Online Print Symposium 2024: “AI is not a future phenomenon, but a present reality”

0

True to the motto “Join the AI-powered Print Revolution”, the 11th Online Print Symposium invited (online) print entrepreneurs to actively address the question of what role artificial intelligence can and will play in their business in the future. In the end, more than 290 participants from 16 countries discussed the potential of artificial intelligence in print at the Science Congress Center Munich. Eleven top-class speakers and seven exciting start-ups provided plenty of evidence that print and AI complement each other perfectly. The mix of topics at the 11th OPS painted a clear picture of a print industry in transformation. And there were many débuts on stage.

AI has arrived in the print industry – by the end of the 11th Online Print Symposium, there could be no doubt about that. However, “AI alone is not yet a competitive differentiator”, as Kirsten Hommelhoff, the new CEO of the Bundesverband Druck und Medien (German Printing and Media Industries Federation), emphasised in her keynote speech and her first official appearance before the printing industry. Similarly, Henrik Müller-Hansen, founder and CEO of software manufacturer, Gelato, pointed out in his opening keynote speech at the Online Print Symposium that “artificial intelligence is not a solution, but a tool”. It is therefore not just a question of the AI tool or tools, but also of the right mindset in the company and the willingness to adapt to new developments – or, as Steffen Tomasi from Flyerline Schweiz AG put it in his presentation: “Adapt or perish”. The OPS2024 therefore did not get lost in the depths of individual AI applications, but delivered exactly the right mix of topics, illustrating the picture of a printing industry in transformation.

Mass customisation goes from trend to triumph

“The digital printing industry is one of the most exciting and dynamic industries in the world”. At the OPS, Henrik Müller-Hansen, founder of Gelato, explained what makes him so sure of this: it is not merely because the print industry’s global turnover of almost 850 billion US dollars is far greater than most would assume, exceeding even the music industry many times over, but because it now also occupies market segments that a few years ago could not be identified as a potential print market with offers for print-on-demand, personalisation and mass customisation. “The trend towards mass customisation is becoming a success,” says Müller-Hansen. His company Gelato itself is the best example of this, as it has built up one of the largest networks for on-demand production, with production facilities in 32 countries and partnerships with more than 130 production companies. Moreover, he predicts further growth for the digital printing industry – provided it adapts to the most important market trends in society: Personalisation/individualisation, sustainability, demographic change and the creator economy.

New age in print

Bernd Zipper, CEO of zipcon consulting and co-organiser of the Online Print Symposium, came to a similar conclusion. His presentation, which regularly provides an insight into the developments and figures of online print, was a call to be bold. “We have never had so many opportunities to earn substantial money with print! If”, he stipulated, “we understand what the new rules are”. These new rules and market drivers – from inkjet to sustainability and social commerce, to name just a few – are being accelerated by artificial intelligence. They will ultimately mark the shift from the era of mass production to mass customisation. Not every print company likes this, especially not those that rely on mass production, since: “The days of waste are over,” summarised Zipper. Instead, “individualisation will be the ‘new gold’ and print on demand will be king”. After all, even if less “mass” is printed overall, mass customisation will make print more valuable. And artificial intelligence will make an important contribution here in future.

AI – a booster for an industry in transition

The keynote speech by Kirsten Hommelhoff, the new Managing Director of the Bundesverband Druck und Medien e.V. (German Printing and Media Industries Federation), focused on what this could look like. […] Yet if you want to remain competitive, you have to come to terms with AI,” said Hommelhoff. The law graduate shed light on the various facets of artificial intelligence, including legal regulations, such as those already underway with the AI Act, and the impact AI technologies will have on the shortage of skilled workers and personnel development. She strongly emphasised that AI will play a key role in all sectors of a company. She also emphasised how essential transparency, clear rules and deep trust are for the success of the transformation process. Seen in this light, AI is not regarded as a threat, but as a real opportunity. “AI is a huge opportunity, but also a challenge,” says Hommelhoff. Above all, there is one thing we should not do: ignore AI. As with many innovations, “the short-term effects are overestimated and the long-term effects tend to be underestimated”.

