CompTIA Aims for Inclusion at Breakaway

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Print this article Print

One of the more notable changes at this year's Breakaway conference is CompTIA's efforts to become a more inclusive organization. CompTIA has brought in more outside voices and content directed toward solution providers' business needs.

When solution providers descend upon Las Vegas next week for the annual CompTIA Breakaway conference, they’ll find the event far more open and inclusive than previous years. By design, CompTIA has gone to great lengths to open one of the largest channel confabs to more voices and discussions that will help attendees improve their businesses.

"Instead of being what we think [solution providers] want to hear, we’re doing what people tell us they need. We’re facilitating the process," says Todd Thibodeaux, president and chief executive of CompTIA.

Breakaway marks the first anniversary of Thibodeaux’s arrival to CompTIA (he didn’t officially take over as CEO until September 2008). While at his first Breakaway last year in Orlando, Fla., Thibodeaux observed the good, bad and lackluster aspects of the conference. From those observations was born the new philosophy of inclusion and content directly related to member and solution provider needs.

Meeting solution provider needs meant bringing in more outside expertise—including successful technology practitioners, expert vendors, media and analyst partners and affiliated associations.

"We’re not the experts; we’re never going to be," says Thibodeaux. "We’ve created an event that is more business focused and to have speakers that are more aligned to attendees’ needs because that’s where the rubber meets the road."

Collaboration with industry experts and thought leaders is most evident in the Peer-to-Peer Reseller Discussion Groups, which will feature guided discussions by such industry luminaries as Baptie & Co.’s Rod Baptie, SWOT Management Group’s Bill Brandt, 1nService’s Paul Cronin, former channel chief Rauline Ochs, NASBA’s Frank Raimondi, Jenaly Technology Group’s MJ Shoer and Level 3’s Craig Schlagbaum.

Also participating in the discussion and panel discussions are channel media groups, including Channel Insider on security trends and opportunities, MSP Mentor on maintaining profitability through the managed services model, Business Solutions on making money in the software-as-a-service world, and The VAR Guy on future channel trends. Channel Insider and Amazon Consulting will also present exclusive findings on our joint research on the value of technology and vendor certifications.

Unlike past Breakaway events that featured entertainment as part of the general sessions, Thibodeaux departed from tradition and brought in Patrick Lencioni, president of The Table Group, to discuss how to overcome dysfunctional organizations.

Gone from this year’s Breakaway are the briefing rooms, which were sponsored vendor presentations that attendees were rotated through. Members told CompTIA that the briefing rooms weren’t an effective means for conveying information and they weren’t getting much value out of them.

Thibodeaux says he will measure the success of what the attendees get out of the event in terms of value. "If they can say they had a better experience than prior years and got out of it what they needed, then we succeeded," he says.


Check out Channel Insider's presentations at Breakaway -- "Finding Opportunities in the Evolving Security Matrix" -- Wednesday, Aug. 4, 10 a.m.

Find out what's new for you at Channel Insider. Visit Channel Insider's booth (#212) at the Breakaway.

Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.