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2007 Wine Industry Technology Symposium: As Power Shifts to the Consumer, Now What?

by Rachel Nichols
July 18, 2007
Never has it been more important for members of the wine industry to keep up with and make investments in technology to keep a competitive edge. This was reiterated time and time again at this year's 2007 Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS), which took place yesterday in Napa, California. The symposium, with over 300 attendees this year, showcases the strategic use of information technology and services for the wine industry. Panels of experts discussed specific examples and case studies involving winemaking, vineyard management, wine club and consumer sales, operations, financial management, sales and distribution, channel management and national accounts.

"Technology is not an option," said Richard Maranville, chief information officer for FedEx Kinko's. "If you don't invest in technology you get left behind." Maranville spoke about the perpetual cycle of access, stressing the value of giving your customers access to your product. He provided the example of FedEx Kinko's recently integrating with Adobe Acrobat to create more access for their customers. "Integration saves time, increases your quality and accuracy," he said.

As Power Shifts to the Consumer, Now What?

Coupled with the power and availability of the Internet, consumer-generated media (CGM), a diverse and fast-growing body of online content that is expanding into multi-media formats, continues to rapidly grow. Seventy-three percent of online consumers are creating content, leaving rich data trails behind. According to Max Kalehoff, vice president of marketing for Nielsen BuzzMetrics, these trails can be analyzed and used to understand customers. He said that brands need to be attentive to the consumer as customer loyalty is not enough and advocacy is everything.

Gary Vaynerchuk, director of operations of, believes that embracing technology is a pure mental commitment and stressed the importance of the Web 2.0 movement. He discussed utilizing a variety of available internet CGM sites, including MySpace and Facebook for marketing leverage. He said success lies in embracing your website as a business and learning to send a different message. "People are scared to give up control of their business," he said. "You have to embrace the good with the bad. If you're scared what you're going to see, don't do it."

Morning and afternoon sessions covered topics from trade sales and marketing, consumer direct sales, marketing support, vineyard/winemaking, compliance and management decision support. The symposium also included an afternoon tradeshow with vendors, including CAM Commerce Solutions, Key Information Systems, Vermont Information Processing, VideoJet, Payroll Masters, Nexternal Solutions, eSkye Software, Inertia Beverage Group, The Wine Tasting Network, Dimensional Insight, TradePulse, The Nielsen Company, Beverage Data Network, TD Linx, Elypsis, eWinery Solutions, Alcohol Beverage Industry Electronic Commerce Council, 04 Corporation, Benson Marketing and POS Live.

WITS was created in 2005 when a group of wine industry and technology professionals joined forces to address the unique technology needs of the wine industry. WITS is dedicated to bringing the World's leading wineries, distributors and retailers together with some of the World's leading technology experts to foster learning and discussion. For more information, visit

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