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Thought Leadership: It Takes a Community | David White

Thought leadership works best when everyone in an organization can contribute their unique knowledge and learn from each other. That principle—members helping members—has always been at the core of TheUserGroup.org’s success.

Now, we’re realizing that IT departments are the enablers for the knowledge and systems that will help their companies succeed. And that TUG is the place for everyone in those companies—from IT to purchasing, from sales and marketing to the executive suite—to get the business intelligence they need to anticipate and embrace the future.

In the end, it all comes down to bringing additional value to our members. If we can lift up one idea that helps everybody’s business get a little bit better, it’s a win for our entire membership.

The Wisdom to Lead Distribution

TUG is like a sports team that consistently impresses and exceeds expectations without relying on a single superstar to save the day. Very few of us stand out on our own. But as a group, we have the wisdom to lead distribution forward, in a way that goes beyond our strength in running our Infor products.

As a group, we know what it takes to run a distributorship, and we have a track record for helping each other do that better. That’s what thought leadership is really about. And it’s a key strength that points to the value TUG can offer to every part of a distribution business.

Delivering Value Every Day

At our annual conference, and in our year-round communication and member networking, we’ve always delivered the knowledge our member companies need to get the most out of their back-end ERP systems. But Dirk Beveridge made a wider point with his keynote address at TUG Connects! 2015.

He didn’t just speak to the IT professionals in the room.

He focused on the dynamics in a distributorship and the value employees need to bring back to their companies, every single day, to keep those companies competitive.

It’s more than keeping the computers running, keeping the lights on, and making sure everyone has a good login. It’s about bringing together all the parts of the organization and bringing back value to the distributorship as a whole.

Leading Through IT

TUG is developing the front-end, leading-edge thinking that will give them a strategic advantage in their markets, in whichever sandboxes they choose to position themselves as marketplace leaders. That’s how we assure the health of our companies and the health of our membership.

There are other associations in wholesale distribution, but TUG’s strength is that it leads through IT. That matters, because more and more business strategy decisions start off with a technological perspective.

IT is where distributors start thinking about how to communicate with the Millennial generation—and realizing that it’s less about Millennials, more about anyone who has access to Google search.

It’s a survival tool for distributors who sell their products with a printed catalogue, a call center, and sales reps knocking on doors, in an era when customers make 50 to 70% of the buying decision before we hear from them.

Rather than trying to confront those problems from the sales side, TUG starts with the department that has the infrastructure to deliver practical, lasting solutions. When we work from that starting point, then loop back through our tried and true approach to members helping members, there’s next to nothing our companies can’t do.

David White is Chairman of TheUserGroup.org and President of Kyana Packaging and Industrial Supply in Louisville, Kentucky.

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