Konica Minolta has today officially launched a user group, initially just Europe-wide, aimed primarily at customers using the manufacturer’s Bizhub press range.
The member-led Prokom ‘printing community’, is headed by a board made up of Konica Minolta users, while the manufacturer will financially back the development of the group until it becomes self-sustaining through membership payments.
Prokom will focus on three key objectives: sharing business ideas with other users; developing communications with Konica Minolta senior management to help shape decisions on future services and design and functionality of equipment; and networking through workshops conferences, webinars and publications.
“Our mission is to provide a platform to learn, share and represent the interests of the European users,” said Prokom chairman and general manager of UK Mail subsidiary Imail, Andy Barber.
“The user-base is moving into areas such as cross-media that some aren’t particularly comfortable with, and with Prokom we want to create a hub of knowledge and expertise that allows users to accelerate their growth into these areas.
“We want to help our user-base avoid wasting money on getting things wrong and to help them cut to the chase and develop efficient digital communication services, which I think is completely innovative. I’m not aware of a user association that does just that.”
Other members of the board so far are Sara Grande from Orymu Graphic Arts in Spain, Harald Buettner, managing director of Schnelldruck Fürth in Germany and Etienne Van Damme, deputy general manager of Konica Minolta Business Solutions, Europe, who sits on the board as a non-voting representative.
With today’s launch, Prokom is now looking for its first members. Barber would not be drawn on targets for membership numbers and said that he was keen to expand the board and would particularly welcome representation from eastern Europe and Scandinavia.
Annual membership costs €695 (£570) per company or €495 for those registering before 31 March.
The initiative, which has been developed following 12 months of research involving user surveys, will initially be open only to European users with the possibility of a global roll-out depending on its success.
Barber said: “Konica Minolta bizhub press users have their fingers on the pulse of current market trends but we know that just having your finger on the pulse isn’t a sure-fire route to success. That only comes from the successful application of ideas. Our vision is that Prokom will be a user group that allows members to share ideas and demonstrate ways of applying them and converting them into invoices.”
“We are in a dynamic market at the moment where digital print has transcended so many different areas of communication. We want to differentiate ourselves from other user groups and we want to practise what we preach. We will focus on aspects like cross-media, variable printing and personalised URLs – all things that augment digital print products.”
Prokom’s first public outing will be on the Konica Minolta stand at Ipex next month, with its first annual user conference and AGM to follow later this year. A dedicated website is also due to follow in the coming weeks.
Ken Osuga, president of Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe, said: “We fully support a platform for engagement with and among active customers, while maintaining the benefits of a collaborative user network that shares and influences the Konica Minolta roadmap.
“I think this shows how strong our commitment is to the production printing industry and we will continually address market challenges and strive to help our customers make their business a success.”