Email from WhatTheyThink informs me about news that Heidelberg will not be at IPEX 2014. Checking on blogsearch this was announced last week so I am still catching up. I have put the #mtw3 tag in as this news is a significant event for Heidelberg and IPEX and connects with management theory.
IPEX is a large print show that happens every four years. Gradually there has been more digital technology on show but the heavy metal litho kit has defined the event. Heidelberg has always had the central position and started off the press conferences etc.
Of the blogs found so far I agree with Jo Francis that this is a shock.
Just eight weeks ago in the face of HP’s decision not to participate (having never said it would do so) Heidelberg UK MD Gerard Heanue reiterated the fact that Heidelberg had signed a contract and would be there. A whole eight months ago the company firmed up its plans to exhibit and went public with that commitment, considerably earlier than it had for Ipex 2010. If there had been any inkling that the group had been wavering about attending, why make these statements?Andrew Tribute appears to be describing as normal something that is also disruptive or could be seen as such
So, in my book Heidelberg’s withdrawal can be counted as an unexpected turn of events, driven by a decision from head office. And judging by the reaction from other exhibitors, it has absolutely come as a shock to them.
I am not really surprised by Heidelberg’s decision not to exhibit at Ipex 2014. If you are going to exhibit at a major international trade show you really need a good reason to be there. One reason would be you have new products to release and I don’t think Heidelberg will have anything really new. Offset printing technology is very mature and developments are mainly around the periphery of the systems. Heidelberg, like a few other companies, targets major releases at drupa and this means 2016 for such products.
But a lot of people are just Heidelberg fans. A visit to IPEX was reassurance, not depending on specific new products. Tribute is just as calm about the sort of change indicated-
Looking beyond Ipex I think we may be seeing a trend and this is the end of offset presses at trade shows. There is little new to see in offset printing these days, together with the fact there is a major over capacity in offset printing around most parts of the world. We are seeing a switch of many areas of offset printing to digital printing, and with advanced inkjet and liquid toner electrophotographic presses this is likely to accelerate. Perhaps future trade shows will be entirely digital, and also smaller and more targeted at niche markets.
This is defining a very different industry. Maybe the shift has already happened. Colin Gillman in Graphic Display World claims that nobody he talks to has major plans for investment in litho.
This is mostly because the market has shifted its focus towards the acceptance of digital and inkjet production technology. It’s also called progress.
He continues by looking at the history of corporate inertia, including Xerox and Kodak.
What I have not found so far is any link to Cross Media Live, the new show from Informa that will be in Islington early in September. There is speculation that Heidelberg may invest in new regional shows closer to the locations where there is interest in litho. Cross Media Live may be a local show along the lines of Southprint but it is in a location where there is a social base for digital media. It could include a major theme on digital printing every year even though the larger kit was only shown at IPEX.
Most of this blog will be back to #mtw3 in general. I had intended to do more about communication but this news is enough to be thinking about.