Monday, May 18, 2009

Samsung, Xerox, PrintAudit, NER, Great America, Nationwide Insurance, Bob Jones, Kearns, DOW - Managed Print Services CON'09: Oh, what a Time We Had..


I have never seen a better, "home-made" crop circle tattoo - ever.

The first annual Managed Print Conference ended a bit ago, and although I have enough notes to choke a horse, I have been holding off writing about the meeting.

Waiting and looking for indications that what I saw, the conversations I had, the passion, or the lack of passion I observed, somehow could be found in my everyday MPS world.

The Conference did represent MPS Nirvana - but out here in the real world, it's different.

It's a world of competitors waving their little "dongles" around, jumping up and down spewing 5 year old Gartner facts and pitching MPS as "the hot new PRODUCT" - gag, upchuck the boogie...

So it takes some heavy Korn tracks TwistedTransistor, to name one, to dislodge my apathy and write - God help us all.

About the time of the Lyra conference in Palm Springs, the first time I met Ed and really started to get to know the folks from Photizo, the future of the Managed Print Conference was realistically in question. Indeed, just a few months later, at the beginning of ITex, questions were still lurking.

But all it took was a walk through the floor at ITex, to see MPS was everywhere and was the "new black".

That's when I knew the conference was not only going survive, but be a success.

Ed and I walked the show, shaking our heads in awe. The market was truly coming towards Managed Print Services - that is at least from the vendor side.

After Xerox stepped up as a Platinum sponsor, credibility grew as did the list of sponsors. Weekly, more and more firms jumped in - a larger room was soon needed for all the vendors.

Our work as judges for the first annual MPS Awards grew as well - page after page from nominated contestants arrived in my in box. There was a good deal of work that went into those 4 awards.

And as the big day grew closer, that anticipation increased. Ed even received his first "troll" attack on the MSP Mentor site; you know you're on the right track when someone tries to attack your credibility. As of today, the Troll has made no subsequent appearances.

The beginning of the conference went marvelously with introductions to new people and re-intro's to familiar faces.

The tone was set early.

As the group of attendees was not huge, around 174 people, it was easy to get to see and talk to many people. Not so many as to be overwhelming but more than enough to lend credibility to the MPS market as a growing and significant niche.

Make no mistake, if you were unable to attend, it's ok- MPS will be growing and there will be opportunities to get together with industry leaders again.

If you were there, you know.

Which brings me to a personal and at least for me, a very interesting observation.

I am sure that there have been times in your life when you belonged to a group of friends or an organization of sorts when it felt like you knew a cool secret - and that only you and the members of you group understood.

For me, it was Paintball and the society of "early adapters" within the sport. It was weird, but we all knew each other, even if we had never met, because we shared a common passion for a game, a sport, not many knew of and fewer even understood.

It is like a secret fraternity.

Well, I felt a tinge of the same, "wink and a nod" feeling.

Sitting in front of a pretty good sized crowd, especially for the end of a conference, and looking out at the faces looking at me and my colleagues, I could tell that this was a special moment in history.

Albeit a moment in MPS history - for whatever that's worth.

We all felt part of a collective, a group of people who understood something that some of our peers would never be able to truly "get" - because they weren't there.

Is it as good as hearing Bell say, "...Watson...I need you..." or watching 12 seconds of the Wright Brothers first 120 feet - no, it is not.

But still, it's something positive. Something created out of nothing - and that is usually a good thing.

I must tell you, the times were good.

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