Tax

Tax reform is a perennial issue. CompTIA believes that a competitive tax policy is critical for American technology companies to thrive in the US and internationally, with lower corporate tax rates and movement to a territorial tax system.

The industry is constrained by an outdated and complex federal tax code that is desperately in need of overhaul to reflect the dynamic evolution of global American businesses. Both our domestic and international members face the complexity and compliance costs resulting from scores of different tax laws in states and other taxing jurisdictions across the country.

CompTIA members desire a level playing field in both domestic and international tax issues, and CompTIA seeks to eliminate inequities of the current tax codes (both domestic and international), including the ever-increasing costs associated with tax compliance.

Tax Committees

State Federal

  • Higher Thinking: AI, Automation and the Future of Jobs

    by Emily Matzelle | Apr 27, 2018

    ThinkstockPhotos-900165060-(1)Picture this on a not-so-distant future Monday morning.

    Your alarm wakes you up and instantly your shower starts heating to your desired temperature. As you make your way into the bathroom your virtual assistant reads you the day’s top headlines. When you step out of the shower your coffee maker kicks on and starts making your morning latte. When you’re dressed and ready to go, you hop into your stylish autonomous car and it takes you straight to work as you go through your inbox. Sound like a scene from The Jetsons? Well, it’s a futuristic dream that’s quickly becoming a reality as new and evolving technologies like automation and artificial intelligence begin to creep into our everyday lives. Of course, we’ve been here before with the Industrial Revolution. And, as history repeats itself, so do our concerns. With the onset of this new technology becoming mainstream, what will happen to our jobs?

    What the Futurists Say

    While it’s difficult to predict the exact impact of technology across the entire job market, there is no doubt that some occupations are at risk as companies move toward reliable automation of certain tasks. Most experts in the field, though, believe that the digital economy will feature new roles working in concert with intelligent systems.

    Well known author and futurist Martin Ford believes that while artificial intelligence and robotics are going to have a dramatic impact on the job market, it will be different this time relative to what we’ve seen in the past.

    “The key is that the machines, in a limited sense, are beginning to think. I mean, they’re taking on cognitive capabilities. So, what that means is that technology is finally encroaching on that fundamental capability that so far has allowed us to really stay ahead of the march of progress, and remain relevant,” Ford said.

    “When you really look at this focus on cognitive capability, [at] the fact that the machines are beginning to move into that space, which so far has protected people…that, as we look forward – again, I’m not talking about next year, or three years from now even, but I’m thinking in terms of decades, ten years from now, twenty years from now – what’s it going to look like as these technologies continue to accelerate? It does seem to me that there’s very likely to be a disruption.”

    Continued economic growth will require the deep insights that come from AI and automation, but will also require the creativity and empathy that come from human beings connected in a global society.

    Stanford University academic Jerry Kaplan said that while it’s true that today’s machines can credibly perform many tasks that were once reserved for humans, that doesn’t mean the machines are growing more intelligent and ambitious.

    “It just means they’re doing what we built them to do,” he said. “We’ve been replacing skilled and knowledgeable workers for centuries, but the machines don’t aspire to better jobs and higher employment.”

    Of course, humans do aspire to elevate themselves and knowing this workforce shift is on the horizon is encouraging leaders to chart a path in the right direction for the next generation.

    AI vs. Automation

    Before we can prepare the future workforce for this dramatic shift, it’s important to understand the difference between artificial intelligence and automation. According to CompTIA’s research brief, Understanding Emerging Technology: Artificial Intelligence, AI is the practice of designing computer systems to make intelligent decisions based on context rather than direct input.

    It’s important to understand that AI systems always behave according to rules that have been programmed. Consider a computer playing chess; this may not strike many people today as AI, but it certainly fits the definition of a system that has been given rules and calculates probabilities and decisions on the fly based on the moves of the opponent.

    Companies like CrushBank – profiled here – are harnessing cognitive computing via the IBM Watson platform to assist helpdesk engineers in finding information quickly and efficiently.

    “With every interaction Watson is getting smarter and smarter,” said Evan Leonard, president of CrushBank. “It’s not like typing a search into Google.”

    In many cases, AI will not be a means unto itself, but rather a critical ingredient undergirding operations inside digital organizations. CompTIA research reveals that among the 50 percent of companies that are aware of AI in place at their organization, there is recognition that the capabilities are built into existing tools and the challenge lies in utilization.

    On the flipside, automation has a single purpose: to let machines perform repetitive, monotonous tasks. The machine will do exactly what you have programmed it to do – nothing more and nothing less. The manufacturing industry is the industry that has to-date utilized automation the most, but paperless invoicing, job applications, cloud documents, and online marketing and sales also fall into this category.

    Many of the jobs expected to disappear due to automation in the next decade are industrial jobs such as metalworkers, coal miners and machine operators – particularly those without specialized skills. But, the service industry is also at risk. Futurists cite telemarketing, tax preparation, paralegals and fast food workers as jobs that are likely to be replaced by automation in the near future.

    Preparing the Next Generation

    The fact is, many students are currently studying disciplines that can be replaced. And, while technology is replacing many jobs, it is not necessarily creating new ones. Only five percent of the jobs created in the last 10 years came from the technology sector, and nine out of 10 workers are in jobs today that existed 100 years ago. Today, IT services and custom software development rank the highest in terms of adding new jobs and employing more people. But, tomorrow we may laugh at how much coding we used to do. Instead, software developers will only be needed for high-level jobs. Tasks like designing email templates and simpler software development tasks will be automated and outdated.

    The idea that humans will be reserved for the higher-thinking jobs is interesting. It sheds some light on a topic that is often relegated to the doom-and-gloom category. It means that automation and AI are not synonymous with job loss and not all jobs will disappear. The reality is that many of them will be redefined. Of course, if you don’t have the skills to perform in your newly redefined job this is not much of a consolation. So, what can we do?

    When it comes to the current workforce, the experts believe we will have to diversify our talents. That means not working one job for one company, but having the flexibility to work multiple jobs at once. And, when it comes to our youth, the experts say the way to keep up is to get students into machine learning, data science, math and cultivate higher thinking. If we can align courses that schools are offering to what the industry – and ultimately the world – is looking for, we’ll be on the right track to educating the 21st century workforce. But companies must also do their part. Retraining and equipping Americans from all backgrounds with the skills necessary to pursue a technology career of the future is key.

    We’ve all seen technology change our lives. While it’s easy to get immersed in the calamitous predictions of the future, remember, humans are the only creatures that can be human. Jobs that require true creativity, engaging people in relationships and dealing with unpredictable emergency situations won’t be as affected by the robots – at least for now.

    To learn more about automation, check out CompTIA’s research report, Understanding Emerging Technology: Automation.

  • Update on FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018

    by David Logsdon | Apr 27, 2018

    On Thursday, The House of Representatives began consideration of H.R. 4, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 – a bipartisan, five-year bill to reauthorize the programs of the Federal Aviation Administration, provide long-term stability for the Nation’s aviation community, invest in U.S. airports, and make necessary reforms to improve American competitiveness and safety in aviation. There were a number of amendments offered, focusing on drones.  CompTIA submitted comments on the amendments, supporting one amendment while voicing our dissent with another.

    Amendment #15 (Cramer/ND)

    We are concerned that if this amendment passes, it could lead to agency overreach on matters involving using licensed, flexible use spectrum for UAS-related activities.  If a study moves forward, it should have no bearing on the use of licensed spectrum for UAS activities.

    Amendment #188 (Lewis/MN)

    We support this amendment as the Department of Transportation’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program is an essential component in the maturation of the UAS industry.

    David Logsdon is CompTIA’s senior director of new and emerging technologies

  • CompTIA Testifies in Support of California After School Coding Grant Program

    by Kara Bush | Apr 27, 2018

    On Wednesday, April 25th CompTIA testified before the California State Assembly Committee on Education in support of AB 2098 by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento). CompTIA and TechNet are co-sponsoring the measure which would establish a three-year pilot for a 21st Century After-School coding grant program within the After-School Education and Safety (ASES) framework.

    As industry leaders, we urge the state to invest in efforts to equalize access to computer science and coding courses, starting with the lowest-income students in the state. California leads the nation in technology jobs, innovation and average wage. According to CompTIA’s 2018 Cyberstates Report, which quantifies the size and scope of the tech industry and the tech workforce across multiple vectors -- employment in California’s technology industry expanded by an estimated 33,000 jobs in 2017 and contributed more than $350 billion to the state’s economy.

