Last week marked the conclusion of the BLUE Annual Conference in Chicago. While Chicago-based attendees arrived a little tired (and a lot depressed) following the Cubs’ 13-inning Wild Card Game at Wrigley, they managed to stifle their tears, connect with peers (even the ones from Colorado!) and dive head first into a day of compelling presentations and promising product demonstrations at Chez.
The BLUE Annual Conference is one of the cornerstones of the BLUE calendar, and the audience represents a “who’s who” of many Fortune 500 (as well as small and mid-sized companies) labeling and packaging experts. It’s an impressive ecosystem of engineers, marketers, managers, directors, developers, and executives – making it the ideal place to take the pulse of the industry. And from where we were sitting – it’s a healthy pulse!
BLUE President Ali Moosani was one of the first speakers on stage, and he spent a few minutes sharing his valued perspective on the industry, and on BLUE’s recent acquisition by Esko. He hinted at the game-changing technology roadmap to come and stressed how BLUE’s top priority will continue to be the customers we serve.
Following Ali, Esko President Udo Panenka introduced the audience to “Packaging Connected,” and described how together, BLUE and Esko are the authority on labeling and packaging tools and technology – providing an end-to-end label and packaging product strategy for customers across all industries.
Keynotes from Key People
At several points, Chez was standing-room-only for this year’s presentations. No wonder, with our lineup of industry rock stars (looking at you, Gerry O’Brion) talking about a variety of topics including branding in an e-commerce age, preparing for success in Label and Artwork Management technology implementation and adoption, re-branding in an era of increasing mergers and acquisitions, and leveraging BLUE and Esko’s unique solutions capabilities in the end-to-end packaging value chain. While each presenter had a different perspective, all spoke to the same hot-button topics: changing regulations; pressure to do “more, better, faster;” the obstacles to making labeling and packaging happen; and the power of today’s tools and technology.
Jaci Brennan from Hormel stressed that “dirty data is worse than no data,” and Kristin Walters from Quaker proved to us you can increase Label and Artwork Management technology user adoption rates with blue M&Ms. Nancy Jasper declared “I’m a survivor” and talked us through a 6,000 product, 80 country re-brand, and BLUE CPO Stephen Kaufman wowed us with a preview of some of the BLUE and Esko technology integrations underway (integrations that were accomplished in just 30 days, by the way).
Connections were made. Emails were exchanged. Questions were asked. Learning took place. And we all went home and told our loved ones that Coors Light may or may not be colder than its beer peers (looking at you, Gerry O’Brion). Thank you to our attendees, to our presenters, and to the attentive and thorough staff at Courtney White Event Production, Blue Plate Catering, and Chez. We’re already looking forward to the BLUE Annual Conference next year, complete with insights, tools, and techniques for label and artwork management. Oh – and a Cubs win, of course.