Industry association CompTIA is looking to massively expand its membership by making many basic benefits of membership available for free. Under what it’s labeling its new open access model, anyone with an interest in the tech industry will be able to join the association at the new registered user level free of charge.
Nancy Hammervik, senior vice president of industry relations at CompTIA, said Registered members will get access to about three quarters of the content the group produces, including its market research, and its channel research after a three-month quiet period. The goal is to draw people with an interest in technology, from students to trade media to enthusiasts, to outside vendors looking to engage with IT firms, into the fold, and get them participating.
“For the first time in our 32 years, we’ll be opening up access to a good deal of our content online, and people can start to engage with us on a cost-free basis,” Hammervik said. “We want to remove those initial barrier to entry with CompTIA so people can get a taste for what we can offer.”
Under the new structure, the groups current 2,050 or so members will be known as Premier members, and will get exclusive access to more of the group’s training and education than Registerd members. Premier members will also be the only members that can be CompTIA certified, or receive the groups trustmarks, and will be the only members with voting rights.
While at first blush, the group’s goal is to expand its footprint beyond its traditional strength in the channel community – CompTIA wants its ranks to reach 10,000 by the end of the year, and it already has about half of that number between current members and prospects who’ve provided some user information online – the new Registered level should also prove appealing to smaller solution providers that can’t justify the price tag of a full membership, or want to approach the group on a “try before you buy” basis. The group will also seek out lapsed members in hopes of bringing them back at the new lower tier.
“We found we had a lot of very small solution providers join but don’t have the wherewithal to really engage, so they felt like it wasn’t for them,” she said. “We want to capture some of them, and allow them to benefit from membership.”
Over the next three years, Hammervik said the organization hopes to grow to 20,000 members, while retaining a Premier base of at least 2,000.
Alongside the new membership structure, the group debuted a new Web site, which will play host to the content now available more broadly to the community.
CompTIA has long had a strong presence in Canada, and with 500 Premier members in this country, the Canadian organization is clearly punching above its weight compared to our neighbours to the south. But there are changes afoot in the Canadian organization, starting with new leadership, and some new focus. In the past, the Canadian group has been very oriented around service and support, and Hammervik said the group is evolving to be “a more general channel community.” The group was also previously very heavily centered in Toronto, but has made an effort to move its community meetings over the last year to the west and to the east, looking to create a much more coast-to-coast feel for the group as a way to foster growth.