User Groups —Tom Polischuk
User groups are a beneficial endeavor put to good use in a multitude of industries. The intent of these associations is to generate peer-to-peer interactions at the user (customer) level around a common technology or product. User group activities typically include the active participation of the company that supplies the technology or product.
Chicago-based Radius Solutions, a provider of management information systems for the printing and packaging industries, recently held an “enhanced version” of its annual user conference. According to David Taylor, president of the company, he and an associate bought the company from its venture capital ownership about 18 months ago and immediately began efforts to enhance the long-term growth of the company.
These efforts were multifaceted and included increased R&D, development of an Application Support Center (ASC), and adding service and support personnel. According to Taylor, the purpose of the support center is to develop an internal knowledge base that can be used to service the company’s global customers. He intends that Radius Solutions be more than just a software supplier. As such, the company has retained the services of a number of consultants who have in-depth industry expertise, primarily on the user side of the equation.
The enhanced user conference is an outgrowth of the company’s emphasis on long-term growth, and an important element of what Taylor describes as the company’s vision: “Our focus is your issues.”
Done properly, the user-conference format is a great way to gain practical, in-depth understanding of customer issues. It appears that Radius Solutions is off to a good start. There were a number of first-time companies in attendance, including Multi Packaging Solutions, Zebra Technologies, Hammer Packaging, and Multi-Color Corp. For many of these new attendees, the desire was to have direct interaction and networking opportunities with people who have been down the same road that they are embarking.