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Re-cap ITEX’15: The Takeaways

6 Apr, 2015 By: Sand Sinclair, ITEX Conference Director

Hosted in sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a city known for white beaches, water canals and charm (nicknamed “The Venice of America”), participants of the 2015 ITEX National Conference and Expo enjoyed multiple trade show opportunities and networking activities at the recent event held March 10-12.

True to form, ITEX has it all: dynamic industry participants and speakers as well as innovative tools, products, training, and special events on the exhibit floor.

Celebrating a 15 Year Anniversary, ITEX has been engaging the office channels’ owners and decision makers, influencers and innovators in high-volume industry venues, to help them grow and excel.imageSource April 2015

With a wide selection of strategic workshops and signature “power hour and panels,” keynote speaker and an exhibition floor that featured 150+ exhibitors that offered solutions, product and comprehensive strategies, attendees were able to craft their own experience.

In a constantly changing landscape due to technological advancements and consumer demands found in multiple markets, ITEX examines areas of change and seeks to provide the tactics necessary to adapt and/or revise business models in order to thrive.

The 2015 event percolated with attendees from across the U.S., along with new global interest from Latin America and eastern Canada, primarily due to the show’s Southeast proximity. Dealers and vendors from Western Europe, Asia and Australia were also present. 

Said Leo Bonetti, CEO, Flo-Tech, a leading dealership headquartered in the Northeast, “ITEX is a great event and we attend every year because this is where our industry and the technologies come together. The exhibits, the networking opportunities, and the best practice sessions cover a wide range of topics – from managed services and IT to multifunction printers and cartridges. For any dealer that wants to keep up to date, remain competitive and not get left behind, ITEX is the place to be.”

Work and Play

Most attendees like their industry education and exhibitor visits mixed with enjoyable networking activities to meet with like-minded colleagues. The opportunity to engage peers in the classroom and then on a cruise deck (among other events) was on this year’s agenda; and was a win-win for all. Thus the event first kicked off with two well-attended half-day “forerunner” Executive Workshops the day prior to the general show.

Workshop 1 - facilitated by industry analysts Randy Dazo, David Ramos, and Jon Reardon of InfoTrends (with case study insights from Dealer panel co-speakers), the speakers delivered specific solutions and strategies for “Mapping the Next Business Model: Channel Diversification." Besides Managed Services, focus areas for growing new business included 3-D printing, wide format, higher-end production level gear, business process outsourcing (BPO), digital signage and displays, and info on IoT, among other areas. Attendees found insightful information and actionable methods to solidify or reinvent their business models beyond today to safeguard their future, which is a major concern and challenge for many in a constantly changing environment.

Workshop 2 - facilitated by CompTIA Faculty members Terry Hedden, CEO, Cloud Guru, and Blain Wease, President, Provincial Development Group, who shared their vast experience and “how-to” strategies to assist business owners and management in ways to refine their business plan with not only a focus on IT deliverables but also on general business operations. Learning to master methods to first improve business agility while lowering operating and capital costs within the enterprise are bottom line action items for today’s owners and managers. Attendees of both workshops said they came away with valuable information to lock down, refine or turn around their businesses.

All work and no play is not the ITEX way, so immediately following the Forerunner Workshops, dealers, consultants and vendors alike headed to the ideal networking experience in Ft. Lauderdale: that of a Sunset Dinner Cruise down the Intracoastal Waterway with colleagues and friends. Peer-to-peer, the tropical climate and ocean views were welcome relief from the harsh winter that many had endured for months. Adding to the mix onboard and on the show floor, key dealers and management of the TriMega association, who co-located their Ignite 2015 event on the front end of ITEX, were welcomed to participate and party throughout ITEX activities, as well as ASCII members.

This year, ITEX kicked off the first day of the general show with a Keynote Address delivered by Lawrence Walsh, CEO & Chief Analyst, The 2112 Group. Walsh, a noted visionary in the IT Channel, enthralled hundreds of listeners with his message of “Building Better Business in a Dynamic Channel.”  Walsh explained that, “Evolution requires partners to think differently about their businesses in terms of purpose, value, and structure. It’s not enough to take on the attributes of a channel cousin’s business model; even dealers becoming more like managed service providers need to think beyond; as MSPs, too, are looking for their second act.”  Walsh believes, “Resellers, service providers, and dealers that invest not just in technology but more and more so in business value and performance will be well-positioned for the future”  HP kindly sponsored the Keynote Address, with an enthusiastic update and introduction from Mimi Everson, US Channel MPS Manager.

