by Amy Weiss
Among the many articles written about the Executive Connection Summit last October (and there were many, many articles, recaps, blogs and more), there was a great deal of focus on the bigger concepts, connections and companies highlighted at the event. And all of that was well worth the focus — companies like Cisco, SAP, Samsung, Sharp, and OKI are huge, and their presenters were excellent. But also key to the Executive Connection Summit is a group of companies known collectively as Technology United (TU), and it was this group that perhaps best exemplifies what can be achieved when thought leaders, movers, and shakers come together.
A TU Refresher
Launched in July 2011, TU was designed as a way to bring together industry leaders with a best-of-breed mentality to deliver fully integrated enterprise solutions and services to end users and ensure an effective long-term market strategy for its customers and partners alike. Unifying companies with complementary strengths such as document management, supplies fulfillment, IT and security, TU’s vision includes profound effects on the swiftly evolving industry that inspired its formation.
TU has an impressive partner list, with members that include consumables, MPS, and refurbished printer provider LMI; power protection firm ESP; Green Hills Software, an independent vendor of embedded software solutions; imaging supplies manufacturer Clover Technologies; GreatAmerica Financial Services, a nationwide provider of commercial equipment and technology financing; computing innovation leader Intel; enterprise content management (ECM) provider Intellinetics; and MWA Intelligence, a leading provider of machine-to-machine (M2M) and machine-to-people (M2P) solutions. Members of the conglomerate presented at the ECS, and while each presentation was interesting and informative on its own, taken as a whole it brought a different dimension to the concept of “executive connections.”
Steve Galloway of ESP presented “Survive and Advance,” expanding on a familiar theme: the need for expanded revenue streams. Power seems a natural area of expansion, particularly since power protection goes far beyond what is plugged into a wall. From battery backup to IP-enabled power management, the synergistic opportunities seem boundless when considering what partnerships are possible between a firm that provides electronically powered devices and one that provides the protection for them. Galloway emphasized the trifecta of “Expand, be significant, partner” throughout his presentation, noting that “Partnering equals survival” with examples that included TU members MWAi/FORZA and Intellinetics.
Steve Galloway explains how “partnering equals survival” using the power of ESP’s partnerships with other TU members.
In “The Times They Are A-Changin,’” GreatAmerica Financial Services’ Jennie Fisher pointed to the need for connections as she highlighted some of the firm’s newest offerings. Collaboration was key as she discussed GreatAmerica’s managed IT services peer groups, S-L Gamit Groups. Central to the groups is the idea that dealers seeking entry into the managed IT field need help – from experts, from other dealers that have paved the way, and from those who experience the same struggles. The groups, which consist of C-level executives and dealers from non-competing geographic areas, share successes, challenges and best practices, as well as benchmarks.
Jennie Fisher explains GreatAmerica’s latest offerings, including INTEGREAT web services.
Green Hills Software’s Dave Kleidermacher was possibly one of the most popular speakers at the event due to the fact that security is top of mind for pretty much everyone these days. In “Are You Ready for the Internet of Things?” Kleidermacher looked at a different type of connections – the potentially much more dangerous kind. The “Internet of Things” market – connected devices connected to more connected devices – looks to hit $7.1 trillion by the year 2020 according to research firm IDC. How can you prepare? Partnering with a good security firm can help. Do terms like “evaluation assurance levels” mean anything to you? They do to Kleidermacher, who wrote the book “Embedded Systems Security.” Bringing Green Hills and its security software expertise to the table to secure printing and protect against IT threats is a valuable sales asset to a partner.
LMI Solutions is another excellent example of the type of partner integral to the TU landscape. A leading supplies remanufacturer with award-winning MPS programs available, marketing programs customized to a number of vertical markets, and most recently a reseller of refurbished printers, LMI offers a multitude of solutions. In “LMI Game Show,” Gary Willert and Matt McGuire quizzed audience members about their knowledge of the company’s products and services – many of which may have been a surprise to those not familiar with today’s LMI, a company that has definitely been of benefit to and benefitted from the alliance with TU.
Matt McGuire hosts “LMI Game Show.”
Event host and TU founding member MWAi, of course, was represented in a number of presentations. Central to most of its current talk tracks is FORZA, its SAP Business One-based ERP designed for the imaging channel. MWAi is literally embedded in the business of many of its TU partners as well as other well-known companies such as Sharp and Samsung. As it should, MWAi perfectly exemplifies the power of partnership promoted by TU.
Perhaps the best example of the opportunities and synergies offered by TU, however, was evidenced in a presentation by Matt Chretien of Intellinetics. Entitled “A Case Study of TU Innovation,” the presentation overviewed exactly that – a collaboration between TU members Intelllinetics and Intel called IntelliCloud. A document workflow management suite targeted toward SMBs, Intel’s NUC mini-computer technology was leveraged by Intellinetics as a gateway, allowing the companies to provide a workflow solution for the SMB. IntelliCloud also integrates with FORZA, creating a premium example of TU integration at work.
Intellinetics and Intel have made the case for the power of collaboration with IntelliCloud.
The Company You Keep
TU was built around the idea that in order to be successful, companies in the 21st century business landscape would need to be as intelligent and connected as the products they sell. With so many individual companies providing services, products, and support, it made sense to reform those many elements into what TU founder and MWAi President Mike Stramaglio has referred to as a “hub and spoke” format.
Given the many aspects of the imaging industry covered by TU members – hardware, software, supplies, power, security, and workflow, to name just a handful – the power of TU is undeniable. Not only does the alliance work for the vendors, it allows end users to gain a better picture of the needs they may not yet know they have and the solutions that can fulfill them.
Its tagline, “You’re Known by the Company You Keep,” sums up perfectly the goals of TU – merging solid business relationships with top-of-the-line technology. Stramaglio frequently uses the term “force multiplier” when speaking of TU, and that was certainly in evidence at the ECS. TU was out in force at the event, and the takeaways were multiplied to an infinite degree.
Amy Weiss, vice president and editor-in-chief of BPO Media, has more than a decade of experience in the imaging industry. Her background also includes public relations, television and radio, as well as more than 20 years as a freelance writer and editor, with work appearing in numerous print and online publications.
This article originally appeared in the January 2015 issue of The Imaging Channel.