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DIGITAL LIFE: Impressions

June 16, 2010: Andrew Coppin from (‘the best place to store share and sell your photos’) shares his impressions of the DIMA emerging technology conference and the exhibition floor at Digital Life Expo in Melbourne early this month with Photo Counter readers:

DIMA Emerging Technology Conference

The focus on this day was really about the significant influence the internet and social media is having on the photo and imaging sector, and there were some really interesting talks.

With retailers feeling considerable margin pressures having to compete with cheap internet imports, there is really no excuse for them not having a savvy web strategy these days.

Bill McCurry from the US gave an interesting talk on turning ‘Data into Dollars’ and how businesses should better manage the information they have on their customers in order to extract extra sales and revenue. All good stuff, but nothing really new for those who have already done the course in Data Mining 101.

A panel of esteemed industry leaders from Fujifilm, Olympus, Kodak, Canon and Nikon discussed the future of the industry from a macro perspective. While the talk was from very informed sources, at times I had to check that it wasn’t sponsored by Apple – there was so much talk about the impact of new devices like the iPad that things got a little off track!

Of course everyone was, to a certain extent, pushing their own barrows, with the key insights being the importance of mobile devices to the photography industry; the continued growth in kiosk facilities in department stores and chains; as well as the massive growth potential in photo merchandise (like that offered by Photo Art’s own www.photoartcentre).

I must say that I did detect that the major brands are getting a little frustrated with some of the retailers in the industry and their lack of desire to pursue internet strategies. It really begs the question ‘will the big brands start to sell internet direct to consumer?’ as they have in the USA and other places, because this could do significant damage to marginal retailers who are slow to adopt more tech-savvy marketing and sales initiatives.

When a speaker arrived late, our good friend John Swainston from Maxwell, came to the rescue, giving an off-the-cuff overview of his daughter Nathalie’s (Twitter @Natface – Social Media Guru ) take on social media.

The presentation highlighted the massive growth in online communities and the importance of social media in business strategy. While John was a little rusty on the details, he did manage to get a plug in for as one of the premier photo communities in Australia – so even if he didn’t know his own Twitter handle, he was formally forgiven at the end of the event. (By the way, John, it’s @ozjohns.)

Arguably the best speaker of the day was Robert Beerworth, CEO of Wiliam Pty Ltd who shed some very clear light on the ‘dos and don’ts’ of creating a web business and web site. As I have made every mistake that he outlined I was left wondering why you only ever run into these people after you have done all the hard work?

I then left the auditorium and made an appointment to meet with him immediately!

Key take aways from Robert’s presentation for me were (and when you think about it they all sound like Blinding Glimpses of the Obvious):

– Start with the business process and revenue model FIRST;
– If you leave the first meeting with your web developer talking about Look and Feel something’s wrong – usability is key, not looks;
– Find a group you can work with and that feels culturally right for your business – do suitable due diligence;
– SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is becoming less important as its impossible to keep up with the big brands and incumbents;
– TRAFFIC, TRAFFIC and TRAFFIC are the keys to your online success – know where it is and how to get it for the right price.

The floor show

Most of the major camera brands were well represented with Pentax, Fuji, Olympus, Panasonic, Canon, Nikon, Kodak, Ricoh and Samsung all featuring heavily. Product showcases aside, it immediately struck me that there was considerable attention to 3D products from a number of suppliers including Fuji and Samsung. I did also notice that Sony did not have a stand and they have obviously chosen to take another path for their marketing initiatives, which seems strange for an emerging force in the photo and imaging arena that had been so prevalent in previous years. Leica, distributed by Adeal, was also a non-participant, for the second year running.

Major print and product suppliers like HP, Noritsu and IPS, PhotoCreate, Epson and Asuka Books made up the bulk of the other major displays that were interspersed with a huge range of other smaller B2B businesses and key industry representative organisations like the AIPP and the ACMP.

Some of the highlights for me were:

– Samsung’s Dancing Robots – that were synched to dance with some real dancers. Not sure about the relevance to photography but it was great technology!
– Olympus’ Tap Dancing brigade – designed to prove just how tough the Tough range really is.
– Nikon’s impressive showcase of ambassadors talks including sports photographer and Red Bull extremist Mark Watson, Wedding Photographer of the Year Rocco Ancora and the illustrious chair of the ACMP – talented corporate photographer Gavin Blue, all of whom gave insightful and impressive talks at the Nikon Stand.
– The intense judging and high quality of work on display at the show for the Professional Photographer of the Year which was won by Peter Coulson – whose work you just have to check out..
– Meeting with some great corporate customers to talk about our unique Social Imagery Platform that allows businesses to run great Photo Competition and Promotions.

The announcement of the PICA Dealer of the Year was also made at the show and we think there was no better winner than the team at DCW, who Photo Art has had the pleasure of working with on their Solitude Photo Competition.

There was heaps to do and see at the Expo as the record 20,000-plus strong attendees would testify. It was also really great to check out the latest gear, catch up with industry leaders and enjoy great coffee being served at the Fujjifilm tower that overlooked the entire show.

So its onwards and upwards for the Photo and Imaging industry, more technology, more enthusiasts and back to Sydney for next year’s event !

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