ITEX 2019, the biggest show of the year for the office equipment channel, has come and gone and I wanted to take a few moments to share my thoughts on it. I missed the show last year and was thrilled to be able to attend. I like some things, didn’t like a couple and have 1 thing we ALL need to think about. Let’s start with three things I absolutely LOVED:
Sarah Henderson from Clover Imaging leading a panel on MPS delivery models.
Loved: Class sessions
Any breakout session I attended was standing-room only, and I think it was a good sign that the topics were relevant and timely. One thing that is always tricky at these shows is ensuring that sessions are actually learning focused and not just a sales pitch. I can safely say that the sessions were full of great “aha!” moments and good information.
James Foxall, our lead Tiger, spoke on the “5 Steps To Becoming A Managed IT Services Provider” and I was lucky enough to be on the Nexera panel for “Non-Meter Billing Is Coming”. As both sessions were jam-packed with dealers, it is clear that the office imaging channel is shifting to a more solutions-centric future. Finally!
Aldo Spensieri of Clover Imaging (left) & Greg Vandewalker of Great America Financial Services.
Loved: Solutions vendors
When Marc Spring took the reigns for ITEX, he immediately introduced room for solutions vendors. Managed IT, Security, VoIP all had a home on the floor at ITEX. In the early days, there was some skepticism about why ITEX would have non-print related vendors, but Marc had a vision and now most dealers are either offering or will be offering services outside of print.
The world is changing at lightening speed and the office equipment channel will not be immune. Businesses that diversify their offerings will remain relevant while those who think that “Pure Play” is going to cut it are in for a shocker (if they haven’t already felt the impact of such old-school thinking).
Always a great day when you run into Patricia Ames of The Imaging Channel.
Loved: Seeing all my old colleagues and friends
WOW! As some reading this will know, I’ve recently changed roles and am now the VP of Business Development for Tigerpaw Software. This was the first time I’d seen most of my imaging channel contacts since the move and I couldn’t walk five feet without receiving a congratulations or questions about the move. It was really awesome to see the interest in why I’ve changed my focus, and I’m looking forward to working with all my old colleagues and friends as we ALL do our best to navigate and succeed in these changing times.
I realize now that I haven’t really moved that far afield as most people I talked to shared how they are changing and growing their businesses in similar ways. ITEX has always been a great venue for dealers, vendors and industry veterans to come together to share big and bold ideas. I’m here to tell you that this remains true!
Left to right: Ed McLaughlin of Wellington Private Capital. Kim Louden of Great America Financial Services, and Wes McArtor of NEXERA and Moi for Session on Flat rate billing alternatives to CPP.
I’d be remiss in this blog if I didn’t offer up a couple of things I think ITEX could do better for next years show. Here area a couple of suggestions that you may or may not agree with:
Didn't love: Closed show floor while classes in session
I wanted to attend more classes but couldn’t as I was a vendor and had to stay in my booth most of the time. Vendors spend a lot of money and deserve to sit in on some of the classes to learn what’s going on and to be inspired too. I’m a CompTIA member and one thing I like about their ChannelCon event is that the show floor is closed during educational tracks. I think it’s the right way to do it and feel that classes should be there for the benefit of everybody, not just dealers.
Jacob Smith, Harrison Maguire and Madi Smith of Liberty Laser.
Didn't love: Day 2 half-day-waste-day
The second day of ITEX was a ghost town! I think in part because it was scheduled as a half-day, and, truth be told, the show isn’t big enough to have the floor open for two days. Most dealers got what they needed to accomplish done on the first day and spent the next day at the pool or flew home the evening before. There was zero traffic on Day 2 and as a vendor we likely could do better things with our time than pay for a second day when nobody is around. Just sayin’.
Recently I was at a security show with over 940 vendors, and, yes, it took me two days to feel I made a dent in vendor exploration. At ITEX, the number of vendors only warrants a one-day showroom floor. I’m not saying it couldn’t still be a two-day event but the rest of the time could be better spent with more classes or other meetings.
Industry heavyweights taking a quick break for a photo op.
I’d say the worst thing about ITEX has nothing to do with ITEX at all and everything to do with us as an industry. Here is one thing I think we ALL could do a better job of for ITEX next year:
Thing we all need to do better: Show up
The number of dealers and vendors I spoke to who said they weren’t going to ITEX was astonishing. I hear things like “ITEX just isn’t what it used to be” or "everybody knows who I am so I don’t need to go”, etc. Both statements have nothing to do with ITEX and everything to do with the general mood in our industry.
The reality is that the office printing space is under pressure. Margins are tighter, CPP offerings are stale and not current with buyer preferences and consolidation is rampant. Honestly, I think ITEX 2019 was very well organized, had a ton of great classes and is still the No. 1 show for our channel. If we fail to show up for it, if we choose to sit in the shadows and just let things remain same ol’ same ol’, well, ITEX will never be as great as it could be. That’s on us, period.
Were you at ITEX? What are your thoughts? What did you like (or not?)? We want to hear your thoughts so take a moment and join the conversation! Also, while you’re here, enjoy some pictures from the event!
Sarah Henderson, Tim Brown of Barracuda, Jacob Smith.
Marc Spring, ITEX organizer, spending some time with vendors and partners.