Education Rules at ITEX 2019
Companies Far and Wide Learn How to “Own the Office, Piece by Piece”
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” That’s from Franklin, Ben Franklin, and it’s clear that Marc Spring, President of Evolved Office and Founder of ITEX, understands this quote to a T.
Because it really is all about education, right?
This year’s event focused on five areas: Document Management, Managed IT/Security/Telecom, Managed Print, Reseller Automation, and Smart Office. Without a doubt, these topics are at the forefront of discussions between OEMs, dealers, and customers, as all three groups are mindful of the present but always strategizing the future. And at ITEX 2019, which was held at the MGM Grand in late April, the breakout sessions stole the show and addressed this quintet of critical initiatives head-on.
I went to four breakouts over the two days. The first was a dealer panel—comprising reps from three different size organizations from three different geographies, moderated by the one and only Patricia Ames of BPO Media—on selling cloud solutions. Based on Keypoint Intelligence - InfoTrends research of IT decision makers, “utilizing cloud solutions” is the No. 2 priority among businesses today, making this seminar subject current. Insight about cloud solutions included “they’re more profitable than on-prem because they’re easier to implement”; “you have to develop post-sale communication as a core competency”; and “the process requires patience, they deserve the opportunity to grow and become another revenue stream.”
The next session on my hitlist was cohosted by James Foxall, CEO of Tigerpaw Software, and Brian Suerth, President of TAG National. Managed IT. Specifically, the five steps to becoming a successful provider: Define Your Solution Set (select Remote Monitoring & Management software and pick one antivirus solution to offer, not six); Implement a PSA (Professional Services Automation) system; Evaluate Your IT Talent (if acquiring, must have at least six or seven employees); Adopt a Proven Managed IT Sales Process (find a need!); and Onboarding & Management Process (“selling is easy, maintaining is harder”). I felt this presentation resonated with the crowd of 40-plus, as it delivered information to get people thinking rather than overwhelming them with the nitty-gritty.
The Staples acquisition of DEX Imaging provided the backbone of the third session I attended—another panel, this time made up of five members and moderated by the articulate and energetic Ray Stasieczko, Founder and CEO of TEASRA. According to him, the transaction will cause a major shift in distribution, sooner rather than later; that it’s okay for the industry to be 80 percent commoditized, as long as organizations invest in the right services (recurring revenue, anybody?) and new technologies; and that it’s difficult for a business to change when things are going well, even if it’s a forward-looking change. The room was jam-packed and the hour engaging, though it would have been especially nice to have a rep each from both Staples and DEX (wouldn’t have happened given the nature of the deal, anyway).
Finally, at least on the breakout front for me, was a session on the Internet of Things and the smart office, cohosted by David Brown, Business Development at PrintFleet/ECi, and Randy Dazo, Director of the Office Technology & Services Group at Keypoint Intelligence—yup, like David Putty says, “You gotta support the team.” Here, the topics covered items such as companies embracing new technologies, including robotics, to improve productivity; how millennials are the largest portion of today’s workforce and what that means in the grand scheme; and what executives from several vendors have said about the smart office and its positive impact on collaboration and innovation.
Yes, there were plenty of other sessions, on M&A, MPS, and security to name a few, as well as a certificate course in IT security foundations. The keynote speech on cloud security was effortlessly and humorously handled by Christopher Johnson, Product Manager at Google. And the show floor—always an ideal place for networking—featured Epson and a solid mix of software developers, third-party consumables organizations, shipping companies, and a host of other firms. The net-net is that in the crowded space of industry-related shows that often provide a one-sided message, outlook, and view, ITEX remains the only national event for the independent office equipment channel that continues to provide its necessity for clear industry direction.
“Anybody can go to work to sell boxes, but the creative effort is what allows dealers to solve problems,” said Tom Plumb, Vice President of Sales at J&H in Bozeman, Montana. “ITEX allows dealers to share ideas, which become the creative ideas that are utilized to solve real problems for our clients. The creative effort is also what differentiates us from everybody else and helps our companies to grow through third-party references.”
Said Eric Crump, Director of Strategic Alliances for the FollowMe Print Team at Ringdale: “ITEX19 was a great event and provided us with an excellent platform to share ideas and engage with industry colleagues. On behalf of Ringdale, we appreciate the invitation to lead (with the aforementioned David Brown and Randy Dazo) the discussion of the smart workplace and future of work trends with Keypoint Intelligence in the breakout session for ITEX attendees. We were particularly pleased with the level of traffic to our booth and the opportunity to demonstrate how we can help dealers differentiate their businesses."