Over 18 years as a technology journalist, I’ve attended countless industry events. But last month marked the first time that I’ve ever helped plan and execute an integrator-focused gathering: Total Tech Summit. A hosted-buyer event, it unites CI’s, CE Pro’s and Security Sales & Integration’s audiences for 48 hours of meetings, education, networking and mind-sharing. At a time when running an integration business is vastly challenging, I was thrilled to see 80-plus integrators participate in the CI track alone. Hungry for ideas, they sought to optimize their businesses and, potentially, establish fresh vendor and distributor partnerships.
CI Summit’s Education Sessions
I was honored to shape CI Summit’s education sessions each morning and afternoon. I was determined to avoid dry, esoteric presentations that would be so much background noise detracting from mealtime conversations. And, having been to several revelatory NSCA and PSNI content sessions just this year, I knew CI had to do better than just being a pale facsimile, drafting off their success. The goal was simple: Give TTS integrator attendees blueprints they could begin executing on Monday morning to run their businesses better.
I’m indebted to our presenters, who single-handedly seized that vision and actualized it. Edwards Technologies’ Brian Edwards drew on his multi-decade career as a technologist, working with corporate luminaries like Apple and Disney, to argue that the art and science of technology deployment is changing. He propounded that integrators must embrace computing devices as central elements of their systems. In so doing, he argued, systems will not only be nimbler in using real-time data to deliver personalized experiences but also be far less dependent on hot, energy-consuming rack rooms.
Pro-Tech Management’s Steffan Ramage, TAMCO’s Paul Metzheiser, Verrex’s Jason Gago and Logic Integration’s Shawn Hansson talked selling services. Their discussion, which provoked such a lively Q&A that it overran its end time, pulled on several key threads: For example, the fact that a thriving service component of your business increases its valuation and that, unlike reselling hardware for a capital project, selling services can offer gross margins exceeding 50%. The panel urged approaching the shift in small bites, such as by striving to double your service business annually.
Meeting Equity in a Hybrid World
Zoom’s Gary Sorrentino oversaw an interactive workshop focused on meeting equity. Enterprise clients are increasingly tasking integrators with ensuring in-office employees, remote workers and other stakeholders achieve full, equitable participation in gatherings. During the workshop, Sorrentino teased out best practices, discussing aspects like meeting-room design, home-office design, platform choice and technology selection. The bottom line? Moving forward, it won’t be acceptable for seven people in a meeting room to occasionally glance at a “Brady Bunch” grid of mostly forgotten-about associates. There’s no tolerance for second-class citizenship in enterprise today.
Exertis Almo’s Todd Heberlein, Tebo’s Joe Michaels and Ping HD’s Dave Petricig offered a fresh perspective on digital signage, arguing that many integrators aren’t seizing a ripe opportunity. Much of the discussion centered on content, with the panelists debating developing a core competency in content creation versus bringing on a strategic partner. Either way, they exhorted integrators to develop a strategic content plan, ensuring regular refreshes/updates. They also touched on how signage-related services can facilitate “stickier” client relationships, positioning integrators as trusted strategic partners.
We aimed to make #TotalTech22 a game-changer. We hope we succeeded. In ’23, my goal is to do the same thing…only better.
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