Packaging Connected: EskoWorld 2018

Packaging Connected: EskoWorld 2018

Esko held its’ 27th annual conference (EskoWorld) for Esko users on June 5-7 in San Antonio, Texas. Brand leaders, graphic and structural designers, trade shops, sign makers and packaging and label converters heard about trends shaping the industry, witnessed emerging technologies, shared ideas and gained product knowledge at the three-day event.

EskoWorld focused on a number of inspiration tracks, allowing attendees to leave with more tools to make better business decisions. I was excited to attend the conference and hear from so many experts within the industry to learn about the challenges brands are facing (directly from the mouths of brand leaders) and to present the Digital Maturity Model to help them determine their roadmap to an ideal future state, “Packaging Connected”.

In the opening keynote, Esko’s President, Udo Panenka outlined the current state of the marketplace and how connection ultimately leads to speed-to-market, innovation and better consumer experience.

Key highlights from Panenka’s keynote, “Packaging Connected” include:

  • Large brand leaders look to create more engaging consumer experiences and drive brand packaging consistency across purchasing channels as they lag behind smaller startups who are winning brand share with innovative products, agile teams and established e-commerce presence. Consumers’ tastes are fragmented, but they still desire a connected and relevant omnichannel experience.
     
  • According to Danaher Product Identification’s Food & Beverage study: 79% of consumers expect the product packaging they see online to match exactly what they see in-store. 24% of returns occur when the item didn’t appear as expected. Packaging impacts consumers at point of purchase, whether in-store, online or at their door.
     
  • On the supplier side: premedia, trade shops, printers and converters are hit with more frequent and shorter print runs. Many find it difficult to obtain all the correct information needed to run a job or spend far too much time waiting to get final approvals. Archaic enterprise software systems, manual processes and too many quality checks leave suppliers unable to deliver jobs at the rate of the brand and consumer expectations.
     
  • Brands and suppliers need to break down functional silos and connect ecosystem partners to support product innovation. Digital tools are also needed to help teams execute new product development, specifically within packaging.
     
  • Connect the people who create value through packaging to achieve the Esko’s vision of “Packaging Connected.” Connect your packaging in four different ways:
  1. Through Ecommerce
  2. Through brands’ internal departments
  3. Through brands to suppliers
  4. Through the entire ecosystem

Packaging Connected is a Reality

During the event, Esko alongside its’ sister companies, AVT, X-Rite and Pantone announced unique integrated cross-platform solutions for packaging. These integrations are designed to preserve the digital flow of data across connected systems, addressing market demands for faster time to market while also considering cost and waste reduction.  

One integration is a digital link between Esko’s automated prepress workflow, Automation Engine, and AVT press workflow and inspection systems.  This connection now provides data to automatically set up a print job for inspection on conventional and digital presses.

Another integration is between the X-Rite ColorCert Suite and the AVT Spectralab in-line color measurement device. Data is set for inline color measurement and a color scorecard is generated that reports on color quality performance after printing.

And a third digital link is between Esko’s collaboration platform, WebCenter and X-Rite’s ColorCert Suite. This unique integration automatically populates color-related specification fields for job creation on press. When the job runs on the printing press, score values return back to WebCenter to be stored and displayed centrally for reporting. All of these integrations were demonstrated during Eskoworld and will be available by fall 2018.

My Session: The Digital Maturity Model for Brand Packaging

I gave a presentation at EskoWorld on The Digital Maturity Model for Brand Packaging, which is a roadmap that defines the digital transformation of packaging and provides a language for teams to use to align their efforts. Given the many disconnects between brands and suppliers that Panenka touched upon in his keynote, this common vision and language is needed for the industry.

When I entered the room and gave my presentation, I was happy to see a full house of major consumer packaged goods (CPG) leaders looking to better understand how they could utilize this model to their advantage.

During the session, I challenged brand leaders to determine which level of capability best describes their organization, asking themselves whether they are they reactive, organized, digitized, connected or intelligent. Beyond that, I asked both brand leaders and suppliers to utilize the framework to better understand cross-function teams and how they work together within the packaging process.

How are they living the “packaging connected” theme?

At the end of my session, there was much discussion between attendees on what would help them level-up their digital maturity. The model is a way to develop a roadmap toward deeper digital capabilities and to increase cross-functional communication.

The three key questions for reflection I challenged attendees to consider were:

  1. What do I need to digitize, automate and connect? (i.e., what is manual/analog now?)
  2. Which tools do I need to increase my team’s digital maturity?
  3. Who do I need to bring along with me on my digital maturity journey?

Overall, EskoWorld gave attendees the opportunity to experience demonstrations of the digital technologies available to help them increase product innovation and speed-to-market. The event was effective in connecting packaging people together and increasing their appetite for more connectivity in the packaging value chain.

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