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While the IT community is considered by some to be a great melting-pot of ideas and prospects, significant differences do exist from region to region, such as regulations, business practices and cultures. Time zone and distance challenges make it more attractive to network and do business with channel professionals in your own area.
In order to address these differences, CompTIA created geographic channel communities. These regional peer-led groups help connect channel players, allowing them to share ideas and best practices, and giving them access to a vast collection of association resources. Together, they can tackle even the most ambitious of industry goals.
CompTIA: Your Global Connection
IT professionals in Australia and New Zealand will soon be enjoying the same collaboration opportunities as their cohorts in Canada and the United Kingdom. The recently launched CompTIA ANZ Channel Community already counts approximately 120 business owners and executives within its membership ranks and will host its first official face-to-face community meeting August 18th in Sydney.
Event attendees can expect a number of collaborative discussions, numerous networking opportunities and a significant amount of best practice sharing. Several key topics will be front and center at the August 18th meeting as real business owners share their challenges, needs, and opportunities following the theme Business Transformation & Alternate Pathways to Market. These “real life case study” discussions are designed to help IT providers gain a better understanding of today’s organizational priorities, and learn how their firms can best address this new business reality.
The ANZ Channel Community can build on the experience and resources of other CompTIA peer groups, as well as the association’s portfolio of tools and templates. Lessons learned in one country may be shared and adapted (or adopted in their entirely).
The recent Canadian IT Business Community meeting illustrates that global perspective well, as its members spent considerable time discussing one of their chief initiatives: Understanding Today’s Changing Customer Expectations. Regardless of geography, language or culture, every IT services business needs to have a comprehensive understanding of its clients’ desires, plans and aspirations to be successful. As the meeting’s panels and presentations illustrated masterfully, that philosophy applies equally to solution providers, vendors, distributors and other channel professionals.
Customer expectations influence not only their business model, but virtually every organization in the channel as well. Of course, they always have, but the move to managed and cloud services has increased the urgency for having those discussions. Small businesses today need deeper insight into their own customers’ habits and preferences. They need to respond quicker to market changes and solution providers that can help them accomplish those tasks will be more likely to win their business.
Canadian IT Business Community members constantly work on initiatives and conduct a number of other activities throughout the year. Each collaborative action is directed at improving their part of the IT industry. Douglas Brown, Community Vice-Chair and the National Manager for Service Programs at Xerox, emphasizes the multiplying effect of their efforts and all the resources they have at the ready. “We work closely with other functional communities within CompTIA and with the association’s research and Trustmarks teams to ensure the Canadian market is accurately reflected within CompTIA’s global initiatives.”
“Within our community, we also share many best practices and tools developed by other CompTIA peer groups. For example, the Security Community recently developed a security assessment wizard that channel companies can use to assess their clients’ system strengths and vulnerabilities. Our members can leverage that program with their own customers.”
A Varied Perspective
The recent UK Channel Community meeting in Bristol took a similar approach, albeit with a much different theme. With an agenda tailored to address many of the issues uncovered in the group’s recent skills gap survey, the event hit hard on training, recruitment and retention activities. The shortage of IT talent hits everyone in the industry hard, from solution providers and their customers to vendors and distribution; and they all should be invested in improving the supply.
The meeting featured a number of keynotes, workshop sessions and working group discussions focused on addressing the industry skills shortage. A single provider may not be able to put a major dent in the problem on his or her own. But if they can get others to follow their lead by implementing similar best practices for hiring, training and retention; their collective efforts will make a much larger impact.
The theme (addressing the skills gap) carried throughout the event, concluding with a panel discussion moderated by Tracy Pound of Maximity on creating a culture that attracts and retains top talent. With several experienced channel professionals on the panel, including executives from Tech Data, Shackleton, Managed Enterprise Technologies Limited and Xerox, the session generated tremendous insight and a wealth of best practice details. Key takeaways include:
Missed the meeting? Join the UK Channel Community when they recap the CC Birmingham event in a one hour webinar, July 29th at 4:00 PM UK (GMT+1)/ 10:00 AM Central.
One Global IT Community
While the opportunities and challenges may differ significantly between regions, the CompTIA Community formula has been very successful at bridging gaps and delivering industry-wide solutions. Its members engage to develop new programs and conquer IT channel problems that most could or would not attempt on their own.
Are you interested in contributing or taking on a leadership role in one of their many industry-critical initiatives? Find the Community that offers the most interest, check out its current member initiatives, and follow the instructions to get more information. Join the CompTIA global network, you’ll be glad you did.
Brian Sherman is Chief Content Officer at GetChanneled, a channel business development and marketing firm. He served previously as chief editor at Business Solutions magazine and senior director of industry alliances with Autotask. Contact Brian at Bsherman@getchanneled.com