CompTIA 3.0: Ready for Takeoff?

CompTIA 3.0: Ready for Takeoff?

Some of the IT channel's top names are huddling up this week in Chicago for CompTIA AMM -- an annual membership meeting for the Computing Technology Industry Association. No doubt, CompTIA -- among the best-known associations serving VARs and MSPs -- has undergone some dramatic changes under CEO Todd Thibodeaux (pictured). You might even say that we're all looking at CompTIA 3.0. Here's why.

To understand the current state and direction of CompTIA, it's important to retrace the organization's history.

CompTIA 1.0: Birth of An Industry

Founded in 1982, CompTIA emerged as a training and certification organization for IT professionals. As PCs proliferated, CompTIA certifications like A+ and Network+ gained critical mass among IT pros. The organization grew rapidly under former CEO John Venator. CompTIA also emerged as a strong voice for public policy.

But there were also some bumps -- yada, yada, yada -- here and there. On some fronts, CompTIA wound up competing with CMP Media's channel division (now known as Everything Channel). And in the trade show business, a classic business model -- covering VAR expenses to attend the annual CompTIA Breakaway conference and vendor pitches -- began to look a little rusty.

CompTIA 2.0: The Consumerization of IT

A short chapter marked by dramatic change. Consumer Electronics Association veteran Todd Thibodeaux succeeded Venator as CompTIA CEO in July 2008. Rapid -- but sometimes stressful -- change arrived within the halls of CompTIA. Alas, some of The VAR Guy's best CompTIA sources left the association. But Thibodeaux proved to be an agent of change.
  • CEA Veteran Kelly Ricker joined, overhauling CompTIA Breakaway as an inclusive conference, as Larry Walsh noted, for all channel media to attend. CompTIA also broke bread with Everything Channel, continuing to compete in some areas while cooperating in others.
  • CompTIA acquired MSP Partners -- a vendor-driven organization -- in 2009. The deal didn't transform CompTIA into a managed services powerhouse. But the deal did position CompTIA to better understand the key channel driver going forward: Recurring revenue models for VARs and MSPs.
  • During this period, CompTIA continued to leverage established Channel Chief relations -- names like Xerox VP Gary Gillam come to mind. Some well-known VARs also remained loyal to CompTIA's cause; MJ Shoer of Jenaly Technology and Chuck Lennon of TeamLogic IT remain central to that effort.
  • CompTIA worked overtime to build relationships with emerging channel leaders -- folks like Roger Egan of Red Hat, Bob Godgart of Autotask and Dan Shapero of Kaseya begin to engage with the association.
  • Plus, well-known CompTIA veterans like Jill Kerr continued to drive industry development.
The 2.0 period certainly had its bumps... especially as vendors and VARs got a feel for the re-invented Breakaway conference and other CompTIA services. But ultimately, Thibodeaux pushes forward.

CompTIA 3.0: The Channel. Socialized

Gradually, CompTIA has launched communities that focus on managed services, SaaS and cloud computing, vertical markets and more. A new influx of talent has also arrived. Recruits include Senior VP of Industry Relations Nancy Hammervik (formerly of Everything Channel) and several other key names on the executive team. Plus, former IPED leader Toni Clayton-Hine, now VP of global channel marketing at CA Technologies, signed on to assist CompTIA's new Industry Advisory Councils.

But ultimately, CompTIA's voice is growing stronger because members are widely active on social media. Skeptical? Take a look at this week's CompTIA AMM gathering, which is generating plenty of FaceBook updates and endless tweets.

Four prime examples:
Each personality (no relation to The VAR Guy's multiple personalities...) is yapping it up on FaceBook, describing their every move at CompTIA AMM. Heck, maybe The VAR Guy is there -- somewhere -- silently watching the meetings...

Does The VAR Guy really care about Roller's craving for Chicago Deep Dish Pizza? Perhaps not. But our resident blogger would welcome the opportunity to share a slice -- and a cigar -- with Roller in Chicago.

Relevant or irreverent, CompTIA members are generating buzz. And ultimately, that could be the start of something larger... which was Thibodeaux's goal all along.

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