Last week, I was fortunate enough to have attended probably the best BTA conference I’ve ever been to — and I’ve been to many over the last 10 years or so. The BTA National Conference this year in lovely Orlando, Florida, held a lot of surprises for me, and I’m sure it did for you too.
What does the BTA acronym stand for? If you think Business Technology Association, I think you may want to rethink that. After the National Conference, I think it means much more. In fact, I think (at least in my mind) it should now stand for Business TRANSFORMATION Association. Let me explain why I say this.
In years past, the conferences were often solely about technology specific to life in the imaging channel, but, in 2019 it was much, much more than that. The event contained a bunch of things that had less to do with technology and more to do with business transformation. Don’t get me wrong, the BTA has always been an organization that has led with new ways to managed imaging businesses, but this year was also about business transformation and convergence. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:
The number of solutions-focused vendors and sponsors
Yes, some of the usual folks from the imaging channel were there as sponsors and vendors — and they are awesome — but there were also a TON that have nothing to do with managed print or copiers.
The company I work for, Tigerpaw Software, is an example. But check out the BTA National Conference page and look through the names: Technology Assurance Group (TAG), Datablaze, OPEX … just to name a few. It’s clear that the dealers present are hungry for ways to expand and diversify their businesses and the BTA delivered.
Team Tigerpaw grabs a selfie with Technology Assurance Group President Brian Suerth during the 2019 BTA National Conference at the Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World.
Succession planning panel
Not every business is looking to sell to a mega-dealer or keep doing things the way they’ve always been done. My favorite panel focused on how to hand-off the business to the next generation and the considerations and best practices to do it well. Blake Renegar and Brice Renegar shared the challenges and excitements they’ve experienced as they prepare to lead the next generation of Kelly Office Solutions.
It was my favorite panel of the day as it really gave an insider view into the ups and downs of generational hand-off.
Phil Boatman of Lexmark speaks during the 2019 BTA National Conference in Orlando, Florida.
Even the OEMs weren’t talking printers
Both Xerox and Lexmark had opportunities to speak at the event, and it was refreshing that neither of them were talking about hardware. Dr. Alissa Abdullah from Xerox talked about digital office security and Sammy Kinlaw from Lexmark moved us through bridging the technology gap and IoT.
It struck me that even at the OEM level re-thinking who we are and what we do is top of mind. Nobody is free of disruption and digital transformation and it’s refreshing to see the OEMs grabbing it by the horns and turning it into opportunity for all of us.
Tigerpaw's West McDonald (far right) hangs with Aaron Dyck and Matthew McGuire at BTA National.
Most of the sessions had nothing to do with print
“Leading & Managing In an Age of Disruptive Change” and “How To Capture More Customers With Digital Transformation” sound a lot more like business diversification and a lot less like the same-ole-same-ole.
I don’t know about you, but if you also attended the event, it was refreshing that we weren’t stuck in an echo-chamber. We got to learn new and thought provoking ideas about how we can transform what we do and who we are in the channel. The times, they are a-changing and hats off to Brent Hoskins and the BTA team for leading the way.
Spring Breakers watch the Storm Trooper march at Disney World's Hollywood Studios the afternoon following BTA National 2019.
A tiger talked about a mouse
I was also allowed to speak for a few minutes at the conference. As the event was held at Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort, I told the story of Walt Disney and how he hoped that they would always remember that “it all started with a mouse.” That’s how it started, but it isn’t where they finished. Disney just bought Fox for over 71.3 billion dollars. They also bought Marvel Studios and Star Wars.
They may have started with a mouse but they always focused on how they could do more. We can all learn from that lesson. We are no longer just members of the office equipment channel or the imaging channel; we are transforming into technology services companies that will help customers in a myriad of ways that have nothing to do with print.
Continuing the convergence conversation
I doubt the BTA will change their name to the Business Transformation Association on my account, but their spirit really feels that way these days. At Tigerpaw, a hashtag we love is #MoreThanPrint because we know, like the BTA, that the channel is becoming more.
I love business transformation and convergence, and invite you to reach out to me and schedule a free convergence consultation if you do too. We’re stronger together and I look forward to carrying on many of the conversations we started at the BTA National Conference.