Interview: CompTIA CEO Todd Thibodeaux

We talk to CompTIA CEO Todd Thibodeaux about the latest issues facing the IT industry
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Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA, is in a good mood at CompTIA’s London office as he speaks to PCR.

Thibodeaux is responsible for leading strategy, development and growth for the association, and is visiting a number of clients across Europe this summer.

Prior to joining CompTIA in 2008, Thibodeaux spent 17 years with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), so he has a wealth of experience to bring to the role. He’s also clearly a huge personal fan of technology.

It seems to be a good time for CompTIA when we meet. The organisation is growing, hosting some of the biggest events in the IT industry over in the US, and developing its Trustmark accreditation here in the UK, where it is has also recently celebrated the one-year-anniversary of CompTIA UK’s channel community.

Let’s talk about some of the current issues facing the industry. We’re hearing a lot of about Bringing Your Own Device (BYOD) to work, and the challenges that presents.

We’ve done new research into this, and the biggest issues is what firms do security-wise with these devices – do they just let employees tap in?

Interestingly, we were speaking to one company which recently opened its wi-fi up and was surprised to find out that for its 10,000-plus employees it had approximately 60,000 devices on the network. People were connecting multiple phones, tablets, their PCs.

The second biggest issue after securing the network, is thinking about the data that’s being stored on personal devices. There’s not as clear a distinction about what’s personal data and corporate data on mobile devices, as it’s not always stored in files in the same way as they would be on a computer.

If you remote wipe the device, are you in danger of wiping someone’s pictures?

And going back to security again, people are more likely to lose personal devices than laptops they might leave at work, and if they have corporate info on them…

Yes, we’ve seen this happen. One of our members dropped his phone in a lake on a fishing trip and lost an enormous amount of personal and work data.

But companies are coming up with good solutions to these issues, so that there isn’t as much mingling of data. Good Technology is coming up with interesting firewall technology for phones and tablets, for example.

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Speaking of tablets, what are your thoughts on the new Windows Surface?

It looks pretty interesting – more interesting than an Android device. Its success will hinge one whether it has a good app infrastructure. The Metro design of the interface is so different to anything else, and if you’re going to have a tablet experience the apps really have to be built for that, and not so that you have to use the keyboard all the time.

And Microsoft loves the stylus. Even this one has one. They still haven’t quite got the fact it’s all about touch.

How do you think Windows 8 is going to work for the desktop user as opposed to the touch audience it’s aiming at?

I’ve used every released version and on the desktop it’s not that useful. The Metro interface is built for tablets but as a desktop user you do find yourself opting straight for the desktop version.

People will stick to Windows 7 for quite some time, I think they’ll see a slow uptake of Windows 8. If you are a hardcore user you just want to dispense with all that.

How are you enjoying the trip to CompTIA’s UK arm?

It’s great. The UK community is very active and we’re localising our education content now. All the money we earn goes into programmes for members.

In the UK we’re also working hard on developing the Trustmark accreditation. It’s very popular and really gaining some momentum. People want to educate themselves.

This is our largest office outside of the US. And we use outside resources very effectively. It’s good to have lots of partners, whether publications or training partners or testing. Our members help a lot. We can’t be experts in everything, but our members can be. We give all the credit to the members.

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