CEDIA Business Xchange: The Last Bastion of True Information Sharing in the Industry
The first question I had coming into CEDIA Business Xchange was 'Bottom line, how is this any different?'
How is this event any different from the buying group efforts to educate dealers on a ground level? How can this be more effective than bringing in the brightest minds from the lighting/shading/voice control industry and putting them on a panel? How can this compare to one-on-one meetings with the most influential manufacturers?
And the short answer is because of the intention. CEDIA Business Xchange strips away the pressure of vendors, of panels, of ego; and lets the discussion dictate the conversation. And that's why, in my opinion, CEDIA Business Xchange is one of the last bastions of true information sharing.
To clarify, buying groups, road shows, and education summits grassroots campaigns to organize, educate, and empower dealers is some of strongest programs the industry has ever seen. They were born out of necessity and their longevity proves their success. And we know that they work because many of the dealers who attend CEDIA Business Xchange currently align themselves with at least one of those efforts or have done so in the past.
But the power of the Business Xchange is found in the agnostic atmosphere that drapes the room as two-and-a-half topic-driven days leave the men and women who attend hungry for more. The history of the CEDIA Business Xchange has covered everything from maximizing sales and marketing to finding, hiring, and retaining customers. This years topic was a bit more abstract, teaching dealers about the principals of design thinking.
Design thinking, as we have learned over the past few days, is not that simple or as tangible to wrap your arms around. It's not about the style of your speakers, the colors of your logo, or even the foundation of your go-to-market. If it were to have a layman summary, it's a five-step process that helps construct a deeper meaning to every conversation you have with your client.
If I were to quote key lecturer Professor Michael Skanks of Standford University, design thinking is "an attitude, a pragmatics, a bundle of methods, strategies, tactics, focused on researching needs and wants, framing challenges, exploring alternatives, experimenting and trying things out. pulling teams together who can deliver innovation and make good, products, services, and make the value in every sense; enriching life."
The five steps are empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. Five steps that grossly underrepresent a complete paradigm shift that your business could make to add an incredible amount of value to both the bottom line and the client's lives.
It's not about predicting the future, scripting an answer, and knowing if you can close the deal as quickly as possibly - although those are also important principles. It's about being prepared for any outcome that future has for you.
The best quote I heard to summarize this was from Peter Aylett, who articulated that "when you roll a truck, does your technician bring the only tool he needs to fix the job or is the van fully stocked with every tool available?"
That's what design thinking is all about. Being prepared.
True to form, CEDIA Business Xchange offered plenty of time for dealers to the roundtable and discuss different ways to solve a similar problem. Later in the evening, the gathering was insatiable as the conversation flowed late into the night and unique connections were born from a rotating cast of industry peers who were now eager to expand their business in radically different ways.
At the end of the day, I think that there is a lot of value in CEDIA bringing a group of agnostic dealers to the table who are eager to share their success and pain points. And I think that's where CEDIA thrives; being a neutral meeting point for all industry-leading ideas. They have long been an association with the power to craft the narrative and keep the industry booming.
And thankfully, the Business Xchange has certainly accomplished that this year.