Like many of you, I was at the UConnect conference in Dallas earlier this month. I had a great time seeing some old friends, some clients, and also meeting some new friends. I stopped by the ec-bp.org booth in the exhibit hall, to say hello to Scott, and noticed that he was giving away a Chumby.
Unfortunately, as an 'employee' of ec-bp, I was disqualified from participating in the video interview that was the requirement for entry in the drawing. However, I did see that several of you were answering Scott's questions on camera.

While I was there, I took the opportunity to have dinner at the Old Hickory Grill, a top of the line restaurant right inside the hotel. The service is personal, the food excellent, and the atmosphere is unusually good for a hotel restaurant.

I was dining with a friend at a booth, and we were catching up on old times, and how differently our lives had turned out from what we had expected. We were sitting across from a large group of obvious fellow UConnect attendees. They were having a great time, from all appearances, and we could hear parts of their conversations about "850s", "ASN", and other EDI insider give-aways. Some of them regularly glanced over to our table, but I'm certain it wasn't me they were looking at, nor my choice of meals. I'm equally sure it was my friend they were interested in. She is a lovely girl who likes to dress... well, let's just say that she dresses differently than my mother would. I do get comments from my business associates when I meet with her, but she is just a sweet girl who happens to also be beautiful.

And speaking of beautiful companions, I noticed at least one old line VAN provider, Sterling Commerce, missing from the conference this year. I don't know the reasons for their absence, but it may have to do with the equally noticeable increase in attendance by newer, smaller companies providing online services. Some of them call their products SaaS, while others just call them outsourced services.

As I spoke with several of you in the exhibits area, I noticed a trend toward considering these new kinds of services. In general, you told me that not only was the burden of maintaining the application infrastructure within your organizations getting more difficult and more costly, but the appeal of offloading the constant task of updating maps was beginning to make more sense.

One of you even told me that you were able to quadruple the number of transactions and trading partners, while maintaining the number of staff members by shifting from in-house systems to SaaS. I hope to catch up with some of you who are considering some kind of change in the next few weeks, to see how your plans are progressing.

I'm on the road now, heading North from Dallas. Good meals and good conversations behind me, I'm looking forward to next year's UConnect in Orlando. I'll look for you there as well, but don't wait till then to let me know what you're doing.

Cheers
Cecil
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