Delegates heard success stories from converters from around the world with different levels of digital integration with their conventional businesses, including a whole new generation of fully digital label converters which not only have no conventional equipment, but do not even have a sales force, finding prospects, uploading customer jobs and proofing over specially developed websites.
At a time when converters are cutting back on their travel and marketing spends, it was heartening to see over 250 delegates, all of whom spent the networking breaks and evening events enthusiastically discussing a radically different future vision.
Even for converters who run digital operations alongside their conventional businesses, digital presses were generally running at more profitable levels and were increasing the companies' ability to expand or consolidate their conventional business.
The other key take-away was the growing sophistication not just of the digital presses now on the market - and the inkjet systems now approaching market - but of the workflow systems which allow digital presses to operate as a seamless part of existing conventional workflows. MIS plug-ins can even select automatically against given criteria which jobs should go to conventional platemaking and which to the digital press.
A thoughtful note was struck about whether end users might eventually take digital printing of labels and packaging in-house. Some of the inkjet vendors had already been asked to look at pilot projects.
A highlight was definitely the active contribution of Paul France, responsible globally for printing innovation at Proctor & Gamble, who finally dispelled any myths that the major brand owners are not interested in digital. France - set to become a regular contributor to L&L - encouraged label converters to become true experts in their field and to bring innovative digital solutions to P&G.