The North American Leadership Conference has been an important event for PPAI since the NALC's inception. With PPAI seeing obvious benefits from the conference, it became the perfect platform to help propel another event that was already growing quickly on its own: the PPAI Technology Summit.
This is the third consecutive year that the Technology Summit and North American Leadership Conference are co-locating. The 2017 PPAI NALC is Aug. 13-15 and the 2017 PPAI Tech Summit is Aug. 15-17 in Austin, Texas.
"The Leadership Conference and Tech Summit pair well together. It’s been ideal for us."
Essent is the platinum sponsor of both events, which have set attendance records in every year of the pairing. Tech Summit registration and NALC registration remain open.
The momentum from the NALC-Summit co-location should only get stronger. "The Leadership Conference and Tech Summit pair well together. We have individuals that attend both events. There are networking opportunities for both groups. And the events co-exist nicely. It’s been ideal for us," said PPAI IT Director Paul Elfstrom (pictured), a Tech Summit organizer.
Coming off the 2016 Tech Summit where PromoStandards took center stage with its industry-wide integration initiative and Essent earned the PPAI Tecnology Summit Internal Innovator award for the "Holy Grail" integration, Mr. Elfstrom said he expects integration to continue to be on the industry's forefront not only at the 2017 Tech Summit but for years to come.
"Demand for integration will rise. Integration equals efficiency. Information flowing between businesses through an integration solution is faster, more accurate and cost effective than traditional methods. It’s information at your fingertips," Mr. Elfstrom said.
Mr. Elfstrom discussed those details and more about the 2017 PPAI Technology Summit as he answered the following questions from Essent.
The PPAI Technology Summit sets a new record for attendance every year, topping 100 attendees last year. Why does the number keep going up, what’s the way to keep it going up, and are you seeing new types of people attend (e.g., not just tech people)?
"The value is there for everyone. It’s a great networking opportunity, there’s a lot of rich content shared and the takeaways are countless."
"It’s been wonderful to see the event grow so fast, and it’s attributed to a number of factors. An enormous amount of credit goes out to our volunteers serving on the Tech Summit Workgroup and Technology Committee. They’ve been instrumental in planning the event and recruiting attendees since day one. And that momentum continues to be strong.
"Our audience is definitely technical, which is perfect for the event. That’s the majority, however there are some attendees outside of the IT field. We see crossover from executive and other management areas as well. They might have tech responsibilities in their organization or maybe they just enjoy tech in general. Overall the value is there for everyone. It’s a great networking opportunity, there’s a lot of rich content shared and the takeaways are countless."
The Technology Summit will co-locate with the North American Leadership Conference for the third consecutive year. What makes the pairing a success, and why is it important to have industry leaders and industry technologists literally working right alongside one another?
"NALC has always been a strong event for PPAI and it was a great launching pad for the Tech Summit."
"NALC has always been a strong event for PPAI and it was a great launching pad for the Tech Summit. There were obvious benefits to add the new program to an established event. It was a lighter load on the budget and a crossover audience existed. With NALC, we’ve been fortunate to have this nurturing environment to help us grow quickly. And the Leadership Conference and Tech Summit pair well together. We have individuals that attend both events. There are networking opportunities for both groups. And the events co-exist nicely. It’s been ideal for us."
What’s the biggest, best new thing at this year’s Technology Summit, or what do you expect to be the most talked about topic, session, or experience?
"I think it will have a similar feel to Nashville two years ago. Which is still being talked about."
"Good questions. Experience will probably be high on the list. This year we’ll have more networking opportunities, interactive sessions and topics to explore. Plus the location is great. I think it will have a similar feel to Nashville two years ago. Which is still being talked about. And if you’re a techie and haven’t been to the tech summit yet, I would encourage you to attend. It has value for you and your organization."
Trading partner integration (distributor-to-supplier, supplier-to-distributor) was a major topic of conversation at last year’s Technology Summit especially via the PromoStandards sessions. Here at Essent, we can definitively report that promotional products companies are asking about integration more than ever before. Do you expect demand for integration to continue to rise and why?
"Yes, demand for integration will rise. Integration equals efficiency."
"Yes, demand for integration will rise. Integration equals efficiency. Information flowing between businesses through an integration solution is faster, more accurate and cost effective than traditional methods. It’s information at your fingertips. Forget the phone calls and multiple email messages to process and check status of an order, check inventory, etc. Integration solutions are being developed and implemented now.
"And there are solutions for both large and small organizations. Smaller companies are using service providers because many of the service providers have already built integration solutions and the customer doesn’t have to worry about it. Larger organizations can take advantage of the provider solution or or they can opt to customize and create direct connections B2B, and many do. It’s also important to keep in mind that integration solutions are evolving, the landscape will look much different 10 years from now."
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Essent is the leading provider of fully-integrated business management software solutions and services for process-intensive industries and the largest trading network for the promotional products industry. The Essent family of fully-integrated products and services combines best practices, business processes, software automation, and network communications to deliver unparalleled, unified business management solutions. Since 1980, Essent has offered the systems, service, software, and support critical to success in today's highly-competitive marketplace.