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is predicted that by the year 2020, 4.6 million jobs will be in computing or information technology, which is more than all other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields combined. However, the number of students graduating with a computer science degree is minuscule compared to the number of available tech jobs and more importantly as it relates to this bill - there remains a large disparity between students from affluent schools and students from low-income schools with access to coding courses.

    The California After School Computer Coding Grant Pilot Program provides critically needed exposure and access to coding for after school youth who are the least likely to learn to code in school or at home. We believe education holds the key to preparing the next generation learner to thrive and succeed in the digital marketplace and the world. 

    The bill passed the Assembly Education Committee unanimously on a 7-0 vote count and now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for additional consideration. Our testimony on AB 2098 (McCarty) begins at 6:08:15 -  http://calchannel.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=7&clip_id=5433

    For additional information or questions regarding CompTIA’s position on AB 2098, please contact Kara Bush.

    Kara Bush is the CompTIA Director of Government Affairs Western Region

  • Highlights From Mobile World Congress

    by Leanne Johnson | Apr 25, 2018

    This year I attended Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and it was the biggest trade show I’ve ever been to. There were 10 halls jam packed with companies demonstrating their products and services, most of them emerging technologies.

    The Ericsson stand featured research on hot consumer trends for 2018 and was fascinating. I loved the idea of augmented hearing (earphones that translate languages in real time) and a leisure society (robots that work and earns income for people, freeing up their leisure time).

    Below is an overview of cool products I took in at Mobile World Congress:

    Ericsson – connected cars

    These reduce fuel consumption due to fleet organisation, run on just-in-time spare parts and lower insurance due to ride monitoring.

    Springworks – connected cars

    Connected cars means drivers can be notified when parked in unauthorised place; removing the need for police intervention. Cars report back on potholes that require fixing. Sensors keep insurance companies informed and careful driving equals lower insurance costs.

    Mobike – smart public pushbikes

    Such services mean bicycles can be left all over the city for use to reduce emissions and get people fitter. Company can track them and lock their use if being kept locally by people instead of sharing

    T Systems – smart parking sensors

    Smart parking sensors allow such services to tell city drivers where empty parking spaces are. They can also be used to pay for parking via an app.

    T Systems – rubbish bin sensors

    These advise refuse collection services which bins require emptying and when; to make the service more efficient.

    Graphene Flagship – graphene material

    Graphene material is solar powered wearable material that is transparent, flexible and strong and has electrical conductivity. It’s made from graphite and it has the following astonishing abilities:

    • Can make conductive inks water resistant.
    • Can be used for textiles, paper, polymers and concrete.
    • Can be used for heating and to connect devices, such as mobile phones.
    • Can be used to replace metals and plastic to avoid throwing away spent materials that could be recycled or re-used.
    • Can be put onto windows to make them touch screen controllers.
    • Can be put into smart phones as an optical sensor within the camera.
    • Can be used in shoes to measure posture, weight distribution and more to inform medical treatment.

    Lenovo – mobile phones

    Lenovo’s phones are going modular. You can now buy a basic phone and add speakers, a camera, a projector, etc. This is how the company sees computers going in the future, such as with snap-on games or consoles.

    Intel - CityIQ smart lamp posts

    This detects traffic, parking spaces, gun shots and missing people from facial recognition.  Light, sound and air are monitored and converted to info using 5G. San Diego has bought 3,200 as a trial.

    Intel – VR wireless low latency 5G headsets

    Using these headsets, two players can play the same game anywhere in the world with no delay – as long as they’re using the same network.

    BMW, Mobile I and Intel – autonomous cars

    Mobile World Congress boasted a demonstration of driverless cars by these companies. They’re opting for a staged release starting with dual control before going fully driverless.

    Mercedes and Smartcar – driverless taxi

    The two companies are teaming up to develop taxis with no drivers!

    On my second day at Mobile World Congress, I visited the app developers’ hall and it was buzzing and friendly. Almost everybody I spoke to said they wanted more customers, which wasn’t a surprise, although the profile of each developer’s customer was different. I would say over half of the exhibitors I spoke to hadn’t heard of the channel and wanted to deal directly with their customers without a third party. The rest were ex-channel, but most were still wary of losing the relationship with their end-customer and wanted a partner program that paid a finder’s fee to a partner rather than them owning the relationship.

    I was surprised how many seemingly small start-up app developers had 250-plus employees globally and already seemed well established. This is an area that certainly sees fast and widespread growth.

  • Considering Perceptions of Diversity in High Tech

    by Yvette Steele | Apr 19, 2018

    The tech industry as a whole does a great deal to promote diversity and inclusion. However, it’s no secret that the sector is challenged when it comes to successfully executing initiatives aimed at diversifying its workforce. April is Celebrate Diversity Month, and while many organizations are seemingly putting forth their best effort to respond to the changing demographics of America, these efforts yield little change.

    Absent real change, the cry to advance diversity and embrace true equality in the workplace gets louder and more widespread. One must ask why despite all the effort and millions of dollars invested in diversity action plans there is so little change. Could it be that the true challenge lies in changing perceptions?

    Most everyone is familiar with the phrase perception is reality. According to a recent CompTIA report on Diversity in the High-Tech Industry, individual perceptions among tech workers not only vary but are contradictory when polled to consider the state of diversity in the industry. Long story short, feelings about diversity don’t necessarily line up with the facts. According to the study, perceptions are more aspirational – employees like to think that they work in diverse and inclusive cultures whether they do or not. Perhaps the perception lies in the numbers. People see the organizational count increasing and think that’s enough. Further, people mistake diversity and inclusion to be one in the same. They are not. I once heard it put this way – diversity is being invited to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance.

    The good news is that workers want to see tech reach its full potential. While diversity policies, statements and initiatives have been effective in raising awareness of the issues, I believe the real change comes with a deepened understanding, willingness and commitment from tech workers, starting with the C-suite, to take individual and collective action for change. Most everyone I speak to is well-intentioned and motivated. The real work comes from figuring out how to make the feeling and desire a true reality. Perceptions and reality will align when we each examine our own behaviors and learn to cross dividing lines and connect with one another on a more meaningful level.

    Click here to learn about and get involved with CompTIA’s Advancing Diversity in Technology Community!

    Yvette Steele is senior manager, communities, industry relations, CompTIA.
  • California SGA Meeting and Second Annual Capitol Cup in Sacramento, CA – April 18, 2018

    by Kelly Hitt | Apr 19, 2018

    IMG_5447The CompTIA California State Government Affairs Committee held its in person meeting on Wednesday, April 18th in Sacramento, CA.  Every April is a very busy time in the California Legislature with policy deadlines around the corner.  The Committee reviewed and took positions on a robust legislative agenda which can be found here.

    We also heard from CompTIA’s own, Jen Saha, National Director, Public Sector Councils, who gave an update on the California Procurement Committee initiatives.  Kara Bush, Director, State Government Affairs, Western Region also gave an update on the Governor’s proposal to fund online Community Colleges which is supported by CompTIA.

    Later that evening, the Committee had the opportunity to attend the 2nd Annual Capitol Cup Soccer match.  In lieu of our regular Decision Maker dinner, CompTIA sponsored the match where the California State Legislators battle each other on the pitch for the Democrat vs. Republicans Capitol Cup.  The event took place at Papa Murphy’s Field before the Sacramento Republic Football Club took the pitch. The Democrats came out on top with a 2-1 victory. Following the match, CompTIA members had the opportunity to mix and mingle with legislators, staff and the third house at the BBQ reception.  It was an event not to be missed.  The event raised $50,000 and all proceeds went to WEAVE (Women Escaping a Violent Environment) and the Sacramento Food Bank.

    The California State Government Affairs Committee’s next meeting is Wednesday, May 16th at 11am.  For more information, please contact Kelly Hitt (Khitt@comptia.org).

    Kelly Hitt is the Director, Government Affairs –California and Hawaii


  • Malware: Who’s Most at Risk, What’s Really at Stake and What Can You Do About It Now

    by Natalie Hope McDonald | Apr 17, 2018

    ThinkstockPhotos-922323256According to new research by Enigma Software, a developer of PC software in Clearwater, Florida, malware is one of the biggest problems facing cybersecurity, especially for people using computers in the states of Washington, New Hampshire and Virginia. Enigma reports that these users were far more likely to be infected with malware in 2017. Comparatively, users in Wisconsin, Maryland and Indiana had the lowest infection rates. And the industries hardest hit tend to be financial and healthcare-based. 

    “It’s hard to know exactly why one state had a higher infection rate than another,” said Enigma spokesperson Ryan Gerding in a press statement. “One reason Washington may be at the top of the list is because Seattle is both a tech hub and home base for Microsoft. There may be a higher percentage of people there who specifically have Windows computers.”

