GRAFKOM is nothing less than a fantastic event, arranged by Ola Karlsson and Ulf Sunnberg from Stockholm in Sweden. The event is about sharing. Speakers from both Sweden and other countries entertain sharing knowledge for a full day. IBM explains about artificial intelligence, Elanders about their approach to the future, Lasertryk about their solutions and services and many many other VERY exciting topics. The event is one of a kind and the event is really an amazing example on how sharing can give a business owner SO much more knowledge – to inspire and to develop. GREAT
I’ve heard about Grafkom before. I wanted to come and see it for myself, because life is dangerous, but life is learning. I really wanted to see what it was like and how is it different from the other conferences, because everybody told me it’s a bit different. For a number of the speakers, I didn’t need Swedish, because their explanations, their body language, the way they put things across is so close to English that you could understand it. So, what they were trying to say, the humor, the videos – all worked together. The Lasertryk one was very good and the IBM guy, because I liked his humor – he was in a suit, very serious-looking, but very relaxed, knew his stuff and enjoyed what he was doing and I love to see people who present and train and really enjoy it. I’ve been asked if I will present a session at the next event in Norrkoping in November 1st and 2nd, so we’re talking about trying to help the print groups how they sell either complex or expensive products, because it’s a little bit away from maybe what they do every day and it’s something they need to start to learn.
We have a good year and a good couple of years, to be honest. It’s very, very inspiring; I’ve just talked to a customer now what this network meeting is all about and I explained to them that finally, to be honest, it’s fun again, because there is so many things happening, both on inkjet and on toner-based technology. We’re closing our financial year in a couple of days and we already have already achieved the budget on units. We have many new customers, new accounts. We found a lot of volumes, which is very important for us, especially now as for the printing industry, for our customers, the price in the market is going down, so we are going for a little bit higher and more profitable volume in combination with our customers.
It’s very traditional, but we are trying to build the third, how can I say, that with the new generation, even though my dad is still coming with his great ideas and visionary mind also, but we need to transform, definitely. We need to follow the digital, and we need to digitalize ourselves, as well. We are still part of many communication channels. It’s going to be a problem if you don’t transform in some ways, but we will definitely be there.
I was interviewed by a magazine the other day and I said that finally the digital revolution is here, and that’s a combination of only high and toner-based machines, because we’ve also finally come to a really good conclusion on the inkjet. Not sheet-fed yet, because personally I think it’s a little bit early, because there are still some things that need to be sorted out between the paper manufacturers, the engine manufacturers and the ink manufacturers, like we have done for many years on toner. That’s the key thing for me to see in the whole picture, not only to sell machines and hardware, but also to see which kind of use we have on the creative side to find volumes for our customers to sell to their customers.
I’m doing a speech here at the show to try to describe how Lasertryk is handling its software, how Lasertryk is selling the web-to-print solution and how we are moving forward in the progress of earning a lot more money, so it’s quite big. For me personally, also coming from a company called Zeuner, which was bought by Lasertryk and then moved on and took the Precision Solution Manager within Lasertryk, so it’s been interesting.
White Label Solution is a cost-free solution that anyone can have. It’s build on top of our own web-to-print solution called Lasertryk.dk. It’s an easy to use software and you don’t have to spend money on it. It takes 20 minutes and you are up and running – you just need a logo and then you have a compete web-to-print solution. Everything is included into it – the price, calculation, basic products, so the only thing you need to do is add how much you’re willing to earn on the products, and then you are up and running and you have your own web-to-print solution. That’s an easy setup and it’s an easy solution. It doesn’t really take a long time to decide if you want or don’t want it. Final launch was October last year, so about 6 months we’ve been up and running now and have more than 200 sites. It’s another sales channel for us. It’s not the normal way, but it moves the sales out to our customers, and when they are doing sales, we are doing sales, so it’s a different way of doing it, but it is an extra sales channel for us and we are quite positive about it. We don’t see why we shouldn’t go into other countries – it’s a multi-language solution, so it’s been ready for that. We’re just waiting for the time to come. Of course, at the moment we are working hard on the Scandinavian market and trying to get everyone having this solution.
