Promo Industry IT Group Looking for New Members
Information technology professionals have some of the most daunting jobs today: identifying the best CMS software, learning ever-changing programming languages, securing data from hackers, keeping the servers running and troubleshooting why your Outlook crashes at 10:27 every morning (did you try turning it off and on again?) are just some of the tasks on the table every day.
These problems become more complicated in an industry like ours, where factors like discount codes and heavy customization make a "one-size-fits-all" solution impossible. So where does your IT team turn when they need answers?
"Networking opportunities are plentiful in this industry for salespeople and executives and a lot of work gets accomplished," said Dale Denham, chief information office for Geiger. "Unfortunately, zero opportunities exist for the technical people in this industry."
Enter the Promotional Industry IT group on LinkedIn, a newly created community allowing supplier and distributor IT staff to work together to solve the industry's unique problems. "Industry leaders get together with great ideas and plans, but by the time they bring them back to their technical people, the plans lose steam," Denham said "By having people deeply involved in technology work together to solve common problems, work gets done far cheaper and more effectively. This all starts with getting IT people talking."
The community came out of talks within the PPAI Technology Committee, which Denham chairs, at this year's PPAI Expo. Moderated by Denham along with Starline USA's systems operating manager Jon Norris and Charity Gibson, CEO of distributor Green Banana Promos, the group counts IT staff from major suppliers (Leed's, Evans Manufacturing) and distributors (HALO Branded Solutions, Geiger) among its regular contributors.
Conversations within the group are already bearing fruit. "A handful of us worked together to reduce phone calls between suppliers and distributors by creating a simple method using email to communicate order status. It works great and has reduced calls significantly and is simple to implement," Denham said. A similar solution, this time to create a standardized method of delivering real-time inventory status, is also in the works.
The group's founders hope for more adoption across the industry, and the Promotional Industry IT community is looking for more members. The only requirement is that applicants work in the industry and specifically in the IT field: Anyone from help desk up to CIO are welcome to join, but CEOs need not apply. Denham has created a separate group, Promo Tech Execs, to focus on management and business strategies for e-commerce leaders.
"Having the key people at your organization collaborating with and/or learning from other people who are experiencing very similar challenges and priorities drives efficiency," Denham said. "Getting to the right person at an organization is well known to be the 'Holy Grail' in sales. It's also the same in IT, projects and by having IT people at distributors and suppliers networking, access to the right people is streamlined."