Bob DeMarzo MES Fall 2018Bob DeMarzo shares his takeaways from the Midsize Enterprise Summit Fall 2018 conference in San Diego.

During four days in San Diego, I saw the midmarket come alive.

The main stages are long empty, breakout rooms vacant and speech echoes silenced, but the memories of what was said and transpired will live on for a long time. During the Midsize Enterprise Summit Fall 2018 conference, more than 200 senior IT leaders and hundreds of tech providers endured 12-hour days of discussions on how the latest IT solutions can advance their businesses. It really brought to life the research we see on the midmarket.  

It really was a remarkable experience. Attendees with titles such as CIO, IT director or manager shared their biggest challenge as individuals looking to advance their careers along with the obstacles they face leading the tech charge. The MES team structured the content to inspire our attendees, even though at times they were reluctant followers. Under the umbrella of “Differentiate and Win,” we were hoping to send everyone home with the ability to make a difference perhaps by gleaming insight from a peer or a tech tip from one of our sponsors looking to win these customers over.

Too Good to Be True?

The one memory that will stick with me occurred early in the event for which I play the host. An attendee named Aaron hurriedly approached me to say that as a first-time attendee he was glad he came. When he received the invite to attend, he knew he would have to clear his schedule, put off answering emails, hosting staff calls or responding to his boss’s requests. He had to weigh all that, along with time away from work and home, against an investment he said appeared too good to be true.

“Too good to be true?” I repeated to myself.

Well, maybe MES does have to be experienced to be understood. And maybe that is a good metaphor for the midmarket as a whole. There are few people in tech and business that truly understand the midmarket because of all its idiosyncrasies. The respect of attendees must be earned by not only words, but by actions. Tech suppliers or anyone standing before these IT leaders to pitch their products, services or ideas must convey their message with the right stuff or risk deaf ears.

One of our keynote speakers, Bonnie Hagemann, an executive coach, stood before the entire audience to deliver a speech about why today’s CIOs should be the next CEOs. What better way to start her talk than to ask for a show of hands on how many in the audience want to be the next chief executive or president of their company? Unfortunately, few hands went up and everyone grew a bit uncomfortable, except for Hagemann. She seized upon the moment to explain to everyone that if today’s businesses are built on technology then who better to lead the organization than the person who understands tech the best? It was a wake-up call for everyone.

“If Not Us, Then Who?”

Niel Nickolaisen, the extraordinary IT leader from OC Tanner who has a Svengali hold on his fellow CIOs, said it best with the phrase, “If not us, then who?” His comments came before his keynote panel discussion on how CIOs could be true innovators.

So, amid the tech presentations, cocktail parties, boardrooms and late-night discussions at the lobby bar, the midmarket unfolded before my eyes. I hope everyone went home thinking about Nickolaisen’s question. My hope is they all came to the same conclusion: They can be more than just tech leaders.

Join us at MES Spring 2019 in Orlando as a participant or sponsor.