The ASCII Group was founded in 1984 by Alan Weinberger. In its early days, ASCII negotiated discounts for its members that they otherwise would not have access to. A small IT shop would be able to get discounts that were only available to companies ten times their size through their ASCII membership. Many called it a buying group. Over the years, as the IT industry moved from product centric solutions to service centric solutions, ASCII evolved as well. Today, ASCII still negotiates preferential pricing for its members, but it also places equal if not more importance on educating its members on trends in the industry and how to be a good partner to the vendors who bring technology to the marketplace.
Where community comes in to play is the ASCII Forum. This was originally an email list that members subscribed to. The amount of information freely shared in this forum is impressive. After I joined ASCII many years ago, I received near instant value from the ASCII Forum. A client was having an issue that I was not solving as quickly as I wanted to. I sent a message to the ASCII Forum and in what seemed like minutes, my cell phone rang. It was an ASCII member from the midwest, Jay Tipton. He had had the very same issue with one of his clients and in moments, he saved me hours of time and helped me make the client very happy. I met Jay in person more than a year later and we've been friends since. I'll never forget the value of this community.
What's really amazing to me is the growth of this active community over the last 20+ years. I joined The ASCII Group back in the year 2000 and attended my first ASCII Boot Camp that year or the next. I think there were maybe 20 companies in attendance. Over the years, the events matured into what is now known as the ASCII Success Summit. Today, there are over 200 attendees at the event. ASCII has 9 of these events annually, in different regions of the country. It's impressive.
I am here to talk about the ASCII Insider program, which is the peer group program for ASCII members that I am facilitating. The peer groups are off to a very strong start with five active groups up and running and more forming each month. We are thrilled with the level of engagement and interest that the ASCII Insider program is generating. If you're an ASCII member and not yet in an Insider group, please reach out to me and let's chat. We organize these groups by non-competing geography, revenue and number of staff, so that each member of the group will both bring value and get value.
If you know me or read my blog, you know I love to give back. I'm so fortunate to be able to give back to The ASCII Group, a community that helped my business journey for nearly two decades. It's such a treat to reconnect with people I've worked with throughout my career, many of whom have become friends. I'm excited to be part of the evolution of the ASCII Insider program and excited to see the groups grow and prosper.