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What Makes NSCA’s BLC Different?

NSCA leaders and longtime attendees of the annual gathering of top-level executives from the systems integration business talk about what helps the event stand out in an ever-more-crowded field.

As most people know, the calendar is littered with a myriad of conferences and events aimed at getting some of the industry’s best minds together in a room for a couple of days and having them swap business cards and ideas, and maybe someday working together on a project.

The schedule of events starts early in the year with Integrated Systems Europe in Amsterdam, the largest show of its kind outside the U.S., and goes through December with GovComm, the annual event focused on achieving success in government projects.

So, the moral of the story is: it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd. By focusing not only on helping integrators meet and spend time with others in their industry but also having speakers who focus on general business strategy, NSCA’s Business and Leadership Conference has become a model for others to follow and a largely unique event in the industry today.

The 2014 Business and Leadership Conference is scheduled for Feb. 27 to March 1 in Dallas.

“It’s the only event that’s strategic in nature,” says NSCA executive director Chuck Wilson. “It gets people really thinking about working on their businesses. There’s some very specific industry content along with a bunch of outside presenters. They help you look at what challenges you have that cut across different industries.”

Chock-Full Schedule

NSCA aims at bringing in BLC keynote speakers who have best-selling books or are otherwise known for their expertise in areas such as strategic planning, building culture and other more general business improvement practices, says Wilson.

For sessions such as the Executive Power Hour and Beer and Bull, though, the focus is “very specific to the industry,” he says, with looks at best practices and, in some cases, practices that are far from the best but still were part of someone’s process at some point.

Related: Help CI, NSCA Take the Industry’s Pulse

“It’s a good way to talk about what’s working and what’s not,” says Wilson.

This year’s BLC will include what it calls a Saturday Morning Wake-Up session, which will focus on the top five issues affecting attendees’ business today. Those topics come directly from feedback and comments from attendees themselves, says Wilson.

The BLC will also feature a look at the integrator of the future and teach them about facing the new reality of today’s business environment.

“That’s something that’s incredibly important for a company that’s resisted change,” says Wilson.

Another highlight of the event is a look at some of the top 10 ideas for the industry, a series of case studies presented by the integrator involved with the projects. Those presentations, says Wilson, come from “companies that do something that made a difference in the industry.”

“If you add up the value of each of these sessions and the networking opportunities that are available to attendees too, you can’t even think about what the return on investment could be,” he says.

About 60 to 65 percent of the attendees in the first 15 years of the event have been return customers, with the remaining 35 to 40 percent BLC newcomers.

NSCA is making 20 full registrations available through the Randy Vaughan Scholarship Fund, opening the event to what Wilson calls “next-generation leaders” or those who have recently taken the reins at their companies.

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