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Cultural exchange

Sep 1, 2007 12:00 AM


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This past June, about 15 members of the Digital Solutions Cooperative (Dscoop), an HP Indigo press users group, participated in a conference held at the press vendor's headquarters in Rehovot, Israel. Attendees mingled with senior HP executives, previewed new technology and discussed best practices with their fellow printers.

Addressing HP Indigo's vision and mission, Alon Bar-Shany, vice president of HP's Indigo division, cited founder Benny Landa's mantra: “Everything that can become digital, will become digital.” Bar-Shany said the company is working to “drive the analog to digital transformation in the color print production market.” HP Indigo is pairing its competitive strengths, including its unique ink technology, with HP's IT infrastructure capabilities. On the R&D front, it will take full advantage of what Bar-Shany calls HP's “commitment to innovate.”

Bar-Shany added that a strong user community, as embodied by Dscoop, is central to HP Indigo's success.

HP Indigo's Yoram Krivine and Pinni Perlmutter hosted a tour of the company's manufacturing facilities. Vistors saw the HP Indigo 5000 and 5500 production lines as well as web-fed presses w3250 and ws4500.

The group also visited Oniya Shapira (Asseret, Israel). Using six new HP Indigo press w3250s, this direct mail specialist is doing pioneering transpromo work for a leading credit card company. Oniya Shapira will produce 8 million monthly mail pieces that combine essential statement and billing information with high-value personalized coupons and promotional offers.

About Dscoop

Dscoop was created two years ago at Print 05. “We are a self-funding, independent organization made up of three equal segments,” explains Eric Hawkinson, Dscoop executive director. “We have Indigo owers and operators, vendor partners and HP.”

A nine-member board of directors includes two HP reps as non-voting members. “They provide strategic insights on where Indigo is going; the other seven board members really chart the course,” says Hawkinson.

Since its inception, Dscoop has grown to more than1,600 members and reportedly includes more than 50 percent of the Indigo installed base. Although HP participates in the group, due to nondisclosure agreements, the press vendor can't share its customer list with Dscoop. “We started from the ground up,” says Hawkinson.

Dscoop and the Digital Imanging Customers Exchange (DICE) both evolved from the original Indigo Customer Exchange (ICE). Dscoop includes only HP users; DICE is open to Kodak and Xerox users, as well.

Doyle Mortimer of Alexander's Print Advantage (Linden, UT), a founding member of Dscoop, says true partnership is a priority. Mortimer, a former ICE board member, resigned from that group after becoming dissatisfied with its somewhat adversarial relationship with the press vendor. “Before HP purchased Indigo, there were a lot of concerns — the company was small and had a lot of growing pains. A lot of equipment operators were a little frustrated, and over time ICE [had a tendency to be] negative.”

Mortimer, with some fellow ICE members, served on a digital print advisory council for HP. “We developed a relationship where we began to see a different culture in HP than had previously existed with Indigo. It was more collaborative vs. the competitive/combative [ICE relationship].”

Mortimer and Jack Glacken, president of Today's Graphics (Philadelphia) along with a few other former ICE participants, went on to start Dscoop. “We wanted to give the users a forum and yet have a positive partnership with HP. That's why ‘cooperative’ is in the name,” says Mortimer.

Mortimer praises HP's open-book approach and support. “HP isn't looking to sell my customer a press, they're looking to put impressions on my press. They'll say, ‘We think the market is going in this direction, and ask for our feedback. They don't want to just sell boxes, they want those machines to be producing.”

Dscoop's third Annual Conference will be held February 21-23, 2008, at the San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina. See www.dscoop.org.

Katherine O'Brien is the editor of AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at KOB@americanprinter.com.