Understanding data as a product

Another presentation, by contrast, was more technical. According to Dr Sebastian Klapdor, CTO and Chief Data Officer at Vista, the starting point for the individualised and mass customisation-driven print products described by Zipper – as well as the successful implementation of AI strategies – is data. For Klapdor, data is not an abstract matter, but like water: clean, easily accessible and vital. “Data is essential for increasing the value of artificial intelligence, but most companies find it difficult to derive the benefits from it,” he concluded, calling for data to be seen as a product in a data network. Although this sounds abstract, he is already implementing it for Vista worldwide with technology and data teams consisting of software engineers, data scientists and analysts. In his experience, it is only through the use of data as an essential part of the corporate culture that processes can be accelerated, planning improved and customer services implemented with AI-supported interaction.

AI in customer service: better than humans?

The perfect symbiosis of AI and customer service was also the topic of Tjimen van den Elzen, co-founder of Engaige. The Dutch company, which was founded on the back of an initiative by Helloprint, has developed its own AI customer service agent, which has already significantly improved customer service and customer satisfaction at the well-known online printer after just a few months. According to van den Elzen, the multi-lingual capability of the AI is also a particular advantage in international markets.

Start-ups at the Online Print Symposium

AI can and will play an important role, not just in customer service. It is also a game changer in the optimisation and adaptation of image and print data, up to the point where it supports the efficient structuring of content creation. A total of seven start-ups presented innovative business cases at OPS2024:

  • Servi Pieters from Viesus AG showed how AI can be used to optimise data from millions of images in order to achieve the desired quality in production.
  • David Righini from PiktID demonstrated how his AI-based upscaling software can significantly improve the quality of facial features without changing the identity.
  • Marvin Pflaume from Orderize spoke on the topic of “From digital to phygital: Innovation beyond the screen”
  • Manuel and Julian Mandel from memperience presented a completely new type of photo book, namely the video book with – as the name suggests – integrated video on paper pages, similar to Harry Potter
  • Marcin Majda and Wacław Mostowski from Antigro Designer presented their online editors and how “print can become profit” and “higher margins can be achieved through innovation”
  • Lars Klein and Niklas Mallmann from Lyto Brands Group spoke about “AI in retail: improving customer experience and web-to-print” and
  • Hannes Steiner presented story.one and the “revolutionisation of publishing”, which has the potential to unleash a new way of storytelling

AI has been around in the printing industry for longer than anyone thought

Another expert to talk about AI was Thomas Beguin from IXXI, whose company Resnap, founded in 2013, was already shaking up the established market for photo products. Resnap used algorithms to classify the input images according to various criteria and was the first self-learning AI image selection technology to be used in a photo book generator. Beguin sold Resnap in 2017 to the Albelli-Photobox Group, now Storio. He has since founded a new company, IXXI, with which he hopes to once again turn the market for photo products on its head.

“Attention Battle” and “All in”

For those who generate most or all of their business online, the presentations by Dr. Christian Maaß, CEO of the world’s leading online music retailer Thomann and formerly employed by Flyeralarm and Cimpress, and René Ruhland, founder and Managing Director of the MyPoster Group, were equally exciting. While Maaß primarily called for a focus on the basics of e-commerce, Ruhland spoke about what it takes to survive in a hyper-competitive red ocean market: “All in” – as simple as this strategy may sound, it is challenging to implement, because it also means tackling challenges in all areas not just half-heartedly, but with full passion, full energy, full time and yes, also full risk.

