IT Industry Comes Together in Washington

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The following was published in the Sunday, August 12, 2018 edition of Fosters and Seacoast Sunday.

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As it does each year, the IT industry gathered for the annual CompTIA ChannelCon conference from July 31 through Aug. 2. This year’s event was held in Washington, D.C. and focused on “The Business of Technology.”

Unless you have been living under a rock or entirely “off the grid,” you know technology is more pervasive than ever. Every business relies on technology today and for many, it is the most important competitive differentiator that they have. The “Business of Technology” encompasses every aspect of the information technology industry and quite literally, every business that leverages technology to deliver their good and/or services to their customers.

More than 1,000 technology professionals attended the event in person and several thousand more participated via ChannelCon Online, a live stream of the event for those who were not able to get to DC. ChannelCon is a unique event in the technology industry as it is not sponsored by any vendor. As the industry’s nonprofit trade association, CompTIA is in a unique position to give all organization an even playing field on which to participate. Tracks included things like BizTech, field trips, future trends, IT Pro, networking events, a technology vendor fair, vendor education, community meetings and general sessions. As I’m sure you would expect, the sessions were packed with insight into the future of the industry as well as reflections on where we have been and where we are at present.

The conference was keynoted by Four-Star General Stanley McChrystal, former commander of U.S. and International Forces in Afghanistan. At first glance, you might not think there is a lot of commonality between fighting terrorists and business, but Gen. McChrystal drew some impressive parallels of how adaptability and technology allowed JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command to be become a modern hybrid model that leveraged technology, trust and a common purpose to confront one of the most difficult adversaries they had ever encountered.

They leveraged technology to connect ever member of the command, no matter what their role or physical location and it transformed their ability to deliver on their mission. The parallels to business communications, processes and technology were quite clear.

Another key theme that was present throughout the conference was the changing ways that technology is procured and implemented. Technology decisions are no longer the sole domain of the senior executive in charge of information technology. Many decisions are now made at the business unit or functional level within a company. Consultants, managed service providers and the technology vendor themselves, all need to be engaged with the right people within their customers organization. Only with this deep level of engagement, can the end customer ensure that they are getting the best advice, products and services to help them accomplish the business outcome they are seeking. This is a shift in how business technology has historically been consumed and managed. This is what the “Business of Technology” is all about.

I sat in on several sessions throughout the event and one that really stood out was a meeting of the Joint Advisory Councils. This group comprises senior executives in the technology industry representing companies from established and emerging technologies. They presented several infographics covering topics as diverse as how drones are being used in businesses, to how technology is allowing the development of “smart cities,” the evolution of software consumption and licensing models and more.

And of course, there was plenty of talk about cyber security. You can’t talk about technology without getting in to a discussion about security, for good reason. As a trade association, CompTIA has some very insightful research and other resources to help its members address the cyber security concerns of their customers.

Attendees also had the opportunity to learn about the products and services offered by more than 150 vendors who had a booth at the Technology Vendor Fair. Unlike other industry events, CompTIA levels the playing field, providing each exhibiting vendor with the same size booth from which to make their pitch. It allows attendees to very objectively survey the technology landscape, learn about new and established vendors alike and ensure that the services that are brought to market are best-in-class.

The IT industry shined bright in DC. These are exciting times and new technologies continue to come to market that will truly revolutionize our lives. It’s a privilege to work in such an exciting business and be part of a great company, Onepath and a member of a fantastic organization, CompTIA.