The most common bit of feedback I got from the integrators who attended the 2013 CI Summit, November 13-15 in San Diego, was simple: We should do this more than once a year.
Being able to network, share ideas, debate trends and have a few drinks with colleagues isn’t an easy thing to do in this industry. We may think the industry is getting crowded, but it’s still relatively small—not a lot of folks do what you do and can relate to your challenges.
CI Summit is valuable “because it’s great to hear what these other guys doing; it gives you a sense of whether or not you’re doing the right things,” quipped Rod Andrewson, manager of engineering at CCS Presentation Systems.
Well, spoiler alert: We’re not doing CI Summit more than once a year!
The good news is our friends at NSCA provide another platform for integration firm executive level education and networking at their annual Business & Leadership Conference (BLC), which in 2014 takes place February 27-March 3 in Dallas. Year after year, integrators come back from NSCA’s BLC with great ideas and a renewed optimism about the year ahead.
Commercial Integrator is thrilled to be NSCA’s media partner for the well-respected and always valuable conference. Selfishly, that means we’ll get access to the content and be able to spin countless valuable lessons into articles and videos for our readers.
I want you to be there. It’s a great chance to get in front of industry leaders, become more familiar with CI editors and pick the brains of NSCA officials. With all that said, here are my four arguments for why we should meet at the 16th annual NSCA BLC:
Strategic Planning: NSCA is quite good at evaluating economic conditions and then putting in context exactly how they affect integration firms. During BLC there will be an Economic Outlook conducted by Arizona State University professor of economics Dr. Lee McPheters. NSCA asked McPheters to combine his research with the trade organization’s latest Electronic Systems Outlook, which zeros in several key verticals.
Learn from Leaders: Several of the executives from smaller integration firms that I met at CI Summit 2013 mentioned it’s valuable for them to be around the folks who run the larger firms. Not because they necessarily aspire to being larger, but because it gives them a window into more refined business practices. Sometimes they don’t like what they see through those windows, but it’s still nice to know how other firms solve issues.
Study New Sales Processes: If your plan is to sell in 2014 the way you sold in previous years, well, that’s not a good plan. Integrators need to reevaluate their approaches to sales and probably their sales commission structures. As Jay McArdle, CTO of Zdi, Inc., said at CI Summit, “We’re one of the integrators eroding product margins. We want to do that.”
His point is customers know what products cost, so integrators in turn need to make their money by up-selling their people and their service. One of the central themes of 2014 BLC is “understanding our industry’s new sales process.”
CI Summit’s late fall timing wasn’t right. Our media partnership with NSCA makes 2014 BLC the perfect platform to recognize our 2013 Integrator of the Year in style.