drupa, the very big elephant in the trade show room, is only two months away. As such, I need to ask a question—one that is particularly important in this time of economic depression. With printers struggling and the print industry in great disorder, is drupa still relevant?
I would argue that drupa as it is today has run its course and that a more interactive, technology-based effort needs to be developed.
Trade show events are still viable, but they need to be of a controlled size and in a controlled environment. drupa can continue to co-exist with the industry, but the industry needs to be given options to see, view, test, touch, and feel the equipment on display. Forget the fun of a trade show; I have been to drupa held in Dusseldorf, Germany, four times, and each time has been a blast. However, does that justify the event itself?
Most industries have seen trade show attendance and exhibitors decline by double digits. Some have experienced slight increases, but at the end of the day, again, I have to ask, is drupa relevant?
Only a small segment of the American print industry will attend drupa. Most Americans, instead, choose to attend Graph Expo, in Chicago in the fall, which, by the way, should no longer be an annual event. Once every four years works for me, and I’m sure it would work for the exhibitors too.
The print industry needs to rethink every aspect of its existence—from the equipment it sells, the products it offers, the level and type of services provided, and yes, the way it is perceived in the new world of one-to-one and integrated communications. I have noted in this blog before that print needs new ambassadors along with a futurist who is linked to other industries—industries that use print and turn a profit from prnt commerce. drupa seems like an island in time that, well, is stuck in the past.
Yes, the technology at drupa may be revolutionary, and it may be the future (perhaps), but is the level of display of a drupa really needed? Fourteen days seems a bit excessive to me. OK, it is a world show, and as the brochure from drupa proclaims, One World—one drupa. But this is wrong; we no longer live in one world. We live in many worlds, on one planet. The segmentation of the B2B market has overtaken and overrun any arguments made about one world.
I love print. I support print, and it tears my print-based heart to pieces to see the scope of such an event etched in stone like the long-ago replaced litho stone.
What do you think?
PS: Next week, One drupa—Many locations