    Malware infections can cause such things as unwanted pop-up ads, and can change browser settings and make computers run slowly overall. According to Gerding, the most common malware infections were adware and PUPs.  

    Brian Robison, senior director of security technology at Cylance, a cybersecurity solutions provider in Irvine, California, agrees that malware is still the most significant issue facing online security today, representing “a lion’s share” of breaches at 98 percent. “Whether malware is the original infection vector or something that’s installed after the attacker has access,” he said via email, “malware on the endpoint is the predominant concern that security teams need to focus on.”

    The reason that malware has become such a prevalent and persisting problem is that, quite simply, it works. “Malware takes down the most sophisticated enterprises on nearly a daily basis,” said Robinson. “It’s cheap, easily obtained and very powerful. Users can easily be duped into running it, and it’s constantly changing.”

    One of the biggest problems facing users as the result of malware – everyone from large corporations to the home user – is ignoring the issue and not having the appropriate protection against it.

    “Malware continues to evolve in both sophistication and evasion techniques that are becoming more and more successful at circumventing the huge stacks of security technologies that many companies have in place,” explained Robinson, who recommends solutions that actually prevent malware from running in the first place rather than solutions that detect after the fact.

    “The world has moved to a detect-and-respond model that causes security teams to overspend on resources to chase down problems and deal with them, often times requiring reimaging of machines or restoring from backups,” he said. “Prevention is possible with the right technology in place and if a prevention-first approach is taken, then the amount of sifting through piles and piles of log data and restoring systems becomes miniscule. This allows the security teams to reduce their risk while vastly improving the end-user’s satisfaction.”

    At Juniper Networks, a security provider in Sunnvale, California, malware is a major focus of the company’s cloud computing solutions. Nick Bilogorskiy, Juniper’s cybersecurity strategist, said via email that he’s paying close attention to one of the cybercrime’s biggest targets; cryptocurrency.

    “Since the start of 2017 the price of Bitcoin has tripled and Ethereum is up more than 5,000 percent,” Bilogorskiy said. “The meteoric rise of cryptocurrency valuations has shifted cyber-attack activity to focus on deploying cryptocurrency ransomware and coin-mining exploits. The decentralization and anonymity provided by blockchain ledgers have encouraged cybercriminals to extort for ransom and acquire cryptocurrencies with minimal repercussions.”

    Frankly, it’s next to impossible to follow the virtual money trail, with the most significant threats coming from ransomware, mining trojans and cryptojacking. Last year alone the damages from ransomware exploits were projected to total about $5 billion.

    “One contributing factor is the transition to asymmetric encryption that has made it nearly impossible to retrieve encrypted data without paying the demanded ransom,” Bilogorskiy said. “Similarly, there’s been a sharp increase in the number of victims willing to pay required ransoms in hopes of retrieving their data over the past two years. With less than 10 percent of people backing up their data daily, the financial damage of cryptocurrency ransomware exploits can only be expected to continue rising. Given the recent bubble-like increase in valuations, cryptocurrencies represent a new and highly valuable opportunity for cybercriminals to grow their malware riches.”

    Beyond the stolen money, expenses can add up quickly (think legal fees, IT services, lost productivity, network mitigation and countermeasures and reputational harm). “What’s worse, it’s been difficult to prosecute these crimes,” Bilogorskiy said, “especially when attacks are executed abroad where the U.S. does not have jurisdiction.”

    According to Osterman Research, 37 percent of ransomware attacks have actually started via email attachment and 27 percent by links in emails. “With more than 60 percent of ransomware attacks being executed via email,” Bilogorskiy said, “it is clear that email is a potent attack vector that will continuing to rise in popularity while user-error persists.”

    Despite employer education efforts, he added, 10 to 15 percent of phishing emails are opened and clicked on by users on a regular basis. One of the only effective defenses is a fairly simple one – daily back up. “Only 10 percent of people back up their data regularly,” he said. “Decrypting files is not always possible and retrieving ransomed files from attackers is never guaranteed, making frequent backups the only way to ensure you do not fall victim to one of these attacks.”

    Click here to access CompTIA’s IT Security Community’s full suite of cybersecurity resources.

    Natalie Hope McDonald is a writer based in Philadelphia.

  • Drones: An Artificial Intelligence Game Changer

    by Frank Segarra | Apr 13, 2018

    ThinkstockPhotos-905416702Drones, once the realm of professionals and well-to-do hobbyists, have become increasingly more accessible and costs have dropped substantially over the past few years as we’ve seen this technology increase exponentially. While early drone designs were more of a backyard novelty, the newest drones are loaded with advanced cameras and stabilization technology that allows for a diverse array of use-cases. Whether you’re traversing the bridges of a modern city or hiking a mountain, there are sights worth preserving in a photograph, and while handheld cameras can capture the human viewpoint, drones offer a completely different perspective. With the advent of low-cost drones equipped with high-resolution cameras, taking aerial images is now easily affordable for photographers. Images and video taken from the air offer a perspective that cannot be matched from the ground, and drones can safely operate at much lower altitudes and in more confined spaces than aircraft.

    Present-day drones introduce dozens of interrelated artificial intelligence aspects that are driving and supporting today’s drone economy. Drones have brought photogrammetry to the forefront in an incredibly powerful way and have enabled much more developed conversations. Rather than convince people a 3-D model could be constructed via images, many people have already moved on to asking about the logistics behind the process. Much of that is because people recognize what can be done when the right cameras, sensors and software are combined with a drone.

    The drone is changing the cost equation for rapid mapping at a fast pace. It is usually not financially viable to mobilize a manned aircraft for a small site-mapping project. A drone-based collection system, on the other hand, can be just another piece of equipment in a surveyor’s truck, but if you must go back and do something over, the cheap option doesn’t represent the total expense you’ll incur. Organizations sometimes choose photos because it’s a cheaper option, but if they aren’t experienced enough to pull off what they need they end up incurring a big expense.

    The perspective a drone service provides is far removed from traditional capture methodologies, as users can control the drone to navigate at certain elevations, get predetermined percentages of overlap, as well as plenty of other aerial angles and views. The volume of data acquisition drones gather allows users to get what is often the perfect image-set that will meet many of their needs, which is far different from controlling a human who’s walking around in a space and trying to make sure they get sufficient imagery.

    The challenge today is that consumers can go to a big-box retail store to purchase a drone and connect to a service that provides flight automation and data capture. The result of this purchase flexibility is we end up with people who are asking why this is so hard when there are low-cost solutions that are available that they can then go do themselves. Those are the sorts of people that are running into identified issues and known problems, just because we have so many new people in the space who are not geographic information system professionals or surveyors. That’s natural, because it’s what happens when you commoditize technologies. More people can enjoy the benefits, but they’re also going to experience the pains. This is an issue users and organizations will go through but sorting out how and why their approach makes sense for a given project needs to be a priority, which ties directly into how they’re using photogrammetry. These enhancements and the general pivot toward drone-based aerial imaging is changing the field of photography and even the photojournalism game as we know it.

    Click here to learn more about CompTIA’s Drone Advisory Council!

    Frank Segarra is president and founder of ConnexiCore and co-chair of CompTIA’s Drone Advisory Council.
  • Datadog SVP John Gray on Cloud-Scale Monitoring

    by CompTIA | Apr 10, 2018

    John Gray_SVP_DatadogCo-hosted with ChannelE2E’s Content Czar Joe Panettieri, CompTIA President and CEO Todd Thibodeaux chatted with John Gray, senior vice president of Alliances on cloud-scale monitoring opportunities for MSPs and the partner angles.

    Datadog specializes in cloud-scale monitoring. What exactly does that mean?

    We’re born in the cloud. We run the service versus on prem. So, it’s one platform versus the MSP installing, running, managing, supporting, upgrading – rinse and repeat. We’re one platform that is highly scalable with one set of data. Most importantly, it’s one single agent – not multiple agents. On top of that, you layer 230 integrations that are feeding out-of-the box dashboards. And, therefore, that data is no longer siloed, which saves money in the process.

    How can partners assist customers with digital transformation?

    What we enable customers to do is to not only make the migration to a public-cloud platform, but we help them to be more dynamic in creating net new applications for their businesses to digitally transform and therefore accelerate the number of apps and workloads they can build by monitoring that real-time and giving them that visualization up and down the stack.

    What types of use cases are you seeing for your partners and their customers?

