Tatiana Duarte is the Executive President of Andigraf – Colombian Association of Graphic Communication

With a background for working to government export agency and also in private companies she was contracted by Andigraf 18 months ago to promote the transformation of the association in requirement to the printing industry market transformation as well.

Along with a new board of directors componed of owners and managers coming from companies working in new growing markets as functional printing, visual communication and labels, mixed with traditional printers and relevant suppliers, Tatiana is developing a very good job in developing a new way of communication and promoting relevant content.

In the same way Andigraf has taken an important role during the Covid pandemic in generating information and new opportunities to all members. This includes the first virtual trade show they promoted at the end of June with a very successful vendors and attendees participation.

Tatiana maybe represents the way Printing Industry Association must transform to thrive in a challenging times like we are living now with serious effects in our industry.

So, we are proud to present Tatiana Duarte to our Inkish audience.

Along with her we also introduce our new partner in Inkish South America, Carlos Silgado Bernal. A very skilled and recognized professional in Latin America printing industry

Hello, welcome to Over the Skype. Today we are going to talk to Tatiana Duarte Pereira who is the President of Andigraf (Colombian Graphic Communication Industry Association). I am Tânia Galluzzi from Inkish Brasil and the interview will be conducted by our new partner from Inkish South America, Carlos Silgado and the CEO of Inkish Brasil, Hamilton Costa. Tatiana has a degree in Business Administration, specializing in logistics. Tatiana has experience in the private and public sectors and since 2018 she has been conducting a series of changes at Andigraf that have allowed entrepreneurs to reinvent and rethink their companies and their businesses.
Hello everyone, it’s a pleasure to be here and join Inkish South America now.

Thank you Carlos for being with us and thank you Tatiana for being with us. Go ahead Carlos.

Tatiana, before approaching the topic that brings us together, I would like you to introduce yourself. Tell us, who is Tatiana Duarte? Hello, thank you so much for that invitation. Well I’ll tell you that, as already said in the introduction, I have 20 years of experience working in public and private initiatives and now in Andigraf I am performing different activities and I will be leading this association that has in Colombia a history of 45 years in the sector, bringing together suppliers, printers, designers and all the companies that move the chain and graphic communication. I also had the opportunity to work at ProColombia, which is a government entity registered with the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism here in the country. So we supported companies to develop export initiatives, inventions, also to promote tourism and this was a great opportunity to understand what the needs of companies are and now to be able to apply all this knowledge and initiatives of public and private work in the printing industry. Last June AndiGraf promoted the first virtual trade show of the printing sector in Latin America. Could you tell us the origin of this experience and what challenges you had to face to make it happen? Sure thing. Everyone already knows that digital transformation is very important. Not only at that moment when this health emergency began, but it is already several years ago that we have seen that e-commerce and new sales channels have adjusted in a very important and indispensable way, and not only in the printing industry but in all industries. This demand was born with the initiative to reactivate the country’s economy and to support the printing industry in a new way. When the pandemic started, in March-April, the markets closed, the opportunities closed seemingly for the industries, we thought and we said “and now, what are we going to do?” and then we realized that this digital transformation and this new opportunity that we had visualized could already be realized and that was when we made the decision to invite the suppliers, printers and our allies to accompany us in this virtual graphic trade show. As you said, it was the first trade show that took place in a virtual way. This was a great expectation, and it showed itself with a very wide audience and we really received the support of many companies. We had the opportunity to exhibit more than 62 companies that participated there. Companies of the highest quality, the most important brands in the printing industry sector and we also welcomed 2,500 visitors to the show, who entered a virtual environment for 2 days that was available for 24 hours and visited, entered with their avatar, with their design image and even clothes that they had to wear, and had to tell the route they wanted to make at the show and could go to each of the booths and get to know the brochures… talk to the manager who was there, talk, make a phone call… it was something wonderful. People were very happy, we saw that the businessmen entered as early as 5 a.m., at 11 p.m. … taking advantage of the fact that it was 24 hours. So it was a wonderful experience, very socially rich. Everyone gathered around this event and we were very pleased with this opportunity where we made the printing industry understand that digital, and digital transformation, and the virtual, do not fight with printing or with what the printing industry has traditionally done. Tatiana, the show looked really good. Which software, what company did it?
Yes. We have been evaluating different platforms and they all met the requirements that would allow this interaction and this platform is a platform from Belgium that has a representative here in Colombia for Latin America. So when we saw the ease of use and the beautiful design it had, we decided it was the best and we took the risk of working with them because being the first virtual trade show was a risk, it was a gamble. I used to tell business people that we were the pioneers because we believed in a new way of doing things, a new channel of distribution and sales and that was important because we can’t all just be in our homes and let things go by, yes we have to go out but at that moment our way out is the virtual way.
62 exhibitors is an excellent number for a pioneering exhibition event. I understand that this number also includes the Mexico Pavilion. How hard was it to convince the exhibitors to participate? What was that experience like? No, I’m telling you it was something relatively, really casual. We started working on the national initiative, we were not thinking about other countries, but we have a very close relationship with Mexico and with the Union of Mexico and also the associations in Mexico that know us very well. So they listened to our initiative and said, “We like it a lot, we’re interested, can we?” and I said, “Sure, yes. You are very welcome”. We were not thinking of an international partner, but it was very natural between us and they were very enthusiastic and took the decision to accompany us and we were very pleased with the result, with the influence of the public, with the platform, with the experience and today we know that from now on we are a union with Mexico and we have many associations in other sectors that will be using not only this platform but also similar ones to explore new ways of virtual market. You mentioned 2,500 unique visitors. What do they say about the experience of having participated?

