The PPAI Technology Summit Continues To Deliver In Its Third Year

The third annual PPAI Technology Summit drew more than 100 industry technology leaders to share and discuss IT issues and solutions.

The third annual PPAI Technology Summit drew more than 100 industry technology leaders to share and discuss IT issues and solutions.

The third annual PPAI Technology Summit wrapped last week in San Francisco after two days of in-depth, diverse discussion on the issues, challenges and opportunities top-of-mind among industry technology professionals. Running August 17-18 in San Francisco, California, for the second year in a row Tech Summit was held in conjunction with the North American Leadership Conference (NALC), which ended August 16.

Tech Summit’s second day followed the model set on its first, with a lineup of sessions drawn from experts and thought leaders from the promotional products industry and the information technology world. AOL’s Joel Bancroft-Connors opened Thursday’s schedule with a look at project management best practices and tips for avoiding some of the common pitfalls and hazards. Later in the morning, Eric Natinsky with SAGE spoke on real-time data exchanges between suppliers and distributors through his company’s system, sharing advantages and opportunities businesses on both sides of the industry can apply.

Tech-Summit-Selection

The PPAI Technology Summit's final day included breakout sessions, panel discussions and look at what's head with futurist Thomas Frey (bottom right).

“The audience included a strong mix of business and technical leaders and the content managed to meet each of their needs,” says Dale Denham, MAS+, Geiger CTO and leader of the Tech Summit workgroup, one of the guiding hands behind the event. “I heard from at least a dozen people how happy they were with the event and its content. The focus on distributor and supplier integration through SAGE and PromoStandards was very well received and will contribute to business success in 2017. And, as always, the Tech Tips session where attendees shared their best tip was a favorite for everyone and encapsulates the power of the event as an ongoing collaboration, is one of its most valuable aspects.”

Day two delivered attendees expanded education choices, with a series of breakout sessions throughout the morning and afternoon. They could choose between the supplier and distributor sides of a PromoStandards web services demonstration; lessons from making the transition to Microsoft Office 365; tips on recruiting IT talent; and discussions on the website redesign process and incorporating mobile-friendly elements into their sites.

“Tech Summit is really relevant to the things I am responsible for,” says David Stolper, senior vice president at IPROMOTEu. “It’s talking about problems that I need to solve. The sessions on standards and recruiting were particularly interesting. During the recruiting session, the moderator asked who had a position to fill and everyone’s hand shot up. It’s remarkable how compelling the topic it is. It’s a big challenge in my job.”

Adam Taylor, vice president of development at Essent Corporation, was one of a number of attendees who joined both NALC and the Tech Summit. He says, “Tech Summit brings suppliers, distributors and service providers together, and it’s a way for me to get my finger on the pulse as far as how things like EDI [Electronic Data Interchange] are progressing, because it is a critical factor in the industry. Everyone’s backing it. We had a number of sessions this week on EDI, making the supply chain faster and more optimized. Everyone’s on board with it. That’s what I like to see, that we’re moving that ball forward. These initiatives have been going on for so long, I’m excited to see us get this thing rolling.”

Tech-Summit-Work-Group

The industry and PPAI staff members in the Technology Summit Work Group guided the development of the summit's agenda, speaker line-up and message.

First-time Tech Summit attendee Patrick Elliot, director of IT at SnugZ USA, says, “I didn’t know what to expect but this has been a really great experience. I found the sessions on what the industry is doing to integrate and security particularly valuable. There are security vulnerabilities out there and knowing that everyone else is in the same boat gives me a better awareness of the issues and ideas on what I can do to patch and fix them.”

A canceled flight prevented Michael Armstrong, CTO of commonsku, from making it to Tech Summit last year in Nashville. “I work with a lot of the people in this room but I’ve never met any of them,” he says. “I’m in Toronto and this industry is all over the world, so a good chance to finally see everyone and meet them. The agenda has been interesting and there have been some enjoyable sessions, so it’s been a good experience.”

Futurist Thomas Frey closed out Tech Summit’s schedule with a look at where technology is going in the coming years and decades. Frey shared observations drawn from his research and study on where certain industries are going and what their futures will look like. Ultimately optimistic, Frey says, “If we change people’s vision of the future, we change the way they make decisions today.”

Denham adds, “When the event ended last year, I thought to myself ‘How will we top that?’ Based on a few dozen comments I personally received, we absolutely beat last year. Now, the pressure is on to get even better next year and grow attendance to another record year.”

filed under august-2016 | industry-news
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