    Companies, no matter what industry, are now becoming, if you like, software companies. For example, you’re no longer dealing with a hotel or a travel agent to make a reservation, instead you’re dealing with companies that are taking to the Web and offering up people’s houses and enabling them to digitally transform that industry. You have this happening across all of these different industries and we’re enabling customers and our partners to interrogate that data with real-time access and custom metrics.

    Just recently, we put in place a relationship with a major ecommerce provider. They started using us to monitor the ecommerce platform to enable their customers to satisfy themselves. The partner and customer has over 200,000 store keepers. For them, it’s important to prove to their customers that the ecommerce platform is up and running. Take that story one step further and let’s talk about what’s important for those ecommerce customers. Is it important to know how many people came through the front door and are on their website? Is it important to know how long they are staying on their website? Is it important to know what’s stuck in the shopping carts? Is it important to know how well that promotion went? These are custom metrics that we build out as dashboards that they can package with their ecommerce platform and, in turn, makes them sticky with their storekeepers. They’re adding value to their storekeepers because they’re allowing them to make better business decisions based on the data.

    Did you have a formal partners program in place, or has it evolved since you arrived at Datadog?

    The partner model that was in place at the time that I joined was really right for the company at the time. We have built that model out to include the enterprise very successfully over the last 12 to 18 months. The idea was in order for us to serve our enterprise customers the best we can, we really have to have a mature partner program and model. If you take a slice through the middle of enterprises, they’re dealing with their size, digital agents, resellers and public cloud platform partners. If we’re going to serve our enterprises best – we need to be partnered up with the same ecosystem of partners that they’re working with. That’s incredibly important.

    Listen to the full podcast here.

  • Facebook’s Tough Lessons on Data Management

    by Natalie Hope McDonald | Apr 05, 2018

    ThinkstockPhotos-873600588For a long time the concept of privacy and Facebook didn’t seem at all congruent. Users embraced the social media app as a way to share, share and over share in a comfortable, freewheeling little bubble of friends and family – or so we thought. When news broke of political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica amassing the personal data of more than 50 million Facebook users without their consent, everything we may have thought about privacy on the app flipped on its head.

    As Facebook continues to come under fire for having what many say are lax privacy settings that have allowed personal data to be unknowingly farmed for a range of purposes, a big question looms about how prepared any of us truly are in an increasingly digital world. If Facebook’s digital environment has really encouraged users to click before they think, it calls into question how all businesses operating on a digital model can utilize customer data without assuming so much potential risk.

    As we have seen with this Facebook mess, the implications of poor data management are myriad, particularly as more mobile apps are being used to help collect important customer information. One small mistake leading to a data breach can be costly on so many levels; from cleanup to reputation, which begs the question of how one can successfully and securely maintain privacy standards in a world of data that can sometimes feel like the Wild West.

    Serious Privacy Implications

    David Thomas, CEO of Evident ID, a cybersecurity company specializing in personal data interaction, said that unfortunately there are many ways that customer data is being put at risk right now.

    “One of the most common ways,” he said, “is companies collecting and holding more data than they actually need. It makes them a bigger target and has serious privacy implications.”

    If the Facebook scandal can teach us anything at all it’s that freedom of speech and privacy do not have to be at odds.

    “Especially in light of the Facebook news, we have to define a data breach,” Thomas said. “We need to think from the perspective of the customer. Any time their data is provided to a party without their clear understanding and consent, customers are likely to consider that a data breach. The implications are wide-ranging – from reputational damage to regulatory action, depending on the particulars of the breach.” 

    Who Has Access?

    One way to rethink security is by implementing strict security protocols that help lay out who exactly has access to customer data. “Facebook may have been well-intended about the purpose of sharing data with platform apps,” Thomas said. “However, their lack of foresight into what may happen with an app or company that was not as positively intended is a good lesson for all of us.” 

     So, who is ultimately responsible for privacy? The user? The company? Or both?

    “Businesses and individuals must work together to protect sensitive personal information,” said Thomas. “Users can and should take ownership of when and how their personal data is used. Providing clear consent to businesses about what type of data they are able to access, as well as knowing the security policies of those businesses, are all the responsibility of the individual.”

    However, he said that businesses entrusted with user data must be worthy of that trust. This means providing users with simple transparency and tools to control how their information is used. “Businesses must demonstrate leadership and own the responsibility that comes with asking for and using customer data,” he said. 

    For IT managers and cybersecurity experts, this also means rethinking how data is ultimately protected; starting with reevaluating how a business is really accruing and using customer data, and for what purpose that data will be used down the road. For a long time now the industry standard’s been downright Orwellian – that is, sucking up as much data as possible to better understand market trends and users’ habits no matter the cost to privacy. This do-or-die attitude will not likely change overnight as long as there is profit in the process – customer data translates to big money after all. But the picture is improving thanks to tough lessons from Facebook and other giants that have had to confront these issues in a very public way.

    Click here to access CompTIA’s IT Security Community’s full suite of cybersecurity resources.

    Natalie Hope McDonald is a writer based in Philadelphia.

  • CompTIA’s April HSITAG Meeting Teams Up with the Healthcare IT Connect Summit

    by Jennifer Saha | Apr 05, 2018

    AprilHSITAGMtgFor the first time, CompTIA’s monthly Human Services IT Advisory Group (HSITAG)  meeting on April 4 teamed up with a widely attended industry conference, the Healthcare IT Connect Summit in Baltimore, MD. 

    HSITAG hosted a session on industry collaboration featuring CMS’ Director of State Systems Marty Rice and the CIO of West Virginia’s Department of Health and Human Services Ed Dolly.  The first exciting announcement was that Julie Boughn has accepted the CMS position of Director of Data and Systems Group, a position vacated by Jessica Kahn late last year. Julie has held this position in the past and is a well-respected selection for the job; HSITAG members are pleased with the appointment.

    Both Marty and Ed emphasized the importance of reuse and collaboration between states, and the role that industry can play in encouraging system and module reuse among MMIS projects from one state to the next.  Marty explained that CMS is working on open-source coding to make up the basis of a module that they will encourage all states to adopt as a basis for their systems.

    Concerns and questions from the audience centered around states working off of overly prescriptive requirements in procurements, forcing systems that may be reusable to be so customized that you land in a place where no system is the same.

    Marty and Ed emphasized that reuse and collaboration was the goal of the future of MMIS and so industry will continue to encourage this through their offerings and CMS will continue to encourage it through the Advance Planning Document (APD) approval processes and guidance.

    Jennifer Saha is the National Director, Public Sector Councils at CompTIA

  • Four Ways the CompTIA UK Channel Community is Making an Impact

    by Estelle Johannes | Apr 04, 2018

    The CompTIA UK Channel Community team facilitates meaningful and valuable encounters that help members in their profession, allowing them to share best practices and make the industry more successful. With that in mind, the team tried to answer the following four questions at its CompTIA UK Channel Community Regional Meeting in Bristol last month.

    1. How can we broaden your professional horizons?

    We can do this by addressing emerging technology and how it relates to our audience, as well as by giving people food for thought on how much technology has advanced in the last 10 years – from mobile phones now being used to be health monitoring systems to having a Harley-Davidson custom built for you in a matter of hours.

    The community helps you keep your finger on the pulse with the latest research on the outlook of the industry and also take a very hard look at how we can all create a more inclusive work environment by addressing our own fears and unconscious biases. The meeting slides are here for you to explore.

    2. How can we solve business issues?

    We are always looking for ways for the industry to be more secure, with Cyber Essentials workshops run by our members, who are volunteering their time to help others complete the process. We also have an initiative to get 100 of our members certified. We also address GDPR, which is at the top of everyone’s minds right now. Check out the resources we have available for you: UK Channel Community resources and CompTIA Insights and Tools.

    3. How can the community collectively help the industry?

    In Bristol, we hosted a vendor-distribution roundtable with senior thought-leaders in the industry giving us insight into what we should be focusing on for the future and we also had a member lead unconference discussing issues in the industry. If you would like to get involved reach out to me directly.

    4. How can we create great networking opportunities and make them fun?

    Networking is a vital part of our industry – to partner, collaborate, learn from each other and make connections is great. When we survey our attendees, networking is always rated tops! Broaden your horizons and your contacts; after all it’s not what you know it’s who you know and making sure those people know what it is that you do!