Well, surveys showed us that over 75% were between very satisfied and satisfied and this was a great honor for us. In total we had 2,500 single visitors and we had these visitors coming over and over again and again, so for the 2 days that we were hosting the event. So we had certain figures at some times and we also saw spikes from 10am to 2, 3pm which was when we had more visitors and everyone told us in the research we did that the experience was very satisfying, but that things happened and that not everything was perfect as they expected. What happened was that on some occasions visitors who wanted to join and who registered, maybe when they received the e-mail “validate your registration here” did not validate for some reason. And the process was to register, receive an e-mail validation and you had to validate but many did not. Or they joined the platform and didn’t know how to move, how to move forward, and at the entrance there was a “welcome” sign that people said they couldn’t close it. It was a little inconvenient for those who participated but we are all learning, the general public too, so these things give a little bit of work in the beginning but we all became familiar with the experience that was much more dynamic and even the event took place in 2 days, on a Thursday and Friday, and we saw that the people who participated on Thursday were dressed with their avatar in a very formal way and on Friday they arrived in jeans, flower shirt and I do not know, it was fun for those who participated and had a much more relaxed attitude. They were doing business differently and it was a lot of fun. This experience in general was very satisfying for those who attended.
I don’t know what happened, but my clothes haven’t changed. I think that was special for just a few people.

I should have told you to change, of course.

Oh, I didn’t know.

In relation to the interaction between people. What were the conversations between visitors and exhibitors? Well, it was several conversations. Because the platform allowed you… if you were walking down a corridor you could just move your mouse over any person and then you could see what company they were from. So you could not only communicate with who was attending the booth, but you could also pass by everyone who was there and every time you met someone you were able to dial and call. Then people were very happy because the interaction had different forms. You could leave a business card when someone didn’t answer you. You could just see someone passing by, some customer you were interested in, and you could send a business card and the person would get it, so sometimes you couldn’t talk to them but they would get it. Another way was by watching WhatsApp, you would write and the person would answer you, or you could also call, all on the same platform, dial and call. So there were different ways of approaching people because it didn’t always coincide with being at the same time in the same place on the platform. You could teleport from the beginning to the back pavilion, to the 5, we had 5 pavilions, you could be in the hall, in the auditorium where we also had conferences. So people could be everywhere and if I didn’t find the person at the exact moment I was going to, but it was very good and they were very happy because there were different ways to communicate. And now from the exhibitors’ point of view, what results did they mention? What information on closed or unclosed deals… what information do we have?

