Who are the guardians of our digital life?

How often do we put our future or livelihood in the hands of a solicitor or lawyer? Because of their skills and professionalism they are able to charge us fees that may often make our eyes water. But at least we have the understanding that if they do indeed rip us off or give us unprofessional service, they can be hauled before their professional bodies and disciplined.
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Virtually all of us are reliant upon technology, whether in our business life or in our personal world. And yet there is no reliable, standard way for us to assess the professional skills of the enterprises that we trust to advise, supply, support, maintain and repair our digital needs. While some people in our channel may have some academic or technical qualifications, or may have participated in vendor training, there is no straightforward way of recognising this.

How can an enterprise be sure that all the people from the supplier or support companies that might be involved in its purchasing or support issues are up to the mark, or that they have insurance cover in the event of a catastrophic problem? The answer is they can’t. In fact, many independent resellers do not even have the basic protection of some standard terms and conditions.

Furthermore, there are, at present, few useful ways in which employers in our channel may reliably assess job applicants, or give them a clear professional development path. And there are no barriers to entry – anyone can set themselves up as a provider of advice, products or solutions, irrespective of their technology or business skills.

All it needs is for a large-scale scandal to develop around some sales or support issue or other (I’ll leave the lurid headlines to your imagination) and we’ll start to hear demands for ‘Government regulation of this cowboy industry’.

A true vendor-neutral industry standard accreditation for end-user facing individuals and their employers is overdue, as is mandatory professional indemnity assurance. And once we have this we need to promote it as hard as we can to our customers. They must be made aware of the benefits of dealing with a properly qualified and accredited individual or company, and the risks inherent in failing to do so.

And why am I writing about this right now? Quite simply, resellers who attended the TCA Conference on February 25th will have heard about our drive to establish the TCA Academy as a means of co-ordinating the myriad of professional and academic qualifications and accreditations. We’re also making professional indemnity insurance available to all of our resellers who operate acceptable terms and conditions. In case you hadn’t noticed, the TCA’s strapline is ‘Building Professionalism in the Digital Technology Channel’. It’s about time.


Digital inclusion

Martha Lane Fox is an impressive person. Not only was she one of the dot-com era?s early millionaires, she has gone on to launch Lucky Voice karaoke bars and is the founder of Antigone, a foundation that gives small grants to start up or early stage charities in healthcare, education and criminal justice.

A new deal

Apple?s reseller accreditations have become a very complex affair over the years, often based on with many strange rules and regulations.


A letter to Apple UK

Dear Apple, Firstly, I really, really want to say thanks for reading my column, because it was only recently that I had it confirmed. I know not everyone at Apple UK reads me, but some of you do. I wish I?d heard this directly from the source, but ? and I?ll sing this in my best Cliff Richard falsetto voice ? I guess ?we don?t talk anymore...?

Times are changing

We were recently contacted by a start-up business, wanting to do the right thing by joining the appropriate trade association and asking if there were any special qualifications needed, or regulations to comply with, if they were to build and sell computers.


Supermarket sweep

Indies should not fear the supermarkets too much ? comparing us to a butcher or baker doesn?t really work because a leg of lamb doesn?t need a repair and a loaf of bread doesn?t need a reinstall. Our customers require upgrades, repairs, and technical assistance on a regular basis. This requires skilled staff who are expensive to train and difficult to retain.