    Join the CompTIA UK Channel Community to grow personally and professionally, be more successful and help others! Why wouldn’t you? Register now – it’s free!
  • CompTIA’s Joint Industry Advisory Council Meeting Brings Together Realigned Councils

    by CompTIA | Mar 29, 2018

    image-(2)CompTIA’s Joint Industry Advisory Council leaders came together for a spring working group meeting at the Westin Dallas-Fort Worth Airport Hotel, March 13 to 15. The purpose of the meeting was to understand new, emerging technology ecosystems; educate and drive collaboration with business and emerging technology players on new and alternative routes to market; identify and develop industry best practice standards; and stay informed on CompTIA’s policy and advocacy efforts.

    CompTIA’s industry advisory councils were recently realigned to reflect the dynamic changes occurring across the tech sector. “Today’s marketplace features a greater variety of providers of technology solutions, and more options than ever for customers to satisfy their technology needs,” said Annette Taber, CompTIA’s vice president for industry outreach. “The changes we’ve made in the structure of our advisory groups reflect this market reality. By expanding our engagement into new corners of the industry, we’re better positioned to serve our members and the broader technology community with the resources and support to help companies grow and thrive.”

    The following councils were in attendance in Dallas: Business Applications Advisory Council (BAAC), Channel Advisory Board (CAB), Drone Advisory Council (DRAC) and the Smart Cities Advisory Councils (SCAC).

    Drone Advisory Council

    During the Drone Advisory Council breakout session, the DRAC discussed barriers to adoption, including the lack of industry best practice standards; lack of national and state policy alignment; and the lack of any type of channel or go-to-market strategy for drone service providers. Additionally, it believes governing agencies like the FAA and the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority need more focus around the legal and ethical issues of pilots, as well as the actual demonstration of flying skills and rules of enforcement.

    There is a serious gap in professional training and data standards for this growing workforce. Today there are 70,000 FAA Part 107 licensed commercial drone pilots in the U.S., and yet roughly 700,000 drones are registered by the FAA. Many of these hobbyists are setting up shop doing commercial work without the license. Additionally, the lack of enterprise capital, the lack of ROI use-cases, and lack of timeliness by the FAA to approve flight plans and cases beyond visual line of sight are holding back growth. Accelerators include budget advocates across the enterprise sharing compelling ROI models for each of the vertical market applications. This technology has a positive impact on the real estate, insurance, agriculture, construction and inspection verticals, with demonstrated value on how the technology will reduce costs and at the same time improve ability to display, monitor, track, measure and analyze trends, as well as mitigate dirty, dangerous and dull jobs.

    Smart Cities Advisory Council

    During the Smart Cities Advisory Council breakout session, the SCAC discussed barriers to adoption such as a lack of best practice standards and budget; limited workforce to implement technologies; minimal insight into government decision-making and sales cycles; fragmented ecosystems including culture clashes between technologists and government officials; and lack of ROI models. On the positive side, the council believes that education, advocacy, funding and grants for pilot implementations, along with ROI use-cases, is what it will take to drive increased adoption. This year, it wants to create a smart cities pilot implementation playbook, including templates and roadmaps to plan for a smart city pilot. This would be geared to city CIOs and then the broader ecosystem. It also wants to create industry best practice standards, commission a research project that focuses more on smart city implementation, and, finally, draw attention to and showcase successful cities. Longer term goals include a business case for implementation including a budget matrix, and the creation of a government advisory council and the creation of a nationwide city CIO contest.

    Business Applications Advisory Council

    During the Business Applications Advisory Council break out session, the BAAC discussed that SaaS is growing disparate from traditional IT and the increase in line-of-business decision-making is exposing a lack of skilled resources for consultative solution selling in the IT channel. New routes to market such as direct, app exchanges, marketplaces and channel are causing complexity in partnerships, business models and pricing. And with end-clients now using technology to differentiate themselves via social, mobile, analytics and cloud, the BAAC finds an expanded need for micro-verticalization. The good news is that these new app buyers are tech savvy and eager to expand their technology experience. Within the mobile app world, internet speed and 5G access makes for higher expectations when it comes to time to market for app developers. The consumerization of technology, the ADD economy and the Amazon Experience all act as accelerators for this market. The goal of the BAAC is to better understand the buying patterns and personas of vertical market buyers, then define, develop and train MSPs on the SaaS sales and implementation process as a way to increase trust between the SaaS and IT community and engage a new route to market.

    Channel Advisory Board

    During the Channel Advisory Board breakout session, the CAB discussed how the buyer’s journey has changed, with tech-savvy customers buying direct and vendors finding difficulty working with partners on their go-to-market strategies. Other challenges identified were that solution providers lack the consultative vertical market specialization needed and newly identified trusted advisors (CPAs, digital marketers) are now considered competitors. It was agreed that driving a positive end-user experience requires specialization and vertical expertise that companies must obtain by hiring from the industry or partnering with others. The critical focus was on the soft skills necessary to discuss and communicate business outcomes. The goal of the council is to provide a framework for all types of partners to help define their value-add and to connect them with other partners via a vendor-neutral CompTIA platform that expands their geographic coverage, scope of work and overall skillset through collaboration.

    To learn more about CompTIA's industry advisory councils, click here.
  • Learn How Tech Startup Crisis Text Line is Utilizing Big Data and Machine Leaning to Save Lives – All Via Text Messages

    by Robert Cosentino | Mar 27, 2018

    IMG_1369_editThis year’s Strata Data Conference in San Jose, California, had keynote speakers Nancy Lublin and Bob Filbin centerstage to discuss how their tech startup Crisis Text Line utilizes big data and machine learning to save lives via text messaging. Crisis Text Line is a free, 24/7, confidential text message service for people in crisis – particularly those at risk of suicide.

    Why text messages? They provide a more convenient way to communicate that is private – no one can overhear or know what you are sending. They’re easy and fast access to help.

    In the past five years, Crisis Text Line has answered more than 65 million text messages. Seventy-five percent of its users are under the age of 25 and ten percent are under the age of 13. Area codes with the ten percent lowest social economic status utilize around nineteen percent of the total volume.

    With all that data, the big challenge for the organization was to find a way to prioritize and respond to the texters at imminent risk first. “Crisis help should be answered based on severity, not chronology,” Filbin said.

    The initial phase included list of fifty key words commonly associated with suicidal risk. This resulted in the organization being able to identity a little over fifty percent of texters who were at imminent risk with a response rate of thirty-nine seconds.

    In the second phase, Crisis Text Line was able to take the large amount of data from the sixty-five million texters and build a deep neural net utilizing machine learning. This increased the initial keyword list to ten-thousand unigrams, bigrams and trigrams that indicate suicide. What was discovered is that some words posed greater risk than the word suicide. Examples include the word military, which is twice as likely to indicate imminent risk. Common household drugs names such as Aspirin and ibuprofen and drugstore names were also at the top of list. Symbols were also part of this list; the crime face emoticon indicated a person is eleven times more likely to be in imminent risk.

    The implementation of machine learning allowed Crisis Text Line to identify eighty-five percent of the most severe cases by the first text message, allowing the best opportunity to help those individuals in the heat of the moment and affect positive outcomes. This is an excellent example of how emerging technology is being used to benefit society and save lives.

    Click here to learn more about new and evolving tech in the third issue of CompTIAWorld.
  • Nine Takeaways from the CompTIA Community Forum – Number One Will Surprise You!

    by Daniel Margolis | Mar 23, 2018

    045__TH48754CompTIA unveiled its new CompTIA Community Forum in Chicago March 20 and 21, executing an expansive, fast-paced working meeting that accomplished direct industry impact via its opportunities to share ideas. Moreover, CCF proved to be a hotbed of networking – much will likely come of the connections made here.

    No one at CCF was mincing words – we were looking at tech from all angles and not afraid to be critical. Read on to get nine takeaways that will get you thinking:

    9. If we’re resourceful, diversity in tech should be easy.

    CCF presented six Joint Communities Focus sessions, and one featured a talk from Ulysses Smith, head of diversity and inclusion at Mixpanel. Smith made the case that accomplishing diversity in a workforce, something many tech companies struggle with, doesn’t need to take time. It’s more about being appropriately resourceful. “There are many many talented, diverse people out there,” he said. “You just have to look in the right place.”

    The CompTIA Advancing Diversity in Technology Community meeting echoed this point, with attendees breaking into brainstorming sessions and then reporting out that key to building diversity in tech is getting to kids early, as early as middle school, as well as getting them into paid internships. The community pointed to tools like social media, established e-mail and phone scripts and content that reaches a range of audiences – school counsellors, principals, churches, etc. – as key tools to reaching youth.

    8. Considering our strengths makes us stronger.

    In another Joint Communities Focus session on Meaningful Life, Meaningful Work, Heather Kay, director of talent management with Sungard Availability Services, presented some eye-opening statistics, reporting that people who utilize their strengths are three times more likely to report excellent quality of life and six times more likely to be engaged in their jobs.

