What’s happened to Graph Expo?

As I prepare for the upcoming Graph Expo event, September 11-14th, in Chicago I started to think about the many years that I have attended the event as an end user, vendor and now association president for the electronic document industry.

Yesterday, I spent some time reviewing the 2011 floor plan and was amazed how the list of exhibitors has evolved over the years.  An evolution, so subtle, it may even have gone unnoticed for some segments of the industry.

Graph Expo is (was) an offset printing show

Subsequent to making my Graph Expo plans,  I had a conversation with a member of the Xplor community and asked whether they were going to attend the show and specifically the Xplor at Graph Expo conference.

He said, “no, but a couple people from our in-plant department are going. I am on the transactional side, Graph is an offset printing show. ”  I spent a few moments defending the event, discussing the traditional Xplor vendors, that he did business with,  that are on the floor plan. The education, that focuses on variable data, applications and transactional print, including the Xplor conference.

I suggested he take another look.  His, reply got me to think, “how many people are missing this great event due to perception?” (which is why I am writing this blog)

A quick trip through time

Graph Expo started as a trade show for the printing industry. I mean for the “real” printers, the ones that when you walk into their shop, you smell the ink. There were plates, color separation and craftsman who gauged their work on perfection through a “loop”.

The event started to morph when digital typesetters hit the floor. The latest and great presses continued to appear from Heidelberg, KBA, manroland, Goss, Ryobi and Komori to name a few but over the years lesser known names in traditional print circles like, Delphax, IBM, Oce’ Nipson and  Kodak started showing the early “digital presses”.

Then came digital color, faster color, better and less expensive color hit the show floor as well as a few new digital press manufacturers. All during this time more and more software companies began to exhibit, many who cut their teeth in the variable data and transactional print world.

Today, Graph Expo is print, any kind of print you want on any kind of media, but it is also about applications, web based solutions, social media, SMS and education and practical advice and actionable solutions for immediate implementation.

I invite you to attend Xplor at Graph Expo as my guest. If you use registration code XSFREE you can receive a complimentary pass to the show floor and attend one of the 18 educational sessions that are part of the Xplor at Graph Expo conference. Check it out, you will be surprised.

See you in Chicago.