CompTIA: Making a success of digital transformation

By Marcus Lawrence

Nancy Hammervik, Executive Vice President, Industry Relations at CompTIA, discusses the work the organisation does to enable digital transformation.

1.           Tell us a bit about yourself and your role as Executive Vice President of Industry Relations at CompTIA.

I have been in the tech industry for nearly 35 years, starting on the media side (selling advertising, sponsorships, staging events around the world that bring vendors, distributors and partners together). Eight and a half years ago, I joined CompTIA as Executive Vice President, Industry Relations. A big part of my role is managing our membership programme, providing value to members to both grow their businesses and have a positive impact on the industry. I am responsible for growing our membership numbers, member engagement and value, and expanding our reach and relevance in the tech ecosystem. 

CompTIA has 10 member-led communities (in vertical markets like Managed Services and Security, demographic markets like Advancing Women in Tech and Future Leaders, and geographic markets like the UK and Benelux) and five industry advisory councils that serve as the headlights for our organisation and industry. 

The part of my role that I enjoy the most is providing members with the tools and resources they need to stay relevant in a fast paced, evolving industry while harnessing the power of our membership to be true advocates for the industry and its workforce, driving the adoption of emerging technologies and having a positive, palpable impact on the business of tech. 


2.           In your own words, what does CompTIA offer firms around the world with regards to enabling successful digital transformations?

CompTIA’s mission is to advance the adoption of technology and the growth of the tech industry. That’s why we offer an unparalleled selection of resources related to digital transformation and other tech topics. The vast majority of these resources – greater than 90% – are available at no cost, whether you are a dues-paying member of the association or not.

We have comprehensive, world-class research reports and staff; how-to guides, whitepapers, and other educational materials developed with the collective expertise of thousands of IT professionals and executives around the world; and webinars, podcasts, conference sessions, seminars and networking forums that offer peer to peer insight and best practice sharing. We offer industry leading, vendor neutral skills training and skills validation. CompTIA is the largest provider of vendor-neutral skills certifications for technology professionals around the world.

When compared to other organisations, what makes CompTIA unique is our member communities.  As mentioned above, we offer member-led communities across a variety of markets, all in the business of influencing and enabling digital environments for themselves and their clients. We hear all the time that these communities offer a trusted, safe haven where all players in the ecosystem can gather and learn from each other. 

Our UK Channel Community has 750 members. They meet face-to-face at least three times a year to share strategies and best practices, and members have built such strong relationships that they can rely on each other throughout the year as a resource to grow their businesses.


3.           Based on the recent CompTIA Top 10 Emerging Technologies report, what can enterprises around the world do to ensure they can capitalise on the opportunities afforded by upcoming and ascendant solutions?

A great starting point for any organisation – large enterprise, mid-sized firm or small business – is to inspire and invest in their employees with ongoing skills training.  Encourage staff to join CompTIA, even at the free, registered user level, to stay close to industry trends and dynamics and make important contacts that can build a solid network from.  Attending industry events, conferences, and other meet-ups in the industry is invaluable when it comes to being in the know and being prepared.

Second, invest in updating infrastructure. All emerging technologies will need sound and secure platforms and systems. 

Third, make sure everyone in the organisation is on board with moving forward. Build a culture conducive to change and progress. Articulate the benefits of automating processes, saving dollars, operating more efficiently, and recognise and reward efforts. Bring on external partners, business and technology consultants, and leverage their expertise. Make sure to bring line of business managers into the process. 

Build diversity into your staff. Your team should be as diverse as your customer base. Seek new and diverse perspectives and experiences to foster a culture of innovation. 

Finally, when it comes to innovation and new and emerging technologies, consult with your trusted technology partners. The best tech partners are the ones who truly understand your business – the products or services you sell, the customers and markets you serve, and the short and long-term goals you have for business growth. Equipped with these insights, a technology provider can make informed recommendations on the technology options that make the most sense for a business, today and into the future. 


4.           Aside from the tech mentioned in the Top 10 report, what do you view as the most influential established technologies at present?

