GREEN BAY, WI. — Rick Chernick sure knows how to throw a good expo.
Chernick, the CEO of Camera Corner / Connecting Point, brought several hundred of his best friends–customers AND vendors–here to hear about the latest and greatest in technology.
CCCP’s Super Show of Technology Expo XXXVI combines two great attributes. First, there was pertinent information — sessions on desktop virtualization, IP telephony, converged infrastructure — that customers need. Second, it was fun which, face it, everyone needs.
Here are the top five takeaways from this event–there’s a lot of stuff here that useful to any business owner.
1: Market the hell out of your business. Use all the tools at your disposal. This year Chernick, who’s on the board of the Green Bay Packers, capitalized on their Super Bowl XLV championship big time. Right down to the green capital “G”s flying everywhere, the Packer swag in the goodie bag (color pix of the team, thank you very much.) A nice opening reception at Curly’s Pub in Lambeau Field. Need I say more?
He tied his company in tightly with this winning tradition. And, while he welcomed his big vendors with open arms — Lots of Hewlett-Packard folks here as well as reps from Apple, Panasonic, ShoreTel, Sony, Hitachi, and VMware — this is all about CCCP. And that’s the way it should be. For VARs, the brand they push should be their own.
2: The vendor acquisition frenzy almost never pleases data center customers.
Face it, the vendor-buying-vendor thing is all about Wall Street, not Main Street.
“These guys get bigger and the service gets worse — and more expensive,” said the IT manager of a large midwestern health care provider and CCCP customer. The smaller vendors try harder, tend to be more innovative and flexible and “I miss them,” he said.
3: Business folks want their tablets.
A session on integrating iPads into business accounts was packed. Not surprising given how C-level folks demand that IT integrate their iPads into the corporate environment. What was surprising was that the CEO of one company attending–a small public relations firm with a dozen or so employees–said Apple’s continuing rejection of Flash leaves a pretty good opening for competitive tablets coming online from HP, Cisco and others. This CEO would love to arm her employees with tablets but the Flash restriction–along with the need to do a lot of typing–may prevent that for now.
4: Vendors who think they’re “locked in” have another think coming.
Many large IT vendors want vendor lock-in — although they won’t put it that way. But customers here feel differently. “I’m as loyal to my vendor as my customers are to me–whcih means not very,” said an IT manager for a large retailer based in central Wisconsin.
“If i screw up, my customer leaves. If my vendor screws up, I leave.”
He acknowledged that its hard to rip and replace say — a database — but that no vendor should feel immune from that threat. Another attendee said his plan is to indeed replace his company’s standard database (yes, the big One–with a capital O) with SQL Server and soon. Why? He’s sick of the support policies, that he has to pay very high percentage fee support on older versions of his database and those support fees are the very reason he won’t upgrade to later versions where the fee percentage is lower.
5: It’s all about service stupid, er I mean, sir.
To see the rapport Chernick and his team has with CCCP customers–who came from Chicago, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and other points, was invigorating. It shows that VARs who keep the customer front and center, who work to solve problems vs. pushing a particular vendor brand really can thrive.
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