    In the CompTIA Advancing Women in Technology Community meeting, Kay spoke with two women who have ranked their strengths; Rayanne Buchianico, who owns and operates ABC Solutions, and Amy Babinchak, owner of Harbor Computer Services. Both shared what they’d learned about themselves in the process. “My brain is always somewhere off in the future,” Babinchak said. “I have this insatiable desire to learn new things.” Buchianico said, “I feel the most connected to the strategic. I’m very methodical. I like connecting the dots.”

    7. Cloud may be getting too big.

    In the CompTIA Managed Services and Cloud Community meeting, Jason Bystrak, vice president of worldwide channels and distribution for eFolder, led a panel discussion including Vince Tinnirello, CEO of Anchor Network Solutions, and Corey Kirkendoll, president and CEO of 5K Technical Services.

    Tinnirello admitted cloud offerings are getting overstuffed. “Every cloud vendor wants us to sell one more thing and pack it in there,” he said. “It gets to where your offering is stupid high.”

    Building off this, Kirkendoll said, “It’s all about stickiness – what you put in your bundle that allows you to be sticky.”

    6. The Internet of Things is really about people.

    Another Joint Communities Focus session at CCF looked at New Realities in the Emerging Tech Ecosystem via a panel discussion moderated by Michael Haines, program manager at Microsoft, which included Meredith Caram, assistant vice president at AT&T, Joe Hodges, president at Americlaim Solutions, and Tony Francisco with CloudPlus.

    Haines asked the panel what the impact of 5G will be. “I expect it will help customers connect to more devices faster,” said Caram, who added it will help people conserve battery life and process more data.

    This should help the Internet of Things mature. “When I think of the Internet of Things I think of the Internet of me,” Hodges said. “We have to base IoT on where the customer is.”

    5. The current perspective on security has gotten dystopic.

    In the CompTIA IT Security Community meeting, attendees broke into groups to debate the current state of security, then reported out their conclusions at the end of the meeting. Their remarks were unflinching. One attendee said, “There’s too much content out there; too many vendors putting out bulletins.” He concluded that security vendors need to talk to each other more to communicate a uniform message to consumers.

    Another said, “We are at a point today where we see through a lens of a dystopian future,” stating that people have concluded data breaches are going to happen no matter what you do, so are giving up on security. He pointed out how strange it’d be to act like this in real life. “At home we still lock our doors and get mad if we leave the garage door open.”

    4. A CompTIA member is also a Wolverine impersonator.

    In a break and transition before community meetings, West McDonald, VP of business development at PrintAudit, enticed attendees to come to the CompTIA Technology Lifecycle Services Community meeting by promising that at it he’d explain why he’d grown long, mutton-chop sideburns. In the meeting, he shared that every year he grows these – much to his wife’s chagrin – because in the summers he goes on the comic-book convention circuit in Canada as Wolverine, the famous character from the X-Men comic book and movie franchise. McDonald did look quite a bit like him.

    3. Tech’s not getting a free pass anymore.

    In yet another Joint Communities Focus session, Industry Outlook 2018 and Beyond, CompTIA VP Jim Hamilton moderated a panel discussion with Carolyn April, Tim Herbert and Seth Robinson from CompTIA’s research department, who presented and interpreted findings from CompTIA’s 2018 Industry Outlook report. Hamilton observed that this is a good time to be in tech. The panel agreed but added that we have to also acknowledge that tech may no longer be given the benefit of the doubt.

    April expounded on this. “We’re not without scrutiny in tech anymore,” she said. “We’re now mainstream. The tech industry is no longer the renegade new kids on block and with that comes scrutiny.”

    2. Excel can make sense of emerging tech.

    In the first ever meeting of CompTIA’s new Emerging Technology Community, attendees at eight tables were asked to collaborate to rank 10 different types of new and emerging tech – 3-D printing, 5G, AI/machine learning, AR/VR, automation, biometrics, blockchain, drones, IoT and quantum computing. After a lot of discussion of the types themselves, what they were and whether or not they belonged on the list, I offered my own ranking of the terms to get the table started on an actual ranking. The other attendees differed with me significantly on some rankings, so we arrived at a ranking from the entire table, then heard the rankings of the entire room. All the tables’ rankings differed.

    During the Day One Community Meeting Report Outs, Jay McBain, principal analyst, global channels, Forrester, presented the room with the rankings of the entire meeting combined, joking that it was funny to use something as basic as Excel to tabulate thoughts on such advanced technology. The combined ranking was as follows: 10. Quantum computing. 9. Blockchain. 8. Biometrics. 7. Drones. 6. 3-D printing. 5. 5G. 4. AR/VR 3. AI/machine learning. 2. Automation. 1. IoT.

    1. We don’t have enough tech to really love our kids – yet.

    CCF began with a talk from Scott Klososky, founder of Future Point of View (FPOV) and author of the book Did God Create the Internet? Klososky is an unabashed technologist – he boasted of having been one since he was 18-years-old – and definitely demonstrated this in the course of his hour-long presentation.

    “This will be the 50 years where humanity integrates with technology,” Klososky asserted. “Our current lives will seem primitive.” As his talk moved through topics like Web 1.0 through 4.0, IoT, cloud, social media, smart cities, AI and cybercrime, Klososky increasingly interacted with and even challenged the audience. He introduced the concept of parents potentially using wearables to monitor everything about their children – their location, medical condition, etc. – in real time, and, with this eventuality on the table, interacted with a mother in the audience who’d travelled to Chicago from the UK to attend CCF.

    He said, “In the future, a mom would say, ‘You don’t love your children. You would go a country away and have no idea what’s going on with your children?’”

    Klososky brought up the widely publicized recent accident in which a self-driving Uber killed a woman in Arizona and insisted this won’t slow down the development of self-driving cars. “This will be gone in three days,” he said. He may be right.

    As Klososky told it, we’ve gone from the Industrial Age through the Information Age and are now the Age of Entanglement as humanity and technology merge – a phenomenon FPOV calls “humalogy.” But with this, Klososky admitted, comes a dilemma. Well into his remarks, he finally said we have to ask ourselves, “Is this going to be a good thing or a bad thing for humanity?”

    It was a heady start to a meeting in which everyone asked and answered tough questions and a lot was shared and learned. Click here to learn more about CompTIA communities and get involved.


  • How New Tech Skepticism May Mean Big Opportunities in Tech Partnering

    by CompTIA | Mar 22, 2018

    IT-Industry-Outlook-thumbnailOf the many exciting facts and predictions about the shape of enterprise technology now and to come that appear in CompTIA’s IT Industry Outlook for 2018, there are two facts that might seem hard to reconcile for those on the provider side of the IT equation.

    On one hand, the report tells us that technology is no longer getting the benefit of the doubt from businesses. It’s becoming more clear there are active downsides of technology, causing people and companies to be more skeptical. On the other hand, the report tells us that tech partnering is trending bigtime. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed reported using some sort of technology partner (solution provider, VAR, MSP, etc.). Twenty percent reported being frequent users and 23 percent are regular users. And while the report takes pains to note that it’s mere correlation, not causation, SMBs that use tech partners tend express a higher-than-average level of satisfaction with their IT.

    But there’s no real conflict between these two concepts. What these facts indicate when you put them together is that companies have a better understanding of what they need out of a solution provider than they used to. They’re excited to benefit from everything the right partner can offer – but a partner and the solutions they’re offering have to offer real, demonstrable, tangible value and ROI. 

    That means that in 2018 and beyond, opportunities are better than ever for tech providers, if they can break through the wall of healthy skepticism they’ll run into from potential clients. Honesty, integrity and quality of product have, of course, always been key to successful partnerships. But now businesses have the in-house knowledge to avoid IT solutions that overpromise and under-deliver; ones that create chaos rather than streamlining it away.  

    So how do you definitively prove that to a client? Digging deeper into the 2018 IT Industry Outlook shows principles through which partners can create a path to successful tech relationships with healthily cautious clients.  
    Make Sure You’re Meeting a Need
    Two of the biggest challenges to making technological progress that respondents identified in the Industry Outlook were finding the benefits and ROI of the technology (45 percent) and needing a clear use case for new technology (38 percent). So, in 2018, the onus is on the solution provider to really understand a prospective client’s operations and needs and show them how the solution will actually make their lives better. Businesses don’t want an additional tool to worry about or something that no one will actually use. It’s critical to show them that you’re providing solutions that will make life easier and business smoother.

