Canon Says, “Let’s Start a Production Digital Print User Group”

Jim Hamilton
Feb 20, 2014

Probably the most interesting news item to come out of the recent Canon Solutions America (CSA) briefing was CSA’s announcement that it was forming a user group steering committee, and that it hoped to have its first convention in 2015. The focus of this user group will be production digital print.

Keep in mind that two of the most successful user events in the production digital print space—Dscoop (a cooperative of HP Graphic Arts users) and EFI Connect (the annual EFI worldwide users’ conference)—have been gaining more traction in recent years. That CSA would consider creating a group for its own production digital print users should come as no surprise, particularly with Francis McMahon on board. McMahon, Vice President of Marketing for CSA’s Production Print Solutions division, played an integral role in getting Dscoop off the ground many years ago when he was the Director of Marketing for HP’s Graphic Solutions Business. In addition, CSA’s hiring of Dscoop Executive Director Eric Hawkinson in 2013 should have tipped us all off; it makes sense that Canon would use Hawkinson’s skills to start an initiative like this.

CSA’s Eric Hawkinson with Customer Panel

Exactly what form (or what name) the user group will take has yet to be determined. CSA intends to test the idea with a steering committee of ten customers, who will begin meeting in April. The user group is another example of CSA’s recent push to work closely with a range of customers to get real-world feedback. During its briefing, CSA announced another initiative to continue these efforts—its Transactional Printers Advisory Council (TPAC) has just wrapped up two years of meetings and guidance. The next such CSA group will be the Digital Print Advisory Council (DPAC), which will include thirteen CSA customers representing service providers across the book printing, commercial print, direct mail, and financial services sectors.

The Implications

The news that CSA is forming a production digital print user group has a number of implications, but it’s a good news/bad news story:

  • Good news for end-users: This announcement is good news for CSA customers who will benefit from a focused environment where they can exchange ideas, participate in educational forums, and have direct impact with a key vendor.
  • Bad news for outside marketing spend: This is bad news for industry shows and trade magazines because it continues the trend of vendors choosing to spend their marketing dollars elsewhere. This also has some implications for smaller companies without sizeable marketing budgets. If larger vendors continue to de-value trade shows (Exhibit A: IPEX), smaller vendors are put at risk since they have fewer alternatives if the big trade shows downsize or go away. This makes it critically important for smaller vendors to form partnerships with these larger vendors, including participating in user group events.

Happy Anniversary, CSA!

The briefing, which was held to celebrate the first anniversary of the Canon Solutions America organization (CSA combines the components of Canon Business Solutions and Océ North America), uncovered a lot of interesting developments in addition to the user group announcement. InfoTrends clients will see more analysis on these other news items shortly. The wealth of news is a very good sign, and it speaks to the types of synergies that we imagined when Canon announced its acquisition of Océ in 2009.

Jim Hamilton is Group Director in charge of InfoTrends’ Production Printing & Media team. He has also recorded a video describing the print samples he collected at the Canon Solutions America event.

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