Author: Bernd Zipper

Founder and CEO of zipcon consulting GmbH, one of the leading consulting companies for the print and media industry in Central Europe. The technology and strategy consultant and his team actively support practical implementation in a wide variety of customer projects. His work involves developing visions, concepts and strategies for the players active in the print production process across a wide range of industries. His areas of expertise include online print, mass customization, strategy and technological assessment for print, and the development of new strategies in the print and media environment. Bernd Zipper is the creator and chairman of Initiative Online Print e.V. and, in addition to his consulting activities, is an author, lecturer and sought-after speaker, orator and moderator. His visionary lectures are regarded worldwide as trend-setting management recommendations for the print and media industry. (Profiles also in Xing, LinkedIn).

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Recently I had the opportunity to present my drupa analysis at the Intergraf “Print Matters” conference in Bucharest, and I noticed a number of offbeat comments on various online channels. As a “drupa veteran” (my first visit was in 1990), I’ll add my two cents. But before anyone here thinks this is going to be a “general reckoning”: absolutely not. I love drupa! But the trade fair, which has set the pace for the industry for many decades, will soon – in my view – need a pacemaker itself.

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What will people remember about this drupa? It was clearly the ‘higher-faster-further drupa’! It wasn’t AI, sustainability, nanography, robotics or any other trendy topic that dominated drupa 2024 – it was simply about the fact that the technologies that were already on the market 8 years ago have now really grown up. And got faster. And bigger – in terms of the sheet sizes.

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Software! It’s all about software! Without software, nothing works in a modern printing company, absolutely nothing. From the MIS (known as an ERP system by professionals), to the shop and web-to-print application, to the workflow. Anyone who still relies on the famous ‘sneaker workflow’ is either in a museum or on the last island of the blessed.

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Without doubt, drupa is the world’s leading trade fair for the printing industry. And there are quite a few entrepreneurs who ask themselves: what should I buy? Well, I am a consultant and meet one or two customers here. So I am no stranger to the question ‘Bernd, what should I buy?’ and I am happy to answer it, as follows:

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Yesterday morning I spoke to a young, dedicated printer from Bavaria. His expectations of drupa are high. Because: “Artificial intelligence will change everything. Everything.” That’s what he said, waved and disappeared into the hustle and bustle of the exhibition halls. By the afternoon, his opinion had already changed.

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I admire Landa. Not just Benny Landa, who I really like, but the whole team. Yes, they are masters of marketing. Yes, there is a high potential of exuberant enthusiasm – and, yes, sometimes it gets exaggerated. But it looks as if the company is now (finally) delivering machines on a bigger scale.

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Wait a minute! drupa is the world’s No. 1 printing trade fair, but why are printers themselves exhibiting there, I.e. those for whom the trade fair is actually made. They exhibit here to present something to their competitors. An upside down world. Or is it? What on earth is that all about? Ok, let’s take a look:

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Modesty, they say, is a virtue. But anyone who sells themselves short in today’s business world is quickly overlooked, declared obsolete and no longer in demand. In view of the digital media and possibilities, the end of the printing industry has been prophesied for years and at regular intervals. Yet large parts of the industry are proving to be vibrant and extremely successful.

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