    Take Cybersecurity Seriously
    Cybersecurity is one of companies’ biggest concerns, and understandably so – businesses have seen the catastrophic fallout of data-breaches in the headlines and they want to know they won’t be next.

    The need to mitigate anxiety over cyber-threats means that being able to have an informed discussion about issues like cybersecurity, data privacy and what you’re doing about them is a must. Getting enterprise-level accreditation for cybersecurity is another big way to demonstrate a commitment to the data security of prospective and current partners alike. 

    Demonstrate Dynamism and Reliability
    Businesses place the ability to identify and implement innovations and having correctly-functioning, reliable technology as the two biggest characteristics that put a company ahead of the curve, according to the Industry Outlook.

    While don’t-sell-something-that-breaks should be obvious, offering in-depth support and understanding how a product integrates with a company’s operations, and how it works for them, is just as important. Showing a track record of responsiveness, a willingness to upgrade and retooling to meet the custom needs of a client – operationally and technologically – can go a long way in showing them you’re ahead of the curve. 

    Separate Buzz From Real Innovations
    Businesses are skeptical about being sold a tool purporting to be the next big thing, and it is skepticism rooted in experience. At this point in the evolution of enterprise technology, many have poured over trades expounding on trends that ended up being overblown – or even vaporware. And plenty have taken the next step and invested in next-big-thing solutions that ended up being ineffective, too. So it’s understandable that some will be dismissive when they hear that an IoT solution is a must-have or that they’re missing out trying to do business without a given cloud-based application.

    Be prepared to show companies why a solution goes beyond the buzz. Know who is currently using the solution and how they’ve succeeded with it. Utilize data and testimonials to build your case. Give a client a reason to trust that your solution is really something they need and – of course – make sure the reality lives up to the hype.

    Click here to view the full IT Outlook Report 2018!
  • Drones Take Off at CompTIA Advisory Councils Meeting

    by Miles Jobgen | Mar 16, 2018

    ThinkstockPhotos-898449568“Drones are good.” That’s what Frank Segarra, CEO of ConnexiCore and Jon Tull, CEO of Dronifi, co-chairs of CompTIA’s new Drone Advisory Council (DRAC) want you to know.

    Opportunities for drone-based services are exploding. Survey assessment, construction, agriculture, thermal mapping, predictive analytics…the list of creative ways unmanned vehicles can be applied to improve efficiencies and add value to businesses is growing as fast as you can get a drone into the sky. But as with any emerging technology market, the tech and its applications are moving faster than regulations and our own ability to comprehend potential repercussions can keep up. Getting ahead of this bisection is vital for the drone service industry.

    It’s one of many challenges facing the DRAC, which held its first in-person council meeting in Dallas March 12 to 15. Facilitated by CompTIA, discussions delved into industry trends and challenges playing out in the market, looking at likely near-future scenarios regarding influences like FAA regulation and on-the-cusp technology that will impact adoption, and of course factors that can limit or enable further growth in an industry looking to soar.

    Vice Chair Enrico Schaefer, UAV and IP attorney at Drone Law Pro, believes the DRAC can play a significant role by becoming the “voice of the drone industry.” It will take time and it will take focused effort. But it all starts with a coming together to share thoughts, struggles and successes.

    This first get-together for the DRAC was part of a regular meeting series among CompTIA’s Joint Advisory Councils. These Councils also include the Smart Cities Advisory Council (SCAC), the Business Applications Advisory Council (BAAC) and the Channel Advisory Board (CAB). CompTIA’s big-tent approach to connecting disparate business technology sectors together is looking like a hit. Co-Chair Jon Tull especially appreciated the opportunity to engage the Channel Advisory Board and learn about how the IT industry has grown through established routes to market and how the drone industry might be able to capitalize on that success. To share opportunities for the enterprise level drone market, “access to the CAB is huge,” Jon said.

    Their goals are lofty but attainable:

    • Identify and encourage quality drone operator training programs.
    • Generate ROI information and case studies to help communicate not only the market opportunity for service providers, but the efficiency and monetary savings clients can experience.
    • Identify and help establish paths to success.
    • Establish business best practices, the lifeblood of an emerging market.

    There are some that are not convinced that drones are a universal good for business, the economy, public health and privacy. There are questions of reliability and safety. There are concerns over the scruples of operators. The aesthetics of our sky being criss-crossed with buzzing hunks of metal and plastic can easily portend the coming robotic dystopia.

    But those are likely just initial growing pains of the drone space. When crop blights are stopped before they start, medicine is brought to remote disasters and people no longer climb massive towers among power lines, the DRAC is hoping you look up and think, “Hey that’s neat. Drones are good.” 
  • Change to One of the Most Important Laws of the Internet Could Have Unintended Consequences

    by Matthew Starr | Mar 15, 2018

    On February 27, the House passed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) by a 388-25 vote. Given the overwhelming support for the bill reflected in the vote, you might think this bill was largely non-controversial, but you’d be mistaken. Despite FOSTA’s vital goal of curbing online sex trafficking and protecting its victims, the bill has been opposed by groups like the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology, as well as many tech companies and trade associations, including CompTIA. The final version of the bill weakens Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects website hosts from liability for content posted by others. Additionally, it would expose online services to liability for removing offensive material as the bill details this action as “evidence of knowledge” that a crime has been committed.  The Senate is poised to vote on this bill next week.

    Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (“CDA 230”), passed in 1996, and was instrumental to allowing the open internet to thrive in its early days and grow into what it is today. CDA 230 says that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” It serves to protect websites, apps and ISPs from criminal and civil liability for the actions of their users, except under federal criminal law and intellectual property law. It has been the fuel for consumer review platforms and other user-focused platforms, not to mention social media.  It also has been vital to small ISPs and edge providers.

    Unfortunately, CDA 230 has come under attack in recent years because of several court cases and a subsequent Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report involving the classified advertising website Backpage.com.  While no one can question the fact that Backpage is a bad actor, they sought refuge in the CDA.  In 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that Backpage was protected by CDA 230 and ultimately dismissed a suit filed by a sex trafficking victim against the site. Other courts have come to similar conclusions, ruling that Backpage did not meet the definition of an “information content provider” in those cases, which would’ve disqualified them from CDA 230 protection.

    The aforementioned Senate report, however, uncovered that Backpage was actively altering its users’ sex trafficking ads so as to conceal their true nature.  These crucial facts had not yet been discovered when the courts ruled that Backpage was not an information content provider. Had those facts been part of the record of those particular cases, Backpage almost certainly would not have been afforded protection by CDA 230. Regardless, the report’s findings in the wake of the court decisions inspired several Senators to introduce the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) last summer to ensure that CDA 230 would no longer protect bad actors like Backpage.

    While CompTIA supported the goals of SESTA, we expressed concern over certain aspects of the bill. SESTA would amend CDA 230 to include an exception for both civil actions and state criminal prosecutions related to the federal sex trafficking law (18 U.S.C. Sec. 1591). Unfortunately, the bill contains a problematic and overly broad definition of “participation in a venture” which would mean “knowingly assisting, supporting, or facilitating a violation” of the federal sex trafficking statute.  We have heard concerns from our members, law enforcement, and public interest groups about this definition and have instead advocated for an intent standard in its place.

    A “knowing” standard is troubling because it could force websites to take one of two extreme paths towards content moderation: 1) websites could aggressively moderate user content to the point where they are removing anything that has a chance of putting them at risk, likely resulting in a chilling of user speech; or 2) websites could choose not to moderate their user content at all so as to avoid any chance of “knowingly facilitating” sex trafficking, essentially counteracting the purpose of the bill. The DOJ has also noted that this new definition of “participation in a venture” would “impact prosecutions by effectively creating additional elements that prosecutors must prove at trial” and “could have unintended consequences as applied by the states.”

    In the view of civil libertarians and of CompTIA, there are better and more targeted ways to go after such malefactors as Backpage.  It’s not clear why this specific language in SESTA (and the amended version of FOSTA) is necessary to achieve its stated goals of targeting bad actors and helping sex trafficking victims. CompTIA supports these noble goals but urges the Senate to carefully consider whether this particular bill is the best way to achieve them. There are alternatives to achieve these goals without invoking the serious unintended consequences that SESTA/FOSTA would cause.

    Matthew Starr, Director, Public Advocacy, Broadband and Telecom/Privacy
  • Meet Women Working in Emerging Tech

    by Michelle Lange | Mar 14, 2018

    ThinkstockPhotos-513495224_As software becomes the driving force of many solutions, open source concepts are letting more people build applications around blockchain – that’s according to CompTIA’s IT Industry Outlook for 2018, and that’s exactly what’s happening at Seeds, a cryptocurrency startup that actively works to make the money system more equitable.

