CompTIA to Channel: Get Ready for the Future of Tech
Artificial intelligence. Cybersecurity. The Internet of Things. Big Data. Digital health. The future of technology is coming your way, channel pros, and sooner than you think.
“All these things that seemed like way out future things are becoming realities,” said President and CEO Todd Thibodeaux in a keynote address at CompTIA’s latest ChannelCon event in Las Vegas this week. “For CompTIA, we want to normalize these things for people.”
The industry association’s new “future of tech” website, which it showcased at ChannelCon, is the latest manifestation of that mission. Open both to CompTIA members and the general public, the free resource provides access to a growing library of text, videos, interactive materials, and lesson plans on topics that IT providers increasingly need to know about if they wish to remain competitive.
“Your salespeople and you are going to be at a disadvantage talking to your customers if they ask you questions about these things and you don’t know anything,” Thibodeaux warned in his keynote, promising that channel pros who explore the future of tech site will come away with at least a conversational understanding.
Now’s the time to start studying emerging technologies too, according to many CompTIA members from the vendor community. Blockchain, 5G networking, and other innovations that seem distant today will be mainstream opportunities before you know it.
“There’s lots of technologies that seemed very far away and then they showed up one day,” says Dave Sobel, senior director of MSP evangelism at managed services software maker SolarWinds MSP. “I think we’re going to see a lot of that.”
Frank Raimondi agrees. The always rapid pace of progress has only accelerated in recent years. “The challenge for the MSP is to figure out what is the next thing? What do I need to invest in?” notes Raimondi, who is a strategic channel and business development executive at wireless charging vendor Chargifi. “You can’t wait six months for somebody else to really figure it out.”
Both Raimondi and Sobel are leaders of CompTIA’s Emerging Technology Community, which along with the future of tech site plays a key role in wide-ranging efforts by CompTIA to prepare its members for next-generation opportunities markets. Others include the creation of drone, blockchain, and smart cities advisory councils charged with identifying potential use cases and developing industry standards; an extensive research initiative responsible for 12 new studies a year; and the creation of training and certification resources.
“One of the things that CompTIA is particularly good at is all the education,” says Sobel, noting that the Emerging Technology Community has published a white paper on the Internet of Things this week and has additional ones on 5G and artificial intelligence in the works. Not coincidentally, those same technologies are the first three entries in the community’s second annual top 10 emerging technology list, which it published in June.
“We’ve been working on trying to make these technologies real for people,” Sobel says.
Steve Young, a channel marketing manager at network security vendor Untangle, is one of many at ChannelCon who draws on CompTIA content for strategic planning purposes. “We utilize their research reports often just to see the trends that they’ve put together,” he says. “That gives us a little insight into how we can prepare for the future.”
Keeping up with changes in how end users evaluate and buy products is another part of that preparation process, and one that CompTIA’s Channel Advisory Board has been studying extensively. “The buyer is shifting and their journey to buy things is changing,” says Ryan Walsh, chief channel officer at cloud distributor Pax8 and a Channel Advisory Board member. “They’re testing more products. They want trials, and more proof of concepts.”
CompTIA has published an infographic on those and other purchase process changes, Walsh adds. Angus Robertson, chief revenue officer at business availability vendor Axcient and a member of CompTIA’s Business Applications Advisory Council, is a fan. “It’s valuable not just to the channel but also to vendors in terms of understanding how buyers buy and how to make that as frictionless as possible,” he says.
Still, creating infographics and white papers is one thing and getting people to use them is another. “The hard part is you’re bringing the horse to water, but you can’t make them drink,” Raimondi notes. CompTIA can’t prepare the channel for the future of tech without the channel’s cooperation.
“I think if somebody is really interested in driving the new businesses, CompTIA has got the right tools to get them on the right path,” Raimondi says. “But they’ve got to come to the table.”
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