I have just got back from the TCA and CompTIA EMEA 2010 conference in London. Most folks think that these types of events are a ‘jolly’ away from the office and it really isn’t work, I can tell you that if you believe that you couldn’t be more wrong. These events are a fantastic opportunity to meet with some of the vendors out there and see what they are currently promoting which is generally a case of ‘whats hot’, it is also an opportunity to engage these guys on a 1-2-1 basis which is not always possible for smaller resellers. The vendors, for a lot of resellers, are the life blood of their business as their products can make or break our business on the grounds of how their products perform.
You also have a wealth of sessions which allow you to see some of the best people in the industry tell you how things are shaping up for the future. The main theme for the entire conference was ‘the Cloud’ and how this was going to influence clients buying habits and requirements moving into the future. But the discussions were also about the challenges that this would bring moving into the future along with the objections that may happen along the way. There was some great sessions from industry leaders such as Dave Sobel from Evolve Technologies and Susanne Dansey from Purple Cow Ideas Management both of which shared some great insights into our futures and what can be done to influence things.
I was fortunate enough to have been invited to join in a panel discussion which involved both vendors and resellers about how the landscape for the resellers look moving in to the future and how that can be improved and enriched through deeper relationships with vendors and other IT partners. I explained how I believe that the future of the IT reseller laid in the ability to provide specialised skills but as smaller IT shops this is not possible as it will narrow the market. In order to do this they need to work in partnerships in ‘coopitition’ so that specialist skills can be brought into your business without narrowing down the scope of your business.
All of this represents a fantastic opportunity to spend some quality time working on your business and now working in your business…sound strange let me explain. When you are doing the work of you business, i.e. fixing networks etc, you are working in your business. When you are learning new things about what is coming and ways to develop that business you are working on you business and that is so important.
For me though the true value comes from the networking that you do outside of these organised sessions, what is traditionally known as the ‘p*** ups’. Let’s be honest that is what they are but they are also *much* more than this. These session represent the opportunity to really get to know that people beyond what they preach and this is where real relationships start to take shape and where some of the best discussions will take place. During the organised sessions you are likely to be taking notes and the breaks between sessions are very hurried coffee breaks which make it hard to enter any in-depth discussions. However, once the time restraints are removed you can relax and really speak with people and one of the best discussions I had was with Vaughan Shayler from Accredit UK which was only brought to an end when the cleaners threw us out. This in turn will lead on to more conversations in the future which will benefit us both.
I would like to say thank you to Adam Harris from the TCA, Matthew Poyiadgi from CompTIA, William Linard again from CompTIA and all of the other people involved in organising this fantastic event which brought together so many great people from across the globe. I’d also like to make a special thanks to Vlad Mazek from OwnWebNow who, not only supplies us with some fantastic services, he also shouted a group of us for dinner on Wednesday night..thanks Vlad!
So if you are considering going to industry conferences, regardless of what industry you are in, I would strongly encourage you to do so as there is tremendous value in doing so.