I’ve been in the Managed Print Services space for over 14 years and one of my favourite events every year has been the ITEX show. It’s one of those rare shows where you get a 3-for-1: Tradeshow, educational event, and networking bonanza. It is a place to discover new offerings, to learn new ways to do business, and to meet with partners (old and new) in one convenient location.
ITEX 2016 was no exception, though I would have to say that it is definitely a year that seemed to be one of transition. There were some interesting signs of a need for change, which I like to call the “Elephants,” as well as a host of even more positive surprises which I like to call “Golden Eggs.” Below are my takeaways from the ITEX Show 2016:
Elephant #1: Location, location, location: How I LOVE Ft. Lauderdale. How I LOATHE their convention centre. The place doesn’t feel like it was built with human beings in mind. The scale of the place feels more like it was built for giants. The vendor floor felt underwhelming as there was simply too much floor and not enough booths. The rooms where the learning tracks were held had the same problem of scale. Even session rooms with 50 or 60 attendees felt sparse and barren. This is not reflection on InfoTrends and I’m certain that ITEX 2017 is going to blow us all away. Someplace else. I’m almost certain.
Elephant #2: Page decline. According to the keynote delivered by Jeff Hayes, President of InfoTrends, page volumes are predicted to decline at a rate of 1.5% per annum through 2020. That’s up from a previous prediction of 1.2%. The slow burn is heating up. Though certainly not a number that predicts the death of print it is one that says we need to start taking diversification and efforts to take market share from competitors more seriously. Selfishly, I think it further solidifies the need to examine different billing models, like SBB (Seat Based Billing) to mitigate revenue loss from declining pages.
Elephant #3: Where were the OEMs? Other than a keynote by HP and a private room where you could look at some of their new toys, the OEM presence was all but barren. At least for the A3/A4 providers. 3DSystems had a booth in conjunction with Synnex and it was incredible! I spent an hour there with my jaw on the floor looking at all sorts of unbelievable 3D printed objects. Now if only I could have taken one home…
As I mentioned in the beginning of this write up, there were far more “Golden Eggs” than “Elephants”. Here are my top 3:
Golden Egg #1: INTEC Ignite “speed dating” really works. This is the third year that I’ve attended the INTEC Ignite event and it was well worth it, particularly the “speed dating” sessions where suppliers and potential customers got to spend 15 minutes together. Print Audit had over 20 meetings in this format which led to a bunch of follow up meetings to talk more in depth about how our offering could help them strengthen their offerings. A big hats off to Brian Stevenson and his team for a truly unique and worthwhile way of bringing suppliers and customers together.
Golden Egg #2: GreatAmerica Financial Services’ booth! The cafe theme was an absolute hit! The espresso bar was a welcome addition too as the conference centre Starbucks was closed the entire time. The creativity and execution of this booth made for an environment you really wanted to be a part of. I’m sure the conversations and quality business interactions were as energized as the caffeine. A big Kudos to the entire team at GreatAmerica for an exceptional job!
Golden Egg #3: ITEX 2017 and with InfoTrends at the helm. ITEX 2016 felt much the same as ITEX 2015 in many respects with one clear exception: The InfoTrends sessions delivered on the promise of truly educational and provocative learning sessions. I have no doubt that Jon Reardon and his team will be taking education much further in 2017. He is one of the smartest and most strategic people I know and I am excited to see what he does with ITEX 2017 and a clean slate.
ITEX is an event that has done our industry great service for many, many years. I really do believe that with InfoTrends at the helm that it is going to evolve and become something even greater in the years to come. The golden eggs far outweighed the elephants in the room and I, for one, am excited to see what ITEX 2017 will become: A new format, a new location, and a new (and bright) future. Bring it.