One of CompTIA's foundational philosophies is that members should play a major role in driving initiatives and strategy. That's how trade associations work. In CompTIA's case, peer leaders come from within the membership ranks, with feedback and contributions from virtually every sector of the channel. This helps ensure the organization has a deep connection with its primary constituents: IT professionals. In CompTIA's case, that "peer-led" focus means we're working on the most pivotal issues facing the industry, with our members providing their guidance, resources and thought leadership to sustain the vitality of the business communities they serve.
Their roles and commitment-levels vary. In fact, CompTIA has eighteen different ways to obtain real-world knowledge relating to industry dynamics, technology advances, business transformations, and the education and tools needed to be successful in a high-tech environment. It's important to note, these eighteen groups are made up solely of volunteer leaders and advisors. Two of the groups require appointment; CompTIA's Board of Directors and its five Industry Advisory Councils. Our current board includes solution provider entrepreneurs from relatively small firms, as well as several larger MSPs and executives from several vendors and distributors. That means virtually every segment of the channel has a voice, an advocate sitting at the highest level of the association's leadership ranks.
CompTIA's five Industry Advisory Councils include eighty executives representing the voice of Vendors, Distributors, Partners, Business Apps and End Users. Every channel professional is invited to join any (or all) of our ten CompTIA Communities. Each peer-led group focuses on a specific technology, business model, diversity or region of the world. CompTIA also has three Public Advocacy Councils covering State, Local and Education (SLED), Human IT Services and Space Enterprise. All of these volunteer groups adhere to CompTIA's philanthropic and industry-supporting mission, working throughout the year to develop and execute new strategies that keep the association at the forefront when it comes to industry resources and innovation.
Those who actively participate understand. When you take part in a monthly online Community session, or sit in on group discussions at the Annual Member Meeting or ChannelCon, it gives you a different perspective. Collaboration forces you to look at others' ideas and encourages the sharing of new and established best practices. It also helps you understand what others in the industry are asking for, and why, as your trade association, we do some of the things we do. It's a non-profit, vendor neutral organization steered by its members' collective aspirations.
Those who actively participate also know there is a return on their time investment. These collaborative peer gatherings encourage providers, vendors and distributors to look inside their own operations and visualize the things they could do better. Sharing concepts and details of successful projects and programs is extremely helpful but, based on my experience, participants typically leave with a few things they can implement in their own businesses. A frequently heard saying among CompTIA members is "a rising tide lifts all boats." And that sentiment is often followed by tangible examples relating to industry best practices they implemented or partnerships that formed which led to new revenue streams.
Tackling the Latest Challenges, Exploring New Opportunities
Those collaborative efforts continued at the recent 2017 Planning Meeting of CompTIA Community and Council leaders in Kansas City, MO. Over 50 council and community leaders, representing 13 of the 18 groups, came together to brainstorm on key issues facing the industry and where they plan to focus their efforts in 2017. With some of the channel's most respected individuals contributing to the discussion, the sessions were enlightening and highly productive. In fact, the communities and councils came up with several innovative prospects they will discuss in more detail with their respective members in the coming weeks.
The first collective leadership meeting was, in a word, electric. Even as the members started getting their bags together to head for the airport, the room continued to buzz with ideas and activity. That's the feeling collaboration elicits, especially among those who serve a similar purpose with closely aligned goals. While some may compete outside CompTIA meeting room walls, those rivalries are, for the most part, set aside when they assume an industry leadership role. Their objectives become virtually the same as every other member in the room (and the association): strengthening and growing the technology ecosystem.
Every member has the same opportunity. Ready to lead the way or offer insight and support to the IT industry? Get started today by joining one of the ten current CompTIA communities and attend their next online meeting. Those who get involved may decide to eventually run for chair, co-chair or the executive board. If you want to make a difference in your industry, the opportunity is there…and you never know where it will take you.
Annette Taber is Vice President of Industry Strategies at CompTIA