CompTIA’s ChannelCon has long been one of my favorite events, and I’ve attended many. Like everybody else, however, that wasn’t the case for a couple of years thanks to the pandemic. To their credit, CompTIA did a great job of adapting and putting on incredible virtual events. But being there in person and seeing industry heavyweights and friends working together to better the industry? You can’t beat that.
As with every show I attend, I try to let those who couldn’t make it get a glimpse of what they missed. For those who were there, it’s a great way to remember the awesome things that happened. So, without further ado, here are my top 5 takeaways from CompTIA ChannelCon 2022:
1. Once Bitten: The Realities of Surviving an Attack
This was far and away my favorite session. It had a panel of folks who have all experienced (or helped those who experienced) a cyberattack. The providers shared how it impacted them and their customers and what they did to get everybody through it. They also offered critical suggestions of things they would have done differently as a way to help other providers avoid similar pain.
Robert Cioffi of Progressive Computing and Heather Simek of RJ2 Technologies didn’t hold back, and it was some of the most engaging conversation I’ve heard in a long, long time. They also had a lawyer who specializes in helping organizations impacted by cybercrime, Blair Dawson of McDonald Hopkins , who shared the legal realities. Also on the panel was a cyber insurance specialist, Andrew Liverman Anderson of Datastream Cyber Insurance, and a mental health and awareness specialist from Indiana University, Edlin Garcia. They offered great insights on disaster preparedness and what to do to keep everybody safer.
2. Ready for Your Closeup? Free Headshot Service
Why on earth would this be on my list, you might ask? Because we now live in a world where customers do over 85% of their research on us before they ever engage us to talk. Look on LinkedIn and you’ll see that some people have professional-looking headshots while others don’t. One barrier is cost as professional headshots aren’t cheap. The other is time. Providers and their teams are so busy running their businesses that any time away from work is precious indeed.
Thanks to CompTIA, the problems of budget and time went away! They hired professional photographers plus makeup and hair artists from Travis Haughton Photography, and there was no charge for attendees. The problem of time was cured too, as members were already at the event and the schedule dedicated time for folks to get their closeups between sessions. Thank you CompTIA!
3. Super Cloudy: MSPs have to Become Much More Cloud Focused
One of the concepts that has really taken root in channels served by technology solutions providers is tech debt—doing things in old-fashioned ways and having your business held back because of it. MSPs and managed IT providers have long done remote management of desktops, servers, and other office assets. It seemed every session I attended—regardless of topic—was talking about how there is a wholesale shift happening right now with “Cloud EVERYTHING.”
Software clearly is all moving to the cloud, but so are desktop computers (virtual desktops) and servers (Azure anyone?) MSP business models built on remotely monitoring and managing “things” are having to shift to managing virtual assets. Often, they don’t even sell these assets but simply add value as an ecosystem manager to make the experience more singular for their customers. This is a big, big deal, make no mistake.
4. Gobble: MSP Acquisitions Picking Up Steam
The channel I have served for most of my career, the office equipment channel, has seen the rise of “mega dealers” who grow primarily through acquisition. I learned at ChannelCon that this is happening to MSPs now as well, and the acquisition frenzy is only picking up steam. There was a session dedicated to preparing for acquisition as though it’s almost inevitable. I’m a big believer of “choice” in the marketplace, and I’m getting a funny feeling that we’re all going to see a lot less of it, regardless of the channels we serve.
I didn’t attend this session as choices had to be made for competing sessions, but it is a topic that came up again and again in other sessions and provider conversations. We live in a world of “Megas” when it comes to cloud offerings (hello Microsoft, Google, and Amazon) and as more and more services become virtualized in the cloud, it seems the room for the little guy is evaporating. This is a trend we all need to pay attention to, both to maximize value for our businesses and to compete if we so choose. For those that do plan to compete, diversifying into additional services is becoming absolutely critical in order to provide differentiation. MSPs are adding cybersecurity, unified communications and other services. Running lean will be critical, and using a single business management platform like Tigerpaw instead of two or three will be crucial to adapting and unifying business processes.
5. Rooftop Nirvana
One of the great things about a live event beyond the valuable education is the incredible opportunity for networking. CompTIA held a rooftop extravaganza that was one of the coolest places I’ve ever been! Gorgeous views of the lake, the city, and finishing it all off with an incredible fireworks display! It has been a long time since people could interact in person and it was simply awesome. Hopefully we’re moving into some kind of new normal where we can continue to get together in person for many more years to come.
There were so many great sessions and gatherings it’s impossible to list them all here! What were some of your favorite ones? How did you like being part of the live gathering in Chicago? Share your experiences with Tigerpaw; we’d love to hear all about it. We look forward to seeing you at the next live event, but until then, keep learning and driving your business forward!