Commentary & Analysis
Preparing Questions for User Conferences – Dscoop 2017
User conferences are an incredible opportunity to load up on learning from the speakers, the vendors, and most importantly your peers. With Dscoop next week, this article covers the importance of the well-formed, thought out questions that can help you get the most out of events by preparing and focusing on your learning goals before you arrive!
By Jennifer Matt
Published: February 22, 2017
Next week HP hosts their North American user conference – Dscoop in Phoenix, AZ. User conferences are becoming very important events in the print industry as their focus is more on education and less on selling which I wholeheartedly agree with.
Like every industry on our planet; the print industry is experiencing a dramatic transformation caused by new technologies, shifting customer preferences, and strong competitive alternatives.
We are all beginners now; 30 years of print industry experience doesn’t guarantee you anything in this new market. We are all required to be life-long learners. User conferences are a great place to learn from both the presenters AND your peers. You have a choice; you can see this new reality as a threat to your livelihood or a tremendous opportunity to reinvent your business.
Your number one tool to learning is the often overlooked and undervalued “question”. I just finished reading an excellent book (highly recommended) A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger. Every business needs to start asking a whole lot more questions; start with the most powerful question of all “Why are we doing this?” then proceed with many “What if…?” questions about how your reality could change if you did something different. Then and only then start to refine your inquires down to “How…?” do we get from where we are today to where we want to be?
If you are going to Dscoop next week and you want to get the most out of the event, I would spend some time this week thinking through what you want to learn expressed in questions. Dscoop has a nice mobile app where you can add notes to all the sessions you put on your agenda, this is a great place to put your prepared questions. A question causes your brain to think differently than a statement. Formulate what you want to learn about each session in terms of questions you want answered. The following sessions are the ones I’m involved with at Dscoop, along with a sampling of potential questions you might want answered during the session.
Nail Your Niche – Fall in Love with Your Customer’s Problems
Presenter: Jennifer Matt
Thursday, March 2, 2017 1:30pm
Predictable revenue is the result of finding a challenge you can solve in a repeatable and profitable fashion. Finding your niche is not about you, your business, your capabilities – it’s about your customers. Customer-centric print businesses are thriving because their focus is on their customer’s challenges.
- Why should I care about my customer’s challenges?
- What are the benefits of diving deeper into a niche market?
- What are some good examples of a print niche market?
- Who in my organization is responsible for understanding my customer’s challenges?
- Where do I start if I want to find a niche for my business?
Print MIS Vendor Panel Discussion
Presenter: Jennifer Matt, Jane Mugford, and Print MIS Vendors
Thursday, March 2, 2017 2:00pm
Jennifer Matt will moderate a panel discussion with the Print MIS partners at Dscoop. We will talk about what Print MIS vendors are doing to solve the top challenges that printers have implementing, integrating, and optimizing their ERP solutions.
- What are the key factors to evaluate a Print MIS/ERP solution for your business?
- How do the vendors approach integration?
- What are the vendors doing to help printers get more ROI, drive better implementation of Print MIS?
- How do the different vendors approach the implementation process?
- What is the recommended preparation for printers who are preparing for a Print MIS migration?
Delegate Your Print Business to Software
Presenter: Jennifer Matt
Thursday, March 2, 2017 3:00pm
Software should be consuming tasks in all corners of your print business. Profitable growth is dependent on your ability to move more and more tasks from people to systems. This is not limited to your production floor, it needs to move upstream to your customers (via online self-service options) and into your sales and customer services departments.
- How do I approach this topic with my team, they all feel like they are going to be replaced by automation?
- Where do you see software automation creating the highest return on the investment?
- What are the best strategies for mapping out my current “inefficient” workflow?
- How do you create clear goals/metrics/KPIs for all aspects of your workflow?
- How do you both capture the time on a job and not waste a lot of time tracking your time?
Why Great Project Management is the Key to Getting Shit Done
Presenter: Jennifer Matt, Bryan Quible, and Maria Straley
Thursday, March 2, 2017 3:30pm
Everything in your business that requires more than one step and involves more than one person is a project. The success of your business could be measured in how effective your company is at executing on projects. Come learn about the 3 things you need to know about project management.
- How do you define a project?
- What tools do you use to track a project?
