March 2, 2018

Record attendance at the Business Forum Imaging 2018

The Business Forum Imaging Cologne 2018 war marked by a record participation and an excellent mood : around 240 independent experts, top managers of the imaging industry, imaging service providers, specialist traders and users discussed how the industry can leverage the new dimensions of imaging for furhter growth and what kind of consequences continuing digitization has in store for traditional business models. Seven months prior to photokina, the world's leading trade fair, the congress, whic hwas again organized by the global trade journal INTERNATIONAL CONTACT in cooperation with the worldwide information service, Photo Imaging News, USA, offered an exciting forecast of the dynamic development of digital imaging technologies and future-oriented marketing strategies.

The event, entitled "Creating New Realities", focused not only on the technological progress in new growth segemts such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality, but also dealt with innovative capturing systems, new processing technologies and the application of artificial intelligence. The role of photos and videos as means of communication media as well as the media usage of the digital natives was another aspect discussed at the conference. Not least, the new realities offer opportunities for marketing: never before have consumers had so many possibilities to experience products and services digitally, and thus to support sales.

The first highlight of the conference was the presentation of the CEOs of Magic Horizons, Martin and Giorgio Koppehele,. The renowned producers and songwriters  offer customers a new experience by combining immersive sound with computer-generated imagery (CGI). The brothers also presented new business models that showed the added value virtual reality can offer.

Another trend discussed on the first day of the conference only contradicts digitization at first glance: printed images are more in demand than ever before. These are in the meantime often captured with smartphones. Ralph Naruhn, CEO of di support presented a concept how consumers can design picture products anywhere in the world on their mobile devices and have them produced instantly in the shop. Kyran O’Kelly, General Manager Fujifilm Ireland, also hithlighted the new interest in printing: the "Square Prints" of the Instax instant cameras inspire Millennials around the world. Fujifilm is now expanding the concept to include posters, books and wall decor. In the context of the BFI, Kyron O’Kelly showed the role of social networks in addressing the audience and outlined how retailers can profit from this trend.

The focus of the second day was on shopping experience. Summary: both in the stationary trade and online, and especially mobile, the focus should be on customer satisfaction. In the process, AR shopping apps, presented by Hans Hartman, President of Suite 48 Analytics, can, for example, enable the replay of videos from photo books or simulate a photo wall decoration in the living room. Prof. Gerrit Heinemann from the Hochschule Niederrhein, author of the book "Die Neuerfindung des stationären Einzelhandels" (The reinvention of brick-and-mortar-retail) even came to the conclusion that the specialty retailers must leverage the success principles of the digital business to address their customers in a contemporary fashion to attract them to their stores.

As in previous years, visitors, sponsors and speakers of the BFI made use of the network zone and the traditional evening event in the Rheinterrassen as an opportunity for networking and communicative exchange. The event was also a success for its sponsors, who presented their latest imaging products and services in the network zone. Canon, Cewe and di support appeared as Gold Sponsors. The specialty retail partner was Ringfoto. Felix Schoeller, Fujifilm, Kodak Alaris, mediaclip, Mitsubishi Electric, Panasonic and scasa appeared as Silver Sponsors.

The Photoindustrie-Verband PIV (German photographic industry association) and the market research company GfK Retail and Technology supported the Business Forum Imaging Cologne 2018 as partners.

The themes of this year's BFI will be taken up again at photokina 2018 (26-29 September 2018), as well as at Digility, Conference and Expo for Digital Reality (26-27 September 2018) taking place parallel with photokina.

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