This week I got the chance to join 50 of my fellow integrators in Orlando, Fla. for the prestigious CI Summit which is sponsored by Commercial Integrator magazine. This is the third year for this unique “invitation only” event that brings together the top-ranked commercial integration firms in the country where profit-boosting secrets are shared and critical new products and services are spotlighted by industry leading vendors.
The conference featured a number of educational sessions that were highly informative starting with "Best Practices for Digital Marketing" from Netsertive as part of the "Cookies, Milk and Marketing" kickoff session (no joke) Concepts covered (from Netsertive) included paid and organic search optimization, driving web traffic and turning traffic into inquiries and digital marketing channeled through mobile devices. A lot to think about and the conference just started!
My favorite part of the conference was Thursday’s lunchtime presentation by Roy Spence, Chairman and Co-Founder of GSD&M. In this talk, Roy shared his remarkable and entertaining personal story, insights from purpose-driven business leaders he’s worked with over the years (like Sam Walton from Walmart and Herb Kelleher from Southwest Airlines). He gave fresh thoughts and advice on how purpose and love can power success and satisfaction within companies. Its corny to say but I really did leave Roy’s session not only proud to be an entrepreneur but inspired to improve the heart and soul of both ISI and myself.
Another presentation that caught my attention was titled “How to Hit a Curveball” which focused on best practices in project management and was sponsored by Kramer Electronics. Lots of great ideas were shared about how to keep projects on track, implement customer change orders etc. And the secret to increase profit margins on projects? We all agreed it was the little things left out of a job that lead to big $$ margin erosion reinforcing that “the devil really is in the details”! Also I must say I did get a kick out of Kent Cawthorne (Kramer VP of Sales) plugging my book “Hitting the Curveballs” at the start of the session.
One session covered a topic that is near and dear to my heart, "Hiring Qualified and Trustworthy Employees." The highlight of that session had to be the intense debate about the value of hiring millennials for your business. Amazing how technology business owners had so little success in hiring young people who represent the “technology generation.” I must also say that my “farm system” model of hiring millennials at ISI got a lot of attention with the group and I think gave several of my fellow integrators something to think about with their hiring strategy.
In closing, I have to say that of all the industry conferences I attend every year, the CI Summit delivered the most beneficial information for current business owners in the shortest amount of time. And for me, it is always nice to bounce ideas off other owners and discuss current strategy. All in all time well spent!