ChannelCon 2017 was held this year at the J W Marriot, Austin, Texas, from Monday 31st July and wrapping up on Wednesday 2nd August. Across the three days, more than 1500 attendees and CompTIA members had the opportunity to join sessions run by industry experts and panellists from across the globe. Notable themes across the event were the diversification of jobs in technology, the future of technology and the state of the industry. These aspects were highlighted on day 2 of the event (Tuesday) with Key notes from Scott Belsky and Todd Thibodeaux, Former CEO of Behance and CEO and President of CompTIA, respectively.
For Redstor attendees, Chris Sigley (Sales Director), Daniel Beck (Senior Client Adviser) and Nathan Wilson (UK Events and Marketing Executive), the event marked an opportunity to network with channel partners from the states and beyond and to attend sessions around channel strategy and more.
Day 1 – Monday 31st
The event kicked off at 8:30 am on Monday morning and with initial sessions focusing on IT Security and the effects of cloud computing’s rise to prominence in the IT industry. Eric Pinto, Director of Client Services at VAR staffing, spoke to the nature of employing security professionals and some of the challenges faced with finding the right staff to fill positions that in many cases require superior knowledge of security systems and certifications to match.
Further sessions and break out discussions throughout the day followed a similar format, with industry experts and thought leaders taking to the stage to give an overview of what’s being seen in the market and opening these topics up for discussion. CompTIA members/vendors had an opportunity to host sessions of their own throughout the show, gathering valuable feedback from attendees and providing valuable knowledge share.
Following a busy day of events, exhibitors had their first chance to meet with one another and to speak with attendees of the conference, during the Technology Vendor Fair in the early evening. The evening then saw the launch of a new CompTIA community at the Advancing Diversity in Technology launch party.
Day 2 – Tuesday 1st
Contrasting with the party that closed out the first day of the event, day 2 starts with an optional 5K fun run/walk for those who can make it out of bed to enjoy the Austin sun rise at 6:30 am. By 9 am the State of the Industry Keynote and Business Keynote is underway and Todd Thibodeaux has a capacity crowd fired up in time for Scott Belsky to take to the stage.
Scott, who is well known for his thought-leadership within the marketing space, begins to talk through the challenges and differences with turning creativity into a fully-fledged outcome and how an organisation is often a cornerstone to this. The summary to this is that the IT industry is the growing space that can ‘make things happen’.
“Creativity X organisation = Impact”
The remainder of the day saw multiple break-out sessions, including several focused on effectively combining sales and marketing teams to increase efficiency and boost growth for SaaS and MSP organisations.
Marketing and Sales, not Marketing Vs Sales
Numerous marketing focused sessions, including ‘Aligning your marketing and growth strategies’ by Marie Wiese of Marketing CoPilot and Aaron Zeper of STG Tech Data, focused on the direct relationship marketing can have on the success of a sales process. The underlying message was consistent throughout; the purpose of marketing is to grow revenue.
The lack of strategic planning behind marketing activities is often the reason for marketing’s apparent failures and the reason many organisations then decide to reduce marketing spend. Aaron suggested that a more patient approach is key to success, the ability to make incremental changes to campaigns and refine their effectiveness over time being important.
Day 2 wrapped up with a party on Austin’s famous Rainey street, featuring live music, authentic custom-fitted cowboy hats, beer and a classic Texan BBQ.
Day 3 – Wednesday 2nd
The final day of the event kicked off with an extended breakfast session which saw a panel of experts give their first-hand experiences on career advice. Highlighting some of the cliché pieces of advice almost all of us have been given at some stage or other, these industry leaders gave real insight into the industry and to not only achieving but enjoying your career.
The future of technology
In a packed-out session prior to lunch, Frank Coker, who teaches a Master’s course at the University of Washington, led an exciting Q&A session on the future of technology. The session touched on some of the headline topics, such as Big Data, The Internet of Things and Artificial Technology, however, some of the more inciteful pieces to come from the session focused on the emergence of innovative technology and how consumerism has shaped the direction technology is currently taking. With cloud ensuring more technology and platforms are accessible to more people, the technology industry has had to refocus to do the same. This is great for consumers but with the lack of technical knowledge that is apparent to some, security can be a concern; step-up the cyber-security industry.