I definitely had my hands full last week at CompTIA’s ChannelCon event, between presenting for our cloud community, talking about our Buying Guide to IT Security and several conversations with members about the latest industry shifts. The main event for me was our Track4Techs, a series of sessions that we designed to deliver continuing education credit for our certification holders and deep technical information for channel firms.

This was our third year offering Track4Techs, and while we’re finalizing the numbers for our online audience, it looks like it was the most popular year ever. We certainly had more people attending in person than we have had in the past, and the discussion and questions in each session signaled strong interest around understanding the technology landscape.

But I wasn’t just there to introduce our speakers and dust off my bow ties. It’s a great opportunity for me to hear more about the topics we are researching and to learn a little about topics we haven’t covered yet. Here are three things I took away from seven fantastic sessions.

  1. There’s a lot of ground to cover. Over two days, we discussed future tech, help desk issues, automation, password practices, Linux, malware, and mobile app development (session recordings will be up shortly). And it felt like we didn’t even scratch the surface. In some cases, new technology is replacing old products and models. In many more cases, new technology is additive, giving us additional options and broader possibilities. The technology stack is being refreshed, but it is also expanding (hmm…that may be something interesting to write more about later).
  2. It’s a little scary out there. Darren McBride from Highly Reliable Systems showed us how robots might just be taking over the world. Dodi Glenn from PC Pitstop made it obvious that users and passwords are still a bad combination. Ian Trump from LogicNow reminded us that the hackers are pushing new tech just as much as any business. It all adds up to a high degree of fear, uncertainty and doubt. It’s not the first time the channel has faced challenges, though, and I was impressed with the intelligence in the room and the willingness to solve these tough problems.
  3. There are so many great opportunities. Some of the things we talked about were extensions of familiar offerings or business models, but many others represented something fresh and less familiar. Companies are going to be doing lots of cool things with technology, and very few firms will have the internal resources they need to build and manage complex systems without any help. Many channel firms will also be too small to handle everything on their own, but the addition of new skills will clearly open new doors.

It’s been an exciting few years in technology, and it doesn’t look like the excitement will end anytime soon. Behaviors have changed in light of new IT trends, and expectations are evolving as adoption matures. We may not have a perfect crystal ball into the future, but we can tell that it will be more digital and that more services will be needed. ChannelCon 2016 gave us a glimpse into that future, and I can’t wait for ChannelCon 2017 in Austin.