NPMA Technology Summit: Sharing tech tips with experts, peers

By |  November 9, 2017

At the National Pest Management Association’s upcoming technology conference, advice from the pros will be just as valuable as experience from fellow pest management professionals.

Pest management professionals (PMPs) who have resisted incorporating technology into their businesses might want to rethink that shortsighted strategy, as more and more customers rely on email, texts and social media to give and get information.

Photo: ©iStock.com/ipopba

“The customer of the future is changing so much and expects to communicate with companies through technology much more than they used to,” says Alexis Wirtz, CMP, vice president of conventions and meetings for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). “If they want to reach the next-generation customer, they’re going to have to incorporate some technology into their business.”

To make the task easier, this year the NPMA will hold a Technology Summit Nov. 28-30 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The event, which was known as PesTech when first held in 2001, and then in 2002 and 2015, is geared to PMPs who are either making a move toward using technology or already are using technology but looking for ways to take it to the next level.
 

Sharing triumphs, challenges

Alexis Wirtz, CMP, Vice President of Conventions and Meetings, NPMA

Expert presenters and fellow PMPs will be on hand to share their knowledge and experience.

The most valuable aspect of the event, however, may be the opportunity to network with fellow attendees who are eager to share the challenges and triumphs they encountered when implementing and using technology.

“PMPs network so well together and share so much with one another. They just want to help each other,” Wirtz says. “This is a conference where you really see it.”

She says that although they love the sessions, attendees can learn a lot just by asking fellow PMPs what they are doing or how they did it and what they learned from doing it.

“They are trying to help other people in the industry succeed and move to the next level, and they are happy to share how to get there,” she says.
 

Planning the program

The NPMA’s Technology Committee is the Technology Summit’s driving force. Its members — tech-savvy PMPs and software manufacturers focused on the pest management industry — determined the topics for the educational sessions. They used feedback from PesTech attendees as well as their own experiences.

“The technology committee talked through the challenges they were having within their businesses or the successes they were having, and that’s how they got the general topics for the program,” she says. “It comes right out of people dealing with these exact issues or triumphs or challenges.”

Each day of this year’s Technology Summit will kick off with a special general session led by tech-savvy experts specializing in tech tools and apps, innovation and company growth, and targeting customers in the digital age.

“We have keynote speakers who come from outside the pest management industry,” Wirtz says. “They have expertise in technology, so attendees will have the ability to get a global look at technology in other industries.”

After each keynote address, presenters will give attendees an opportunity to discuss in a group setting what they just learned.

“It’s a great way to have people in the room discuss the topic with those sitting at their table, and bring that big picture thought back into pest management,” she says. “People can ask, ‘How does that affect my business, and what can I do now to either move in that direction or adapt to whatever is coming down the pipeline?’ Because we all know technology is changing every minute, and it’s hard to know how to keep up.”

In addition, tech-savvy PMPs will offer presentations and share how they use technology in their own pest management businesses.

“All the breakout sessions are panels or led by folks from the pest management industry to give you takeaways you can incorporate into your business right away,” Wirtz says. “You will get tactical tips to take back to your company and implement, from folks in your own industry who really understand what software people are using.”

The fact that technology is changing so quickly can be a good thing, especially for small companies, she says. “If you are with a smaller company and you think, ‘I don’t have a budget to add technology to my business,’ you’re still able to do a lot to help run your business more efficiently. And it may not even cost you that much.”

Even companies that can’t afford to make a major software or hardware investment can take advantage of technological advances.

“Nowadays, there is so much more free technology — including smartphone apps — that can help you plan and organize your day,” she says. “There is technology you can put on devices you already own; you don’t have to buy new equipment.”
 

Hands-on test drive

This year’s Technology Summit also will feature exhibitors that will demonstrate software, hardware or tech-related services, giving PMPs a chance to test-drive a product or service before they buy.

Wirtz says every exhibitor at the Technology Summit will have a product or service related to technology. Some may be business-oriented, whereas others may be specifically geared to the pest management industry.

“If someone is coming to look for new software or figure out something they’ve heard of that another company is using, this will be the place where those companies showcase their products or services,” she says.

Exhibitors also have the option to schedule user group training with attendees.

The NPMA plans to hold a technology conference every other year in November or December, Wirtz says. In the years it does not, the NPMA will ramp up the technology-related educational sessions offered at PestWorld to give PMPs an opportunity to learn something new every year.

You can reach Managing Editor Diane Sofranec at dsofranec@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3793.

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