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Chili Publish Spicy Talks: Re-thinking Digitalization

Photo Ine Dehandschutter for Chili Publish

By Sonja Angerer

At the Chili Publish Spicy Talks in Berlin on November 6th to 7th, it became clear that there is still plenty of room for automation in the printing and creative industries. This is likely to cause some stir within the industry, and that might especially be true for Central and Eastern European countries.

About 200 members of the "Smart Template Community" came to the "Silent Green" location at Berlin-Wedding. The fourth (official) edition of the Chili Publish Spicy Talks took place a former crematorium-turned-event-location: Two full days on the topics of Smart Templates, automation, design, as well as future business models in the printing industry. The conference was split into three tracks, between which users and interested parties could switch at leisure.

The business sessions in the main room were dedicated to key notes and perspective presentations. They were opened on November 6th by Chili Publish CEO Kevin Goeminne and CTO Ward De Langhe, who presented current and upcoming developments in the company. The possibilities to output not only print applications and packaging, but also most common online formats such as banners with variable data from a database was met with some approval by the delegates. Chili Publish is currently working on a feature to easily animate online data. This announcement was received enthusiastically by the attendees.

Theresa Regli completed the opening block with her presentation on DAM (Digital Asset Management) systems. She explained that DAM systems must become much more intelligent, so that the entire creation of presentation and marketing materials can be simplified and automated. In addition, however, it is necessary to considerably improve the keywording in DAM systems and, above all, to keep them up to date.

Business Development or application knowledge

After the key notes the "Novice" and the "Advanced Sessions" tracks started in two smaller, separate rooms. Here, new users were able learn about Smart Templates in small groups, while experienced practitioners were given extended insights into special topics. The training sessions took place on both days. However, there was always enough time to network between the seminar blocks. In a walk-through room, numerous Chili Publish partners and sponsors such as Induxx, Blubird, KAN Brand Design & Management, Akeneo, Keepeek and Sitecore had set up a desktop exhibition and brought along some of their own experts.

In the Business track, speakers from partner companies presented their solutions and products with Chili Publish during the two days. In the afternoon of the first day and during most of the second day of the conference, the main stage was dedicated to field reports and international case studies. For example, Jessica Berlin presented how the American Cancer Society works with Smart Templates for their communication. Mike Grehan and Lynn White from Life Art, a company that is offering customized coffins for crematoria, also received great applause. On the evening of November 6th, all participants celebrated at the networking dinner.

What are Smart Templates and what do they mean for the creative and printing industries?

When Chili Publish was founded in 2010, the focus was on Chili Publisher, a tool for online editing of graphic templates for the Web2Print industry. The software today is integrated with a wide variety of automation and database solutions from eg. Esko, Enfocus and Xeikon, suitable for a wide range of B2C and B2B business models. An extensive network of partners and service providers provides integration and additional automation services. What they all have in common is the ability to create Smart Templates. These design templates contain the most important key visuals. For changes to formats or language variants, these can be automatically scaled and adapted. This applies to a simple flyer as well as to packaging or coffins decorated in digital large format printing. By connecting to DAM or other databases, versions with variable data can also be made relatively easy. This does not only apply to print applications, but also increasingly to online formats such as banners or PDFs for online brochures.

The implications for innovative print shops, agencies and marketing departments are as extensive as they are revolutionary. Gary Howard from UK-based Precision Marketing, for example, demonstrated how his company uses their Connects portal to enable its customers to conduct self-service direct marketing campaigns with street-level addresses. The company also digitally prints the marketing materials, but today this is only a fraction of their revenue. With a Chili Publisher-based solution, a Precision Marketing customer can adapt the layouts required for this himself. With "Connects", the company not only extends the value chain, but also improves customer loyalty.

Free the designer

A designer hour in Central Europe costs around 73 euros, explained Chili Publish CEO Kevin Goeminne in his presentation. In many Eastern European countries, it will be considerably less, having given designers, agencies and integrated print service providers some mayor price advantage. “One wonders how many designer´s hours are really spent on creative work," Goeminne asked, and rightly so: Common tasks like re-sizing, putting in personal or location data, even foreign-language typesetting do in fact require not so much design talent, but accuracy and patience. Which, in turn, makes this type of work relatively boring and prone to all kinds of typos and errors.

"We want to free the designers," says the CEO. In fact, an integrated automation solution based on Chili Publisher can save a lot of manual work in design creation and prepress. After all, the automatically generated or customized designs are processed into print-ready PDFs. By connecting to databases, it is also possible to create regionalized, localized or demographically adapted designs with little effort. Foreign-language typesetting, a challenge many European design, pre-press and print service providers face on a daily basis, could be greatly simplified, as the correct translations run from a database directly into the layout template.

Adding location, transactional and demographic data about the customer into the mix, Smart Templates could make it possible for print product to be as targeted as online advertising, with have an impact of similar height. "I think print products are increasingly becoming a premium solution," says Goeminne. Chili Publish could play an important part in this.

Photo Roland Schmidt

Sonja Angerer is a trade journalist to the digital printing, promotional gifts and sign making industry. She was editor in chief to German trade magazine Large Format until January 2019, and is now Head of Content at mypromo.com, as well a contributor to mayor European websites and trade magazines. www.r3pro.de

Polish version of this article was published in February 2020 issue of "Świat DRUKU".

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