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Last week I had the privilege of spending a few days with a group of thought leaders in our industry at an event called InfoComm 100.  This event brings together high-level executives from our industry and a few from outside the industry just to stir up the conversation.

This year’s InfoComm 100 was held in Portland, Oregon and the Portland sun shined on us throughout the event with ideal weather.  For me, the most impactful part of this event was the ability to network and to spend time getting to know people that either you didn’t know or you didn’t know very well.
The insights that were shared by others through the networking discussions in between the planned presentations were simply “invaluable”.  I know that I’ve established new relationships that I will carry with me for years to come.  It was a privilege to be included in this event.
While the time I got to spend with Daniel Newman was a bit limited, I did observe how engaged he was in the event. I appreciated that he questioned, asked for further detail and examples about the many topics that were discussed.
On Monday he posted a recap of the event on Commercial Integrator that I think is worth sharing.
September 26, 2011 | by Daniel L. Newman, CEO of United Visual, Inc.
I had the honor of attending the InfoComm 100, an annual, invitation-only event that brings together 100 influential leaders across various disciplines of the AV industry, including integrators, distributors, manufacturers, consultants and independent programmers.
The event, run by the InfoComm Board of Directors and the Leadership Development Committee, discusses the most pressing issues the industry is facing.
The theme for this year’s event in Portland, Ore., revolved around the convergence of AV and IT, an old issue that keeps evolving. The conversations did cross into other areas, including relationship building, culture, and business problem-solving and green initiatives.
Here are highlights from the InfoComm 100 keynotes:

Recapping the Keynotes

Daniel Burrus, author of Flash Foresight delivered the keynote on Day 1, and David Nour, author of Relationship Economics, delivered the keynote on Day 2. These two keynotes were the most compelling, motivating dialogues of the InfoComm 100. These global business leaders shared not only industry-specific rhetoric, but they put some real context to their content and how to apply it.
Burrus’ speech left me pondering two ideas I am going to put to use. First, the idea that the problem you think you need to solve today for your business isn’t really the problem at all. More or less an iteration of the idea that you are fixing symptoms of the problem but not addressing the real one.
The second idea was around trendspotting, the ability to see a hard trend that can be deemed emphatic, versus a soft trend that is really not a guarantee. An example of a hard trend would be that the phrase “video application” will become redundant because video is growing at such a fast rate that it will be embedded into nearly every application. A soft trend would be that margins for A/V hardware will come back after the recession ends. The changes in buyer behavior are such that higher margins on hardware will likely not come back.
Nour’s discussion focused on a back-to-basics approach of relationship building. While his content ended up going very wide into topics like social media and cloud computing, the overall content boiled down to one very compelling message.
“Why is it in every other culture in the world, we build relationships before we enter into business with a person/company, but in the US, if and only if we enter into business and it is successful do we decide to build a relationship,” he asked.
These powerful words resonated with me as I realize this flaw in our ways. It is not to say that we can change it immediately, but working on the relationships with our customers is an often underrated practice that needs to be expanded upon.

Networking Opportunities

After the keynote, the days were comprised of fantastic panels that discussed convergence. There were also a few additional speakers from the industry who took a look at topics such as managed service, software as a service, recurring revenue, and shrinking margins. The discussions were always full of colorful comments and brilliant foresight.
The only thing that maybe trumped the keynotes and conversation was the networking. I can’t even begin to share how many wonderful new people I met and how many relationships were improved with people I already knew.
While we are working on bringing our video to the cloud and doing more and more events online, there is still something to be said for meeting in person. It will be a sad, sad day if the InfoComm 100 ever becomes a Web-based event.
I hear the InfoComm 100 will be in Miami in 2012. Here’s hoping I will be, too.
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