- How often do you meet with the team about a project?
- What are the most common causes for a project to fail?
- Do I really need to have a full-time project manager?
Make Software Integrations Less Painful
Presenters: Jennifer Matt, Chris Reisz-Hanson, and Bryan Quible
Friday, March 3, 2017 1:00pm
Optimization of your software investments requires integration between key software technologies. Integrations can be simple, complex, cheap, expensive – all integrations would benefit from a clear definition of the business objectives and a clear understanding how those objectives will be tested before the integration goes live. Come learn about the 3 things every print owner needs to know about how to approach software integration projects.
- What are the most important things to define when doing a software integration?
- How much documentation do you think is necessary for software integrations?
- What if I don’t have a staging environment for one or more of the technologies involved in an integration?
- How do I reduce scope on an integration / reduce the costs?
- What makes integration projects drag on and go over budget?
A Story of Software-Enabled Phenomenal Growth
Presenter: Jennifer Matt and Jane Mugford
Friday, March 3, 2017 1:35pm
Jennifer Matt will moderate a panel discussion with Courtney Sumners from Benson and Jane Mugford on their 33-month journey of replacing virtually every piece of technology at Benson. The results of this project are staggering; revenues have tripled, headcount has stayed steady, and Benson continues to build more and more diversity into their offering. Their integrated software suite is running their business, their people are running the software.
- How does execution with software enable business growth?
- What resources are required at the printer in order to execute with software at this level?
- How has decision making changed now that the software infrastructure is in place?
- What has been the reaction of your staff in going through such a radical change of systems?
- What level of participating did the owner have in this project?
Hiring and Managing Print Software Developers
Presenters: Jennifer Matt and Chris Reisz-Hanson
Friday, March 3, 2017 2:30pm
As software takes on a larger role in your print business, you will be interacting, managing, and potentially failing to understand how to manage software developers. Jennifer Matt and Chris Reisz-Hanson (software architect) will be discussing 3 things you should know about managing software developers and taking your questions.
- Why does custom software always turn out to be hard to use? (poor user experience)
- What do you look for in a software developer candidate?
- Does it matter what software language things get programmed in?
- What are the biggest mistakes made by software developers?
- What online sites are good for finding talented software developers?
Driving Traffic to Your Websites
Presenters: Jennifer Matt and Valerie DiCarlo
Friday, March 3, 2017 3:05pm, Dscoop Technology Theater
If you build a website or a business to stranger’s ecommerce solution visitors DO NOT COME – you must drive them to your site. You can pay for traffic (AdWords) or you can earn traffic (through content marketing). Either way, you must proactively drive traffic to your site. Come find out the 3 things you must know about driving traffic online.
- What is the difference between paid and organic search?
- Why is it so important to create compelling content online?
- What are the key metrics I should be tracking via Google Analytics?
- How do I not get scammed again by an SEO consultant who says they can get me in position 1?
- What are the basics of creating a keyword strategy?
How to Make Your Print Business Mobile Friendly
Presenters: Jennifer Matt, Kellie Rife, and Valerie DiCarlo
Friday, March 3, 2017 3:40pm
Mobile first is a term being used by technology companies to describe how our internet access is moving off the desktop onto our mobile devices. Come learn about the 3 things you need to know about making your print business mobile friendly.
- What is responsive design?
- Why does Google care if you’re site is mobile friendly?
- What are some of the tools used to design, preview, and test responsive websites?
- How can I audit my business to see how mobile friendly it is?
- How do you evaluate technology for “mobile readiness”?
Personalization Engine Solutions Panel Discussion
Presenters: Jennifer Matt, Chris Reisz-Hanson, and Vendors
Friday, March 3, 2017 4:15pm
As personalization continues to press deeper into every aspect of our lives, a printer’s ability to personalize just about everything they do requires a powerful personalization engine. Jennifer Matt will moderate a panel discussion with the composition engine vendors attending Dscoop 2017.
Sample Prep Questions
- How do you define the personalization challenge you’re having so that you can buy the right product?
- How do I best evaluate personalization solutions?
- What skills do I need to implement, support, and use these solutions?
- What are the most common reasons personalization engine purchases fail to return on the investment?
- Under what conditions would I need more than one personalization engine?