Last week I attended the one year anniversary of the CompTIA UK Channel Community with the groups meeting on Friday 18th May, 2012 at The Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
Over 50 IT Solution Providers, Vendors, Distributors and Channel Partners got together for a day with the goal of sharing knowledge, learning from their peers and improving both their own business and the UK Channel as a whole.
The event took place one day after the CRN Partner Connect 2012 event, also taking place in Coventry, and so the majority of attendees for the CompTIA meeting were in town and got together for a CompTIA sponsored drinks and dinner evening on the Thursday night. With a large number of new members to the Community present, it was great to see new relationships being formed and existing members making sure the newcomers were introduced to everybody in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
Kick-Off and UK Trustmark update
The following day, Friday 18th, saw the meeting open at 0830 with registration and breakfast – the room slowly filling up to capacity until William Linard of CompTIA UK kicked off the meeting proper with his greetings, agenda review and introduction of the Community Executive Council.
The Vice-Chair of the Community Lee Evans then gave an update on the Communities progress towards its UK Trustmark qualification – explaining that the Community hoped to have the Trustmark ready for full-launch by October, and asking for ten Solution Provider “beta testers” in the interim. There were no shortage of volunteers – which is no surprise given the interest in the Trustmark.
Speed Networking Bingo!
Adam Harris of CompTIA then facilitated a Speed Networking event! Every attendee had an “Speed Networking Bingo” sheet with a number of questions on it, such as “Member with a Favourite Gadget”, “Member who has appeared on Television”, “Member who has Sky-Dived” and so on. It was your job to seek out a member with an answer to every question on your sheet, every 60 seconds Adam would blow a whistle where you’d move on to speak to somebody new! The first person to complete their sheet, run to Adam at the front of the room and present it with a shout of “Bingo!” would win an Apple TV! This was a lot of fun – and a really good ice-breaker. Energy levels in the room were high at the conclusion of the networking. Congratulations to Charlotte Elmer of Kyocera who got won the Bingo and an Apple TV!
A Quick Start Guide to Unified Communications
After a break, Adam Harris then gave an overview of CompTIA’s Channel Training and Education – highlighting the many “Quick Start” guides on offer to CompTIA members – before Dave Sobel of Level Platforms then delivered a 45 minute Quick Start Session to Unified Communications. A very well presented session – Dave asking the question “How long before we no longer use Telephone numbers to find each other for calls?” amongst his research. All members of the Community walked away with a printed copy of the full CompTIA Quick Start to Unified Communications guide.
Channel Marketing Challenges
After lunch, Jon Clarke of Cyance delivered the keynote presentation of “Closing the loop between sales and marketing in the Channel”. Jon’s presentation provided a huge amount of food for thought, asking why vendors want to connect with the right resellers but can’t seem to find them, and how resellers need marketing help but most vendors don’t seem able to provide it. Jon suggested fresh thinking is what is needed to make channel marketing work.
Libya, Bottled Water and… Colonel Gaddafi?!
The days most talked about presentation was next up, as James Blackman, UK Channel Manager of AMD, shared his views on the Channel and his own personal story – a story that involved a bottled water business in Libya, NATO and Colonel Gaddafi! Trust me when I say you had to be there for this presentation – an incredible story, funny and insightful!
Giving away $10,000 to Charity
After a short networking break, Mark Williams of Pensar then presented CompTIA’s Philanthropic Challenge – where the Community members would hear 5 minute pitches from four IT related Charities, then voting on which charities should receive a $10,000 donation from CompTIA.
The four charities nominated were:-
- CTT – Richard Craig, Chief Executive of CTT (Charity Technology Trust) explained how CTT aims to work in partnership with the third sector to support and guide charities and not-for-profit organisations in the UK to use technology to enhance the way they work and collaborate.
- Computers for Charities – Simon Rooksby, Chairman and Founder, gave an overview of how Computers for Charities help setup computer systems where help is needed most, often travelling the globe on his Motorbike to deliver goods and help!
- SciDev.net – Tracy Irvine spoke about SciDev.net’s dedication to providing reliable and authoritative information about science and technology for the developing world.
- Science Oxford – Bridget Holligan of Science Oxford demonstrated how over the last 20 years, Science Oxford has developed a range of innovative projects to help educate the next generation.
William Linard of CompTIA then wrapped up the meeting, and reminded everyone that the next UK Channel Community group meeting would take place in Reading on July 18th, 2012.
Even discounting my role as Chair of this Community, I can honestly say that this was the best meeting we’ve had yet. Post meeting, I heard nothing less than hugely positive praise from attendees, and all of the newcomers I spoke to said they would be returning as a result of the value they got from the day. The event ran without a hitch, had a great turnout, and was engaging throughout. Kudos to William Linard and his team at CompTIA for organising such a great event!
A year into the growth of the CompTIA UK Channel Community and the decision of forming a group that is of value not just to resellers, but Vendors and Distributors too, is looking increasingly strong.
One of my personal goals is to help raise the bar of Professionalism within the IT industry, and I can think of few more effective ways to help achieve this goal than by being a part of the CompTIA UK Channel Community.
If you’d like to join the Community – then membership is free. Contact me directly or join the conversation on the CompTIA UK Channel Community LinkedIn group.