Well, that information isn’t always close to the source. But yes, when we closed the event, we had a conversation with everyone who attended. A lot of them, like at a traditional trade show, said they didn’t close deals, but they’re very close to closing. So we saw that we profited by realizing opportunities. Maybe it’s not about doing business at that moment, but you found an opportunity that you didn’t have before, or that you didn’t think you could have at that moment of a pandemic, of quarantine, and even less thinking of a moment, of a virtual activity, of a printing industry that had never worked with a virtual trade show. So they won, because they had 300, 200 contacts in 2 days with people they hadn’t talked to, so it was a great opportunity. In addition, we saw many buyers from different sectors adding to the printing industry, such as beverage, food and pharmaceutical sectors… We saw when we were passing by, looking at the trade show, we saw the names, very recognized companies here in Colombia and we thought “how nice that you are here”. They are companies that are at the trade show, and they are looking for a supplier. So at that moment we knew that we were creating opportunities and we saw that they were doing negotiations and including some sales.
Very good. Taking into account an experience like this, how do you imagine the future will be the face-to-face trade shows, not only in the graphic sector in Colombia, but worldwide? How do you envision it? Well, I think that face-to-face will always be because we are human beings and we need this contact and this warmth to meet our friends, our colleagues and have a coffee, a little more warm. If I am not mistaken, this is a new sales channel, a new distribution channel, so one thing does not clash with the other. We have Andigrafica that we are going to hold next year in August 2021 and we are thinking of having a part of the trade show in a virtual way. How would that be? We will have the traditional booths and we will make a virtual extension for those who somehow could not participate in a physical way. Of course we are working very carefully, because we cannot compete with ourselves, but we know that this is a new option that we should not leave aside. It is an opportunity that is worthwhile, has receptivity and the professionals of the sector, the entrepreneurs, are interested in doing. So since we know it, we will certainly move forward with it. So you’d say it was worth the effort to have this first virtual trade show? Yes, I completely agree. It was worth it, all our members are very happy about it. The results were very good and that is why we are now working on a new virtual event. Andigraf doesn’t contain itself. Knowledge is always important and learning is what you have to do. The opportunities are here, we just have to find them. And that’s why now two weeks ago we had the launch of our new event. Our new event which is the Virtual Graphic Auction. What is it about? It is an opportunity, a new sales channel, for our affiliates and companies in the sector so that through a technological platform as well, you have the opportunity to attend 3 events. These 3 events are the Colombian Printing Congress, which is our traditional congress where we have different conferences, also the Packaging Meeting, where we treat and deepen in all the subjects of packaging, cartons and flexography. And thirdly the Virtual Graphic Auction, where attendees have the opportunity to buy competitively priced products, so it’s an auction that will have a base price that will work in a way up. We are not looking for someone to offer a price below the base, no, we are not interested in that. Our interest is that now in Colombia and someone who is interested in participating says “well, we have a machine that we are interested in selling, or a lot of special paper, an ink, or printing services, or a different package of machine tools, that we want to offer to entrepreneurs and industry professionals”, and they are welcome to offer. So we will have these 3 events on a single platform that we will hold on August 26, 27 and 28. It is another opportunity for you to attend, participate and join this platform of 24 conferences of all themes. The themes are extremely good, we will have sustainability, digital transformation themes, color direction… The topics are very good, there will be the traditional brands, the most important ones that will accompany us, with the consultants that are part of the Andigraf team that will also accompany us and Hamilton will also be accompanying us on this opportunity and will still be able to attend the auction during the 3 days virtually. You will be sitting here in a virtual way and you will see how each of the companies exhibits its products and shows its benefits… and even at that moment you will be able to make your bid. So this is our new event and I cordially invite you to participate in this new Virtual Graphic Auction event.
I have no doubt that such an event will boost the market. And precisely about the market, I would like to discuss with you how the printing industry is taking this moment of crisis generated by COVID-19 and how Andigraf is preparing its way out of this crisis? Yes, that’s a question we all wish we had a proper answer to. Basically, we as an association are focused on serving our members and the industry in general. How are we doing this? By maintaining a very close relationship with the National Government. Directly with the presidency and government entities. For what? To understand what the path is, what opportunities the government is offering and also the support. Because all these laws, resolutions and information are not always easy to understand, or to receive, or to consolidate in one place. So we as an association, what we do is to be aware of everything that is happening. We propose initiatives, which encourage employment, tax initiatives… so we understand this information, we take advantage of it and give it to our members so that they are attentive to receive the subsidies, to see what the opportunities are. We are even sending information about bids and business opportunities to the National Government because the government is a big buyer and the National Government launches bids to purchase printing activities. So then what can we see? That in the last 3 months they have launched bids to buy leaflets, flyers, booklets, including booklets as a subpoena … I do not know the right word to be understood Hamilton, but for people who leave home and should not leave, the police take a printed agenda where they write the name of the person and give their subpoena to then fulfill, so these are the objects of bidding by the government. Even all the safety and sterilization materials required for the means of transport, for public entities… which are opportunities for graphic printing. So there, we are present and we take all the information and also transmit all the pains and concerns and needs to the National Government.
Tatiana, you know we helped, you were helping Andigraf in Colombia for many years, right?

