At CompTIA Breakaway 2012, cloud computing and employee recruitment were at the forefront of discussion.
By Rich Freeman
Conditions were overcast this morning in Las Vegas, Nev., where IT membership organization CompTIA is holding its annual Breakaway conference. They weren’t much brighter in a morning panel discussion on cloud computing.
Sponsored by ChannelPro, the heavily attended session explored the cloud’s long-term implications for solution providers and resellers. According to one panelist, at least, those won’t be pretty for partners who focus on routine network and device management.
Citing figures from analyst firm Gartner Inc. predicting cloud solutions could displace some 40 percent of today’s channel, Larry Walsh, president and CEO of The 2112 Group, a channel advisory firm based in Port Washington, N.Y., portrayed the cloud as at least as much a threat to IT providers as an opportunity.
“Automation, or what we call cloud, is not a creator of jobs. It’s a destroyer of jobs,” he said. To survive, Walsh continued, channel pros who currently make their money administering infrastructure must develop more sophisticated offerings that add value in less easily commoditized ways. “Through value you will ensure your own future,” Walsh stated.
CompTIA president and CEO Todd Thibodeaux sounded a similar theme during a keynote speech, identifying innovation as the key to profitability for channel partners in the cloud computing era. “I urge you and challenge you to think creatively,” he said.
Thibodeaux also encouraged IT business owners to make recruiting the next generation of technicians into the channel a higher priority. “By 2020, 35 percent of all workers will be millenials,” he said. “Your ability to understand this crazy generation will have a big impact on your ability to be successful. Not only will they be your customers, they’ll be your staff.”
Or perhaps your boss: At one point in his presentation, Thibodeaux was joined onstage by Michael Weymouth, the 14-year-old founder and CEO of TechWizard, a provider of technical support services in Melville, N.Y. In a brief but show-stealing conversation, Weymouth explained that his business began as a way to make money during summer break from all the computer issues he was resolving for friends and neighbors. “I’d like to keep it kind of small and personal,” he said. “It’s certainly a learning experience no matter how big it goes.”
CompTIA will soon be rolling out an initiative aimed at attracting more such go-getters into the IT industry, Thibodeaux stated. “We don’t want the best and brightest going into another field,” he said.
Helping military veterans prepare for a career in IT will be another continuing focus area for CompTIA in the year ahead, added Thibodeaux, who encouraged conference attendees to get involved personally. “There are a lot of great vets out there,” he noted. “They really need mentorship from individuals in the industry.” Channel pros interested in playing such a role can get more information on CompTIA’s Troops to Tech Careers program at www.troopstotechcareers.org. †