During Monday’s PPAI Expo Conference, the Association hosted a panel titled “Technology Tools To Maximize Profits.” The panel was moderated by Nick DiNicola, PPAI’s digital transformation manager. Panelists included:

  • Rose Arendarczyk, SVP, transformation, HALO
  • Joe Hoffman, vice president of operations, iPROMOTEu
  • Shawn Reed, director of information technology, Showdown Displays
  • CW Karstens, director of digital transformation, PPAI

All of the panelists (and DiNicola) sit on the PPAI Technology Committee.

“PPAI is committed to educating its membership on its options regarding technology,” Arendarczyk, who is the chair of the Technology Committee, told the crowd at Mandalay Bay.

Business Service Providers Bring Solutions

The panel touched on a recent point of emphasis for PPAI: the advantages of utilizing the industry’s business service providers.

  • PPAI Media has compiled a section of its website called “Solutions Center.”
  • The webpage includes numerous categories that business service providers fit into, such as company stores, ERPs, artwork services, warehousing, consulting and more.

“If there is a function that you don’t want to do internally, you can outsource that to some of these companies,” says Karstens. “Basically everything you could need we hope you could find in our Solutions Center.”

PDX Remains A Path Toward Efficiency

At a certain point in the dialogue, Promo Data eXchange (PDX) became the topic of the room with all four panelists discussing its potential to eliminate industry friction and attendees asking questions about its progress and implementation.

  • PDX is the open standards formula behind PPAI’s mission – in collaboration with SAGE – to eliminate unnecessary phone calls and emails.
  • Recently, PPAI Media conducted case studies with suppliers detailing their experience integrating PDX as well as conversations with distributors on what they envision a more efficient industry to look like.
  • This month, SAGE announced that distributors and business service providers would be able to integrate PDX into their backend systems in order to be able to perform a single integration to access data from every participating PDX vendor.

Bringing a distributor perspective to the conversation, Hoffman asked the crowd, “Does anyone remember their last phone call with Amazon,” before pointing out that the technology giant provides the customer with everything they need online, negating the need for phone calls. “Like it or not, that’s how our end user customers measure us.”

Reed explained to the crowd the benefits of PDX to the supplier ecosystem.

“It starts to bring us together more as a supplier group,” Reed says. “It supplies an order status that all of us can see and use. It gives us a little more cohesion as an industry.”

  • PPAI acknowledges that PDX is not the only path to efficiency. The Association encourages members to adopt platforms intended to eliminate phone calls and emails from the equation.

“We are diverse, and we are fragmented as an industry,” Arendarczyk says. “There are a lot of different players in this industry. There is no one size fits all. It’s an ‘and,’ not an ‘or.’”

This is a point that was echoed by Hoffman, who added that, while the approach can vary from company to company, the goal is becoming crucial.

“Digital transformation is not an all or nothing proposition,” Hoffman says. “Every step improves efficiency. The more you’re able to integrate into your system, the more value you’ll see. Right now, our industry is playing catch up.”