This week I went to Toronto in order to attend the ICCM Canada trade show. This is the third year in a row I’ve gone to that particular show and have provided the keynote session as well as the final session of the event, which is an executive overview of the North American contact center industry.
ICCM Canada is one of the few trade shows I go to anymore. It’s not a particularly large show and there isn’t a lot of flash and hype like you find at so many American shows. Instead it is an event that attracts attendees who are genuinely interested in the information provided, who will look you directly in the eye, who aren’t looking for something for nothing and who will generally do what they say they will do without first determining what’s in it for them. In other words, Canadians.
Like many other contact center trade shows, ICCM Canada was top-heavy with operationally-oriented sessions. Although conference session topics based upon things like determining the appropriate number of pizza parties to have for agents each month or establishing cake baking as a team building exercise are lost on me, there must be people who get value out of it. That’s probably why so many contact center conferences have these same old tired conference session topics time after time. There is typically very little discussion of the industry’s trends, issues or opportunities. Conferences today tend to be dominated by topics of interest to first line supervisors and below.
At ICCM Canada I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who made an effort to seek me out to talk about UC and Web 2.0 in the contact center and who stayed right to the bitter end to join me in my locknote address. The final session of the final day had to be moved to the main auditorium to accommodate the number of attendees. That tells me something about the dedication of the people who make up the Canadian contact center industry. Feedback from those people dictated that I spend the majority of the locknote presentation discussing UC and Web 2.0, which also tells me that ICCM Canada probably attracts more strategic and higher level managers.
Over the two days of the conference I had the opportunity to attend or audit several other conference sessions. I noticed that there was very little audience participation even during the Q & A part of the sessions. I know part of this can be chalked up to politeness. Remember, this was Canada where even the radio shock jocks are polite. But things were very different when the topic turned to UC and Web 2.0 in my session.
As my presentation turned first to UC, then to Web 2.0 and its impact on the contact center, the audience became very engaged. The several questions I received during the presentation turned into a lively discussion during which I could tell I’d hit a hot button with this otherwise stoic audience. The session actually went beyond its scheduled finish time. Remember, this was the last session of the last day. I didn’t even lose the people who had to face that Toronto commute traffic in order to get home. I was pleased and impressed.
If you’re not paying attention to the Canadian market due to size, buying power or any other reason, it’s time to reconsider that position. Historically the Canadian telecommunications market has been an early adopter of new technologies and an innovative user of new communications solutions. If my experience at ICCM Canada in Toronto is any indication of the potential adoption of UC and other new communications strategies in the Canadian market, my advice is to make a run for the border, eh!