ITEX 2021 In Review: 7 Takeaways

I’ve attended ITEX for a lot of years, as have many of you reading this. Thanks to emergency measures related to COVID 19, there was no ITEX to attend last year.  But like all nightmares, we eventually awaken, and the light of the day does wonders to give us back a sense of some kind of normal. Thanks to the hard work and persistence of Marc Spring and team, ITEX came back with a roar in 2021.

Read on for my 7 key takeaways as well as 3 suggestions to make it even better for the channel next year. Let’s go!

Takeaway #1: Print volumes aren’t all coming back. 

Yeah, a bummer, I know, and maybe even one that doesn’t come as a surprise to most folks in the Office Equipment Channel. Randy Dazo of KeyPoint Intelligence delivered some sobering stats:

  • Operating profits took a huge hit. From $13 billion in 2014 down to $5.7 billion in 2020. Combined with revenue declines, this doesn’t bode well for equipment sales.
  • People will continue to print from home. This will decrease slightly as some workers return to the office but will persist as a more agile and remote workforce simply won’t go away.
  • A4 will continue to grow while A3 will continue to shrink. Decentralized print is a thing again and it doesn’t look like that trend is going to slow down to 2025.

Takeaway #2: Supply chain issues aren’t going away anytime soon.

Conversations with distributors and dealers alike make it VERY clear that our supply chain woes are only getting started. That means fewer print devices ready for delivery and ultimately dealers having to do more with existing equipment to keep the lights on. Lease extensions and selling refurbished equipment as well as using aftermarket supplies are going to be very important for survival and growth.

Takeaway #3: Managed IT and A/V are big areas for future growth.

Do you know which OEDs (Office Equipment Dealers) weren’t negatively impacted by the pandemic? The ones with established Managed IT and A/V practices. In my session on the Subscription Economy, interviews with both Dan Larkin at MARCO and Jeff Bendix saw growth thanks to their flourishing IT practices.

Takeaway #4: Subscription EVERYTHING.

In my Tigerpaw education session, Jeff Bendix of Bendix Imaging, Dan Larkin of MARCO, and Earl Everson of Elite Document Solutions ALL said that no matter what you offer it must be through subscription. My session was full, so I’m guessing that the dealer community agrees. Devices, managed print, Managed IT, A/V, EVERYTHING subscription, no matter what it looks like.

Takeaway #5: Industry heavyweights showed up in force.

This was my first channel show in over 18 months and boy did I miss everybody! A great fireside chat with Mike Stramaglio and Randy Dazo, meeting up with MPSA board members Anthony Chen, Tawnya Stone, Eric Crump, Russel Kromminga. Andy Slawetsky and his son were literally everywhere!  Wes McArtor and Bud Karakey from Nexera were great to see on the showroom floor. Erik Cagle and Susan Neimes from ENX were there covering things too. I could go on and on, so many channel influencers in attendance, but suffice to say so many voices that are making a difference in this channel showed up in force and most of them T100 members.

Takeaway #6: More dealers need to be there next year. 

Sadly, not as many dealers showed up as I’m sure vendor sponsors would have hoped for. I hope that changes for next year.  ITEX does a great job of providing a completely agnostic and vendorneutral gathering for people to have conversations with the industry’s best minds and talents. The education sessions are REAL education, not product pitches, and dealers deserve this kind of forum to help grow their businesses. I for one challenge every dealer reading this to show up in force for ITEX 2022.

Takeaway #7: The channel is ready to face the future.

There are those in the channel who think we’re all approaching the future with blinders on, that the status quo is the norm. I’m here to tell you after witnessing the great educational tracks at ITEX and having conversations with such great minds throughout the event, nothing could be further from the truth. Dealers, OEMS, software providers-EVERYBODY is embracing innovation and doing the hard work of becoming something more.

ITEX 2021 was, as a whole, a great event and I really hope there is another one coming for 2022. Attending the show this year was a reminder for me that our channel is facing the challenges of a post-pandemic world head on, and we’re nowhere near finished pursuing excellence and growth.

We’d love to hear some of your thoughts on this year’s event too, so make sure you comment and join the conversation!

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