Disruptive thinking – is it (for) us? A bold VIGC Congres 2016 session.

The VIGC is the Flemish Innovation Centre for Graphic Communication. This well-established association has an outstanding reputation and regularly hosts industry events. These usually follow the same pattern: reception and drinks, vendors (wo)manning booths across a hall. But this time they didn’t just bring us together, they challenged us. By giving us 3 key speakers on a distinctive mission: disrupt our thinking. Bold move, VIGC, but challenge accepted.

  1. Gino Van Ossel – this experienced omnichannel retail specialist warned us not to think of e-commerce as the next moneymaker. A sloppy strategy and execution will make it a money burner for your business. What does your customer want and what does his/her customer want?

My two cents? Tailor your strategy to the end goal. For our business, specifically: don’t make a distinction between online and/or offline. A good (marketing) communication mix will combine both. Put one in function of the other: order online, allow fitting, go to the shop for the physical pick-up. That will be the key to converting success: provide another contact point to up the brand experience.

  1. Steven Van Belleghem – digital inspirational speaker who urged us to move towards target groups of 1. We need to find ways to address people on an individual level. AI (artificial intelligence) will help us with that. It can be done, just look at the successes of Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortona, Apple Siri and Google Home. In-home installations you can talk to. The personal convenience counts, even if it’s an artificial one. The graphics industry can learn from this and implement similar ideas. Mind you, data mining will be tricky. The companies behind these devices will collate data about you and use it to your (their?) best interest.

My two cents? This industry has been doing personalization before it got popular. We know this and we know how to apply that data the right and proper way. Our technology made the hype possible. Surely we’re not scared of extra data to process? I only see added opportunities. Done properly, personalized/customized print will impact a purchase decision more profoundly than RTB digitals ads. We think long term over impulse. Why else make the investment in e-commerce?

  1. Ed Boogaard – well-respected graphic arts journalist motivating the masses not to turn our backs on innovation. Cleverly illustrated with a graph that showed how printed books in Belgium are doing pretty well nowadays in comparison to e-books, thanks to those book printers who braced themselves and took up the challenge.

My two cents? I agree. Ed also referred to Eshuis and the Coca Cola labelling case. Remember that white paper we just released on the –ization potential for the packaging market? Personalization and digital can up the brand level game. Case in point, Ed. Thank you for helping us state our case.

Het Congres 2016 (VIGC) stressed the importance of offering the tools / kits / modules to accommodate the great visions of entrepreneurs. But above all, it actually showed how the combination of new business concepts, brain teasers and some real-life customer stories, can actually result in success.

We don’t need new features, more options or faster turnaround times. We need to just tackle these other, new business models out there to sell the novelties. Trial and error, but to the innovator go the spoils. You won’t find me arguing with that.


Bram Verniest

Dec 16, 2016

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