We know the organization well. We saw that with your hiring as president of the entity and as executive president too, other people came who were not generally in the entity. There were other sectors like visual communication for example. How did you move and why? How was the response of the printing industry associates in general to this digital transformation that the organization is undergoing? Indeed, digital transformation in the association is something that members do not necessarily experience so directly. Because it is something very internal, as you mentioned Hamilton, it is something of a new image, of a new page, it is an internal change of our market processes, initiatives and products. We understand more what digital transformation is, we supported ourselves with the government to follow a process and Andrigraf profited by receiving support from the National Government, in a program that is called here in Colombia “Productivity Factory” and that has different lines of work. It is through these lines of work that the digital transformation is achieved. We started this process last year, since July and now this is the result. There was also a lot of preparation we had as a team, as you mentioned yourself, the team now has another, a new mentality and it’s a new way to communicate. So this makes the information arrive in a faster way for the subsidiary, that one knows more quickly the opportunities of products and initiatives that one can participate and also consult. To consult and enter the website, to have the possibility to find a virtual training course, to download and to listen to it. Last year we had 24 virtual programs for free, which today can be found on the portal. We have trained 4,000 people for free on a national level. So this is gradually transforming and streamlining. And with Andigraf being around the client, it creates those expectations. In a way or for free or at some point with a small cost, but well, we are moving forward and this was done over time, preparation and also with the current reality. Because the digital transformation requires you, and the digital transformation doesn’t want us not to print, it wants us to be much more efficient, to automate what we can and that we deliver in a much more specific way to our clients.
Very good.

We have not seen such an intense digital transformation so far in other associations of the printing industry. Do you believe this Andigraf initiative will become a reference for the sector? Well, that would be a great opportunity to create in this topic and allow a lot more of the market and the possibility to reach more people. Yes, for example, as I said, in Mexico there are the associations that had asked us what we were doing, because they had been following us since last year, that our idea interested them a lot, they seemed very interested and they even started working on some associations. And well, we actually innovate so little… it’s something that was here a long time ago, except that in Andigraf they did not exist, for example, or in other associations in other countries. I also received some calls from associations in Peru, Ecuador… who called me to ask “well, and this will return to you economically soon?” and I said “see, we are an association that works for members and we live off selling tickets, because of course, we have a small margin, but it is not our business”. All our events are $30, $40 events, obviously this is not in our interest, but we have a production plant. We have seen that the other associations have taken an interest and incorporated these new initiatives and it is worth it. I don’t know what they’re doing now, it may even be that we’re already a little behind and we have to go much faster, finding new ways to do things. And we are happy to be here, ready, in person, to meet with the presidents of other associations from other countries to tell our experiences. Here in Colombia and in other associations they ask me “how much did it cost you?”, “how did it work?”, “what were the most serious problems that you saw?”, and I tell them how everything went, I tell them with pleasure, because sharing is a good thing for everyone here. We’re hoping that the economy will be reactivated. Our interest is to support the printing industry, and that the country’s economy is reactivated. We don’t want us to get along and others don’t. We want good for everyone, because that’s what we need. We can’t lose hope, we have to do things and keep fighting, and take some initiatives, we don’t know everything either, but we can say “it didn’t work out for me” and not “ah, I won’t teach him because this is my scheme. No, I want to participate, I want to help and I can share the results I’ve had. Well, we want to thank you for taking this interview. It was a pleasure talking to you.

Tatiana very, very much, thank you for your participation. It was very enlightening and I think a lot of lesson to everyone. You are very, very welcome to Inkish and I’m sure many will enjoy your interview. Thank you very much.

Thank you very much Tânia, Hamilton and Carlos. Thank you for the invitation.

Thank you Tatiana.

You’re welcome.