Mass customisation must become part of the DNA

On the OPS stage, Steffen Tomasi, founder and CEO of Flyerline Schweiz AG, gave an ideal example of what 100% commitment looks like and what it can achieve. His company has had an eventful history, with the sale and repurchase of shares, from pure digital printing to digital and offset and back to pure digital printing. “Our path is 100% digital and mass customisation is our business model. Adapt or perish is our motto, because if you don’t move with the times, you will be gone in no time.” With these words, he encouraged companies to boldly reinvent themselves.

José Salgado from the bizay group in Portugal also emphasised the importance of mass customisation in combination with AI. His company, represented in 23 countries with a turnover of 40 million euros, has developed a global operating system that enables access to an extensive catalogue with tens of thousands of individualised products without bizay having to maintain its own production capacities.

Davis Zöllner is pursuing a completely different approach – one that has very little to do with printing – with his company myTaag. With his product, the digital business card, the youngest founder to date from the well-known TV show “Die Höhle der Löwen” (The Lion’s Den) is picking up on a trend among large companies to become even more digital and efficient. In doing so, he made it clear to the OPS participants that new technologies such as AI are changing products and are accompanied by both opportunities and risks.

A community for the community

A first at the Online Print Symposium 2024 included not just the keynote speech by Kirsten Hommelhoff or the stage set-up in the style of a latenight talk show, but also the new community app. The app doesn’t just make it easier for participants to network with each other at the event. It is also intended to be used in the time between the two Online Print Symposiums and to bring those involved in online print closer together and into contact with one another.

“We are once again deeply impressed this year by how openly and intensively the participants at the Online Print Symposium discuss current topics, formulate new ideas and establish networks,” summarises moderator and co-organiser Bernd Zipper. Jens Meyer adds: “The innovative spirit of the industry is clearly noticeable at the OPS. Participants at this year’s Online Print Symposium will once again return to their companies with greater enthusiasm and motivation.”

The countdown to OPS2025 has started

Incidentally, interested parties can already mark the date for the Online Print Symposium in their calendars: The 12th OPS will take place in Munich on 2-4 April 2025.

The latest information about the Global Online Print Symposium is always available here: https://www.online-print-symposium.de/en/

Event team of the 11th Online Print Symposium

zipcon consulting GmbH is a global consulting company for the communications, print and media industry with a focus on online print and digital transformation. The company sees itself as an independent and comprehensive technology and strategy consultant. zipcon also produces market studies and various case studies for e-business print, mass customisation and multi-channel publishing. Leading companies in the online print industry rely on the expertise of this company. www.zipcon.de

The Bundesverband Druck und Medien e.V. (bvdm) is the umbrella organisation of the German printing industry. As an employers’ association, political trade association and technical trade association, it represents the positions and objectives of the printing industry vis-à-vis politicians, administration, trade unions and the supplier industry. The bvdm is supported by eight regional associations. Internationally, it is organised through its membership of Intergraf and FESPA. www.bvdm-online.de

Contact for media

Jens Meyer
Verband Druck und Medien Beratung GmbH
Einsteinring 1a, 85609 Aschheim b. München
Tel.: +49 (0) 89 – 330 36 210
E-Mail: j.meyer@vdm-beratung.de

External Source: Bundesverband Druck und Medien e.V. (bvdm)

Summary
Online Print Symposium 2024: "AI is not a future phenomenon, but a present reality"
Article Name
Online Print Symposium 2024: "AI is not a future phenomenon, but a present reality"
Description
True to the motto "Join the AI-powered Print Revolution", the 11th Online Print Symposium invited (online) print entrepreneurs to actively address the question of what role artificial intelligence can and will play in their business in the future. In the end, more than 290 participants from 16 countries discussed the potential of artificial intelligence in print at the Science Congress Center Munich. Eleven top-class speakers and seven exciting start-ups provided plenty of evidence that print and AI complement each other perfectly. The mix of topics at the 11th OPS painted a clear picture of a print industry in transformation. And there were many débuts on stage.
Author
Publisher Name
Beyond-print.net

Leave A Comment