In response to COVID-19, industries have had to creatively pivot traditional in-person educational and networking events, and the PRINTING United Digital Experience is no exception. In our industry, where innovation and new products are continually rolling out, it’s reassuring we can still have the Product of the Year competition to give manufacturers the opportunity to showcase what’s new and cool. Will the competition be the same as in years past? Of course not. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if we opt to use some of this year’s innovative elements for years to come.
Let's start with the Product of the Year virtual gallery, where all of our entries can be viewed. (To be eligible for entry, products must be available on the market in 2020.) I always look forward to the trade show's on-site gallery, but a virtual gallery could be a good add-on even when we are back to meeting in person, as it offers manufacturers another opportunity to show off their innovative products for a longer duration.
We’re also shifting to virtual judging for this year’s competition. Although it has its challenges, going virtual allows for more judges to participate, taking away the ability for a single judge to exert too much influence, which I believe will allow the great products to rise to the top. For our output categories, our report card — which is tied to industry specifications — continues to do a great job of predicting the winner, so I’m confident in using this method for output should virtual judging continue to take place.
I’m always excited to hear from past competitors, and I recently checked in with Amanda Brown, global marketing manager at Drytac, and Dave Cich, president of Vanguard Digital Printing Systems.
“We have been honored to have won several awards in the Product of the Year competition over the last two years," said Brown. "The winners are decided by key members of the printing and imaging technology industry, which adds credibility to the winners and the products. We have also found immense value in the networking opportunities given from winning awards.”
"The competition allows companies of all sizes to compete and winning is a great equalizer letting customers know that this product deserves a look," added Cich. "We’ve been fortunate to have won six awards in four unique printer categories.”
To learn more about how we're pivoting this year's competition, and to enter, visit sgia.org. The submission deadline is September 8, with winners to be announced by September 25.