Overheard in May: Online Testing, IT Distribution, Productive Remote Teams & More

In May, CompTIA podcasts tackled the current challenges and opportunities for MSPs, how employers can create productive teams, CompTIA's pivot to online testing, and more.

Overhead HeaderIn May, CompTIA podcasts continued to focus on how the tech industry has responded to COVID-19, including how CompTIA pivoted to online testing, the challenges and opportunities for managed service providers; and how employers can work to create productive remote work environments for their teams. Check out what we overheard on CompTIACasts in May then subscribe and start listening today

Online Testing and IT Distribution

On Volley, CompTIA research analysts Carolyn April and Seth Robinson discussed the organization’s pivot to online testing with Randy Gross, CIO and EVP of certification operations at CompTIA. Moving quickly to adjust to the pandemic, Randy detailed the transition. 

“We work with Pearson VUE for our testing centers today and they actually offer a solution called OnVUE that we’re working with now and we’re basically integrated with pretty heavily today. So it was easy for us to turn things on… It was pretty seamless to be perfectly honest. We were able to start up within about a month, which is very quick in this business to make sure things are done well. Registration started that same day and we’ve delivered thousands of exams since.” Randy Gross, CIO and EVP, Certifications Operations, CompTIA

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Later in the month, Frank Vitagliano, CEO of the Global Technology Distribution Council, joined Seth and Carolyn to talk about IT distribution and how COVID-19 has impacted this market segment along with the rest of the economy. Frank talked about the rapid transition to safe operations during COVID-19, the ongoing transformation of distribution due to cloud computing, and the ability of distributors to assist with solution provider partnering and financing.

“There was enough inventory to get folks through March, and arguably in some cases, even through early April. The bigger question was demand and was the demand going to hold? The answer was ultimately it did, but it shifted to things that were required to support work-from-home activities as opposed to what you and I would call normal business—datacenter, expansions, or things like that.” Frank Vitagliano, CEO, Global Technology Distribution Council

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MSPs Meet Current Challenges 

Shannon Mayer, member of CompTIA’s Managed Services Community Executive Council, moderated a discussion of five managed service providers, including Corey Kirkendoll, Steve Rutkovitz, Charles Love, Amy Babinchak and Kevin Rubin. The topics ranged from what the recent months have exposed from a business continuity standpoint to how MSPs can best serve their clients right now.

“We started to offer planning and auditing meetings for free. Companies that have not wanted to talk about this in the past are now finally willing to talk about it. So, let’s sit down and make a plan to go forward. We have a lot of information that they don’t have right now. They don’t know what their home-work situation is, but we have worked with each of their employees individually and have a pretty good feel for who has what equipment and what their potential is to work productively. We can provide that information for them and they’re now willing to give us that leadership position to take a look more broadly across different areas of their business.”

Amy Babinchak, Owner, Harbor Computer Services

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Government CIO Manage Through the Pandemic

On Sharkbytes, Dr. Alan R. Shark, executive director, Public Technology Institute, talked with Darryl Polk, CIO for the City of Rancho Cucamonga, who shared his story about being on the “technical” front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Darryl explained the challenges his staff has faced and how they went about solving them.

“Number one is have great relationships with your fellow department heads and your fellow executives before you go into a crisis. Trust is like a bank account. You have to make frequent deposits because when it comes to making withdraws, you better have some credibility in there to draw from. I feel very fortunate that I’ve got a great team, and we had built up that trust relationship beforehand.” Darryl Polk, CIO, City of Rancho Cucamonga

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Later in the month, Alan welcomed Laurel Caldwell, director of information technology services in Latah County, Idaho. Laurel also discussed how her staff handled the COVID-19 pandemic, including the challenge of supporting their workforce remotely with scare resources in a largely rural area.

“In this area, we don’t have the broadband available to us, and it’s definitely showing. And even though people have broadband at home, it’s subpar to what the standards are. So we’ve been trying to role that out. And as far being on not on the forefront of the cases and people working remote, we’ve been watching other agencies, other counties, and other cities and how they’re managing that remote setup, and we came to the party late because of that. But even though we were watching and trying to prepare, when we got to the party there were very little resources available. Trying to order a laptop or some other piece of equipment... it’s weeks down the road, but we’re doing what we can.” Laurel Caldwell, Director of Information Technology Services, Latah County, Idaho

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Leading Productive Teams through Unpredictable Times

Yvette Steele, director of member communities at CompTIA, welcomed two guests to broaden discuss productivity and remote teams. Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity Community members Karl Palachuk, owner, Small Biz Thoughts, and Caroline Smith, owner, Dataworks Consulting, shared their insights on how to help employees through this time while also delivering value. 

“For leading your team, being there for them, talking them through this. A lot of us in leadership and management positions have been putting our counselor hats on more than we ever have had to in the past. And not even much about about work counseling… It’s about trying to meet their needs on the human side of it."

Caroline Smith, owner, Dataworks Consulting

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