CompTIA UK Channel Community Regional Meeting in Bristol Explores Growth

BristolIt’s a great time to be in the technology industry, with emerging technologies such as blockchain, AI, AR and VR set to change the way the world does business. Exploring how the industry can take advantage of these technologies and grow with them is a key focus for CompTIA this year.

With that in mind, CompTIA UK Channel Community Regional Meeting event kicked off with an opening keynote from Tom Raftery, IoT evangelist at SAP, who gave an enlightening talk on key trends and industries that are taking hold today.

He explained that industries such as manufacturing, energy and food production are seeing huge disruption heralded by the rapid progress in technological innovation. Manufacturing, for example, is seeing shifts in business models with advances in 3-D printing, product-as-a-service and mass customisation. “Harley Davidson used to take 21 days to make a custom motorcycle,” he said. “Now it takes just six hours.”

Energy is seeing huge advances as well, with developments in battery technology and the decreasing cost of producing solar power likely to cause electricity companies to completely change their business modes to all-you-can-eat models similar to what we see from internet service providers. Meanwhile, transportation is the sector seeing the most radical transformation, with autonomous vehicles, electric cars, ships and planes being developed by a multitude of companies.

Raftery touched on artificial intelligence (AI). While many are worried by the loss of jobs AI might cause, he explained that there are parallels with the shift from manual labour to machinery. “When weaving machines were introduced, many worried about the the loss of jobs, but the opposite happened,” he said. “The number of weavers skyrocketed and supply chains emerged to keep up with the demand for cheaper, high quality fabric. Perhaps the same will ring true for our industry.”

Opportunities with GDPR

John Davies from Pervade Software led a highly informative workshop on GDPR – what it is and how to adhere to it. While most companies are now aware of what GDPR is, with a few months to go until its enforcement, a small number have taken steps to comply. This session was geared towards helping companies navigate the 11 chapters of the 80-page regulation and the steps towards compliance.

Davies ran through the principles of how companies will be able to use data, as well as what rights customers have under the regulation. Companies will have to be a lot more transparent on the use of data and require consent for processing, while customers will have the rights to say how a company uses their data and even request them to delete their records entirely. “Companies will have to implement security, training and compliance measures to ensure they don’t risk getting fined after May this year” he warned.

Strong growth opportunities in emerging technologies, if we can find the skills

Tracy Pound with Maximity took the stage to present findings from the IT Outlook 2018 report. There are a lot of opportunities for growth particularly in AR, VR. However, challenges remain around growing the technology workforce to take advantage of all the new opportunities – with particular issues around replacing retirees and finding people who can use emerging tech whilst increasing overall headcount. 

To that end, afternoon breakout sessions focused on emerging tech and developing the workforce. Adam Smith, CTO at Piccadilly Group and Suzanne Edwards, CEO of Enlighten, led roundtables so explain how AI and AR and VR respectively could be used by channel organisations and explain how they’re being applied in businesses across the country. Meanwhile, tech skills and apprenticeships were discussed in a panel session featuring Lord Aberdare from the House of Lords.

The future of the workforce

The final keynote of the day delivered by Roy Gluckman a diversity and inclusion specialist, on what the workforce of the future will look like. In an interactive session, Roy explored what the skills of the future will be, focusing on what organisations require to become truly diverse.

He explained that we need to focus on the skills that make us human –vulnerability and communication. “We need to pause, reflect and think about what our organisations are like to create the space in which diversity can thrive,” he said, adding that “a diverse workforce – the workforce of the future – requires an understanding environment in which different people are given what they need to succeed”.

It’s never been a more exciting time to be part of the technology industry. To learn more about the latest trends and meet the community, register for our next UK Channel Community meeting in Birmingham on 19, 20 June.