How the Full Business of Technology Ecosystem Came Together at ChannelCon

_TH45135Day one of CompTIA ChannelCon 2018, happening this week at Marriott Wardham Park in Washington, D.C., saw meetings of seven of CompTIA’s communities. Each came together to transfer knowledge, announce exciting initiatives and touch base before proceeding through the rest of the event, during which the same seven communities are hosting topic-oriented forums as well.

Emerging Technology

The day kicked off with the second meeting of the Emerging Technology Community, which introduced its Emerging Technologies Framework Committee. This is intended to be a central point to funnel information, giving members and companies a criteria to analyze emerging tech. During a subsequent group discussion, a participant stated that conversation around the framework will prove valuable as people question why things like security and big data aren’t included in emerging tech. The answer, he posited, is that understanding of such legacy technologies needs to evolve to see them as supporting emerging tech via ideas like defined personal security.

Advancing Diversity in Technology

Later in the morning, the Advancing Diversity in Technology (ADIT) Community met to review its ongoing business. Val Haskell, global senior director at SAP and member of ADIT’s Executive Council, spoke on the two reasons she joined ADIT. “First, it’s fundamentally right for everyone to participate in tech,” she said. Her second reason was that in the late ‘90s she benefitted from an initiative in Texas to get more women working in tech, so wants to make sure others see the same opportunities. She stated that getting into tech increased her income by 500 percent. Haskell also pointed out that since last year, ADIT has gone from zero to 575 members and is looking to add 100 more here at ChannelCon.

Technology Lifecycle Services

The Technology Lifecycle Services Community meeting, led by West McDonald, vice president of business development at PrintAudit and TLS chair, broke into a community roundtable activity to discuss elements of the technology service industry. Speaking on assessments and consultation, an attendee stated, “It’s easier to sell to those that you own,” the point being that assessments are not just for new customers. McDonald agreed, saying they’re a great way to sell in general.

The group of the audience tasked with looking at supply logistics stated that it stayed away from transportation, instead looking at business outcomes as borders become more porous. McDonald joked, “Logistics was a lot more exciting than I thought it’d be! And I didn’t hear drone shipments once, so thank you for that.”

James Foxall, president and CEO of Tigerpaw, reported out on ongoing service and support, which he described as “something near and dear to my heart.” He said the next frontier here is steps like active social media monitoring. “It’s not just looking at your page and responding to anything negative. That’s easy,” he said, prescribing searching on social media for your company name and hashtags to monitor a wider picture. He said his firm recently got started with live chat and it “took off like a rocket” and that 1-800 numbers are a thing of the past. “We have a number but there are certain age groups that just don’t want to make the call,” he said.

Managed Services

The Managed Services Community meeting presented a panel on the state of managed services that included Robert Boles, president of BLOKWORX; Vince Tinnirello, CEO of Anchor Networks Solutions; and Michael Goldstein, president and CEO of LAN Infotech. Boles describes himself as “an accidental MSP.” His company’s philosophy is, “If we always take care of our clients by doing right by them in the most honest way, having fun in the process, everything else will take care of itself.” BLOKWORX is immersed in the cloud. “We don’t work on things that users touch in general,” Boles said.

Tinnirello reported that his firm is in the customer education phase as it’s encountering clients saying things like, “We don’t have any data that hackers would want.”

Goldstein began his remarks by saying that we are in a “cyclical business.” He said his company used to be worried about people – even the janitorial staff – walking out of the building with data, and that times have certainly changed. “Four State of the Unions ago, Obama used the word ‘cybersecurity’ and I thought, ‘Oh my God, now the world knows what we know,’” he said. “Today there’s fear about it in the news every day.”

Advancing Women in Technology

The Advancing Women in Technology (AWIT) Community meeting honored the winners of the AWIT Spotlight Awards – Industry Leadership Award winner Roberta J. Fox, chief innovation officer for the FOX GROUP; Mentorship Guide Award winner Kathryn Rose, founder of wiseHer.com; and Technical Pacesetter Award winner Sheryne Glicksman, chief visionary strategist for Inside the Solution. Further, to raise up the next generation of tech workers, CompTIA and ChannelPro have partnered to create the Cecilia Galvin Scholarship Award, named for ChannelPro Executive Editor Galvin, a woman who made it her mission to support women in IT and passed on last year. Galvin’s husband Scott spoke briefly in the meeting, introducing his daughter Danica, a high school student and gymnast, who called her mother, “One of the most courageous and beautiful women I’ve ever met.”

Robotics mentor, inventor and engineer Sarah Johnson won the award and will receive the $2,500 college scholarship that comes with it. “I don’t want to just be a part of the future, I want to invent it,” said Johnson, who has been a volunteer, summer teaching assistant and technical assistant for TechGirlz, an organization that helps middle school girls get interested in tech. “I find that it is a great way to give back, especially to aspiring girls who also want to be in engineering and related fields.”

IT Security

In the IT Security Community meeting, Andrew Bagrin, CEO and founder of My Digital Shield, spoke on how often security companies should assess their clients’ security and how to convince them to do it regularly. He stressed that assessment is “not a one-and-done.”

“By the time you present [audits and pen tests], all that’s already changed,” he said. “A risk assessment is a snapshot in time.” According to Bagrin, the best practice for frequency of assessment is “probably an average [of] every six months.”

Future Leaders

The day of community meetings ended with the Future Leaders Community meeting. Jennifer Bodell, director of channel at Pax8, spoke to the importance of mentorship. She asked everyone in the audience who has a mentoring program in their company to raise their hand. Few did. “Exactly,” she said, going on to stress that mentoring programs are essential to getting generations to take a deep dive on working together.

CompTIA’s 2018 class of ChannelChangers – Jessie Devine, community engagement manager, QuoteWerks; Mackenzie Heddy, senior event manager, The ASCII Group; and Hannah Lloyd, senior channel manager, Inbay – were presented with their awards, which recognize future leaders in tech. Hilary Gadda, director of national channel development of TPx, moderated a short talk with the winners. Devine was asked her biggest challenge in being accepted by veterans in her organization. She said that four years ago she was 25-years-old and one of only two women at QuoteWerks; otherwise it was entirely male tech vets. “I blazed a trail,” she said. “Everything, from what we wear at a show to putting in a maternity policy, was new.”

Asked if her company has policies in place to ensure she’s empowered, Heddy said in her company’s meetings everyone is called on to speak. “Having that respect from veteran members of the team has played an important role,” she said. Heddy reported that her boss at The ASCII Group has served as an excellent mentor. “He’s encouraged me to ask questions, get involved, have a voice and speak up.”

Asked what she would say to future ChannelChangers, Devine offered this: “Don’t ever think that you’re too young to achieve.” She added, “CompTIA has been a huge part of my growth.”

Click here to get full coverage of ChannelCon 2018 and here to learn all about CompTIA’s communities.
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