An interview with guests at the CompTIA EMEA Conference
CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association) are a not-for-profit trade association and a peer community. At their EMEA (European, Middle Eastern and Asian) Conference in London, the biggest event outside of the USA, I spoke to four attendees to find out why they think CompTIA membership is a must for IT companies and Managed Service Providers (MSPs) who want to grow their businesses.
Bruce Penson – Managing Director at Pro Drive IT (CompTIA Member)
Bruce’s business works in quite an interesting niche – supporting companies in regulated industries, such as oil and gas, financial advisers and commodity traders, as well as businesses who support clients in regulated industries.
Regulated industries set the bar quite high for their IT support providers, and they have challenges around compliance, which can be due to trade body regulations, corporate governance or client need.
Bruce says clients usually get in touch when they have a problem, and he works with them to identify pain points and find technology solutions for that. Once the problem is solved, he provides ongoing support to look at other ways to help the business.
Pro Drive IT have been CompTIA members for a while, and Bruce says the highlight for him is networking – being able to learn from other IT companies about their successes and challenges and being able to do better business.
Craig Sharp of Abussi (CompTIA Conference Speaker and Member)
Craig presented at the CompTIA EMEA Conference on “What do people think of Managed Service providers, so I asked him to share his thoughts on that.
He said that for businesses like his, working with smaller companies, they really don’t understand the term ‘MSP’, leaving the provider with two options: Explain it to the client or accept that ‘the IT support team’ is the name that you’ll be given to explain what it is you do”.
Once customers start to understand what the MSP can do, they see them as a way to offload more of the tech stuff, moving from just hardware support to helping with infrastructure, internet and more.
The shift to cloud-based computing hasn’t changed the clients’ attitudes to MSPs, because they still need support, just for less equipment. It’s important to explain that this still requires staff!
Craig has three simple pieces of advice for IT companies working with small businesses: Build good relationships with clients, standardise and simplify your services, and give them solutions that work for them.
Mark Williams – Pensar (Outgoing Chair of the CompTIA Channel Community)
Mark explains: “The Channel Community is a mixed group of solution providers, vendors and distributors, predominantly based in the UK. It’s a networking opportunity and also allows us to give best practise advice, deliver workshops and generally improve the quality of service delivery in the UK.”
Mark says that his time as Chair was very rewarding, giving him the opportunity to network with people and meet new vendors he might not have otherwise met, and found out about new products and services.
He is a firm believer in collaboration rather than competition, and building relationships to outsource services you need to offer a full range of options. Don’t view people as competitors, but realise there are some things that you’re really good at – focus on them and do them well.
For the areas where you’re weaker, outsource. If you want be a one-stop resource for clients, you’ll need to partner with people to give people what they need, rather than just your own specialisms.
Mark says that: “The benefit of procuring through the CompTIA Community is that they want to build their business and follow best practises, so they’ll deliver good service.”
Todd Thibodeaux (President and CEO of CompTIA Worldwide)
Todd explains that CompTIA is: “a global non-profit and helps IT to be better businesses, to grow, meet other people, learn best practises, and provide research and learning opportunities. People probably know us best for our IT certification programmes – A+ is probably the best known one”.
The certification programmes are a revenue source to allow CompTIA to do other things. They have 2,200 members globally and about 360 in the UK, and range from really small companies with one or two employees, all the way up to the big businesses such as Cisco, Intel and Microsoft.
CompTIA provide tools to help businesses overcome challenges, carry out global research into best practises and trends, and lobby governments around the world on behalf of the industry.
Todd says they’re particularly proud of their philanthropic work and charitable activities, such as the UK programme TeenTech, which helps kids get into tech and IT. Membership is kept at a low cost and they have a range of educational tools and resources for people to use.
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