The theme running through the VOW+ Partner Conference, as around 300 delegates descended upon Nottingham in the UK in early March, was technology.
With 3D printers, wireless printers and state-of-the-art speakers on show, the message appeared to be one of change and how to cope with it. Coupled with this was a short presentation on the big screen in the lecture hall at the beginning of the conference that stressed the importance of e-commerce, smartphones, wifi and digital appliances.
The message of coping with change is one that VOW Managing Director Adrian Butler may have wished he had adhered to a little closer after his decision to snub the age-old innovation of stairs in favour of a mis-timed vault resulted in him tripping over in front of a few hundred attendees.
The stage fall proved to be little more than a humorous bump in a successful road, however, paved by a VOW team who had some interesting announcements up their sleeves.
First among these was the new appointment of former XPD Head of Dealer Development Kim Gladstone. It had been rumoured for some weeks that Gladstone was joining VOW and the early betting had her joining the company’s bokz reseller programme.
This proved to be incorrect though, as Butler revealed that she would in fact be heading up a new marketing division for parent group Vasanta. He also announced that bokz was expected to attain about 150 members within three years.
The team of four – Karen Blatherwick, Matthew Warner, Helen Beckett and Chris Nichols – were on hand at the conference to chat to delegates – 120 of whom were dealers.
When OPI spoke to them, they said the programme was in its infancy and had not yet gained any members, but they expected this to change quickly when all marketing activities were fully exploited.
They also said that interest had been “very strong” among dealers at the conference – many of whom were particularly keen on further information on the destocking part of the programme.
VOW National Sales Director Martin Weedall said: “We were delighted to share this quality time with our loyal and committed partners and discuss what we all can do now to create the best possible future for the sector as a whole and as individual businesses.”
Technology also came to the fore in the ‘interactive zone’ as exhibitors such as Canon, Fellowes and Brother were on hand to show off their latest and greatest innovations.
It was a non-traditional product called the Boompod that caught most people’s attention – a wireless, Bluetooth speaker that can link to any smartphone, tablet or computer. Designer Lea Denison told OPI that VOW had actually approached him asking to bring the Boompod into its range of offerings and that it was keen to let OP dealers see what was on offer.
He said: “Technology is here and now, and it is moving so fast. People like those here today need to keep up or else they get left behind.”