendor events several times a year. Some I never miss, because they present an opportunity to learn and become smarter about how technology can be used. One event I make sure I attend is Ricoh Interact.
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