Innovating, analysing, marketing and selling in the IT industry
London, 23 October 2013 – CompTIA’s 2013 EMEA Member & Partner Conference saw experts from all walks of business offer insights into running a successful IT company. Attendees were taken through core areas of business – including innovating, business analysis, marketing and selling.
The annual gathering of IT industry channel executives and IT certification partners from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa was held here this week. More than 350 industry leaders came together to connect, collaborate and gain insight into the latest technologies and trends to help grow their businesses and the IT industry.
Below are some examples of the insightful sessions delivered throughout the conference.
Innovation: Don’t be Afraid to Try (and Fail)
The conference was kicked off by Tim Harford, Financial Times journalist, Radio 4 presenter and author of the bestselling Undercover Economist.
Harford praised the IT industry for its constant advancement, but argued that this approach can be too easy, and to make real leaps forward it is necessary to take bigger risks.
Taking such long shots is less appealing to business than the marginal improvement approach, he argued. Most will fail, and failure is hard to sell to your boss. But long shots lead to the innovations that change companies and governments. A few successful and well-chosen long shots can pay for thousands of failures.
We should respect those who offer fresh ideas even though many ideas simply won’t work out. And we should respect those who try and fail, because they are part of a system of innovators that occasionally produces Google or the iPad.
Business Analysis: Big Data
A panel of experts from across the industry discussed the relevance of this exciting area of IT.
Gavin Russell, chief executive officer of Wavex Technology, described big data as businesses’ "footsteps in the snow" – paths that they have taken, and which can be used as a guide to the future.
Dr. Phil Thomas of IBM suggested SMEs rarely properly understand Big Data, which means different things to different people. Some people think of server rooms while others think of social media. To turn this into relevant insights into your businesses, it’s important to tie together multiple sources.
"You can have the best Customer Relationship Management system in the world, but if you don't have a comprehensive view across all channels and can't join them up, then you're missing a trick".
Campbell Williams of Six Degrees Group added that businesses looking to use Big Data to optimise selling should look at the bigger picture. Department stores may not know their customers like data-centric Amazon, but they can offer a great working culture and customer service. Big data must complement, not replace, making customers feel personally valued.
Marketing: Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch
Social media expert DK argued that we’ve moved on from talking about how to blog and tweet. We’ve even moved on from social media strategy and marketing. We now need to be talking about a social media culture.
Social media should be used to share ideas. You can research new concepts and analyse your competitors. You can deepen relationships with customers, and work with your colleagues and collaborators more efficiently.
DK left the audience with one concluding top tip: “Get everyone in the organisation to do it once a week – offer an opinion, share videos, challenge ideas. This will humanise your brand, raise profile and awareness, win customers and create better relationships. All this will happen if, instead of marketing, you become part of the conversation.”
Sales: Dating for Business
John Kaufman discussed the art of differentiation when selling IT training. Sales, he said, is not just a financial exchange – it is the art of influencing.
“We should be who we are” he says “not try to fulfill an image of what we think a salesman should be like. Salespeople are honest, genuine, hardworking people, and that should come across.”
Once people have agreed to a call or a meeting, it means they are interested, he argued, and the job of the salesperson is then not to mess it up.
“One of the ways we mess things up is to focus on telling the potential customer everything about our own products. In business, like in dating, you get a much better response if you show you care about what your potential partner wants. Look to become a trusted partner, not someone trying to quickly close the deal.”
Delegates left the conference feeling they had tools to take back to their business. Derrin Kent from TDM’s Wyre Academy said: “The Wyre Academy was set up directly as a result of ideas gained from a previous CompTIA EMEA conference two years ago, so this one had a lot to live up to, and didn’t disappoint. The conference offers a great combination of business and IT. There was a logical flow to the day, from funding, to sales, to marketing and concluding with an update from CompTIA. Each session had some really interesting ideas that have affected me, and which I’m looking forward to sharing with the rest of the team.”
CompTIA is the voice of the world’s information technology (IT) industry. Its members are the companies at the forefront of innovation; and the professionals responsible for maximising the benefits organizations receive from their investments in technology. CompTIA is dedicated to advancing industry growth through its educational programs, market research, networking events, professional certifications, and public policy advocacy. Visit www.comptia.org, www.facebook.com/CompTIA and twitter.com/comptia for more information.
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