Making the Connection: Why the “Personal Touch” Matters in Compliance
We had a good week at EtQ this week. It started with an announcement of the location of our 2011 User Conference, followed up by an interactive Food Manufacturing Summit, and then reached the high point with an EtQ-sponsored Aviation Safety Management Summit. While this may seem fairly “normal” in any organization’s marketing and events group, it had a unique feel to it, because of the nature of each of these events.
Our recent User Conference location announcement was met with great excitement, because it is one of the few times when our customers are able to interact with each other about their EtQ experience. (Spoiler Alert– we’re going to San Diego!)
The Food Manufacturing Summit is centered on one-on-one meeting with prospective customers, connecting a solution to their needs.
The Aviation Safety Summit brought forth some of the brightest minds in the industry to discuss SMS in a roundtable format.
All of these events had one thing in common – the live interaction, the connection when a group of people meet face-to-face. And, as much as I hate to admit it - this is something that has become all too rare in today’s technology-driven economy.
I am not a technophobe by any means. In fact, I’ve made most of my marketing life on it. Technology has not only made the world smaller and more accessible, it has also been responsible for the dissemination of relevant information – quickly and effectively. Conference are slowly eclipsed by webinars, on-site visits give way to WebEx and GoToMeeting. It’s lowered overhead, sped up the cycle of discovery, and provided new ways to “connect”.
But for all its benefits, it cannot replace the human factor. It will not replace the value behind shaking someone’s hand and seeing their reaction to your discussion. It is unable to capture the community that is created when a group of individuals all come to a common opinion on an industry initiative. Making the personal connection at a show may have the same quantitative effect as a virtual connection, but it is those intangibles that happen in between that are the ammunition to fight its own obsolescence.
In terms of the compliance management industries, personal connections have a tremendous value. For example, in the aviation industry, many safety management professionals communicate and often collaborate on safety initiatives, regardless of their company affiliation. This is because aviation safety benefits everyone – competitors and customers, professionals and passengers. Other industries are seeing the same benefit to collaborating on compliance issues – Food and Beverage, Medical Devices, Pharmaceuticals and the like – because compliance is everyone’s problem. There tends to be a competitive fear in industries, as if sharing your compliance practices will compromise your competitive advantage. While I once subscribed to this concept, my tune is changing. Compliance, whether Quality Management or EH&S, should be everyone’s concern. Furthermore, it should be concepts that can be collaborated on and shared. The ultimate goal is consumer safety, and in regulated industries, no one can afford to risk customer safety. Maybe it’s a lofty goal in some industries, but I am inspired to think that it can be achieved after experiencing the connections made this week.
So, my point to all this is that while we live in a technology-driven world, we need to make sure we take time out of our busy worlds to make that personal connection with our peers. Attend a conference, participate in a roundtable. Heck, attend a industry dinner with your competitors. These connections can bring the compliance industry together where the collaboration amongst peers can foster new ideas and innovations on how to improve quality and safety for the industry as a whole.
Ok, now….let’s get a group hug!