Brand Central is different, but it’s still more or less a ‘web-to-anything’ solution, as I call it. It’s a solution where you don’t have limitations in products and you don’t see that it’s more or less graphic parts that need to be in there. It’s a marketing portal where you add everything into it. You can add, as I’ve mentioned business cards, of course, and traditional graphic products, but then you can add Christmas gifts, you can add other marketing material like logos, your social shares, Facebook parts, you can add everything that’s possible to move into it. But it’s a product that goes out to our end-customers. It doesn’t go to the graphic industry like the White Label. It’s easy, because you can combine all these things into one portal. And when you can convince your customers that they are saving time – it’s easy. Then of course, there is pricing, because we are automating everything, so when you are ordering in the solution, you don’t have to use customer service or prepress, it’s going directly into production, if it’s graphic parts of it, but again if you are ordering USB sticks, system sends an e-mail directly to the supplier of the USB sticks, for instance. At the moment, I would say, it’s all of our companies that have the possibility to sell it, but of course, it’s easier to do it in the name of Lasertryk due to the fact that we have a strong, financial setup and we can prove that we have success by doing e-commerce and doing each business. It’s very easy to sell in the Lasertryk name, but again some customers want to do it with Toptryk, some others want to do it with Zeuner and we don’t differentiate it, we just do it.
From my perspective, we will continue growing, we will continue moving forward, we will add more products to our portfolio, so I can’t give you a clear answer, nobody can, but as we’re moving forward now, I think we will be a big player in the industry. I’m not saying graphic industry – I’m saying in the industry.
I am Adobe Certified Instructor and Adobe Education Leader. I work at Broby Grafiska in Sunne, Sweden. It’s a high educational training institution, so we have people coming from all over Scandinavia for a 2-year program in graphics or packaging, and we also do contract assignments to help businesses develop, because we believe that education and business really need to work together. There is a national connection between the development of a healthy industry and educational institutions. It’s a little bit like a monastery. We’re writing them in the forest, people come there because they want to study and in one way, for an institution to be isolated from everything that goes on, it means that the students have much more time to be focused. So, if I go on Friday at 10 o’clock to the school, there will be students who are working on their portfolios and work in the program, because the coolest thing you can do in Sunne is actually to be at the school. At the moment, we are working on MOOC. So we’re having a course with 2,600 people from all over the world. We have one session which is evening course at 7 p.m. Australian time, which works for us, it’s a nice morning session for us, but you are allowed to join; even if you are in Europe, you can join the Australian Live session. Then we have 7 p.m. London time, and then we have 7 p.m. Chicago time. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. It’s the Adobe Education Exchange. It’s free for all teachers to join and even if you are not a teacher, we’re not going to kick you out, so we do actually have both students and working professionals who join those courses. But, of course, the online environment does depend on the students commenting and working together, but it’s a very good experience for us as a school, because we have been considering for a while how to do professional development for people or in printing industry. We do have a long training period, working with people in the printing industry, but we have not actually moved to have Online or Distance learning. What we would like to have maybe in the future is a combination, a hybrid, where we would have parts of courses that would be online, and then have some hardware. When we are talking about hardware, I mean, online we can’t really let you touch and feel a flexo cliché and we can’t bring a Fischer & Krecke press that is as big as this room and even bigger, into an online environment – you have to be there, you have to see it, you have to smell the ink. We really need to have the combination. We will never give up the actual tactile physical learning.