For me it’s all about IoT and Big Data – capturing data and building programs to analyse the data can have a tremendous impact on both businesses and consumers. While IoT and Big Data are improving businesses and lives, they are also solving world problems. Having insight on your operations, workflow and customers – and doing something with it – can be the catalyst for cost savings, improving efficiency, mitigating risk, maximising sales and driving new revenue. 

For consumers, IoT can monitor and regulate the climate of your environment, automate your shopping experiences and allow home healthcare solutions. Managing fleets of trucks and trains more efficiently can allow us to reduce our carbon footprint, and smart buildings in a city can help to better manage renewable resources. 

I met a young lady at a conference last week who invented the world’s first smart white cane for the blind and sight impaired that allows them to have a greater understanding and control of their environment. With the cane collecting data on the user’s gait and centre of balance, the development team realised it could also be used by the frail and elderly to help predict and avoid a traumatic fall three weeks before it happens! The implications for healthcare and quality of life are tremendous.  


5.           In a general sense, what are the most significant challenges facing a successful digital transformation?

Security and the workforce. With multiple components and “access points” in every advanced digital solution, the need for comprehensive and advanced security solutions is imperative. The global security market for IoT alone is a £30bn market. Small and medium businesses (SMBs) are still relatively unaware and unprepared for the level of security that should be protecting their – and their customers’ – security. Working with a professional consultant or service provider is recommended. 

We are also dealing with significant workforce skills gaps. In Q2 2019 employers across the UK were seeking to fill more than 140,000 core IT job openings. That represented 9% of all UK job postings in the quarter.

Not only do we have skills gaps, we have a confidence gap where many of the next generation do not see themselves in a technology role. As we continue to introduce new technologies, we create new roles – like data scientists, drone service providers, AI ethics leads and more. CompTIA is focused on building programs that will encourage, train and certify the next generation of the workplace. Digital transformation is defining the business of the future.


6.           Are there any particular industries that appear to be lagging in terms of technological implementation/innovation?

In general, most small businesses, across all industries, are lagging. Without the internal skill and talent to deploy and implement a digital strategy, they are left to collaborate with external partners, business and technology consultants. While there are many solutions and service providers available to support them, many of them are small businesses themselves and on the long tail of the learning curve. 

We are seeing the greatest advances at the enterprise level being deployed by larger system integrators and global consultants. CompTIA is working hard to equip smaller solution providers with the insight, education, tools and resources needed to drive the adoption of emerging technologies into the SMB. We are also focused on building the tech workforce through education, training and certification so more companies can staff and skill up with relevant talent. 


7.           In your view, which industries are leading the charge with the most successful digital transformations?

Digital transformation has taken hold in virtually every industry, but there are clear distinctions in the degrees and pace that different industries are embracing these changes.

The advances in healthcare have been tremendous. The use of electronic health records got off to a relatively slow start, but the pace of adoption has increased in recent years. Digital records help contribute to better care and treatment, especially as patients see multiple doctors or are transferred to different care units or facilities. Care givers have instant access to the latest patient information, delivered in a way that’s more secure and allows for better data organisation.

Another digital innovation that’s taking hold is wearable technology, from Fitbit and similar devices that allow patients to monitor and record their daily activities to more advanced technologies for real-time monitoring of symptoms and vitals, medication reminders and status reports for medical staff. From hospital mattresses that measure and manage the patient’s vitals to robotic surgeries, to insightful patient portals, to an AI empowered diagnosis; the healthcare industry has been revolutionised by digital transformation. 

Retail is also pushing forward quickly with customer-centric data management, IoT store cameras managing inventory and shopping patterns, and enhanced security solutions managing mobile payments. McKinsey forecasts the retail IoT market will hit £28.6bn this year, with healthcare coming in at a whopping £130bn. 

Cloud computing, analytics and robotics are among the most innovative digital tools revamping the core of banking and finance. People have financial management at their fingertips via mobile banking apps, smart ATMs, virtual assistants and chatbots, and internet-based virtual banks.

To whatever extent, technology is driving all businesses, industries and governments. Whether it be hospitality, back office, construction or even agriculture, the use of technology, along with the internal staff and/or external teams to develop and manage it, is quickly becoming the single most compelling factor contributing to an organisation’s ability to compete, provide value, grow and succeed.


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