Get Eight Takeaways From the CompTIA UK Channel Community Regional Meeting in Birmingham

Image-from-iOSIn anticipation of drastic changes in the technology industry over the next five to 10 years, the CompTIA UK Channel Community Regional Meeting in Birmingham, England, explored how emerging technology is impacting the business of technology today, as well as the key skills businesses need to adopt. The event took place on 19, 20 June, and saw over 150 delegates attend a series of panel, breakout and keynote sessions.

With a packed agenda, there were several key highlights from the sessions that attendees can take back to their businesses:

1) Emerging tech will affect MSPs and their customers sooner rather than later.

During the morning panel session, which was moderated by Ric Tubb, the IT business growth expert, Tubblog, and featured members of CompTIA’s UK council – Ian Vickers, managing director at MET; Chris Ward, managing director at Vermont Systems; Perry Ashby, co-founder and CEO at Urban Network UK; Tracy Pound, CEO at MaximITy; and Janet O’Sullivan, channel marketing manager at StorageCraft Technology Corporation – the impact of emerging technology was a key point of discussion. Twenty to thirty years ago, IT service providers helped take businesses into the computing age, and in the last 10 years the focus has been on maintaining infrastructure. Over the next 10 years, MSPs must keep abreast of the huge explosion of technology, ensure that staff have the relevant skills and take advantage of every opportunity.

MSPs should ignore these technologies at their own peril. O’Sullivan pointed out that these technologies threaten both MSPs and their customers if ignored. “If you’re an MSP and you’re looking after an architect for example, you should remember they are also under threat,” she said. “You need to be advising your customers as well or they will go out of business.”

2) Break up the traditional sales model.

Marcus Caunchi at Sandler Training delivered the final keynote. In a highly entertaining speech, he argued that the sales model of qualify, present, close and follow up leads to a sales pipeline full of unclosable prospects. Instead, he argued that salespeople should use a process that filters out prospects that are likely to flake at the start. He said that you shouldn’t talk about your product but invest the time to learn about the customer and what their problems are first; essentially becoming a diagnostician. From there, the sale will follow.

3) There’s no one trick to marketing.

There’s no one trick to marketing, and even in the age of emails and digital communication, the main methods of generating business still seem to be customer referrals, phone calls and even physical mail. During the morning’s EC panel session, Chris Ward argued that “the most effective way of marketing is sending something through the post. Our decision maker conversation rate went from eight to nine percent to 75 percent via post.”

4) Your core values are already in your business.

Having a set of core values can transform your business. It can rally your staff and set the company working towards a common goal. During his breakout session, Mark Matthews, CEO at ATG-IT, outlined a practical guide to how business leaders can set a group of core values. The way to approach this is to identify the three members of staff who if you cloned them, would take you to market domination. List out all the reasons why you picked them, and then filter them down to the essentials. These are your core values.

Mark argued that once you’ve set your core values, they have to permeate into everything your business does. Everyone has to live by those values. Managers should hire and fire by those values. Most importantly, Matthews stated that owners should then get out of the way and let their staff do the work they pay them to do. 

5) The three foundations needed to scale to a £1 million-plus business.

The afternoon keynote featured Stuart Warwick, founder of Scale Your IT / MSP With Confidence. He began with an eye-opening statistic: 96 percent of IT-related businesses in the U.K. never make it past £1 million in turnover, which, he argued, is the point at which your business starts working for you and not you working for it. This should be the goal for all business owners: Transforming your business into an asset that you make money from rather than having to put hours in to keeping it going. 
To build this type of business, there are three fundamental principles that business owners need to adhere to – harness the ambition of your business, maximise the opportunity of your business in the marketplace; and install the right amount of capacity.

Once you apply this framework you can develop a business that will flourish and works for you. 

6) Many factors in solving diversity in the industry.

Improving diversity in the workforce remains a key issue in technology. The afternoon panel session moderated by Pound featured Julia Moiseeva, director at FinTest; Molly Thompson, community manager at Silicon Canal; and Faye Pressly, COO at Vanti to discuss the different issues around getting more women into the industry.

A number of key issues still exist. For example, in the education system, more girls need to be encouraged to take STEM subjects to break stereotypes from a young age. Furthermore, we need more role models in the industry, while businesses need to “build an environment that is conducive to diversity,” according to Faye.

7) There’s never been a better time to get involved in AI.

Peter Lewis from Aston University provided a live demonstration of how AI technology is developing in the form of robots that could interact with people and respond to commands. He also presented on some of the projects that he and his team are working on with industry to increase efficiency and profitability through AI, such as working with such as manufacturers and hospitals. They are looking for businesses to partner and work with to see where it’s possible to take AI next.

8) Marketing geniuses are coming.

During the first ever Marketing Genius Café at a UKCC meeting, execs from a number of member companies answered guests’ questions on everything to do with marketing. UKCC Birmingham’s geniuses included O’Sullivan as well as Felix Ekman, head of marketing at Harmony PSA; George Rouse, digital marketing executive at Datto EMEA; Thomas Sielding, head of relationships at CyberSmart; and Simon Darby, head of marketing at Stock in the Channel. 

We’ll be rolling more of these out at our upcoming meetings, so stay tuned for more information on how to get involved!
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