    “Seeds is using blockchain technology toward the end of transcending the parts of capitalism that I believe are failing us — namely, institutionalized finance,” said Seeds CEO Rachel Cook, one of the women we interviewed for Women’s History Month who are working in different areas of emerging technology.

    Institutionalized finance fails most of us because it’s originally zero-sum, Cook said. It makes us believe that for someone to win, someone else has to lose. Her company gives web and mobile apps a software development kit that lets them embed opportunities to pool money for people in need — while simultaneously boosting the app’s profits.

    Through Seeds, people can redeem a token, using it to make a request for whatever amount of funding they need. “Obviously, no central entity is defining the value of any cryptocurrency, but we’re taking it a step further,” Cook said. “Each individual defines the value of a Seeds token when she redeems it. If enough contributions come in through the system within 60 days, she then receives that amount as a gift. I think personalization is an even bigger oncoming trend than we now see, and it should extend to money.”

    Seeds initially focused on sourcing capital for microloans, because they’re a sustainable form of social good benefitting women ignored by traditional finance, but Cook saw an even greater opportunity to change what's broken about finance by building an entirely new system. “This probably wasn’t possible before the advent of blockchain technology,” Cook said.

    Predictive Analysis, Fintech and 3-D Printing

    Data scientist Ella Revzin said her industry is easier for women to break into and move up in once they’re inside than finance. As an associate director of data science at Precima, Revzin works on an R&D team that develops solutions and new algorithms for large retail chains, creating special targeting software, marketing campaigns and even looking at space optimization to help stores create ideal aisle arrangements.

    “There’s machine learning, a lot of statistics, a lot of optimization and a lot of math using data,” Revzin said. “We’re also looking at data and how to best manage the data and how to glean insights from the data.”

    Her company originated as an all-male startup, so many of the top positions are held by men, but there’s a good mix of women working their way toward leadership positions. She’s personally not afraid to negotiate for salary increases or speak up in meetings.

    Revzin said there’s essentially no reason that there should not be more women in startups, it’s there’s just more men to start with. “You have this thing where like follows like, but it has nothing to do with a woman’s nature.”

    That’s why women in fintech initiatives like FinTank WIFI exist, to focus on preparing women for significant career roles, leadership opportunities and entrepreneurship within financial technology. The group holds educational panels from leading experts, career and mentorship events, and networking and community events.

    According to a study by EY in London, women represent just 29 percent of staff in the sector, said Kimberly H. Wolfson, who chairs the FinTank Women in FinTech Initiative (WIFI). At the same time, the International Monetary Fund suggests only two percent of bank CEOs are women, and a recent analysis of global patents suggests that only 15 percent of patents involve a woman inventor, with the share even lower in IT.

    “We are focused on empowering women and supporters of our mission to conquer the fundamental barriers for women to universally impact our world through the fintech and finance innovation,” said Wolfson.

    In the world of telehealth, entrepreneur Sarah Doherty co-founded TeleHealthRobotics, a company building the world’s first tele-robotic healthcare platform.

    “With the THR platform, providers stationed anywhere in the world can interact with a patient and deliver actual medical services, in real-time, from a distance without personnel onsite with the patient,” said Doherty, who is the company’s CTO. That includes ultrasounds, done by remote technicians with the aid of the company’s first product, Tele-Robotic Ultrasound for Distance Imaging (TRUDI). TRUDI could be stationed with a patient for the exam in a variety of locations, including a military base, prison, disaster relief camp, pharmacy or clinic that needs supplementary diagnostic capability.

    “TeleHealthRobotics’ vision to virtualize the healthcare provider pool with telerobotics will increase efficiency, lower cost and improve access, benefitting patients,” Doherty said. “This vision could also have substantial impact on growing gender parity in healthcare delivery by enabling providers of any specialty to deliver fully reimbursable care to patients around the world on a flexible schedule, while maintaining personal safety, satisfying religious constraint, managing child and family care responsibilities and overcoming geographical limitations.”

    As a mentor for women and girls looking to advance their careers and education in the fields of STEM, Doherty said in order to achieve the utmost technological progress, we need to achieve equal representation, value and voice for women and men in all academic areas and at all levels of the career spectrum.

    “Mentors and educational or professional champions play a key role in achieving this, so I was excited to learn about the CompTIA community’s initiatives in supporting females of all ages and providing opportunities for them to develop these empowering relationships,” she said.

    To meet women working in technology and emerging tech, register now for the CompTIA Community Forum, set for March 20-21 in Chicago. At CCF, you’ll engage with many different communities, including Advancing Women in IT (AWIT) and Advancing Diversity in Technology (ADIT), and meet people working in different areas of emerging technology.

    Michelle Lange is a writer and designer living in Chicago.

  • CompTIA UK Channel Community Regional Meeting in Bristol Explores Growth

    by CompTIA | Mar 09, 2018

    BristolIt’s a great time to be in the technology industry, with emerging technologies such as blockchain, AI, AR and VR set to change the way the world does business. Exploring how the industry can take advantage of these technologies and grow with them is a key focus for CompTIA this year.

    With that in mind, CompTIA UK Channel Community Regional Meeting event kicked off with an opening keynote from Tom Raftery, IoT evangelist at SAP, who gave an enlightening talk on key trends and industries that are taking hold today.

    He explained that industries such as manufacturing, energy and food production are seeing huge disruption heralded by the rapid progress in technological innovation. Manufacturing, for example, is seeing shifts in business models with advances in 3-D printing, product-as-a-service and mass customisation. “Harley Davidson used to take 21 days to make a custom motorcycle,” he said. “Now it takes just six hours.”

    Energy is seeing huge advances as well, with developments in battery technology and the decreasing cost of producing solar power likely to cause electricity companies to completely change their business modes to all-you-can-eat models similar to what we see from internet service providers. Meanwhile, transportation is the sector seeing the most radical transformation, with autonomous vehicles, electric cars, ships and planes being developed by a multitude of companies.

    Raftery touched on artificial intelligence (AI). While many are worried by the loss of jobs AI might cause, he explained that there are parallels with the shift from manual labour to machinery. “When weaving machines were introduced, many worried about the the loss of jobs, but the opposite happened,” he said. “The number of weavers skyrocketed and supply chains emerged to keep up with the demand for cheaper, high quality fabric. Perhaps the same will ring true for our industry.”

    Opportunities with GDPR

    John Davies from Pervade Software led a highly informative workshop on GDPR – what it is and how to adhere to it. While most companies are now aware of what GDPR is, with a few months to go until its enforcement, a small number have taken steps to comply. This session was geared towards helping companies navigate the 11 chapters of the 80-page regulation and the steps towards compliance.

    Davies ran through the principles of how companies will be able to use data, as well as what rights customers have under the regulation. Companies will have to be a lot more transparent on the use of data and require consent for processing, while customers will have the rights to say how a company uses their data and even request them to delete their records entirely. “Companies will have to implement security, training and compliance measures to ensure they don’t risk getting fined after May this year” he warned.

    Strong growth opportunities in emerging technologies, if we can find the skills

    Tracy Pound with Maximity took the stage to present findings from the IT Outlook 2018 report. There are a lot of opportunities for growth particularly in AR, VR. However, challenges remain around growing the technology workforce to take advantage of all the new opportunities – with particular issues around replacing retirees and finding people who can use emerging tech whilst increasing overall headcount. 

    To that end, afternoon breakout sessions focused on emerging tech and developing the workforce. Adam Smith, CTO at Piccadilly Group and Suzanne Edwards, CEO of Enlighten, led roundtables so explain how AI and AR and VR respectively could be used by channel organisations and explain how they’re being applied in businesses across the country. Meanwhile, tech skills and apprenticeships were discussed in a panel session featuring Lord Aberdare from the House of Lords.

    The future of the workforce

    The final keynote of the day delivered by Roy Gluckman a diversity and inclusion specialist, on what the workforce of the future will look like. In an interactive session, Roy explored what the skills of the future will be, focusing on what organisations require to become truly diverse.

    He explained that we need to focus on the skills that make us human –vulnerability and communication. “We need to pause, reflect and think about what our organisations are like to create the space in which diversity can thrive,” he said, adding that “a diverse workforce – the workforce of the future – requires an understanding environment in which different people are given what they need to succeed”.

    It’s never been a more exciting time to be part of the technology industry. To learn more about the latest trends and meet the community, register for our next UK Channel Community meeting in Birmingham on 19, 20 June.