Change and Opportunities Found at ITEX 20164 Apr, 2016 By: Barbara Richards & Brendan Morse, Analysts, InfoTrends
Waves of Change, Oceans of Opportunity
On March 7th through the 9th, industry leaders, exhibitors and dealers gathered in sunny Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, at the Broward County Convention Center for the ITEX 2016 National Conference and Expo. The show’s theme “Waves of Change, Oceans of Opportunity” was indicative of the expanded role of portfolio diversification and business operations transformation that is playing within our industry.
The show opened up with an informative keynote session from InfoTrends’ Managing Director, Jeff Hayes, on the outlook of the US office technology industry and which highlighted data from a recent survey of office equipment dealers. He outlined key metrics that distinguished best-in-class dealers from those performing on par with the industry to those that are encountering difficulties in their businesses. Based on their revenues and profit margins, Hayes laid out different segments of dealers called Profit Maximizers, Growth Drivers, Rising Stars, and Falling Stars. He closed with recommendations that dealers should consider to stay competitive and grow their business.
During the three day event, both the keynote sessions and educational tracks focused on how dealers could find success in a rapidly changing industry landscape. The educational sessions were designed to explore Strategies for Product and Services Growth and Strategies for Operations Improvement. These two tracks were then divided into four specialized tracks concentrating on Print and Managed Services, Workflow & Solutions, Sales and Marketing, and Data Driven Business. Within each educational track, the sessions really honed in on the theme of change in the industry, the magnitude of the opportunities, along with concrete strategies and examples that dealers could apply to their businesses.
There were sessions suitable for a variety of different business roles—from a service manager to a CFO to a Director of Sales to a Dealer Principal/Owner. In addition to the educational sessions, industry leaders participated in keynotes, focusing on the changing landscape of the industry to building a 2020 workforce with the Millennial generation, to manufacturing the future with 3D Printing solutions, to the diversification of the industry and steps the indirect channel needs to take to adapt to this changing landscape and the new revenue opportunities it may bring.
KEYNOTES HIGHLIGHT THE FUTURE
Millennials & Diversity: Building a 2020 Workforce
Laura Blackmer, SVP, Sales at Sharp Imaging and Information Systems, gave a passionate keynote on Millennials & Diversity that clearly left a lasting impression on attendees. She gave eye opening statistics on how gender and ethnically diverse companies outperform less diverse companies by substantial margins. She pointed out the relevance of these facts to our industry with a mix of humor and hard hitting facts. For example, Laura highlighted that more women than men will be in the workforce and that 30% of the U.S. will speak Spanish. Furthermore, that by 2025, 75% of the workforce will be Millennials, and that knowing how to train them, keep them and work with them as they see the world differently, will be critical to success for the office equipment industry and channel as a whole.
Manufacturing the Future
While the workforce is shifting to Millennials, the shift from 2D to 3D printing was also an important topic of conversation. In the final event keynote, Manufacturing the Future, Cathy Lewis, EVP and CMO of 3D Systems, Inc., highlighted the opportunities in this market. She noted it was expected to grow by a 30% CAGR by 2020.
Lewis focused on the enormous number of vertical industries and business applications that 3D printing covers, from customizable solutions within healthcare to apparel and footwear. Lewis clearly wanted the audience to realize that 3D has the potential to change the fundamental logic and strategies underpinning of industrial design and production. She pointed to numerous real-life scenarios where 3D printing offered customers’ faster time to market, shortened design cycles along with improved product performance and quality.
The content and tone of the show aligned well with the idea that there are waves of change and oceans of opportunities. With more than 100 exhibitors present, we noticed a clear streak of optimism coming from vendors sponsoring, along with ITEX attendees and speakers. While there has been a slow decline in sales of document technology hardware sales and page volumes, it’s not hitting the dealer channel quite as hard as some watchers have speculated. When Jeff Hayes and David Ramos presented InfoTrends’ recent “State of the Dealer Channel” survey, they sketched out a very different picture where many dealers are performing very strongly in revenue growth, profit margin, and/or both. Overall, dealers seemed upbeat about both their core business in office equipment and the newer opportunities around MPS, MITS & cloud services, document/content solutions, and 3D print. InfoTrends plans to provide deeper analysis throughout the coming months on the ITEX Technology Tracks and also highlight several key primary research studies on the office equipment channel in these reports.