Chip McClelland talks about IBM “System i” innovations and simplifying IT.


Seventy-five percent of IT costs are spent managing infrastructure, according to IBM Senior Marketing Manager Chip McClelland. McClelland presented this statistic as a guest speaker during this year’s VAI Technology User Conference, themed, “Flawless Execution.” For two-and-a-half days, Oct. 5-7 in Las Vegas, attendees learned about the importance of simplifying their management systems and processes through implementing the latest technology from VAI and IBM.  Besides getting customers better acquainted with their software applications, VAI introduced its new logo design and Web site, www.vai.net, which was launched at the end of September.

Approximately 165 attendees listened to guest speakers, sat in breakout sessions, visited with third-party vendors and shared ideas at the open forums. Also, VAI project directors were on-hand to meet one-on-one with customers to review specific business requirements and long-term goals.


Cindy Ince of Ince Distributing, a San-Antonio-based A/C supplier, meets with VAI Project Director, Claudio Gallina, to upgrade her family company’s existing system.

Following are highlights of the conference:

  •  Bob Vormittag, president of VAI, kicked off the conference by welcoming everyone and introducing the company’s new branding and marketing campaign. VAI reorganized its Web content to make it easy to follow with improved search engine capabilities. Customer testimonials can also be found on its Web site.
  • VAI’s user council meets twice a year to review industry requirements and customer-related needs. Customers’ business requirements and feedback help determine best practice solutions that its software can facilitate, according to Lawrence Murphy, vice president of research and development. 
  • Multilingual capabilities, starting with Spanish, will be among the new features of S2K Version 5.0. 
  • Keynote speaker and fighter pilot Rick “Dewey” White from Afterburner presented the “Flawless Execution Model.” The process used by fighter pilots around the world to execute missions when stakes are high and failure is not an option was explained as: Plan - Brief - Execute - Debrief - WIN! Embrace change, always know where your competition is, and use your resources to the fullest, especially technology. These are the keys to both combat and corporate survival, said Dewey. 
  • Chip McClelland explained the importance of community to technology. Sites such as iSociety.org, Power.org and ibm.com/iwantcontrol.truth are community-led and community-shared sites helping to develop technology even further. IT professionals are being driven to these sites by using community-based Web sites like MySpace.com. 
  • McClelland also mentioned that there are a number of young IT professionals whose only experience is with the post-dot-com gloom. It is important to identify and educate them - helping them to understand the benefits of what’s new and innovative. 
  • VAI’s e-business team highlighted how companies can leverage the Web to reach customers in new ways, improve efficiencies, and develop company branding, image and customer satisfaction with a dynamic Web presence.


Todd Endsley, e-business solutions director, and Dawn Amato, creative director, conduct a breakout session on VAI Web-related service offerings. Amato joined VAI earlier this year, creating the new look of its Web site and logo.

  •  The new “Warehouse Management Consortium,” a group of industry experts in the area of warehouse management, highlighted current trends in the areas of warehouse logistics, RF devices, voice picking, RFID tracking and shipment processing.