Digital technology is a powerful tool that can help make a business more productive and profitable, and the promotional products industry’s techies are the trendsetters and visionaries who keep it innovating. The Industry Collaborator Award, one of the PPAI Technology Awards, won in 2016 by Chris Schlemmer, DistributorCentral’s IT director, celebrates technological achievement by PPAI member companies that brings the industry closer together to achieve greater efficiency or collaboration

PPB Newslink recently spoke with Schlemmer on the award and the state of the art in the promotional products industry’s information technology.

PPB Newslink: Where do you see the future of technology going in our industry?

Chris Schlemmer: The industry is ready to embrace technology today. In the past few years we have made great strides to innovate, adapt and collaborate. With that said, we continue to need participation from the entire industry to make large advances possible.

PPB Newslink: Has the Industry Collaborator Award prompted you to collaborate with other companies in the industry?

Schlemmer: DistributorCentral has collaborated and will continue to collaborate with others in the industry. Our customers come first in everything we do, and we strive to help them succeed every day. Being directly involved allows us to provide our customers the very best solution that is built around real-world feedback.

PPB Newslink: Have there been any surprising partnerships due to your collaboration experience, which earned you the Industry Collaborator award in 2016?

Schlemmer: I’ve been surprised in general just how willing everyone is to work together—including direct competitors—on our industry’s technology challenges. It has been fantastic to see and is critical for the industry in general to be successful.

PPB Newslink: What do you see as the biggest technology challenge our industry faces moving forward?

Schlemmer: One of the industry’s biggest technology challenges is to keep up with our innovation alongside Amazon-like companies. It’s up to us to prepare ourselves now for this kind of disruption. This will require efforts in many areas, including standardizing the way we communicate so we can react at the speed and ease our customers are quickly growing accustom to elsewhere.

PPB Newlink: Do you have any encouraging words for the IT professionals in the industry on why they should submit a nomination entry for the IC award?

Schlemmer: Each one of us is doing innovative and creative work every day. We are extremely proud of our accomplishments and you should be too! Innovation drives progress and your ideas will encourage others to further spur their own.

Take the time to nominate a techie who has done the impossible to make things possible. The PPAI Technology Awards nomination period closes May 15. The awards will be presented at the PPAI Tech Summit, to be held in Austin, Texas, August 15-17.