The DTI seem to regard the print sector as part of their approach to e-commerce. Just as at the launch of Print 21 the relevant minister turned out to be Douglas Alexander MP, responsible for e-commerce and competitiveness.
He pointed out that print can too easily be taken for granted within the new communications economy. He questioned why this should be given a £13 billion turnover and how print could project an image to attract a high skills workforce.
Research showed that over half of UK printers have the intention to be able to take orders online within two years. ISDN is widely used. Potentially, print companies can expand into design, data storage and direct mail. A world class event such as IPEX helps to showcase the modern face of the industry and consign the 'hot metal and oily rags' image to history.
The answer to a question on targets for broadband was in specific UK terms rather than a general assertion about international comparisons. Changes recently announced by BT included 100 more exchanges equipped for ADSL, increasing coverage to 66% of UK population. Cable modems are already available to 50% of UK population.
He added that 'Broadband is a challenge for business, not just for government', inviting the print industry to demonstrate potential benefits.
The Vision conference is intended to attract new people into print. It would be useful to show print as part of network publishing or some such broad description. Classic pre-press skills reflect what a Mac is capable of. Web design and animation should be part of the training, even for humble users of Windows. If data storage and direct marketing are involved then skills need to cover networking and telecoms. It will be interesting to see what the scope of Vision includes.