CompTIA Breakaway 2011: Seven Trends Worth Tracking

My next business trip is CompTIA Breakaway 2011 (Aug. 1-4, Washington, D.C.). Predictably, the worlds of cloud services and managed services will converge at Breakaway. But I expect several other trends to emerge at the conference. Here's a preview, along with seven trends that I hope to track at CompTIA Breakaway.

1. Yes, the Cloud: CompTIA will offer cloud channel training on Tuesday and Wednesday (Aug. 1-2). Evolve Technologies CEO Dave Sobel will lead discussions around marketing, sales, services deliver and operations management. Some pundits suggest that MSPs should use the so-called Chocolate Cake strategy to sell cloud computing. I'll be intrigued to see if Sobel offers that type of advice.

2. Managed IT Services: Yes, CompTIA will offer a Quick Start to Managed Services, hosted by Terry Hedden, CEO Of Infinity Technology Solutions, an MSP in Tampa, Fla.

But there's a deeper story here. CompTIA launched an MSP Partners Trustmark in May 2011. It's designed to help qualified MSPs stand out from a sea of aspiring MSPs. Longer term, CompTIA apparently is working on a "part two" of its managed IT services strategy. I'm not sure if the effort will involve a certification (for individuals) or an accreditation (for companies). But either way the folks who developed the MSP Partners Trustmark continue to march forward with that effort while also working on an additional MSP-centric effort.

I'll get updates at the conference, potentially from CompTIA VP of Member Communities Jim Hamilton or Intronis VP of Channel Development Ted Roller, both of whom have been involved in the initial  Trustmark work.

3. Managed Print Services: Is this the year managed print services finally go mainstream with MSPs? Yes and no. Some MSPs openly applaud managed print services as found money that most channel partners overlook. But most MSPmentor 100 companies say they have yet to introduce managed print services because they haven't traditionally sold copies or printers.

Still, there are signs of progress.

4. Transforming the Association: CompTIA President and CEO Todd Thibodeaux will offer his State of the Industry keynote. It may also provide some clues about the state of CompTIA, which has undergone some evolutionary and revolutionary changes since July 2008. You can find the back story here. I'm curious to learn how Thibodeaux thinks CompTIA and the IT industry are performing so far in 2011.

5. Executives In the Halls: Yes, plenty of managed services and cloud services executives will attend breakaway. Among those I hope to check in with: ConnectWise Director of Community Jeannine Edwards, Ingram Micro Director of Sales, Services Division Jason Beal [Corrected July 21, 2011:] Services Director Jason Bystrak and Kirk Robinson, VP/GM of Commercial Markets; Kaseya CEO Gerald Blackie, Level Platforms CEO Peter Sandiford; and N-able Technologies VP Derik Belair, among others.

6. Mobile Managed Services: Cloud gets all the headlines. But I think mobile managed services represents one of the biggest MSP opportunities now and for the long haul. SMBs want any-to-any (any device to any cloud) capabilities, delivered in a secure fashion. And the tablet discussion is rapidly pushing beyond Apple to include Google Android devices -- including a growing tablet portfolio from Lenovo.

How will MSPs develop, brand and support for mobile managed services? I'll pursue some answers at Breakaway.

7. Familiar Names, New Locations: Of course, we've seen plenty of career changes in the past few months. Is CompTIA Chairman and former Autotask CEO Bob Godgart ready to discuss his next day-to-day business focus, even as he remains chairman of Autotask? And what moves can we expect next from Mark Crall, the former leader of Autotask's community efforts?

MSPmentor will gather the answers at Breakaway. If you're looking for additional insights from the conference feel free to post a comment or send me a private email with your request (joe [at] NineLivesMediaInc [dot] com).

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