“When we met you at Grafkom in Malmo, you were in the business for one day. Are you counting how many days it’s been so far?” No, I’m not. I’m present in the moment, so right now it feels like I’ve been in this business forever. “And what about the industry – do they feel the same?” I don’t think so. I still get these questions about how on Earth did I find this interesting business opportunity. “We’ve also visited your bindery two months ago. How are things going with your business since then?” Things are going really well. We’ve started to renovate and rebuild what we are building, so as for the moving plans, you get all the details and the project planning for the moving of the company, so that is fun. We have the new organization up and coming, so we have new roles the personnel had to apply for and that is going to be executed in May. We have our new business system also being executed in May, so it’s a lot happening right now. “When are you moving into your new facilities?” Actually, we have a really big order this summer, so we have to move half of the machinery before that. So, we have a mid-June as a deadline. “This big, new job you have in the summer – is that a new client or is it an existing client?” It was an existing client, but we were able to triple the volume. “Great!” Yeah. “And the bindery itself is all about the volume, right?” Yes, it’s all about volume.
“Do you require any previous skills to apply for a program?” Some of the students that come are in the mid-life, some are coming straight like into university, some have gone to the university and have a need to find real work-life skills, they will come back after the university to come to vocational training and other people are maybe in the middle of their life, maybe they’ve come to their 40s, and realized: “I’m not doing what I want to do. I want to change into a design or a packaging career”, and so they will come to school at that times. We have a big age span, from about 18 ‘till about 40, so it’s a very big challenge to work with that, but it also gives a lot of diversity, which makes it a very rich educational environment. In the massive online courses, this is something that is not specific. This is Adobe education and it’s empowering teachers that are all over the world and in this one we want to empower both the kindergarten teachers to be publishers for materials for their students, and we also want to help the university teachers and lecturers to be able to communicate to their students.
“You are educating a lot of graphical designers. Do you think there will be an overcapacity of them in the industry in the future?” I think the move to digital means that there are bigger requirements for digital assets. If I’m making animation, that’s 30 pictures per frame, rather than having just one picture. The digital revolution is for those that are creating graphics, it’s an expanding market. Even if we might hear that some traditional newspapers are closing down, the total volume of paper is going down, there is still a lot of growth. And if we are talking about the industry, I try to bear in mind that we’re not in the graphics industry – we are the information processing industry. There will be more of information and there will always be the need for somebody to clean up that information, so if we see ourselves as people who are cleaning up and refining and polishing information to make it more accessible to different work groups, we will have a job for life.
“How do you see yourself in your work?” In the sessions before, we’ve heard about that we have to put an emotional packaging on what we are doing. I don’t believe in that. I mean, for me, the emotion comes all from the inside, so peeling off and being to the core and passionate about teaching, graphics, communication and I get a kick out of helping a teacher in Nigeria, I get a kick out of helping a student to learn how to work with InDesign, I get a kick out of a student in the classroom who comes for value of knowledge and this is who I am, so I don’t need an emotional package. I’m emotional right through.
“What do you think about Grafkom?” I like the part of sharing. The sharing part is very important, exactly like the printers are sharing, the customers are sharing their experience with the printers; we as a supplier also try to share our knowledge and traps that could happen in the market in the future investment. I liked the Elanders speech today. It was very good and informative. I like the Danish Lasertryk presentation, a very proud guy to present his product and I think it was very brave of him standing in front of the Swedish printing industry who see them as a big competitor. They are doing a different kind of business in a different way of doing the business. As I said, I’ve been in the business for a long time, I know that the hard part of e-commerce he presented it in a very good way. I think, we as suppliers have to learn a lot from him also on how to present our products and solutions.
It was great. There were new ideas and it was inspirational.
For me as a teacher it’s really important to keep in touch with the industry. Many of the people that are here at Grafkom I know from my time when I was working as a pre-press manager, so I have a long time of a relationship and I know a lot of people and I really enjoy meeting them again. But as a teacher, I think it’s essential because this is both ways, to make sure that I am teaching the right things. Sometimes the students will say: “This has nothing to do with my future career”, and then I have to come out here at least a couple of times a year and talk to the industry and find out that even if the students don’t understand it, this is really, really important.
I think the event is really interesting. It is interesting to just think about all the opportunities in the future and techniques that we don’t use.
I think it’s been great. There are a lot of interesting people here, a lot of networking, and to me also some interesting speeches like the MEC, because I can relate to them and see that there is an interest for us to talk to them. So, it’s been quite well. I’m looking forward to the next one!