IT trade association CompTIA opened its 2015 EMEACon channel conference in London yesterday.
Tracy Pound, MD of MaximITy, hosted the conference, opening proceedings with CompTIA director Estelle Johannes to welcome delegates.
After some community updates from Pensar CEO Mark Williams, the specific keynotes got underway.
Here are six of PCR's highlights:
1. Resellers are turning themselves into IoT specialists
Tech Data's group marketing director and HP BU director Andy Dow spoke about how resellers can monetise the Internet of Things (IoT).
"The IoT is the next major change in the industry, but we need a strategy to monetise it," he said.
"Wearables will become absolutely key. It's perhaps the biggest boom area.
Dow highlighted the ability to switch off a home's power remotely would mean no more daughter's worrying about if they've left their hair straighteners on. He also mentioned smart emerging tech in cars and aeroplanes, as well as the importance of providing security for the various connected devices.
The main point he made was that IT resellers should be thinking now about their IoT strategies.
"MSPs should be working more closer with IoT developers," he added. "Go out and find them.
"It's all about hiring the right people. There aren't many IoT experts. So work out how you can partner with them.
"Our industry is going through an evolution. Some resellers will turn themselves into IoT specialists. If you can't, you can move your business that way by partnering.
"The IoT is arriving soon. Far quicker than I believed. It'll be on our doorsteps before we know it."
2. Sales and marketing tips
Kris Nagamootoo, senior manager at CompTIA, hosted a session looking at how resellers can make their businesses more successful through sales and marketing, with the help of talks from Simon Dobson and Andrew Bailey.
Kris started by advising resellers to download the marketing tool kit from the CompTIA website - the most downloaded resource on there.
Simon Dobson gave the following marketing tips:
- Be targeted. If you buy data, narrow down the list to make sure your emails are getting to the right people
- Be attractive to your customers. How can you make yourself more attractive to your customers/audience?
- Be social. Start conversations on social media and ask questions on LinkedIn. Engage with people.
- B2B doesn't mean boring to boring. Make it fun.
- Be genuine. If you make a promise, you've got to deliver it.
- Don't be afraid to reach out, adapt and try new things - don't be afraid to get things wrong.
Andrew Bailey, MD of Transmentum/Commercial Strategy4, also gave out some sales tips, saying that measuring a sales process is one of the most most powerful tools in sales you can use, as is better communicating value to customers.
3. Former Tomorrow's World TV presenter Maggie Philbin said inspiring the next-generation of tech workers is key
Maggie Philbin (pictured at the top of this article), CEO of TeenTech, revealed that after Christmas there will be TeenTech clubs in every Maplin store.
Parents will be able to go in with younger members of the family for free access to robotic arms and other educational tech, so it's not just confined to schools.
TeenTech runs one-day events, with a year-round supporting awards scheme, to help young teenagers see the range of career possibilities in technology.
Maggie encouraged delegates to sign up as a mentor, and said that there should be opportunities for children to make mistakes, as they aren't allowed to at school.
She also spoke about the TeenTech children that came up with the idea of condoms that change colour depending on the STD they detect. This story received viral coverage and two condom companies are now in talks with the young inventors.
4. Trustmark award winners revealed
CompTIA handed the following partners awards on the day, handed out by Mark Williams and Tracy Pound:
- NG Experts
5. Happy workplaces provide a competitive advantage
Henry Stewart, Happy Ltd chief executive, gave a talk on how staff happiness can boost productivity - and revenues.
"People work best when they feel good about themselves," he said, mentioning the likes of John Lewis, Microsoft and Google as providers of happy workplaces with strong staff efficiency.
"It's not about having fun and games, that's frivolous. It's about giving staff purpose and meaning. Give your staff the time and vision to do it their way - they will get the job done better."
He asked delegates to consider the idea of pre-approval - allowing staff to work without having to seek approval, and for the manager to approve solutions before their staff have thought of it.
"The most important thing is to be a good coach. Don't give the solution, ask them to find it. Encourage them," he added.
6. CompTIA to help channel businesses capitalise on Regulated Industries opportunity
CompTIA has announced a new initiative in the UK designed to help SMEs and MSPs do business with organisations in regulated industries – an area identified as a key business opportunity by CompTIA members.
The Regulated Industries Initiative will provide an open forum for members to share their views on how best to enter regulated sectors.
CompTIA will provide research on each sector, starting with the financial and legal industries, which will provide market analysis, the key regulations and key trends in IT. It will also identify the business opportunities in each area.
"According to the March 2015 PwC/CBI financial services sector report, firms in all areas of financial services except one (securities trading) expected to increase their investment in IT in the coming year, demonstrating the huge market potential for the UK technology industry," said CompTIA in a statement.
“Breaking into Regulated Industries is one of the key business growth areas for many businesses, but it can be difficult for SMEs and MSPs to navigate due to the sheer number of regulations and compliance points they have to adhere to,” said Estelle Johannes, Director, Member Communities UK at CompTIA.
“In launching this initiative, we have rapidly responded to our members’ feedback and will deliver resources and meeting that can make a huge impact for businesses and empower them to enter entirely new markets.”
To join the initiative, visit https://www.comptia.org/communities/uk-channel/initiatives