ECS 2023: The Industry’s Must-Attend Event Gets Bigger and Better

What is digital transformation, anyway? That was just one of the topics up for discussion at the 2023 Executive Connection Summit, held January 15-18 at the incomparable Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Arizona. A tradition for the better part of a decade, both the event and the venue have become a “must-attend” for industry members.

Since its inception, the event has grown, both in number of attendees and length of time. Beginning with a Consortium meeting and news highlight Sunday afternoon, sessions stretched from Monday morning until noon on Wednesday, wrapping up with a golf tournament.

Monday kicked off with a keynote address from Tony Pater, a longtime industry veteran who retired as CEO of Kyocera (Mita) in 2006. He shared stories of sales, service, milkshakes and many years in the industry. Tasked with the tough job of following Pater were ConnectWise’s Jay Ryerse and Drew Sanford, who proved more than up for the job with their discussion of cybersecurity, illustrating the difficulty of changing our thought processes with a video of the “Backwards Brain Bicycle” (check it out when you have eight minutes to spare — it’s interesting). They also decided to scare the whole room by providing handouts of each attendee’s company credentials found on the Dark Web (in sealed folders, of course). Security is essential, and you can change how you think. Point made.

Next on the agenda was a panel titled “Diversity in the Imaging Channel: Importance of Women Leadership,” hosted by Jennie Fisher of GreatAmerica and featuring Stephanie Keating, Melani Patterson, Natalie Cumberbatch, and our own Patricia Ames — plus a guest spot by Doug Albregts. The panel discussed the need for diversity in leadership, the opportunities that exist, and what’s changed over the years. Following that panel was a fireside chat with GreatAmerica’s Martin Golobic and Debra Schmitt on “Leadership is the Secret to Business Transformation.”

After a lunch break, the focus shifted to digital transformation. Intel’s Rick Lisa discussed some key topics, including the role of a digital twin, the need for resilience and sustainability, the emergence of the edge as data is moving back from the cloud to on-premises locations, AI, machine learning and more.

A panel discussion on digital transformation followed Lisa’s presentation, featuring Tanya Pelletier, Mark Goode, Shannon Kendall, Steve Cundy, Max Krevitz and John Schweizer, and hosted by Mike Stramaglio. Following that, Tami Beach presented on “Rolling with the Changes: Embracing Data, Analytics, and AI Tools to Fuel Business Growth” and then Ed Mclaughlin hosted a panel on B2B eCommerce featuring Steward Reynolds, Anthony Sci, Tim Renegar and Tawyna Stone. Wrapping up the day was Mark Goode presenting “Digital Transformation as a Business Strategy.”

Tuesday began with a keynote from Mike Marusic, “An OEM Perspective on Changing Market Dynamics.” Following that was a series of presentations on possible future solutions, including “Bringing Everything Up to Speed,” “State of the Industry and Opportunities for Growth,” “Capture Your Performance Edge,” “Manufacturing Flexible Technical Talent” and “Packaging, Should I Be Interested?” from David Coffman, David Moorman, Jeremy Snarski, David Tan and Kevin Karstedt, all of whom joined together for a “Future Solutions Possibilities” panel taking Q&A from the audience.

Pre-lunch there was another keynote from golfer Maurice Allen, world Long Drive champion, and then post-lunch was another highlight: industry legend Mike Riorden, who presented on “Building a Quality Organization: What I Learned for 38 Years.”

Tuesday afternoon dug back into the topic of digital transformation, which was a recurring theme throughout the event. Konica Minolta’s Mike Lee presented “Future-Proofing Your DX Strategy” and Microsoft’s Brian Evergreen wowed the crowd with “Autonomous Transformation: Clearing the Digital Fog.”

Following that was a session on the importance of hiring veterans from Mike Stramaglio, Steve Cundy and Chris Johnson titled “Hire Heroes,” followed by “Workplace Service Providers 2023 Perspective” with Blake Renegar, Chip Miceli and Les Harris.

The final day began with a presentation from Joe Brunsman, “Leveraging Cyber Insurance and Cybersecurity Law to Sell More Services” (check out our Q&A with him in the most recent security issue). That was followed by “CX Strategies to Drive Digital Excellence” from Howard Bonus, and “Managing Chaos” from Ron Petrucci.

Closing out the day was an OEM panel, the “C-Suite View of What Comes Next” featuring John Whidden, Mike Marusic, Mark Mathews, Larry White and Mike Lee.

ECS, of course, is never all work and no play. Sprinkled throughout the sessions was plenty of networking time, and of course business got done over cocktails and dinner. Awards were handed out, drinks were had, golf was played and a good time was had by all.

is editorial director of BPO Media’s publications Workflow and The Imaging Channel, and senior analyst for BPO Research. As a professional writer and editor, she has specialized in the office technology industry for the last 20 years. Prior to that she worked in public relations and has a master's degree in communication arts.