CompTIA UK Channel Community Meeting Highlights Huge Market Opportunities

The EMEA Member and Partner Conference got underway 16 October with keynotes and sessions on navigating change and emerging technology – and much more. Read on.

IMG_0737CompTIA’s EMEA Member and Partner Conference, happening 16, 17 October, saw over 500 delegates exploring how those involved in the business of technology can make the most of new opportunities in a rapidly evolving industry. Day one centred around the CompTIA UK Channel Community meeting.

Huge Market Opportunities

In her keynote, Clare Barclay, COO at Microsoft, explored the vast business opportunities in technology, which is predicted to grow to a $251 billion industry by 2020. Technology is changing faster than ever and companies have to adapt to take advantage of every opportunity. Just five years ago, everyone was talking about cloud and data, but now we are at the next inflection point with emerging technology making it a challenging time for customers. Here are her tips for navigating this change:

  1. Focus and differentiation: Be clear on what your offerings are, embrace modern marketing and think about what makes you unique.
  2. Skills for today and tomorrow: 85 percent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet! Have a plan in place for hiring and developing talent, such as ongoing learning, a diverse workforce and apprenticeships.
  3. Industry expertise: Align to the industry opportunities and tailor to your customers’ areas.
  4. Clarified customer ambition: How can you help your customers address their concerns? Forty-three percent of customers think their business model will be obsolete in five years. Think about how you can help them address this.
  5. The importance of partnerships: Partnerships for Microsoft have always been important. Channel organisations that partner are 33 percent more successful than ones that don’t. Partnerships have been hugely valuable and will be pivotal moving forward.

Knowledge Sharing

Day one featured three workshops designed to help attendees share knowledge and learn from one another:

Workshop 1: MSP Best Practices:

Cloud was a key area of this group discussion; particularly how the marketing around cloud seems to have worn off. Customers just want a solution that works, and they see MSPs as advisors who will implement the best solution for their businesses. We are also seeing generational changes around the products that people like to use – younger generations have grown up with Google and therefore will be more familiar with Google Cloud in the workplace. This is affecting the products MSPs offer.

These generational changes are affecting support too. Due to the ease of use of products like iPhone, today’s generation isn’t as tech-savvy as those who grew up with tech 30 or 40 years ago. Modern first line support is therefore more educational to teach them how to fix the issue.

Workshop 2: MSPs to MSSPs

Ian Thornton-Trump, head of cyber security for AMTrust Europe, led a session on how to move from an MSP to an MSSP model. Thornton-Trump outlined his steps on how MSPs can branch out into offering cybersecurity as part of their portfolio. He advised on how to understand the lifecycle of the customer to offer packages that incorporate an understanding of their cybersecurity needs as an extra service. Customer data needs fall into the categories of confidentiality of data, data integrity controls or data availability.

Workshop 3: Vendor Panel Discussion: Why your vendors could be more important than your clients

This discussion was centred around developing a strategy for leveraging the opportunities in the changing tech industry. Vendors from Protected Networks GmbH, Tipac and Email Laundry debated the current issues around MSP and vendor partnerships, as well as what can be done to ensure that vendors, MSPs, distributors and partners are collaborating to deliver the best end-to-end solution for their customers.

As a part of this, they developed a helpful checklist for all MSPs to use when choosing a vendor:

  • Do they have a product that works?
  • Do they have a good healthy roadmap?
  • Are they investing in your market and do they already work with the channel?
  • Do they have alliances with other vendors, MSPs and distributors?
  • Are they situated locally to you?
  • What do your peers think about them?
  • Do they only focus on the flavour of the month or can they provide the right solution all the time?

IoT: Opportunities

In his afternoon presentation, The Real Impact of Emerging Technology on Businesses Today, David Mudd, global digital and connected product certification director at BSI, outlined the opportunities and challenges around the Internet of Things. Undoubtedly, there are huge opportunities around IoT, but a lot of the hype has yet to be realised. Gartner’s hype-cycle suggests we are reaching the peak before the trough of disillusionment.

To make widespread IoT, he argued that projects need to keep functionality, security and interoperability in mind. Projects need to have a clear use-case and return-on-investment to be feasible. They must be secure and functional with other IoT devices and existing technology. Importantly, there is a need for more knowledge and skills around IoT to help encourage adoption, and CompTIA members are in a prime place to help educate the market and help organisations take advantage of the opportunities that are out there.

Community Updates

CompTIA has set up a workforce development group, led by Tracy Pound, managing director at Maximity and CompTIA’s 2016 Member of the Year, to open discussion on how to address the skills gap. We’re looking for members to join this group to help set up future workforce development initiatives.

As 2019 approaches, nominations are now open for the next members of the CompTIA UK Channel Executive Council and we’re also looking for the next charities to donate to. Our 2018 charities were AbilityNet and TeenTech, which made a massive impact for the digital accessibility for the impaired and young individuals respectively.

If you’re interested in the joining the workforce development group, nominating the next Executive Council or 2019 charities, get in touch!

Click here to learn all about the CompTIA EMEA Member and Partner Conference and here to learn about the CompTIA UK Channel Community.

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