Showcase of Solutions

Notably emphasizing imaging and office solutions and supplies, there were plenty of exhibitors spotlighting multiple options including those from providers ConnectWise, PaperCut Software International, AVG Technologies, Continuum, as well as N-able, MAXFocus by LogicNow, Ingram Micro, Laserfiche, MWAi, Square 9 Softworks, and good companies such as ECi Software Solutions, DocuWare, NewField IT, among many notable vendors found. Prominent manufacturers such as OKI Data Americas, Epson, HP, Lexmark, Fujitsu, Sindoh, Xerox showcased new hardware amid solutions and services, and the list of supplies specialists was rounded out with Clover Technologies/MSE, LMI, ILG, with Supplies Network, PrintFleet, Printer Essentials and organizations and associations who support the channel, including GreatAmerica Financial Services, MPSA, ASCII, CompTIA, and TriMega –with a host of others, brought their talent and new solutions, specialized services, cutting edge strategies and so much more. 

According to Jennie Fisher, Senior VP/GM, Office Equipment, GreatAmerica Financial Services, “It was another great year at ITEX! We enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with customers – both active and prospective, and for individual meetings with our vendor partners. A lot of good business conversation - gearing up for our new year!”

Sarah Henderson, Director, MPS Operations, Clover Imaging Group commented that, “ITEX continues to be a wonderful event for the Clover Imaging Group to present leading educational sessions and announce new program enhancements for our Axess Managed Print Services program.  The ITEX Expo offers a venue for collaboration with industry associations such as the MPSA, customers and partners,” stated

In addition, sold out “Tech Zones” featuring managed services, document management, and workflow solutions rounded out the expo floor.

Ongoing EDU

Educational Conference Sessions percolated for two days and were led by some of the channel's best experts along with panels of dealers for "case study" testimonials to share “what it takes to be successful today.”  The volume of topics was ambitious in number, but dealers and professionals found information on many facets of their business. A suggested agenda for next year will see an increase in deep dive workshops, streamlined conference sessions and roundtables, among other features.

Relevant topics included MPS, Managed IT, Cloud, Document Management & Workflow, Sales & Marketing, Imaging Supplies, Technology Trends, Business Operations, and Services of all kinds. Attendees found useable tools at their fingertips to take home and implement. Notably, a special half-day workshop on Day 2 of the event, led by industry veteran Paul Dippell, CEO, Service Leadership, was enjoyed by enthusiastic executives wanting to learn how to “Light a Fire Under Your Managed IT Sales” which was sponsored by ITEX and GreatAmerica Financial Services.

Josie Heskje, Director, Strategic Marketing/OEG, GreatAmerica said, “Our half-day Managed IT Sales Workshop facilitated by Paul Dippell of Service Leadership attracted a full room at ITEX. It was a great way to connect with dealers looking to accelerate their Managed IT sales. We appreciate the ITEX focus on helping dealers build for the future.”

Accolades & Applause

Always well-received each year are the imageSource Perfect Image Awards (PIA) and this year was no exception. Tied into a morning breakfast presentation held on the busy exhibition floor in full view of attending peers, this year’s selected Dealers and Solution Providers were recognized as “stand-outs” for best performance and practices. Sand Sinclair, ITEX Conference Director and Editor-in-Chief of imageSource presented seven categorical awards amid videographers and photographers eager to capture the moments of each recipient welcomed on stage. “It is an honor to award these outstanding companies which have worked so hard to build successful programs and organizations, resulting in award-winning achievement.”

imageSource’s 2015 Perfect Image Award Winners:

Outstanding MPS Program: Impact Networking

Outstanding Service Program: Des Plaines Office Equipment

Outstanding Sales Program: Fisher's Technology

Technology Rising Star: Upstream Office Solutions

Outstanding Managed Services: ImageQuest

Trailblazer in the Channel: Julie Italiano, Modern Office Methods

Dealer of the Year: ProSource

“It was great to be at ITEX this year. The show has been a fantastic opportunity to see a lot of the companies that we partner with, make new connections, and learn from the educational content featured in the breakout sessions. We get a lot of value from the event,” noted Brad Cates, President and CEO, ProSource.

All in All

2015 marked a 15-year milestone for ITEX (full history in March edition of imageSource), and reports on the Florida event were thumbs up. Respected analyst, Lou Slawetsky, of Industry Analysts, Inc. (The What’s Happenin’ Report / industryanalysts.com) summed it up best in his ITEX review stating, "All in all, a good experience – one that more dealers should experience. This remains the only imaging systems dealer experiences held on a national scale. It continues to provide important help to all dealers.”

ITEX thanks its many sponsors and supporters for their contributions in helping to make ITEX ‘15 a success in its first trade show in the Southeast. Look for the annual ITEX Expo to ratchet it up with new features and additions for 2016. In the meantime, stay informed through channel associations, training and partnerships as well as good industry publications and regional events to keep you focused and on target. Staying informed is the best if not the only way to keep your business healthy in today’s world of office technology. Please visit www.itexshow.com for more information. 

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